A Poetic Thought-Be Encouraged

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I want to leave with you these lyrics  to a song my husband wrote when he lost his job. God told him in so many words that they let you go, I didn’t.

To be encouraged means:  to give support to someone so that they will do or continue to do something or  to give support, confidence, or hope to (someone).

BE ENCOURAGED

Sometimes in this life we are faced with despair,

And it seems sometimes that there’s just no one there.

Cast burdens upon Him His Word has proved,

That the righteous shall never be moved.

Continue reading “A Poetic Thought-Be Encouraged”

Why is God Taking So Long?

waiting on busYears ago when I was a teenager in Chicago, we used to ride what we affectionately called the “green limousine”–the CTA or Chicago Transit Authority.  Winters were the worst. We would stand in the cold, hoping our transfers wouldn’t run out.  In those days, the CTA gave out time-stamped, paper transfers that were good for only two hours.  This was always a  joke because the buses were extremely slow.  So disgruntled riders would stand at the bus stop, with their  huddled and downtrodden fellow sufferers, and jump up and down and move side to side trying to stay warm.  Inveitably, someone would break away from the huddle, walk out to the middle of the street like a sailor desperately looking for land, and see if they could spot the outline of a bus. As the person would walk back to the huddle, we’d all look at him or her for an answer.  “Any bus yet?” someone would ask. Then, someone else would look down the long corridor of the avenue and hope, just hope that you could see the bus; and on and on this dance went.   The cruelty of this dance of deception was that when we saw a bus, the bus was either empty and out of service or it would turn some other way.

When the bus would finally come, it was filled to capacity and no one could get in.  The bus driver, knowing he was full, would zoom past the stop while motioning to the waiting riders that bus behind him was coming.  When that bus would stop, we’d all cram on the back of the bus just to get out of the miserable cold.  Nearly everyone was highly irritated and near violent by the time the bus arrived. No one could make you feel helpless like the CTA. The wait was way too long.

Many Christians treat God with this same level of irritation and angst.  They run out into traffic and look down that long proverbial avenue trying to see when their bus wil come.  They check every so often to see when their trial will be over, or rather when God will come their way and fulfil his promise.   “God, why are you taking so LONG?” is their cry.

Just to encourage those who put their faith in scripture. God’s design is not to make our lives miserable but He allows delays to help us mature in our spiritual life.  Consider this. If you gave a child everything they wanted whenever they wanted it,  the child would be extremely spoiled and unappreciative. Waiting on God builds christian character. Patience is one of the fruits of the Spirit.   Jesus reminded us that we all need patience in our lives.  He said “By your steadfastness and patient endurance you shall win the true life of your souls” (Luke 21:19, Amplified Bible).  Faith is essential to helping us stay on that bus stop (in our trials) until the bus (fulfillment of the promise) comes.  It helps us go though job loss, losses of loved ones, rejections, and divorces.  Never doubt God’s intent for your life. God’s desire toward His children is always good.

So how do we hold faith when we don’t see when the change will come?.  Romans tells us that if we see everything, then there is no point in hoping. (Romans 8:24). Faith would not be necessary.  Hope is defined as desire with expectation of obtainment (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hope).  It is difficult to be patient and wait on God when we are anxious about the outcome.  Learn to rest.  God may not come when you think he should, but he’s never been late.  God doesn’t have oops moments.  He is omniscient (he knows all).  He is omnipresent (he is everywhere). He is omnipotent   (all-powerful).  A God like that does not forget our requests.  He does not misunderstand our needs. To hold faith is to realize all these truths.

Abraham, the great patriarch, was promised that he would have a son from Sarah his wife.  Imagine as time kept going by how that promise must have seemed like a mistake. Abraham had moments of doubt.   Yet, Abraham’s example was not that he held perfect faith (don’t forget about Hagar) but that he held on to the promise in spite of the slip ups and doubts. When Paul describes Abraham’s faith in Romans, he does not mention the doubts of Abraham, but the faith of Abraham.  The negative never inspires; only the positive. Paul is trying to tell us that Abraham still held on to God’s original promise that through Sarah God would give him a son and that all the nations of the earth would be blessed through his seed.  Abraham didn’t let the sound of the ticking clock and the changes in his body drown out his belief in the promise.

God’s time is not our time, and even though our anxiousness can get the better of us, God wants us to get back on board believing that our request will be answered according to His will.

The Prison of Perfectionism

person in jailWhat is perfectionism?  Perfectionism is a belief system developed by an individual which leads them to believe that everyone should follow all rules (internal or external) perfectly; and anything below this level of performance is failure.  That’s my own definition—not Webster’s.  I’ve learned this definition just by watching and counseling Christians over the years, some of whom suffer from this malady more than what they would probably admit.  Christ told us in his word, “Be ye perfect, even as your father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).  Now, if you take that scripture out of its context, you can get really confused about how you should live your life.  You will create a prison for yourself.  One that will be very difficult to escape unless you come to certain realizations.  The first realization is that no one, no matter how faithful they are to God, is perfect.  The second realization is that on the average, those that claim to measure up to all Christian standards, usually have overlooked much bigger issues in their lives; therefore, it doesn’t pay to measure yourself against others.

I heard a man, who used to investigate criminals for a living say that when he looked at the facts of a case, and ran into coincidences, he didn’t ignore them.  He said “to ignore coincidence, after coincidence, is just plain stupid”.   One coincidence I’ve noticed that keeps popping up is that people that have made themselves perfectionists of religion strain at a gnat but will swallow a camel.    They will worry themselves and you about the smallest missteps, but miss the major problems in their own lives.  Jesus warned us about this type of thinking.  Worst of all, it’s not good for spiritual or personal growth.   Why?  A person of this ilk will be afraid to make mistakes and advance with the Spirit of God.  They will only do things that they consider safe and accepted by those looking on.  This is not the example we see in the scriptures.  The apostles and Jesus were very radical and moved with the Spirit of God, no matter how the “establishment” felt.

I was in this overly conscientious prison at one point in my life.  My child hood was chaotic, and both of my parents were perfectionists.  This disease was passed on to me.  When I became a Christian, this was not a helpful state of mind for me.  I was faithful to everything, and I mean everything. Very few could beat me in being faithful to the church; going to meetings, church services, visiting the sick, staying up at night with the sick,  passing out tracts, the whole bit.   My Pastor used to challenge us and say that we should ask ourselves, “If every member of the church were like me, what kind of church would the church be?”  Nice sentiment, and yes challenging, but that was not the best ideology for me.   I did genuinely care about serving God, and I did do these things out of concern and care, but there was a part of me that was so hard on myself that I tried to literally be the whole church and felt extreme guilt if I did not extend myself.  In retrospect, this was because I wanted to belong and be accepted, and the message I got was that the more you do and perform, the more accepted you would be by God—performance religion.

As God gave me more responsibility in the church, he actually helped me to pull away from that mindset.  I could see from the tower of the prison, others that were still in cells.  They bragged about how they were never late to church, thanked God for how perfectly they were training their children and how like the publican, they fasted twice a week, blah, blah blah, blah.   But I also noticed from my escape hatch the level of immaturity that existed with perfectionists that was often masked with scripture.

Perfectionism can be oppressive especially when you are going through your own trials and tribulations.  Do you find that you don’t want to let people know how badly you are hurting?  Do find yourself trying to pretend like you’re a super Christian with perfect children, perfect marriage, 2.5 manageable pets, and a white picket fence, never miss a Sunday school, attend every service, always volunteer when needed and complaining about those that don’t sacrifice their time to the same extent?  Do you find yourself shying away from people’s help because “I don’t need people’s help, I only need God?”; and although this sounds spiritual, you may not realize that God’s people are a body in Christ and He sends others to nurture and nourish you (Ephesians 4:16).  The hands and feet of His people are Him reaching out to help you directly.

I knew a woman that kept the manufacturer’s plastic on her living room carpet.  I’m not kidding.  She refused to take it off, for fear it might get dirty and lose its luster or value. I suppose she enjoyed it according to her definition, but she never appreciated the purpose of the carpet.  She did not realize that the value in the carpet was not just the look, but the comfort and pleasure people get from using it and keep their feet from hard floor underneath.  Most people I know that have carpet, like to sit on it, play on it, walk their feet across it and enjoy the feel, and if it gets dirty, that’s what they make steam cleaners for right?

Like this woman, people that are infected with perfectionism, become centered on preserving the unimportant. While they love the pristine appearance of their lives, they never really sink their toes into it, lay on it, play board games on it, or just enjoy it. Perfectionists tend to focus so much on the “carpet” that they unknowingly ignore the people walking on it and the lessons God wants them to learn. Most notably, they often miss one of the most important lessons of Christian life, which is being real and being flexible with the spirit of God.

God cares most that you love Him with a perfect heart.  (2 Chronicles 16:9; 1 Chronicles 28:9; Mark 12:30). He is not focused on your mistakes as much as He is the lessons that you learn from those mistakes.  Although not all perfectionists are hypocrites, Jesus warned the Pharisees about washing the outside of the cup and letting the weightier matters of mercy and justice fall by the wayside. (Luke11:39; Matthew 23:23).  I have seen this trend in people over and over again.  The perfect church attendance records, the flawlessly dressed children, the marriages that appear in order, Sunday school scriptures they can recite backwards, the neat, organized home; but many of them seem to fail in Life Lessons 101. They seem to become be completely unglued, and apologetic when embarrassing situations happen in their families or they try to cover up and hide anything that will mar the perfect picture.

All that energy spent looking good should be used to get to know their children, understand their spouses, and improve their walk with the Lord.  Unfortunately, the serious issues are often left buried for years, but never fear, reality eventually rises to the top.

If you find you’re in this mental prison in your trials and don’t want to face that you’ve lost your job, or that there are problems in your marriage or that your relationship with your children is strained because other people and other things seem to be more important than your family, take a moment and take inventory and unlock the cell door.  Christ will gladly hand you the key.

Are You Thinking Right?

ThinkstockPhotos-131580912Recently, I’ve been trying to eat healthier. I figure if I exchange bad habits for good ones, I’ll reach my “perfect” body weight. I’ve been listening to a lot of subliminal message audio books to help boost my thinking about healthy eating and exercise.  It’s not that I don’t have time to prep food and eat right (I decided I won’t use that excuse) but that I have to make time for what’s important. So, I decided to use these audio books to help boost my thinking.  Wow! The difference has been amazing.  God must know about this subliminal mind thing right?  The daily messages we receive in our subconscious affect our thinking.  I was never one to go for that sort of hoodoo stuff.  My husband would play all these “you can do it” tapes and never do it.  So I asked him, “why do you listen to that stuff, not that it’s not good and entertaining but is that really helping you?”  He said, “Actually, sweetheart it is. I know I’m not superman, but the things you have seen me accomplish is because I try hard to get all the negative messages out of my head”.  Now my husband has always seemed like such a positive person.  In fact, even though I know that everyone gets the “can’t do it” mantra in their brain from time to time,  my husband was the ” bounce back kid”.  He just never seemed to let problems get him down.

When you live with someone like that, you think, “either your born like that or you’re not”.  But I’ve discovered through this journey of trying to live a healthier life-style that how you think, and the messages you hear and internalize, have everything to do with your actions.  Since I’ve been on this journey,  I have gone out to eat twice (way down from the everyday thing). Each time, I can honestly tell you that the focus on the food was extremely different.  Even though I enjoyed the taste, I was not focused on my food at all.  Like many people, I connect food with relaxation, not as way to fuel my body.  If it didn’t taste absolutely great, I was like George Bush with broccoli. I felt I didn’t have to eat anything I didn’t feel like eating. When I focused on feeding my body for nourishment as well as enjoyment, my thinking changed.  I drank veggie juices because it was just good for me.  Even though I had done that before, I’d put agave and fruit in there, and plenty of it, because I had this horrible sweet tooth that had to be satisfied.

I said all that to quote this scripture Proverbs 23:7 “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he” (KJV).  The way a person thinks often determines their actions.  If I think I am not capable of running a business, pleasing my spouse or being a good parent, I will get this deep in my heart.  The scripture tells us “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23 (KJV).  I like this translation as well “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (NIV).  Everything you do.  If you get in your head that this trouble you’re going through right now will never end; that God is playing games with your life; that you cannot take one more bad thing happening to you or you’re going to snap, then you will feel extremely discouraged about your trials and tribulations. Have you ever just looked up at the sky, thrown your hands up and asked God, “Lord what is going on?!”  Why am I here at this place in my life?  I know God is faithful and will answer.   Bottom line–God cares about every aspect of our lives.  So you have to keep your mind straight to keep your heart straight. If you have to speak encouraging scriptures into your phone and play it back, do it!  Don’t be passive! Get the encouragement from God into your head.  We have so many distractions in our world today that we tend to underestimate the power of being alone with God, meditating on him and breathing Him in–and yes–into our subconscious; so that he’s always ruling our thoughts.  He has to be first in your thoughts for spiritual success.  If you haven’t been thinking right, do the work necessary to begin that process.  

About

Are you struggling with faith because your problems feel like they will never end?  Are you having trouble seeing the light at the end of the tunnel?  Do you need help with spiritual growth? Walk on Water gets to the root of why so many miss the life lessons that God is trying to teach.  Through a personal journal, thoughts, encouragement,  and biblical teaching, I want to bring to light that our journey with Christ as we learn our own humanity can be a beautiful thing.