Boy! I hate making decisions – always have done and I guess by now I never will be comfortable in that particular arena.
I reckon decisions are made every day sometimes quite unconsciously. We make decisions about what to eat, what to wear, where to go, who to see and the list goes on and on.
So in the long run I guess we all make decisions.
On saying that I know deep down that some decisions are huge! We have a struggle with these big decisions striving to make sure we get them right.
Making life and death decisions is frightening and nerve-racking to say the least and making a decision to hand your life over to Jesus is ONE BIG decision that I personally have never regretted. But for some, I know, that decision has been a struggle that has required heaps of soul searching, contemplation and discipline.
Regardless of how you felt when and if you accepted Jesus as Lord in your life, making that decision is a life-changing event.
Choosing a Christian life can be very fulfilling but what happens in the bad times? As you aware bad times will come regardless of whether you are a Christian or not.
What happens when your life goes pear-shaped – when your child dies, when your marriage collapses, when you are abandoned by your partner, when you lose your job or your possessions?
When we have to wrestle with life – when it ceases to be the kind of life it was meant to be what then?
These times can test the most faithful of us.
That’s when we get to make real decisions and choose.
We can choose to get angry. We can choose to walk away, Even pleading with God that eternal question WHY??
We pray and plead with God to answer in the way we want but often our prayers seemingly go the other way and so different from what we prayed for.
So yes! we can choose so many different paths to take when things go so badly for us or there is a better way:-
We can choose to simply trust our Lord and Saviour. Trusting Him even though His ways are not our ways. To know there is some sort of purpose in the extreme pain.
We will still ask WHY? Of course we will but we can trust our God to make some sort of sense out of all of this.
God knows the end from the beginning – He is not with us wondering what is going to happen from one minute to the next with plans A, B, C & D up His sleeve on the off-chance that things planned will go awry.
Of course not – He is omnipotent and Holy – nothing escapes Him.
So when bad things happen – he knows about it – the thing is for us to keep trusting even though we may never know the real reason for it.
Years ago friends of ours lost their 3 month old daughter to cot death. Rebecca was their only daughter and of course they were devastated.
They could have chosen to blame God like millions of others have done, They could have chosen to get angry and walk away with their pain held closely to them and turned their backs on God.
In that horrible time they cried out to God “WHY?” Of course they did. But at the same time, they chose to throw themselves into the everlasting arms of the Lord and simply pray “we can’t do this on their own” – They needed God to see them through that time.
They needed to know that were not alone, that He was near them. They will never know why she was taken from them – They will never know what life held for that precious little angel but they did know that God held them through that time and their trust in Him was real and sustaining.
So how about you? – what do you choose in the bad times – you can choose to get angry – you can choose to walk away, in fact you can choose any number of avenues but…
As a Christian you can find peace during these tough times – times that can often drive others to suicide. Peace driven by the amazing gift of the Holy Spirit.
So right in the very centre of the most devastating experiences, deep down in our very being are God’s gifts of peace, joy and above all hope.
I sang at church two weeks ago, less than twenty-four hours after receiving the news that a second pathology review of my mammogram and biopsy determined that the abnormal mass in my body was not good after all. It needed to be removed. The sweet monotone voice on the other end of the phone told me I needed to see a surgeon for a consultation. That was on Friday. She made the appointment for Monday.
In between those two wonderful days, I was set to sing one of my all-time favorite worship songs at church that weekend, one I’d been dying to sing for months. And all I kept thinking was, Really? This weekend?
Everything in me wanted to cancel. I didn’t think I’d be able to make it through the song without bawling like a baby. I wanted it to be awesome. I wanted to sing my little heart out without my voice cracking and causing everybody to squirm in their seats, unable to focus on worship.
But as much as I wanted to, I couldn’t back out. It simply would have been the wrong thing to do. So, I sang my heart out anyway, fighting back tears each service, praying that the audience didn’t notice all of my “off” notes or worn-out vocals. Oh, there were some great vocal moments, but there were some not-so-great ones too.
Which is why it happened. That’s what finally did me in and prompted me to use the word. It was after Saturday night’s service when my husband asked me how it went, that the word came out of me with a surprising confidence and deep-felt conviction I didn’t realize had been growing inside of me over the past few years. I was so depleted, so tired, so worn out, so done trying to do and be all things to all people, in all ways… that I finally had had enough. And gave in. And said the four-letter “f” word:
It was glorious.
Instead of describing in detail, like I usually do, which note I hit, missed, where I did great or didn’t do so great, how I felt, what people said, what people didn’t say – I simply said to my wonderful man, It was fine. And smiled a big, fat smile. And ate my dinner.
I’d forgotten what a great word “fine” is. You see, I always strive for awesome. Excellent. Incredible. But that night, that weekend, something snapped. I no longer wanted to care if things were awesome or not. I just wanted to be able to live with “fine” and be really, really good with it.
How freeing! Instead of wallowing in anxiety about upcoming singing and speaking engagements, I have been preparing my best and then letting myself rest, knowing that the outcome will be good enough – no matter what that turns out to be. Yes. Do my best and then rest. It will be just fine.
There is so much freedom in wrapping our efforts in the blanket of God’s grace. And self-grace. I’ve noticed myself daring a bit more, saying “yes” to more engagements, and living a bit more courageously.
How about you? Where could you use a little more “fine”? Maybe you need to be fine with not being able to exercise as much as you want to right now, or fine with some relationship you’ve been waiting to turn into “awesome” someday.
I know for me, I’m going to give myself permission to write a little more often, unrefined, just-because-I-want-to, blogs. I need to practice being fine. I hope you start using the “fine” word a little more often too, allowing yourself to be exactly who you are without any apologies or unnecessary descriptives.
Oh, and just to keep you up to speed, I saw the surgeon and will be having surgery sometime in May to remove this mass. I’ll keep you updated and would appreciate your prayers. I’m counting on everything being fine. :)
Originally appeared on The Olive Branch Report.
Copyright© 2014 πίστις
When looking at the world around you, what do you see? Do the eyes of your heart really take in what is so prevalent in this world?
There is of course good in the world and yet as time marches on we seem to see more and more downright evil. Where are the voices denouncing this?
Babies burned as fuel to heat a hospital, Christians beheaded for refusing to recant Christ, abortions are as common as shopping at the store, blasphemy against God is an everyday occurrence, serving self is the primary goal of existence. The list just goes on and on…
The World is descending into absolute debauchery and many seem to think this is “just the way the world is”. This IS the way the world is, but I have news for you, this is NOT the way God wants it to be. This is the way the people want it to be.
There is a price to be paid for living outside the will of God, a very steep price…and those who abhor God will pay it. They will pay with an eternity of suffering after this life is long gone.
Where is the teaching in the Church on this? Where is the moral outrage?
Instead we see more and more so-called “ministries” deciding that they know better than God and do what is plainly against the Word of God. One well-known charity had decided to start hiring Christian married homosexual staff members…except that there is no such thing as “Christian” homosexuals. Then after a huge outcry, the decision was reversed; funding going down was mentioned. They had “prayed for years” whether or not to hire homosexual staff members, what is there to pray about? God says homosexuality is wrong, period.
There is way too much feel good teaching in today’s Church; it is seemingly very pervasive and very much tolerated. This is not how it should be.
The Bible should be taught according to what is in it, all of it. Having said that; this is not carte blanche to bash people over the head with their sins either. I have heard people say; God hates this sin and He hates you too…NO He does not. This kind of teaching is abhorrent, God loves the sinner He hates the sin.
People need to be told truthfully what sin is and where that sin will lead them. They need to be told this in love because we the Believer care about them, not in self-righteousness by clueless preachers, evangelists, and bloggers etc.
The Church needs to wake up and find it’s voice again while not tolerating those who hatefully denounce others thinking themselves above reproach.
Let us preach the message of Christ…and while doing so love others. We as the body of Christ need to remember two things.
- The Word needs to be preached, all of it unapologetically, lovingly.
- No matter how repugnant someone’s sins may be…we were and are no better, all have sinned.
Ezekiel 28:12-17: (Lucifer) You had the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering; the ruby, the topaz, and the diamond; the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper; the lapis lazuli, the turquoise and the emerald; and the gold, the workmanship of your settings and sockets, was in you. On the day that you were created they were prepared…your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings.
Daniel 5:20: (King Belshazzar) “But when his heart became arrogant and hardened with pride, he was deposed from his royal throne and stripped of his glory.”
Obadiah 1:2-4: See, I will make you small among the nations; you will be utterly despised. The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rocks and make your home on the heights, you who say to yourself, ‘Who can bring me down to the ground?’ Though you soar like the eagle and make your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down,” declares the Lord.
Satan was cast out from heaven by God specifically due to his pride. Pride led him to rebel against Yahweh. When Lucifer stood next to God, His light would shine upon Lucifer’s jewels placed upon him by God. It was God’s beauty reflecting off Lucifer that made him beautiful, yet Lucifer’s beauty was not his own. In like fashion, any beauty you or I may have, it is not ours therefore we are not to be prideful. Lucifer became blinded by the brilliant light reflecting off him. His wisdom became corrupt and ineffective and caused him to think more highly of himself than he ought. It’s sad that most want to be God or like God with all His power, yet few want to humble themselves as did Christ. Humility activates God’s power and authority in the believer.
As David E. Taylor points out in his book, Victory Over Pride, pride also hinders us from receiving correction, blessings, reproof, instruction, wisdom, knowledge, and the fullness of God. It is pride that hinders people from looking at others the way Jesus does with, which is with single eye of love and compassion. Pride binds and blinds! A sign of a mature Christian is one who can humbly receive correction or rebuke, deserved or undeserved, delivered correctly or incorrectly.
“And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: ‘The deliverer will come from Zion; He will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is My covenant with them when I take away their sins’ (Romans 11:26-27, NAS).”
If there is a way into a situation, there is a way out. No matter what our weaknesses, if we are humble enough to deal with them through Holy Spirit, when the weaknesses arise, we will grow stronger in Christ instead of weaker. This is what is meant in II Peter 3:18, “grow in grace”. Yeshua can exalt us as we lower ourselves as did Jesus. Many ministries have fallen from the place God ordained because of the division and strife caused by pride. We would all get further in life, relationships, businesses, ministry, etc., if we would humble ourselves to the degree that only Christ is living His life through our mortal bodies.
“God has exalted Jesus and gave Him a name above all names,” reads Philippians 2:9. We are to make ourselves of no reputation. If we humble our name, He will make our name great. If we exalt our own name, He cannot. Jesus never got into arguments, contentions or disagreements with His enemies when they were attempting to diminish Him. He was so confident in His identity in God that He didn’t need to defend Himself. He retained peace that surpassed all understanding and knowledge (Philippians 4:7). He has left us that same peace; we need simply to choose to retain it.
“The fear of the Lord teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor (Proverbs 15:33, NAS).”
“Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud (Proverbs 16:19, NAS).”
I hope you’ll come back next week as we continue to explore the subject of humility. If you’re interested in reading more on this subject, please go to my website and check out my books.
Peace and blessings,
Alexys V. Wolf
In our Christian circles, we use certain clichés or Christianese buzzwords, as I like to call them. One of these is “Jesus is enough”. We tell each other that “Jesus is enough” and encourage one another with the same.
The bottom line is this, is Jesus really enough?
As shocked readers would scream at their computer screens unanimously with a resounding, “YES!” and wonder if I, the writer, am a heretic, I would challenge each and every one of us to really think about the question and our answers. Really? Is Jesus enough?
Enough to once and for all take away our sins. Enough to give us eternal life. Enough to conquer death. Enough to heal us of all out diseases. Enough to rescue our lives from the pit. Enough to cast out demons. Enough to restore us. Enough to renew our minds. Enough to protect us. Enough to take care of our needs. Enough to give us a sound mind.
The list can go on and on. But, is He all that and more? Is He really enough?
If the answer is yes, then it is a good time for us to take stock of our lives and really look at how we are living to see if our lives truly reflect that Jesus is enough.
Do our lives reflect that Jesus is enough?
And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ[a]had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. ~ Hebrews 10:10-14
What Jesus did was for all time. We have been perfected for all time by Him. If that is the case, is He not enough in every area of our lives, even the areas where scientists say otherwise? If He is enough, and we say that He is enough, then we need to start living lives of faith that reflect this truth. We cannot walk around defeated, but rather, believe on what the Word (Jesus; the Way, the Life and the Truth) says and act on it by faith.
Is He truly enough?
If you say yes, then, walk in the truth of His Word and trust that what He said, He will do. It is not about Jesus and (the embellishment from our human minds) , it is about Jesus. Full stop. Period. No other embellishments. Because the Word says that He is enough.
By Neil Anderson
Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself
Trusting God for tomorrow is a question of our worth. Jesus said, “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?” (Matthew 6:26). Birds are not created in the image of God. We are! Birds will not inherit the kingdom of God, but we shall. Birds are mortal; mankind is immortal. If God takes care of the birds, so much more will He take care of us. That’s why the apostle Paul could write, “My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippines 4:19).
Matthew 6:30,31 states: “If God so arrays the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more do so for you, O men of little faith? Do not be anxious then.” God lays His own reputation on the line. If we trust and obey, He will provide. This is a question of God’s integrity. “For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things….Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:32,34).
God’s will is that we live responsibly today and trust Him for tomorrow. Are we people of little faith, or do we really believe that the fruit of the Spirit will satisfy us more than earthly possessions? Do we really believe that if we hunger and thirst after righteousness, we shall be satisfied? Do we really believe that if we seek to establish God’s kingdom, God will supply all our needs according to His riches in glory? If we do, then we will seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to us (Matthew 6:33).
Prayer: Thank You, Lord for so faithfully caring for me. I gladly cast all of my cares about today to You.
By Neil Anderson
For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God
A young pilot had just passed the point of no return when the weather changed for the worse. Visibility dropped to a matter of feet as fog descended to the earth. Putting total trust in the cockpit instruments was a new experience to him, for the ink was still wet on the certificate verifying that he was qualified for instrument flying.
The landing worried him the most. His destination was a crowded metropolitan airport he wasn’t familiar with. In a few minutes he would be in radio contact with the tower. Until then, he was alone with his thoughts. His instructor had practically forced him to memorize the rule book. He didn’t care for it at the time, but now he was thankful.
Finally he heard the voice of the air traffic controller. “I’m going to put you on a holding pattern,” the controller radioed. Great! thought the pilot. However, he knew that his safe landing was in the hands of this person. He had to draw upon his previous instructions and training, and trust the voice of an air traffic controller he couldn’t see. Aware that this was no time for pride, he informed the controller, “This is not a seasoned pro up here. I would appreciate any help you could give me.”
“You’ve got it!” he heard back.
For the next 45 minutes, the controller gently guided the pilot through the blinding fog. As course and altitude corrections came periodically, the young pilot realized the controller was guiding him around obstacles and away from potential collisions. With the words of the rule book firmly placed in his mind, and with the gentle voice of the controller, he landed safely at last.
The Holy Spirit guides us through the maze of life much like that air traffic controller. The controller assumed that the young pilot understood the instructions of the flight manual. His guidance was based on that. Such is the case with the Holy Spirit: He can guide us if we have a knowledge of God’s Word and His will established in our minds.
Prayer: Lord, as this new year begins, I choose to be sensitive to Your voice and resolutely committed to doing Your will.
I decided to walk one of our dogs, Judah, all by himself today as an opportunity to train him without the other two acting as distractions. My main focus was on getting him to walk alongside me at my ankles and not ahead of me, but the training session morphed into something slightly more. Many homes in our neighbourhood house several dogs. Thankfully, all these houses have high metal gates. I walked Judah further down than I normally do just to be nosy about checking out a house that I like, and in the meantime, I forgot about the really scary dogs who live in this one particular house across the street from the house I like.
There is a rottweiler that is chained up and three pitbulls. At the scent of any dog passing by, all said dogs would go into a frenzy with the rottweiler pulling at its chain from one end to the other and the three pitbulls turning into Olympic high jumpers jumping about 6 feet up into the air against the metal gate. I have learned to ignore the dogs and pray that the gate is locked and will hold up well to the three muscular canine bodies hurtling against it. However, for Judah, who understands dog and has to listen to all the insults hurled at him along with the incredibly intimidating moves, he just wanted to turn tail and run. Instead, I told him to sit. After a little hesitancy, he did. I repeated this every time he got scared. And later again, when we walked by another house with three ferociously barking dogs.
I wanted him to learn to hear and obey my voice in the midst of calamity and fear so that he would learn to hold his ground and not be fearful of other dogs and be able to be guided by my voice despite distractions.
While I was doing that, Psalm 23:5 came to mind. “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies…” and John 10:27 “My sheep recognize my voice. I know them and they follow me.”
I knew those dogs were not able to get to Judah as they were behind metal doors. I could hear them and they were doing everything they could to intimidate Judah. But, they could not get to him. Judah, on the other hand, did not have the surety that they could not get to him. He does not know for sure that metal gates hold up. He sees the dogs and their acrobatics, hears the noise they make and he buys into the intimidation. In the midst of his enemies, I made him sit down. He has to trust that I know better than he does. That, is so contradictory to everything he instinctively wants to do. God makes us sit down at a table He has prepared for us in the midst of our enemies. Where is the logic in that? The logic is that He knows that our enemies cannot touch us because He has got us in the palm of His righteous right hand. All the noise and lies they make to intimidate us is just that: noise. We need to trust God and know that He is ALL MIGHTY and that He knows better than we do.
In the midst of all the cacophony, I was teaching Judah to hear my voice, the voice he can trust to take care of him; and to obey that voice. He knows me and my voice because we spend time together, in the good and the bad. He knows that I have had to discipline him at times and he does not like it, but he knows that at the end of the day, he is very much loved. When the storms beat against us, that is when we need to ignore the sound of the waves and noise and instead listen to the voice we know as our Lord’s and be guided by it. It is easy to be distracted by all that is happening around us as the tempest shrieks but when we focus on hearing His voice, we can be still and rest knowing that He has us covered because He truly loves us.
To his credit, Judah learned to obey me well in the midst of his fear. I pray that I will learn from his example when my turn comes.
I simply cannot explain these feelings that have been welling up in my soul lately as we approach Christmas. While Jesus is the reason for the season, like a flower blooming petal after petal, a swarming of love and adoration for Christ has covered me like an abundance of sweet honey reserved just for the best. Jesus Christ is our best. He is the greatest gift we could ever receive. Not just for Christmas, but for all time.
All I need for Christmas is Jesus.
Teaching my children why we celebrate Christmas is very important. While decorating for the holidays, giving and receiving gifts comes with tradition, the main focus is on Christ and His coming to earth in the form of man. (starting off as a baby of course). Lately I have being drawing closer to Him asking that my eyes be opened like never before and that my ears be tentative to my surroundings. Having a little talk with Jesus is like chicken noodle soup for the soul. That’s just my opinion.
I remember some years ago that I would become overwhelmed with the Christmas season approaching. It was more emotional than physical. I would become saddened and somewhat lethargic. I say this because my eyes were set on the wrong things and I was always “thirsty”.
I’m not one to do the Christmas shopping in my house for the most part. Thankfully it has always been my husband because no one would get anything most likely had it been left up to me to go out in the chaos and mass of people rushing, shoving, cursing and just flat-out been mean-spirited. Plus, I don’t have that kind of patience. Having 5 babies back to back kept me busy so it just became easier for my dear husband to do. I digress but for a moment!
My thoughts always went back to my childhood. While I had a pretty decent life growing up, I always felt something missing.
Jesus wasn’t there.
Feeling confused and happy at the same time was just weird. Plain old strange and yet I managed to get through another holiday season. I could not wait for the holidays to pass.
Recently, my heart was on a couple of senior citizens who were in need of some items that they needed. It was an article I caught in the newspaper that came from the aid of the Salvation Army. I told my husband about it and that I wanted to sponsor the people’s needs. While my eyes glazed over the many people young and old with a wish list, I wondered even more about those lost. The lost who needed Jesus; the very One who is our ever-present help, comfort and aid.
I began to cry. Not just because some cannot afford material needs and wants, but that many go lacking without a Savior.How often we walk daily without Him. As Christians and sinners alike ,but first as human beings, we find ourselves at times trying to do things on our own. We try to make things happen within our own power and might. We fix our eyes on higher prizes and treasures beyond our means. Some are just desires to want, want,want. Fleshly things. Things that will pass. Treasures that will not go with us on a U-Haul when we leave this old world.
Getting caught up over-shopping and over-spending will give anyone a headache and then possible regret for debt than may take a while to pay off when we “rob Peter to pay Paul”. That’s a saying I got from my Mom. Maybe you’ve heard of it before.
Nevertheless, we need peace and true joy. It can only be found in Christ Jesus. He will make us whole. He can satisfy our deepest needs. Will you invite Him into your life? Will you allow God to direct your life, your finances, your will, wants and your plans that they will align with His?
While I am not attempting to take away your joy of shopping for your friends and loved ones, I just want to provide you with the opportunity to receive the greatest gift of all this year as we bring 2013 to a close. Health may have fallen, bills may be behind and loved ones may have turned their backs on you but know that there is a risen Savior who is waiting to receive you today.
I want to share with you a song I heard on the radio yesterday. I don’t drive much if I can help it but when I do, I tend to listen to uplifting music to carry me throughout my day. This song about had me in tears. No matter what we are going through, we must know that we cannot do anything in this life without the Lord no matter how hard we try. I know for myself that I cannot walk without Him holding my hand. This song has become one of my favorite and it lingers within me to the point of praise.
All we NEED for Christmas is Jesus Christ. If we trust God, He will provide all that we need and bless us with our wants. By His grace we have what we have. May we be thankful for the little and great. Be blessed one and all. You are loved, cherished and prayed for.
“Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6: 26, 33 NKJV
To God be the glory now and forevermore,