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: 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: 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: Honestly, I don’t have it in me

I had thought about writing a post about trusting God, accepting God’s peace over the chaos of the world, but honestly, I don’t have it in me.

I was going to write about how when people abandon you, it’s okay because God is still there. Honestly? I don’t have it in me.

I was going to write how people are actually really good at heart and actually would care if you died, but . . . honestly. My heart is not in it.

That’s reality.

Sometimes we don’t even believe our own words.

Maybe we have to keep saying it until we do?

Faithfully Thinking: The little girl who brought a community together

*feature photo credit: Brown Photography

I generally skip past blog posts with sad stories, especially those related to childhood cancer so I would certainly understand if you skip this one. What is different about this one, though, is that there is some hope mixed into the story: hope for humanity, I suppose you might say. Or at least it restored within me some hope for humanity.

Back in the fall, probably Septemeber or October, we started to notice Christmas lights on houses in a tiny town we drive through to get to my parents and my husband drives through to get to work. In addition to the Christmas lights, Christmas decorations were starting to appear — like inflatables of Christmas related characters and Frozen characters. It’s not uncommon for Christmas decorations to remain on houses in our areas for months after Christmas, but this was a bit unusual to say the least. My husband soon learned the lights had been put up to cheer up a little girl in the town who had been diagnosed with a rare, aggressive brain cancer. The community had joined together to hang the lights for her to see when she came back from treatments.

One member of the community had even gone as far as writing the little girl’s name in lights on the side of his barn. For a full two months, I cried almost every time I drove through the town, amazed by the kindness of the community and the way they had gathered together to encourage this little girl in her battle. Not only did residents hang the lights, but businesses and the township also decorated in her honor.

Last week the family was told there is nothing more the doctors can do for her and a candlelight vigil was held for her at the tiny park in town. Members of two other communities, one where her church is located, another about 20 miles from Ulster, also held vigils, praying for her and singing her favorite song, “Let It Go” from Frozen.

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Little Ariah being held by a friend at the vigil in her honor. Photo credit: Brown Photography

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Photo Lisa R. Howeler

I know you can think of stories like this one, maybe in your own community or in a community near you. Ulster, Pennsylvania isn’t the first small town to rally around one of its’ own in a time of trial and tragedy. The story is not unique; it isn’t terribly unusual. I think, though, that we need to hear these stories no matter how many times they happen, to remind us that all hope is not lost; that the anger the media shows us has not permeated our world as much as they tell us it has.

There are still good people.

There are still kind people.

There are still loving people who recognize that, yes, indeed it does take a village to raise a family.

And there are still people who recognize we were not created to be alone but to be part of a community, a family tied together not by bloodlines but by our common humanity.

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photo Lisa R. Howeler

It is these people who show us that though there are things in the world that will bring us to our knees in grief, it is still true that”the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5)

Ariah’s family showed this weekend that they believe and understand that the moment Ariah’s spirit leaves her earthly frame it will be in the presence of Christ.

 

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:54-55)

Musicians sang in the pavilion that night:

I raise a hallelujah, in the presence of my enemies
I raise a hallelujah, louder than the unbelief
I raise a hallelujah, my weapon is a melody
I raise a hallelujah, heaven comes to fight for me
I’m gonna sing, in the middle of the storm
Louder and louder, you’re gonna hear my praises roar
Up from the ashes, hope will arise
Death is defeated, the King is alive!
I raise a hallelujah, with everything inside of me
I raise a hallelujah, I will watch the darkness flee
I raise a hallelujah, in the middle of the mystery
I raise a hallelujah, fear you lost your hold on me!
I’m gonna sing, in the middle of the storm
Louder and louder, you’re gonna hear my praises roar
Up from the ashes, hope will arise
Death is defeated, the King is alive!

The niece of a woman I knew passed away a few years ago from cancer. She was very young, I don’t remember the exact age. She told her mother, as cancer made her weaker and weaker, that she was going to heaven. Her mother, of course, was distraught, not wanting her little girl to leave her.

“Heaven is closer than you think,” the little girl told her mother.

It’s so hard to sing in our storms.

It’s hard to sing in our unbelief.

It’s so hard to raise a hallelujah in the face of death.

It’s hard to raise a hallelujah in the face of fear.

It’s hard to raise a hallelujah when all hope seems lost.

It’s hard to understand the idea that our loved ones will be gone from earth but alive in heaven.

Even though it was hard, the people of the community raised those hallelujah’s this weekend.

They raised their voices because they believe that one day hope will arise from the ashes, that death is defeated and that the spirit of a little girl who fought so hard for her life here on earth will live in a heavenly realm we can not even imagine, a realm closer than we think it is.

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Faithfully Thinking: God’s kingdom is in your own backyard

As Christians when we hear the term “influencing God’s Kingdom” we often think of pastors, missionaries, preachers, or anyone with a large social media following, selling out stadiums or packing in the church buildings.

Here is the thing though we aren’t all preachers in a global church or even a small one and we’re never going to be.

We won’t all be “influencers” beyond anywhere but our own house. And that’s okay.

Our ministry may only be to our own family, our own children. And that’s okay.

Building faith in our own children is the ultimate way to “influence” the world for Christ.

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Photos by Lisa R. Howeler at Lightstock

What so many of us don’t seem to understand is that God’s kingdom is not “out there somewhere.”

It is here, in our own house.

It is here, in our own backyard.

It is here in our own town.

It is here in our own family.

It is here in our own marriage.

It is here in our own children.

It is here in our own hearts.

God’s Kingdom is not a place, it is a purpose.

God’s Kingdom is not a place, it is a relationship.

God’s Kingdom is a love for those we feel we can not love.

God’s Kingdom is what we do with what he told us to do “Go into all the world and share the gospel.”

Sometimes the world is “the world”.

Sometimes that world is on our doorstep.

Sometimes that world is within the walls of the house we live in.

God’s Kingdom is something to be accepted, not achieved by our own works.

So if we are going to “influence” God’s Kingdom we can do it on any level – personal or global.

Come set Your rule and reign
In our hearts again
Increase in us we pray
Unveil why we’re made
Come set our hearts ablaze with hope
Like wildfire in our very souls
Holy Spirit come invade us now
We are Your Church
And we need Your power
In us

-Build Your Kingdom Here, Rend Collective

Faithfully Thinking: Dead Time

When I asked Lisa at The Manitoba Mom Blog if she would write a guest blog post, I wasn’t expecting the wonderful piece that follows. Maybe I think it’s wonderful because it hit me right where I needed it, but I have a feeling there are a lot of other people out there who need it too. If you don’t follow her blog, please make sure to hop over and hit the follow button. She has some very wonderful, thought-provoking posts to offer.


My blogging buddy, Lisa Howeler, said something recently that caught my eye.  She said that writing novels was a way for her to do something other than waiting for the next season of her life to begin.  I knew exactly what she meant.

Have you ever had that sense of: “You’re done here.” – before you were actually done?  A feeling of finality.  Like a premonition: the book is going to close.  You’re in the last few chapters.  Maybe even the final pages.  And you know in your bones, it’s going to end, and you will be starting another book.  But first, you have to finish this one.

There were two times in my life when I knew this very suddenly.  Both of them were job/career-related.  I remember exactly where I was at work when it hit me, and precisely what I was doing.  The moments were, otherwise, insignificant.  (One time, I was going to the bathroom.)  The knowledge came as a surprise – like someone dropping a bowling ball in my lap.  And at once, I knew: “Oh!  I’ll be leaving this place soon.  And I won’t be coming back.”

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It wasn’t sad, or mad, or even exciting.  It was just… “Ok.  Thanks for telling me, God.  For preparing me.  For giving me this knowledge; this advance warning.”  And on both occasions, it was correct.  Within months, I had moved on to some other stage of my life.

Sometimes, though, it’s not an abrupt sense, or only a matter of months, is it?  The time in between books, or seasons, can stretch to years – becoming seasons entirely of their own.  Seasons fraught with obscurity, darkness, disappointment, lack of influence, confusion, and perhaps, even doubt.  You may feel that your hopes are left hanging, and your hands empty.

I have come to think of this as “dead time.”  Not because we’re (necessarily) dead, but because there seems to be little happening.  It’s lag time – a period of quiet, delay, or waiting.  There is something that you are bound for, but you see no guarantee.  Something you are supposed to do, or have, or be…you think.  But you’re not there yet.

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“Dead time” is the tomb, the prison, the belly of the beast.  It’s the long stretches of Bible stories that we may overlook:

  • Noah, spending several decades building the ark.
  • Abraham, waiting until the age of 100 to finally have his son Isaac.
  • Joseph, during the 10+ years in Potiphar’s house and in prison, wondering what had happened to his coat and why he had that silly dream.
  • David, waiting 15 years after Samuel’s anointing to become king.
  • Moses, living for 40 years as a fugitive in Midian, while his people suffered in slavery and probably forgot he existed.

It’s Jonah in the whale, and Lazarus in the grave.  It’s Jesus – lifeless, still, and quiet on the cross, and His followers aghast.

It’s necessary.  It’s not time to forget the promise or throw away the dream, but to hold it before the One who gave it to you, with an open hand.  To draw in, get close, and let Him rip you open if He has to.  He’ll remove cancerous sins, fallacies in your thinking, and dualities in your heart.  He’ll refine, sharpen, and purify you.  He’ll fill you with pleasures, if you’ll let Him!  Such that the dream you had may pale in significance by the time it is fulfilled, and you realize that the promise wasn’t even the best part.  It was all He was doing in the meantime.

Perhaps this is why Jesus said of Mary, as she sat quietly at His feet, that she had chosen “what is better” (Luke 10:42).  There’s a time to work like Martha, but usually before that, there’s a time to be silent, like Mary.

During these apparently quiet, uneventful times, the Lord is busy.  He is working in you, so that you will be fit to work for Him.  There’s no need to rush.  He has plenty of time.

 

“He remembers his covenant forever, the promise he made, for a thousand generations, the covenant he made with Abraham, the oath he swore to Isaac.” Psalm 105:8-9

“…and he sent a man before them – Joseph, sold as a slave.  They bruised his feet with shackles, his neck was put in irons, till what he foretold came to pass, till the word of the Lord proved him true.”  Psalm 105:17-19

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15

“In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble.  If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.”  2 Timothy 2:20-21

 

 

 

Faithfully Thinking: Didn’t I tell you to let me handle it?

I am a control freak.

I know it.

My family knows it.

God knows it.

I’m not as bad as some people, no.

But, I’m still someone who likes to control situations around me – mainly any situation I feel could affect my own well being or that of a family member.

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If I think I can do something to change a situation for the better, I will do it, or at least attempt to do it. Often, though, I can not change a situation and I still lay there at night and try to figure out how I can.

For instance, we need to sell our house, sooner rather than later, so for several nights in a row, I was lying awake, trying to figure out how to get the money to fix this house up so we can sell it faster. I couldn’t figure it out and it was leaving me exhausted and irritated. One night I was laying there, physically tossing in bed while my brain tossed all the possibilities of remedying this situation back and forth. That’s when I heard a voice, of sorts, in my head. Actually, it was more like a sentence that I didn’t put there, so, for me, it was God reminding me of something.

The conversation went something like this:

“Didn’t I tell you to let me handle it?”

“Well, yes, Lord, but . . . ”

“Then let me handle it.”

The conversation was over that quickly.

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God didn’t ask me to figure it all out. He didn’t ask me to find the solution to our need to find a house closer to my husband’s job or figure out how to get people to read my books when I write them (specifically Fully Alive when it is done. This is the book I really feel God was prodding me to write and I’m terrified to continue writing because I feel completely unqualified to do so.) He also didn’t ask me to be the so-called perfect teacher for my children while I homeschool – he just asked me to do it and reminded me he would take it from there.

I’m not good at obeying.

I’m a rebel.

I don’t like to be told what to do, but as a follower of Christ, I need to trust that he knows better than I do about the things of life.

And I need to trust that ultimately God will handle it, whatever “it” is at that point in my life.

 

Faithfully Thinking: God isn’t a vending machine

Recently I’ve noticed a couple of things about non-Christian, and even Christians, views of God. Mainly, the view that  “If I didn’t get what I wanted there is no God.”

I’ve held this view in the past, so believe me I understand it. What I don’t always understand as well are the people who don’t follow God but then put in their orders for what they want in life and expect them to fall from the sky simply because they asked.  They deny God, or curse God, almost every day of their life, but when they need something, suddenly He’s real and if they don’t feel those prayers are answered, then He doesn’t exist again.

Yes, the Bible does tell us to submit our petitions to God but it does not say He works like a vending machine.  We don’t put our coins of “good faith” into it and pull a lever and wait.

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I know of a person (I don’t know them well, even though they are related to my family) who posts photos all over social media along the lines of “God says you’re going to have a miracle today” or “God says you will be blessed today” or “God says today all you’ve gone through will be worth it.” This is coming from a person who lives their life for them. They base decisions based on what will benefit them the most.

They don’t live their life as someone who believes in God until they want something. This is a person who texted me the morning they were having surgery asking for prayer the morning of it. I sent a prayer over the phone. The surgery went well. Two months later I never heard from the person again and that was over a year ago.White Red Beauty Quotes Pinterest Graphic

Cha-ching. Prayer submitted, prayer received, move on until the person needs something from God again, I guess. I don’t know that for sure, because only God knows the personal relationship between himself and his children, but it is how it seems from where I stand.

For my own sanity, I’ve made a decision to no longer pick up the phone when people like this call, looking for me to support their vending machine mentality. For a long time, I was the vending machine for a lot of people – needed a place to stay, pull lever; money, pull lever; need someone to watch the kids, pull lever. I finally put the “out of order” sign on the machine and walked away. Surprisingly, I haven’t heard from these people since.

Now my goal is not to look to God to be my vending machine; to practice what I preach.

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God does want us to submit our requests to Him, but he also wants a relationship with us. He wants to give us the desires of our heart, but sometimes He knows those desires are not what is best for us. Ouch. I didn’t even like writing that because I have some prayers submitted these days that are not being answered and it hurts. I don’t understand why I’m in the places I’m in (I mean the places I didn’t get myself stuck in, of course), but God does and one day He will reveal it all for His glory. That’s what I have to try my best to remember even as I struggle with the why questions.

Today I heard a sermon and the pastor encouraged those listening to say throughout their day, as a prayer to God: “You are good. And you are with me.” We need to remember that He is with us, even when we don’t know why we are in the place we are, or maybe we know how we got to a place in our life, but we don’t know how to fix it.

He is good.

He is with us.

But he is not our vending machine of desires.