Faithfully Thinking: When you don’t follow your own advice

So this week I had a breakdown.

Like a full-on “I-Can’t-Take-It-Any-More!” breakdown. It wasn’t a very long breakdown. Only about five minutes, but it was embarrassing because I blew up on people I don’t even know and made a donkey out of myself (censoring my language there with the use of donkey. wink). I’m used to making a donkey out of myself, but I’ve been better in the last couple of years. Not perfect, but better.


My tongue and fingers have gotten me into more trouble than I like to admit. I know I’m not alone in this, especially in my family. Members of our family have a history of blowing up, feeling horribly guilty, and apologizing for it later, even if the other person deserved it.


One reason we blow is that we shove our stress and anger down inside for too long and then it spills out later and takes everyone in its path with it. Remember how a couple of weeks ago I was writing all about trusting God when we feel anxious? Yeah, so I often don’t follow my own advice, and this week I didn’t, at least part of the week.


I listened to a podcast/sermon this weekend that seemed to come up just when I needed it most. It was about how to channel our anger so it can work for us, instead of against us. The idea was to talk out our anger when we feel it, instead of seething and holding it in, and then exploding later.

We don’t have to scream our anger as soon as we feel it, but we need to be honest with ourselves that we are feeling it, think about why we are feeling it, and then gently share with the other person that we feel agitated, even though we probably shouldn’t.


For many who battle anxiety, like me, their anger isn’t rooted in actual anger, but in anxiety and worry. Depression can also make people lash out.
I don’t like pointing to anxiety as a reason for my anger because it feels like I’m trying to make an excuse for being a jerk. However, I know that anxiety is definitely one reason I lashed out this past week. It doesn’t excuse me at all, but it helps me understand it so in the future I can redirect that anger by stepping away from the situation and praying about the fear I feel.

When I say that I have been dealing with anxiety, I don’t mean I’ve been in a corner rocking back and forth. I’m not having massive panic attacks. I’m not popping Xanex and don’t feel the need to do so. The anxiety is simply a constant hum or buzz just below the surface of my subconscious. It seems to be there no matter what and flares when someone talks about viruses or politics or the end times or anything else that creates the “what-if” questions in my mind.

You know the “what-if” questions. The ones that go like this: “What if my parents get COVID and I can’t help them and …. “; “What if they start mandating vaccines but I feel the vaccines are rushed and would prefer to have some more testing and –“; “What if I get the virus and I end up in the hospital and die and leave my kids behind and –.”


Once those questions start, they usually just keep going, swirling around and around in our brain until we are drowning in them. We can fill our heads with so many “what-ifs” that we end up making ourselves sick with worry, which can eventually lead to us actually being physically sick. Worry lowers our immunity and, as the Bible says, doesn’t add one more hour to our life. I would say that instead off adding anything, worry subtracts from our life.

I can say that worry is unhealthy. My brain can know it is unhealthy. I can hear and read the verse that says “be anxious about nothing”, but being anxious isn’t a sin. God knew we would be anxious. There are something like 300 or more mentions of anxiety, fear, or worry in the Bible, with the majority of them included in verses aimed at comforting us and reminding us that God is with us.

God knew we would have to be reminded – again and again, and again. I don’t know why he didn’t make our earthly bodies free of worry and anxiety. Maybe he left anxiety within us because he knew it would lead us to him, bring us to him when otherwise we would lean on our own understanding and solutions.

Our God wants to commune with us. He created us because he loves us. He wants to talk to us and be there for us. He can use the uneasy feelings, the trials, the outright anxiety to show us he is with us even when he doesn’t remove us from the situations causing our anxiety.

I haven’t apologized to the person I blew up on yet. I don’t know them personally, or really at all, and sometimes apologies can sound so insincere in writing. Plus, I’m horribly embarrassed by my behavior — even though I didn’t curse them out or tell them to go to hell (thankfully, I’ve never told anyone that!).

I will decide this week how to handle the apology part, but I have already decided I will learn from it and will be grateful it is being used to show me the anxiety is building and that I need to talk it out with others and with God before it explodes on people who don’t deserve it.

Faithfully Thinking: Who Are You Putting Your Trust In?

After scrolling through news and social media sites (for much less time than I once did) this week I felt nervous butterflies and a sick feeling. I wondered how next week’s election would change the lives of my family and myself.

Or would it? Very possibly no, no matter who won.

So I wondered to myself, ‘Why are you even worrying?’

And then as I felt the panic starting to rise and a thought struck me: Who are you trusting, Lisa? Are you trusting in politicians to make your life better?

I realized that yes, to a point, I was.

Let’s get honest with ourselves.

Really think about it.

Who is your trust in?

Are you trusting in men (as the term mankind) to sustain you?

Are you trusting in men to protect you?

Are you trusting in men to provide your security?

Are you trusting in men to provide your happiness?

Are you trusting in men to give you peace?

Because if you are, you are going to be very disappointed.

Mankind will always disappoint us.

They will always disappoint because they are not God.

Only God can provide us peace of mind.

Only God can provide us security and protection and joy.

It doesn’t matter who wins the election tomorrow.

It doesn’t matter if the candidate you voted for isn’t victorious because our victory is not in earthly situations but in heavenly proclamations.

I read a opinion piece this week that reminded Christians in this country that our hope is in Christ, not in presidential candidates.  

“No matter what happens, God is sovereign,” Erick Erickson wrote. “The God who gave us Barack Obama and Donald Trump could choose Biden or Trump. God’s will be done. The God who brought bread from Heaven and water from rocks and raised you from the dust of the Earth and stitched you together in your mother’s womb is going to still be on His throne ruling the universe the day after the election. Too many of you are convinced the country is going to hell in a handbasket if your guy does not win. Well, I have read the end of the book, and I don’t mean this to be a spoiler alert, but everybody is going to hell without a handbasket, except for those who put their faith in Jesus Christ, not a politician or a political party. So, calm down.”

Like Erick says: “Calm down”

All of us need to calm down and look to the one who is in control. If the candidate you voted for does not win, trust that God already knew what was going to happen and he ordained it.

Tough times could face our nation, but God is there in the tough times the same as he is in the good times.

 John 13:7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

Faithfully Thinking: Keep Your Eyes Focused on Christ, not the storm

As Christians, we are called to keep our eyes on Christ, but this can be such a hard thing to do when so many other things and people are vying for our attention.

No year has made this struggle more prominent than in 2020.

This year has been like a roller coaster ride gone out of control.

We can shut off all the news, block ourselves out of all the social media sites imaginable, but if you’re like me, you can still feel “it”  — the perpetual tension in the air.

Between coronavirus, politics, social issues, moral issues, poverty, personal financial struggles, and family relationships breaking down, many of our heads are spinning. We don’t know where to focus, or more importantly, who to focus on.

I’ve found myself focusing too much on politicians and media; people who can’t provide me the peace I’m seeking.

I heard two sermons this week that focused on putting our focus back on the one who can help calm the storms within us, even as chaos reigns around us.

When the world is raging around me, I find it hard to keep anxiety from raging within me as well.

Jesus has called us to let him settle the storm within us, but we can only do that if we realize that, ultimately, he is in total control of our world.

Does it look like God is in control right now?

I know there are days it doesn’t look this way to me, but that is because I am looking at earthly situations. I am looking at what is tangible and right in front of me and not at the battles within the hidden realms.

“Hidden realms?” you might ask yourself. “Has Lisa gone all Lord of the Rings on me?”

Well, yes, and no. J.R.R. Tolkein was a Christian and he knew that there is a world beyond our own – a world where demons and the Prince of this World battle against the heavenly hosts for our souls.

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. – Ephesians 6:12

The fact we are never completely in control of our own life is a hard concept for anyone to accept, Christian or not.

We can’t stop our car from slamming into a deer when there was no time to hit the brakes.

We can’t stop the hurricanes from destroying our lives, or cancer from taking our loved ones.

We can’t stop people from not liking us.

We can’t control what happens all around us on a daily basis.

What we can do is remind ourselves who is with us during the turbulent times.

The pastor at my parents’ church talked last week about the disciples being on a boat when a storm came up. Jesus wasn’t on the boat when the storm came, but walked to them from the shore, on the water. They thought he was a ghost.

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

Jesus said simply “Come.”

He didn’t say “Oh, that’s not safe. Nah. Don’t do that. I mean, look at the storm raging around you. There is no way you are going to make it.”

He said, “Come.”

And he said “come” because he knew the power to keep Peter calm during the storm was in his control.

Peter did what Jesus said and began to walk on the water, on his way to Jesus’ outstretched hand, but then he looked around at the waves thrashing around him, the wind buffeting him — pushing and pulling at him — rain hitting him the face, and he panicked.

He lost sight of Christ and he began to sink.

How many times have we lost sight of Christ in our own lives and let the chaos of the world overwhelm us and drown out the Lord’s voice?

For me, it is so many times. So many times, it is embarrassing.

We can’t control the world raging around us.

We can’t control viruses.

We can’t control social unrest.

We can’t control elections or politicians (no matter how much we wish we could.).

What we can control is our trust in a God that is more powerful than our fear.

There was another time that a storm raged around the disciples and Jesus, but Jesus slept through it. The disciples were amazed, maybe even annoyed. “How can he sleep when the waves are battering this boat back and forth?” they might have said to each other.

Jesus wasn’t worried, though. He knew and still knows, who is in control.

As the pastor told us Sunday, “Jesus is saying to you, ‘I created you. I formed you. I redeemed you. I have called you by name. What wind? What waves? What are you afraid of? I will always be faithful to you.’”

The pastor also said, “Jesus is in the boat with us.”

What a comforting thought — that we are not in the storms of life alone. Jesus is with us even as the winds howl and the water rises around us.

The words “God is in control” is something we can say with joy in our hearts because that means we don’t have to worry anymore. We can give our fears over to him, walk away and let the peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7) ) settle over us.

We can close our eyes, take a deep breath, and remind ourselves that Jesus is in the boat with us.

He’s in the midst of the storm and he calms the storm within us.

“You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.
Trust in the LORD forever,
for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.”
-Isaiah 26:3-4

Faithfully Thinking: Press into him

I’ve been dealing with depression recently. I go through these spurts from time to time. When I go through them I feel completely unqualified to be sharing about the need to draw closer to God, since I know I’m doing such a poor job of it myself. Maybe, though, I need to be honest when I’m failing at this trusting God stuff, or feel like I’m failing. After all, I know I’m not alone.

One reason for my social media break is that I often run to forums about my health or depression issues to attempt to find solutions instead of running to God. As I have struggled this week with wrong thoughts, I have really been feeling like God has been telling me to press into him.
I’m not exactly sure what that means, but I’d guess he means I need to trust him and not my circumstances.


I feel him asking me to trust him and not people on the internet or my own means.


I heard a clip of a sermon yesterday by Pastor Steven Furtick who suggested that when we are telling God “Hey, I’m trying,” he is telling us “I don’t need you to try. I need you to trust.”

But there have also been other outcomes, that weren’t my choice, that has strengthened me and taught me and taken me down life-giving paths I never would have chosen on my own. I need to remember those when my days are dark, my heart is heavy, and my mind is jumbled with worries and stress.


This week when I have awoken in the night with a weird symptom and that pounding, suffocating, and overwhelming fear that hits me, I am trying to press into God’s goodness, his desire to prosper me, not harm me, to draw me through the bad moments when I want to be lifted out of them.
So I often I base how well my day is going to go on if I think I had a good nights sleep. God is bigger than a bad night of sleep. I need to trust that I can have a good day whether I’ve had a good night of sleep or not because ultimate rest comes in ultimate trust that God’s got this, no matter what “this” is for each day.

More encouraging or thoughtful words under the theme “Faithfully Thinking”:

The Blessing

Didn’t I Tell You to Let Me Handle It?

The Battle Belongs to the Lord

This Isn’t What I Pictured

Reminding Myself of My Word of the Year

More encouraging words from other bloggers:

Every Breath Counts by Bettie G

Faithfully Thinking: Reminding myself of my word of the year

Do you choose a word of the year each year? I have the last few years and it’s interesting. The word I choose is something I pray about and a word I try to reflect on throughout the year to remember why things that are happening in my life are happening and how they are working around what God wanted to do in my life during a particular year.

I’ll be honest, though, I often forget what my word was half way through the year and when I go back and look at it, it helps to ground me again and remind me what I had hoped for the new year but also what God had planned for me (among many other things, of course).

I heard a sermon this weekend where the pastor said God had us choose our word for the year to help us establish before the year even began what we needed to focus on, no matter what the year threw at us. That made me try to remember what my word for 2020 was. And guess what. I had forgot! I went to the blog and searched it and ironically the word was “renew.”

Renew?

Really?

2020?

The word for this year should have been napalmed, I thought to myself.

But then I remembered what happens after a fire in the forest. The fire burns everything down.

Destroys it.

Levels it.

And then new life begins again — restarts, regrows, and RENEWS.

My life the last few years has been leveled and in some ways taken down to the roots, turned upside down and become unrecognizable.

I’ve hated just about every moment of it.

I miss my old life.

I miss having friends.

I miss being connected to family.

I miss family who have passed on.

I feel lost on the ocean without a lifeboat many days.

But this weekend I started to think that maybe God had to burn it all down to 1) bring me back to him and 2) restart a new, better life.

See I am doing a new thing, he says in Isaiah 43:18-19

And sometimes to do that new thing, he has to remove the old. Pulling out the old can hurt, can be confusing, and it can be very disorienting. To grow new life, though, the ground needed to be cleared.

Continuing in that line of thinking, I decided to re-share my post from the beginning of the year when I chose my word for the year. If you haven’t picked a word for the year, it’s not too late. Pray about it and maybe God will show you his plan for the rest of the year and that plan will move forward despite what is going on in the outside world.


Originally published Jan. 1, 2020

Do you start your new year off with a word you hope and plan will define that new year?
I’ve been doing that for a few years now, a tradition that started with my brother who was doing it with someone else on a blog. I really don’t think about the word that much during the year, to be honest, but sometimes I will remind myself of the word I chose (or feel was given to me) and redirect my attitude. It’s also interesting to look back at the end of a year and see how the world aligned with what happened that year.

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Last year my word was “contentment.”It took me several months into 2019 to reach the point of contentment in some situations in my life, however. I was not content with the loss of (or changes in) friendships at all last year, or with our traditionally difficult financial situation. But, over time, toward the end of the year, I started to settle in with the idea that friendships I had once thought would be around for a long time to come had faded and that we may never be rich, but somehow we seem to pull through and pay all our bills, even if it requires some sacrifices.

A couple of years ago I chose the words “peace” and “simplicity.” Everything in my world was not peaceful or simple during that year but there were periods of peace and simplicity at least. Decisions were also made with those words at the forefront of my mind, as much as possible anyhow. To keep with the sentiment behind the words I also cut out some people and aspects of my life that created little more than stress.

Another year I chose the word “restoration” because a lot in my life needed to be restored that year. The year I chose “reconciliation” we seemed to be reconciled with family but by the end of the year that had crumbled and they returned to only contacting us when they wanted something (usually transportation somewhere).

This year I am choosing the word “renew” because my life needs new energy – big time and in many areas, including my relationship with God, my relationship with family, my role a teacher for my kids, my health, my diet, my career (such that it is..or whatever it is), and my spiritual well being. That is a long list, but, really, my entire life needs an overhaul. My children’s lives also need renewal and one of the biggest areas where they need renewal are in their friendships. My daughter, 5, needs friends, period, and my son, 13, needs much better friends than he has now.

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I am using the definition of renewal that is “the replacing or repair of something that is worn out, run-down, or broken.” Not the definition of starting something back up again – unless I apply that definition to my life in general. I am broken. Physically for sure and in some ways emotionally and spiritually. I need to hit the refresh button in my life and revitalize my diet, my exercise, my mind, my spirit.

I am tired.

Every day.

I am physically tired but somedays I’m not sure if I am physically tired because I am emotionally and spiritually tired or if I’m physically tired because of something going on with my health. I have hypothyroidism, so that does make me tired. I seem to be in the midst of perimenopause, so that makes me tired. I may, or may not, have an autoimmune disease, so that makes me tired.  My vitamin d is low (which may be related to one of the possible health issues I have) so that makes me tired too.

But I think some days I am tired because I think too much and my mental exhaustion translates into physical exhaustion. I watch too many sermons, trying to incorporate it all into my life in one fell swoop, instead of just watching one and meditating on that one sermon all week. I follow too many social media sites that offer encouragement, which I know sounds silly. How can you receive too much encouragement? But, when you try to apply it all at once like I do points from the sermon, it can become too much.

In other words, sometimes there are too many voices in my head and I need to silence them so I can hear God’s.

“Just…ssshhh. Let me think. Let me hear.” That’s what I want to say to all the voices.

“Let me try to figure this out before ya’ll start yelling at me about how to get my health back on track; how to get closer to God; how to improve my spiritual walk; what I should eat to feel better; who I should watch for spiritual guidance; what I should/shouldn’t be saying to/doing with my children.”

I just can’t listen to it all anymore.

I need renewal and I need it with a little less noise.

That’s why five days ago I started a complete social media fast that I hope will force me to focus on the areas of my life I need to work on. Health is certainly at the top of that list because, as I mentioned above, I am tired. My muscles hurt. I am winded from climbing the stairs most days. And, yes, I am grossly over the weight I should be for my short stature.

I do not eat fast food. I do not eat bread. I do eat some sugar. I do not eat regularly or include enough protein with each meal. And I do not exercise because – did I not mention this yet? – I am TIRED!

However, I do know that exercise can help with that as well, so I hope to incorporate at least some walking this year and go from there. To be honest, though, I’m so tired today (a few days before that lovely Aunt Flo comes) that even writing “I plan to walk more this year” makes me feel like a blooming hypocrite. I don’t know if I really do “plan” to walk more, but I “want” to walk more. How about that?

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Other words I could adopt this year: reinvigorate and refresh. I need to be reinvigorated and I need to hit a refresh button.  Part of that refresh we hope will come by selling this house and moving to a new one. Leaving this house won’t leave behind the hurts we’ve experienced while living in this town. It won’t change that family on my husband’s side have barely spoken to us in years and somehow blame us even though we tried to reconnect but were always told “We’re too busy for you.” Moving will not change many things, but we see it as a type of restart – a chance to make some changes for the better.

That restart started for us in April of last year when my husband started a new job, 40  minutes from where we live now, and opened up a door to an entirely new experience for him. The rest of the family is ready for some changes and new experiences too so right now we are praying we can sell this house, buy the one we already have an offer on and “get out of dodge”, so to speak.

So how about you? Do you choose a word of the year? A word to help guide you throughout the year, not pressure you like a resolution? A word to grow with you as you step through each day? Let me know in the comments.

If you are interested in choosing a word and would like some guidance on how to do it (even if it just for yourself and not to announce to your readers or publically) check out The Dolly Mama’s post, How To Choose Your Word of the Year (helpful reminders and simple steps)…Find Out Mine

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Faithfully Thinking: And Jesus commanded them: ‘Go into all the world and make merchandise to promote your church.’

You could say that his week I broke under the weight of Christian commercialism.

I got a bit fed up.

I finally had enough of church promotion being held higher than Jesus promotion.

When Jesus called the disciples he told them to lay everything down and follow him. That meant everything. EVERYTHING. Lay down the way you make your money was included in that. And the disciples did it. And God provided.

Many Christians don’t have money to toss around on fancy cars.

We have to trust God to support us, to provide for us, to make sure we don’t get thrown out onto the street.

Fortunately, many megachurch pastors today don’t have to worry about that because their parishioners are being told “Trust that God will provide ten fold what you give to the church in tithe money.” So the congregation should sacrifice but the pastors? Well, that’s a different story. (Don’t read this and think I don’t believe in tithe. I certainly do and believe it is needed to help a church reach people. I don’t, however, feel that guilt should be levied on to get that tithe.)

Some of the top pastor’s you are seeing all over YouTube and your social media feeds right now are worth millions. Yes. Miiillllions. Some as high as $55 million. They have the best cars, the best clothes, the best food, the biggest houses and take really awesome trips to really awesome places.

And on Sunday they remind you God wants you to sacrifice. You. Not them, of course, but you.

Many pastors today have their own clothing lines, books, reality TV shows, record labels, music, bands, and some of them even have their own TV networks, movie companies, and sets of plates and cups.

It seems today that you’re not a real pastor if you don’t have at least 2 million followers on your social media feeds.

That’s how out of control it has gotten.

“The sermon is good.”

“He’s a good preacher so . . .”

“He works hard so he should be rewarded. . .”

“They’re reaching people. That’s what is important.”

These were all things I have told myself over the last few years. I have excused away all the excess, thinking that is the only way you reach people. You have to have excess to afford to be able to reach people right?

But Jesus didn’t have his own Youtube channel.

Jesus didn’t have an Instagram account.

He didn’t make sure his sermons featured bite sized quotes that are “tweetable” and might fit nicely across the front of a Tshirt.

And he definitely didn’t stand up in front of a church and talk about how great his church was. I once heard a well-known pastor go on and on about how someone in his city criticized his church. That pastor then went on and on about how great his church was and he didn’t care if that man criticized his church. I guess you did mind or you wouldn’t have spent 10-minutes tell us all why that man was wrong and your church is so awesome. I still listen to this pastor but it really does bother me he seems to be so sensitive and keeps bringing up similar remarks in sermons.

“I don’t need you to tell me my church is great!” he yelled Sunday. “I know this church is great!”

And everyone in the sanctuary (which looks like a concert hall) jumped up and cheered dutifully. Sort of like a political rally.

I even ignored how he said “my church.”

We’re humans, right? We get “butthurt” as some like to say. We get offended and we lash out. Been there, done that. He was there and did that.

Not the end of the world and I still think he preaches Biblically-based sermons.

I just wish he’d stop reminding the world how great his church is.

We don’t exactly have megachurches in the area I live in, but we do have one big church. The people there are nice. The pastor delivers strong, Bible-based sermons and he doesn’t end even one sermon without doing an altar call (which is the same for a megachurch pastor I have followed for a few years now. ) I think that’s awesome and this next paragraph is not directed at the church or the pastor.

I think they meant well when they had decals made for their church members to put on their cars. They wanted people to know about their church and learn what a church can offer a person — friendship, fellowship, and a closer relationship with God.

I think, maybe though, that plan backfired a bit. That decal became a symbol but maybe not the symbol people thought it would. It became a popularity symbol in our area.

“Do you go to That Church too?”

“I do go to That Church!”

“Oh my gosh, I’ve heard That Church is so cool! The music is great and they have so many activities!”

“I know, right?!”

Before long, driving around with That Church’s logo on the back of your car became a status symbol. It was like being part of a really cool club. It still is. The other day I watched two people gush over each other’s decals.

“Do you go to That Church?” a man asked a woman in the parking lot of the Dollar General.

“I do! It’s a nice church! Do you go?!”

“I do!”

They both go to the same church but don’t even know each other. That’s possible since this church has two different services, but still . . . to me it smacked more of a popularity contest than excitement they were both part of the family of God.

Maybe they don’t even care that they are part of God’s Church, just that they attend That Church.

The church where everyone is cool and hip and the music is modern and the pastor is “killing it” every week.

Again, the problem isn’t the church.

The music there is awesome.

Everyone who goes there isn’t cool and hip but it could be the impression newcomers have when they attend and I’m sure some of the people are cool.

The pastor is a good, caring pastor.

Members of the congregation are good, caring, sweet people. I know many of them and know they would give someone the shirt off their own backs.

So, the problem is not the church.

The problem is Christians or people who attend (who may or may not be real Christians) being more interested in “gear” they can wear to declare they are part of a club than in really learning and knowing about God. Once you start focusing on who Jesus really is, what you are wearing really isn’t going to matter that much.

Can you wear clothes promoting a church and still want a deeper relationship with God? Sure! I get that not everyone is promoting a church just to feel part of a group. They’ve found something that brings them joy, into a closer walk with Christ, and they want to share it with others. That makes sense. It does.

But for me I still have a bad taste in my mouth when churches grow so big they become more like a social club than a church. I have a bad taste in my mouth when regular church attendees are struggling and a pastor gives a sermon telling them they need to trust God to meet all their needs and give more, while the pastor is driving his family out of the parking lot in a Lamborghini (no, I’m not referring to the more local church on this last one. Pretty sure that pastor is not driving a Lamborghini. Ha!)

I don’t know. Maybe I am wrong. But I don’t believe that’s really what Jesus had in mind when he said: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel.”

Nowhere in his ministry did he say, “Go into all the world and market thy self.”

Nowhere in the Bible does it say, “Go into all the world and sell as many books as possible.”

Nowhere in the Bible does it say, “Go gather followers on your Instagram feed.”

Nowhere did Jesus say, “The more money you got, the more chance you have to enter heaven.”

In fact, he said the opposite. He said wealth can actual hamper your path to heaven.

“And again I say unto you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter in to the kingdom of God.” Matthew 19:24

Notice he said “again”? Apparently, he had to explain wealth to his followers more than one time. He had to keep reminding them that wealth wasn’t going to get them into heaven. Did he say you can’t have wealth? I don’t think so, but I think his comments refer to the trappings of wealth – the fact that having money and prestige and popularity distracts you from what is really important and distracts you from saving souls for the Kingdom. In this modern age of self-promotion I think some churches are excited about their popularity, focusing on the quantity within their doors, but not on the quality of their ministry.

How can these churches truly focus on helping people if they’ve grown too big to even know who attends their church?

Of course, maybe none of that really matters, as long as you have a cool hoodie with the church logo on it to wear during the tough times, right?

Faithfully Thinking: He will lift it soon

My daughter was drawing with sidewalk chalk outside the house. She drew a heart. I doodled some hearts and an angel near her heart.

She’s 5.

Sometimes 5 going on adult.

The song “Trust and Obey” had been going through my head much of the day, though I didn’t know why.

I wrote the word Trust in orange chalk on a step.

“What are you writing?”

“Just a word.”

“What’s it say?”

“Trust.”

“Oh”

She steps down off the step and looks at it. She can’t read yet.

“That should say Jesus after it.”

“Oh?”

“Yes. Trust Jesus and believe in God and He will lift it.”

Watching her.

“He will lift what?”

“He will lift the corona. He will lift it soon. Just believe in God. Write that.”

“Well, that’s a lot to write, but I’ll write, ‘Trust Jesus. He will lift it soon.'”

“Okay.”

And she skipped away.

What’s weird is she rarely says stuff like this.

Sometimes when I say “let’s pray,” she rolls her eyes. She wasn’t brought up in Sunday School like my son was and sometimes I feel like I’m letting her down that way but then she comes out with something like this and I think “oh…apparently she’s listening to the sermons and me more than I think.”

And we weren’t talking about corona before she said this either, but I could tell it had been on her mind and she had reached a point where she just knew — it’s going to be okay.

 

Faithfully Thinking: Finding Comfort in funny memories and in God’s promises

As we cleaned out our house last week for our move, I found old journals and photo albums. I paused a couple of times to look at them, but not too often since we didn’t have a lot time before everything needed to be moved out.

 I found a journal from 2008 and the first entry was titled A Weekend of ‘No!’ ‘Stop that’ “Put That Down!” (I didn’t title journal entries very often. I must have been going through a phase.) I thought I’d share a little of the entry from this particular day for any new mothers, or mothers who remember those crazy toddler years. I think I had forgot how crazy my son was a the age of 2.

"Jonathan! Stop that! No! Put that down!"
I've said that so many times this weekend I can't even count. 
Jonathan has been into everything, torn up, everything, knocked things down, spilled things, climbed on thinks and broke things. 
He knocked the Christmas tree over twice; broke another bulb (bringing the grand total over two weeks to six, I think); tried to climb over the back of the recliner twice; tried to hammer the wall once; threw a handful of change in his mouth once; pulled toilet paper off the roll once (dragging it into the living room to wrap around his daddy's feet); grabbed two bulbs and ran under the table with them. And all of this is why he was taken up to bed rather quickly tonight.
Despite all the craziness, Jonathan has been a lot of fun. 

On another day my son was pushing his boundaries:

Jonathan just had his hand on the Wii. I told him 'no, don't touch that." 
He said. "Oh." Then he touched the DVD payer. 
"That?" he asked.
"Yes, you can touch that," I said.
"That?" he asked and touched the RF converter.
"Yes, you can touch that," I said, on to him by now and watching him shoot me a smart-but grin.
"That?" he asked, looking at me and touching the Wii again.
"No," I said.
"That?" he asked, looking at me and touching the receiver for the Direct TV.
It's going to be a long night.

I also found this entry from the next year when I got a weird call from an older friend of ours:

“Lisa, I just had a premonition about you! You’re going to have a girl and you were so happy. I was there. I don’t know why I was there, but I was there and you had a girl. You had a name picked out for her already, but I can’t remember what it was.”

I did not remember this entry at all. And why that stood out for me is that I did have a girl, five years later. I had had her name picked out since I was in college, had never told this woman (that I remember) and this woman was not at the hospital with me when I had her, but she was at my house sitting with my then 8-year old until my dad got up to our house to watch him when I went to the hospital.

We know this woman but we’re not super close to her in that we don’t get together all the time or talk every day or even for months at a time, but for some reason she had asked if she wanted us to stay with our son if I went into labor when my husband wasn’t home.

Finding that last entry came at an important time for me. I’ve been feeling very alone, very lost, very anxious (of course, with all that is going on) and like the future is frighteningly uncertain, but to see that entry, to know that 11-years ago God was using our friend as a messenger to tell me that he had our future happiness on his mind — that he has us and me on his mind — was a balm to my fearful soul.

A few years that entry was made our family faced some extremely big challenges, challenges that were a few inches from destroying our entire family. God kept his promise, though, kept us together, and gave us the girl he promised us we would have, while also giving us the gift of our son (big bonus!).

Sometimes, in the moment, in the every day stresses of life, we don’t see how God has been working or is working now. We don’t always remember the promises he gave us, the hope he instilled in us at times we needed it most.

Keeping a journal to remember what promises have been kept and what promises are still to come might help us to not lose focus on what really matters, but simply looking in the Bible and seeing what promises were kept and realized for other followers of God can encourage us as well.

What promises has God made to you and kept or what promises are you still waiting on? Share in the comments to encourage others as they face dark and uncertain times in their lives.

Faithfully Thinking: How can God give you peace when you’re turning to others for it?

Many of us are running to our phones or computers every morning, looking for some good news.

“God, just let there be some good news out there right now,” I find myself saying.

Yes, I’m asking God to make the national news media give me good news.

How backward is that? Very it turns out.

One thing I have learned is that I can not receive the peace of God if I am filling my mind and my thoughts with other voices.

I can’t run to the national media, looking for their reassurance and their peace because they don’t have it for me. They don’t want me to have it. Their business thrives on turmoil and fear. Tragedy and anger and fear and scandal sells. Period. It’s sad, but it’s true.

Don’t look to entertainers, to television personalities or news channels or even pastors to bring you comfort or to allay your fears.

Only God can do that.

Only God can calm our fears.

I heard a sermon one time where the pastor talked about how many of us are looking at the news and social media all day and feeling more and more stressed and then we turn to God and say “Lord, give me peace.” Then, while waiting for that peace, we grab the phone and keep scrolling, as if we are going to find it there.

How can God give you/us peace when you are going other places for it?

Pastor Steven Furtick said in his sermon two weeks ago:

“You feed yourself fear and then pray for more faith. God says stop!!”

He was talking about us scrolling through news sites, pouring over current events, filling our minds with horror stories and what-ifs and projections and fear-filled stories all day long and then having the audacity to ask God where our peace is.

I can tell you (and me) one thing. Our peace is not on Fox News, CNN, or any other national news site. It isn’t on any news site.

Our peace is in God’s word.

Our peace is in God’s voice which speaks like a whisper to our hearts throughout the day and we can’t hear that whisper if we don’t take the time to be still and listen to it.

Yes, we need to have an idea of what is going on in the world around us. We need to check in from time to time, but staying glued to the news, soaking our brains with stories that don’t always provide us with the full story is not healthy for our minds, for our hearts, and definitely not for our spirits.

Being still is hard for many of us to do. Maybe you can’t simply sit in a quiet room somewhere with candles around you, especially now if everyone is home with you. But maybe you can focus your attention on God and his promises for us by sitting down somewhere and putting some headphones in and listening to encouraging, God-centered music or a Bible-based sermon to remind you that you are not alone, that he is for us, not against us and that he has you in his hands no matter what happens in the world around us.

The leader for my online Bible study shared this song Sunday when we met for prayer and praise. I want to share it with you and encourage you (and remind myself) to listen to it and remember God gives you peace, not the world, not the national media, not doctors with models or projections, or political leaders. I will share a link to it at the bottom of this post, along with the lyrics.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

This verse means we will have peace that essentially makes no sense. When the world is spinning around us we will feel peace. It isn’t a peace that will come naturally. It is a peace we will have to ask for repeatedly, each day, each morning, each night and maybe several times throughout the day. But it will be a peace that will settle over us and envelop us like a warm blanket.

I am writing this post to myself as much as to anyone who might read it today. I haven’t been letting God’s peace fill me and I have a feeling there are many more who haven’t been doing this and don’t even know how. Feeling his peace doesn’t mean we can’t feel frightened or uncertain. It means we refuse to let that fear or uncertainty consume us to the point we forget whose hand we are in, who holds our future.

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come to pass: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” Where, O death is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” 1 Corinthians 15:55

Remind me, Lord, that nothing can separate us from you. Nothing. Not a virus that threatens death, not death itself. It’s so hard for me to remember at this time. So hard when death is something I fear even when I know I shouldn’t.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,  neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39


I don’t want to be afraid

Every time I face the waves

I don’t want to be afraid

I don’t want to be afraid

I don’t want to fear the storm

Just because I hear it roar

I don’t want to fear the storm

I don’t want to fear the storm

Peace be still

Say the word and I will Set my feet upon the sea

Till I’m dancing in the deep Peace be still

You are here so it is well

Even when my eyes can’t see I will trust the voice that speaks

I’m not gonna be afraid ‘Cause these waves are only waves

I’m not gonna be afraid

No I’m not gonna be afraid

And I’m not gonna fear the storm

You are greater than it’s roar

Oh I’m not gonna fear the storm

No I’m not gonna fear at all

Peace be still

Say the word and I will Set my feet upon the sea

Till I’m dancing in the deep

Peace be still You are here so it is well

Even when my eyes can’t see

I will trust the voice that speaks Peace, peace over me

You speak peace

Let faith rise up O heart believe

Let faith rise up in me

Let faith rise up O heart believe

Let faith rise up in me Let faith rise up O heart believe

Let faith rise up in me Oh let faith rise up O heart believe

Let faith rise up in me

Peace be still Say the word and I will Set my feet upon the sea Till I’m dancing in the deep

oh Peace be still You are here so it is well

Even when my eyes can’t see I will trust the voice that speaks

Peace, peace over me I hear You speaking

Peace, peace over me Oh peace Over me You speak peace

You speak peace

Over me

You speak peace

You speak peace

You speak peace