Sunday, August 20, 2017

Survival tips for tumultuous times...


This past week has been difficult.  We are being bombarded with bad news.  Division and strife abounds.  Our whole world is sin ravished and sick, not just the United States.  For people of the Bible this should not come as a surprise.  However, it can be disheartening and overwhelming.  Back in the day there were no instant news sources alerting us of breaking news twenty-four hours a day.  (Perhaps ignorance was bliss!) There were no social media platforms with people continually voicing their opinions and arguing with one another.  Add it all together and no wonder peace is hard to find and confusion seems to reign!  Hopelessness, despair, depression and anxiety have become common struggles.

May I suggest that in order to survive, and even thrive in these trying times, it is important to be extremely discerning about the voices you are listening to.  Psalm 62:5 says, "My soul, wait only upon God and silently submit to Him; for my hope and expectation are from Him." Let's break this verse down and see if it can help illustrate the point I am trying to make.  First of all, our soul is our mind, will and emotions.  What we feed our mind affects our emotions and eventually our choices.  As the world gets louder and more confusing, it's good, necessary even, to pull away, wait on God, and submit to Him and His voice.  It's all too easy to submit to what the news says, submit to what this author or Facebook friend says, submit to what this politician says or that talk show host says. By letting what they say fill our minds and mess with our emotions we are silently submitting to them. No wonder our mind gets muddled and our emotions get frayed!  When we pull away and spend time with God, feeding our soul with His presence, worship, and the Word,  all of the bad news that surrounds us comes into proper perspective.  We realize that God is still on the throne and actively doing great things on the earth...things you probably will never see on a breaking news report.  We realize that we are still in God's more than capable hands. We realize that there really is a future and a hope for those who seek God.  As we silently submit our mind, will and emotions to Him,  hopelessness, despair, depression and anxiety begin to give way to hope and expectation.

I'm not saying that we should bury our heads in the sand and not keep up with current events.  We should, indeed, be well informed citizens.  We should also be filled with discernment about where we get our information and research things we hear and read to make sure they are accurate.  Then we should take that information to God in prayer, being alert to any action He lays on on our heart that He wants us to take. There is also a time, however, to turn all the tumult off.  Jesus, our example, left the needy and hurting crowds behind to get away, to rest, to pray, to listen to His Father's voice, and to submit Himself to His Father's will.  If the Son of God needed to do that, then surely we need to do the same.  I think our survival in these tumultuous times depends on it.

still following,



Saturday, August 19, 2017

Be Anxious for Nothing

By: Emily Miller

We think that it can help so much to have some sense of control in our lives.



After all, if we control aspects of our lives, it makes the future just a bit less scary, does it not?

The trouble is, us trying to control what we cannot control is exactly what God does not want us to do. He holds the whole world in His hands, and He knew you before you were even created.

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.
-1 Peter 5:7

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[e]?

 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

-Matthew 6:25-34

"I knew you before I formed you in your mother's womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations."
-Jeremiah 1:5

What makes you think that He cannot control your trying circumstances?

Many times, by trying to control every aspect of our lives, we only make things worse. Then, we run to God and ask Him to take control of the mess we made.

He of course lovingly does so, yet at the same time is probably shaking His head and wishing we had done this in the beginning before we had managed to get ourselves into so much trouble in the first place.

This may be a daily struggle for you, but I encourage you to start leaving the problems you have today at the foot of the cross. It may that you have to do this on a day-by-day, or even an hour-by-hour basis, but it will leave you so much happier to enjoy the things that God has in-store for you.

When you to give your problems and cares up to Him, you have to be sure to leave it with Him. The devil will try to get to you, telling you that God's not going to do anything about your current situation, or that God will not create a positive outlook from whatever trial you may be facing.

This is when we need to dig in and really have faith that God will see us through. It may not be exactly how we were hoping the situation to be resolved, yet it will create a positive outlook and benefit for our lives that God had planned originally.

And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
-Romans 5:3-5

Blessings,

Emily

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Inevitability of Change

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

I’m not one who deals with change very well.  In fact, I generally resist it even if it’s a good idea.  I need time to sit with it, think about it, dwell on it and mull it over and the maybe I can deal with change.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a big change or a little one, I find them all difficult. 

As I age, I realize that change is inevitable and I have to work to control those negative emotions, but it’s definitely work.  And of course the big changes are the ones that are the most difficult. You know the job change, the move to a new city, marriage, divorce, birth of a child, etc. These big changes – inevitable and sometimes glorious, and sometimes painful.

This week I deal with the emotions of some big changes.  Our son who has never been in school since we have homeschooled him his whole life. He’s always been involved in the homeschooling environment since he could sit under the table and answer the questions his sisters were being asked about addition, history and anything else.  He has always loved learning and we are excited that he will take a new step.  While we aren’t stopping homeschooling, we are moving to a hybrid of sorts.  He will go to a cottage school 3 days a week and have teachers who will give assignments and teach material, test and grade him.  It’s a change to turn over his education to someone knew in some ways, but it’s going to be a good change for him.  He will be challenged in this environment and that’s a great thing for a young man who we long to grow into the adult man that God wants him to be.  Of course it’s been challenging for me as I’m concerned that he will forget to write an assignment done, or leave his lunch at home. 

But that’s not the only thing going on this week. Our oldest daughter is leaving home for the first time.  She’ll be 20 this fall and she’s headed off to start her junior year on campus.  I’m excited for her of course, but it means a big change.  Of course she could have taken off 2 years ago and we thought she likely would, but we had an extension of shorts when she decided to stay and go to the community college and live at home.  I’m not going to lie.  It has been a special time over the last two years.  A time for us to watch her grow, to see her step out and take responsibilities, to go after goals. There have been difficulties and challenges but we have been together and God has blessed these years.

But the season has come and change is in the air.  I’m not gonna guarantee I won’t cry.  I probably will.  Goodness, I cry for sappy movies and really good books, so the likelihood is high.  But I won’t be a blubbering mess.  I know she’s ready and I’m not worried about her leaving.  But growth can be a bit uncomfortable and change isn’t something I seek.

Seasons are good though and growth is good.  If we aren’t growing, we are stagnating and nobody wants rottenness. Just as we look forward to the advance of the next season, we can look forward to the advance of seasons in our families.  There’s always a wistfulness that things are changing, but the next stages can also bring much joy.  I’m working to remind myself of that now.




Monday, August 14, 2017

Walk Your Path

By: Jenifer Metzger

When God created you, when He knit you together in your mother's womb {Psalm 139:13}, He made a plan for you. He laid out this path that is your path. One He needs you to walk. It is uniquely created for you. The problem is we often see other paths that look more appealing. Her path has a bigger house. Her path has more Instagram followers. Her path has a more romantic husband. Her path has a skinny body. Her path has kids headed for ivy league colleges. We see these other paths and we detour off our own path in hopes of walking these better looking roads.

Jonah did the same thing. Now Jonah wasn't chasing a better looking path, he was just trying to get off of his. We all know the story. God told Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach but he didn't want to so he got on a ship headed in the opposite direction. He didn't like the path God laid out for him. As a result, God put him in a time out to think about what he did wrong. A long, stinky, pretty gross time out.

Whether we are chasing a better path or just trying to get off our own, when we stop following the path God laid out for us, things get hard. We feel discontent, anxious, unhappy, and even guilty. Things stop working the way they should because we have left our God given path.


Your path is yours. Own it. Love it. Enjoy it. It may not look like the next path, but that's because it isn't like it. That is her path. You are called to walk yours. You may not be able to handle some obstacles on her road and she may not be able to handle some of your obstacles. God calls us to our own. We just need to walk our path.

Are you feeling discontent? Do you feel like you aren't doing what God wants? Do you feel like you've gotten off your path? It's okay friend. All you have to do is ask God to forgive you and help you get back to your path. Just as God helped Jonah get back to his path, God will help you get back to yours.



Sunday, August 13, 2017

Hope...


I've been reading through Psalm 119 this last week and this morning as I read verse 116, I was burdened for those who are struggling with hopelessness. "Uphold me according to your promise, that I may live, and let me not be put to shame in my hope", the verse reads.  I began to remember the many times and situations that I, myself, struggled with hopelessness - when I was sure God was going to come through with a financial miracle and instead we went through a season of great loss - when someone hurt and betrayed me and the relationship never recovered - in dealing with a chronic pain issue - in a long, long season of not seeing an answer to a deep heart prayer - in a two year struggle with depression - in watching my daughter struggle through over a decade of infertility and miscarriage.  I'm sure it wouldn't be hard for me to recollect other times when it felt like I was barely holding on by a thread to the rope of hope.

It's at times like these, when you are being haunted by hopelessness, that someone coming along and quoting Romans 8:28, "And we know that for those who love God ALL THINGS work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose", can be a bit like rubbing salt in your wounds.  I certainly don't want to do that, to be that person who callously throws out a verse hoping to comfort you, but refusing to enter into your suffering with you. Just a Bible verse can be cold comfort when what you need is a hug, or to hear the words, "I understand", or to be offered a cup of coffee and a listening ear.   At the risk of doing what I just condemned, I couldn't help but notice a similar thought to Romans 8:28 found early in chapter 119, verse 91.  "ALL THINGS are Your servants", it says.  As I recollect my own times of despair and hopelessness,  I can testify to this truth.  In the times when it felt like God didn't come through for me because He didn't answer my prayer the way I thought He was going to, in the times when hope deferred made my heart sick but after years of asking, praying, and pleading I finally saw the answer come, in the areas where I'm still praying and have yet to see the promise come to pass - in ALL OF THESE THINGS, God has used every test, trial and circumstance as His servant, as His tool, to do His work in my life. At every point when hope was slipping through my fingers, every time the enemy fanned the flames of hopelessness and despair that seemed to be consuming me, it was at those times that God supernaturally intervened and gave me the power of endurance that helped me to hold fast to hope.
For whatever was thus written in former days was written for our instruction, that by [our steadfast and patient] endurance and the encouragement [drawn] from the Scriptures we might hold fast to and cherish hope. Now may the God Who gives the power of patient endurance (steadfastness) and Who supplies encouragement, grant you to live in such mutual harmony and such full sympathy with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 
 Romans 15:4-5 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition
My point?  My point is that when it appears that God isn't working in your situation, He is still working and He is still working in you.  He does not waste anything that happens in our lives but uses ALL THINGS for our good and for His glory. The older I get, the longer the view in the rearview mirror of my life, and I can now see how even my hardest and most hopeless situations He wove into something beautiful in the end. Sometimes it took over a decade, sometimes even longer, for me to see and understand what He was up to, for me to see any good in it.  But, now that I see in hindsight so many instances of His handiwork in the midst of my difficulties,  it is easier to hold onto hope in things that I'm currently facing.  We've got history together now, God and I, and I know with confidence that all of hopes and dreams, all of my expectations, are safe with Him.
still following, 
www.justfollowingjesus.com