Musings From A Musical Mind

Posts tagged ‘Bible’

I’m trying to Listen, Lord

Does anyone else struggle with the concept of prayer?  Does it make you feel less than “spiritual” because you may have doubts in this department?  Do you believe God always answers?  Even when He answers against what you are believing and praying for?  Do you believe that His will is always done here on earth?   I do.

Somehow when I have doubts as to how I believe things work out (or don’t work out) – it feels like it goes against the way I was raised to feel or believe.  My husband has called me a Calvinist because of some of these doubts and struggles.  It is not that I don’t believe we should pray, rather I believe that God answers even when we don’t specifically pray for something.  I believe that God created, sees and knows the bigger picture of our lives – and His ways and thoughts are so much bigger than ours.  I don’t believe in using prayer as a “rabbit’s foot” – pulled out when we feel we are in serious crisis of mind, body and soul – but rather it should be an ongoing journey to listen and develop the mind of Christ.

Help me not to cry out just when I need something from you.

As Christians do we really believe that God is good all the time?  – has our best interest at heart even though we cannot see it?  Even if we haven’t prayed specifically for it?  Yes.  I believe that.   Is prayer for God to change His eternal plans already set in motion?  Or rather, is prayer for me?  Certainly God does not need me to send my shopping list of requests to Him.  He knows everything already, right?  I believe prayer is a discipline for me that takes years to develop.

Today I found this today on Sandi Patty’s Blog:

Dan Rather, former CBS anchorman, once asked Mother Teresa what she said during her prayers.  She answered, “I listen.”  So Rather turned the question and asked, “Well then, what does God say?”  To that, Mother Teresa smiled with confidence and answered, “He listens.”  Rather didn’t know how to continue.  He was baffled.  “And if you don’t understand that,” Mother Teresa added, “I can’t explain it to you.”

Such a profound thought.  You mean I don’t need to say or do anything?  Yes.  Listening to God’s voice is enough, but often times we cannot quiet our own thoughts to do this.  I believe that prayer changes us.  I believe this is why Jesus told us to pray.  So that we might have understanding and insight.  So that we might have quiet acceptance and resolve.  Even when things don’t go my way.  Even when He doesn’t give me what I want.  Even when my bad choices produce difficulty in my life.  Even when I am unhappy.  Even when I live right and do everything by the book.  Even when I follow all the rules and things still go wrong.  Even when people die.  Even when family members go the wrong way.  Even when nothing happens when I pray.

Change me.

 

I believe that by spending time with Jesus in submission to His plan and wisdom – we become bendable and pliable.  It allows us to look at our circumstances differently.  Maybe not at first – but spending time with Him eventually changes us.  Even when it looks as though we are doing nothing. Even if it makes us look and feel weak, wimpy and submissive.  Even when others around us urge us to be more aggressive in prayer.  How are we going to get an answer if we aren’t willing to go there?  What happens then, when after we are “aggressive” and exhausted from prayer – God does not answer.  Is it our lack of faith?  Is it our inability to “pray through”.  Were we not aggressive enough?  Did we do it wrong?  What about those we pray for that do not get well?  We didn’t pray enough?  Or long enough?  Such thoughts are contrary to the Bible.

And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.  Matthew 6:7,8

Take away my guilt.

Prayer is listening.  Prayer is developing trust.  Prayer is an open invitation for the Father to know us – and us to know Him.  It is about relationship – not a shopping list of requests – prayed by anxious people.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.” Philippians 4:6

I’m sure I will continue to struggle with this – even though as a believer, I should not.  Having faith is believing that no matter what happens to me or those I love in this life – He has it under control.  Nothing surprises Him or escapes His notice.  Like a loving father who wants to protect, hurts when I hurt and wants so much to reassure even when I don’t understand that he loves all the time – He gets me.  He has a plan bigger than I do.  And even though I doubt and wonder if there is something more I should be doing or praying about – He still has it.  All the time.  This simple truth takes years of trust to develop – and I’m still working on it – one day at a time.

So in the meantime – I’m believing and trying to listen, Lord.

God Bless

The Power of Addiction

I watched a special last night on Oprah Prime.  The topic was substance addition, prescription drug usage and street heroin.  I had no idea that heroin addiction has doubled in the last 5 years!  The statistics are alarming.  Drug addiction doesn’t look like it used to.  Addicts can look like your next door neighbor, the clerk at the store, a middle aged homemaker, a nurse at a hospital.  Sometimes it starts with a medical procedure and prescription pain relievers and then when that is no longer affordable or available (depending upon insurance and refills) there can be problems.  One alternative:  Buying drugs on the street where they are cheap and available.

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There is a problem in our community with addition – all kinds, from alcohol to meth.  It is so sad to see what it does to families.  The addiction takes over – nothing is more important.  All common sense and reasoning goes out the window.  Simple things like grocery shopping and paying rent become second only to the drug of choice.

What I found interesting in all the stories told from last nights episode was this:  All have an emptiness that needs to be filled.  Some expressed that it is a spiritual emptiness.  And by “spiritual” they don’t necessarily mean a relationship with God (although I believe that is what would help the addiction problem) but an emotional/relationship emptiness and void that needs filling.

We often enjoy watching Hoarders and have remarked that all these people with this condition of “hoarding” seem to also have an emptiness or void that they try to fill through shopping and accumulations of “things”.  It is a very real and growing problem in our world today.  And every one of them – almost without exception,  had something traumatic happen to them at a young or impressionable age.  Sometimes it was even something later, like the death of a child or loved one – a financial reversal or loss of job.  Whatever the reason, there are common elements to addiction and disorders such as hoarding.

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Self loathing, hatred, feelings of helplessness and unworthiness are also a common theme.  Last night in the interview, Russell Brand confessed to his years of struggle with drug addiction.  Now more than 10 years sober – he says every day is still a struggle.  As he explained how the drugs – particularly heroin makes you feel – it is no wonder that it can pull people in and set them up to fail.  It is an unending cycle of dependency and abuse.  He has seen many senseless deaths of friends caught in the trap of addiction and understands all too well how it happens.  But I was struck most by his comment, “There was a voice in my head that wanted me dead”  That made me sit up and take notice.  Do I believe that voice is demonic in nature?  Yes.  Absolutely.  It’s just like Satan.

” The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.  John 10:10

Crazy scary stuff!  But it also makes sense.  People lose themselves in the feeling that takes over their lives and nothing else matters.  It is a form of suicide, just like anorexia.  A self loathing of immense proportions.  And I recognize that this is evil and demonic.  Satan wants us all dead.  That’s his agenda, and he’s not good at hiding it.

This makes me very sad.

As a Christian I can see another side to addiction.  I can see life, health, purpose, prosperity of the soul, forgiveness, common sense, kindness, honesty, giving, graciousness and most of all…love.

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Christianity is not just a crutch – like so many out there looking for something to fill that empty void.   Christ is the filling.  The freedom He gives us is not just a temporary “fix” – it is a way of living.  It lasts.  It endures.  It lengthens life and relationships.  Not just in this lifetime – but the next one too.  It does not rob.  It gives.  When we don’t have to just depend on ourselves for “things” to fix us or fulfill us, but instead can give ourselves over to a loving God who not only created us – but has a plan for us – it changes things.  It takes the pressure off.  Gives purpose.  Gives life, a clear and sober mind, health of body and most of all – fills the void inside.  Because He loves us – it doesn’t matter what others may have done to us – His plan and purpose for us is always healthy, always reassuring and always builds us up rather than tearing us down.  When we are full of love from Him – we are free to love others and give to others out of that love.  It is a release from the prison that others find themselves in.

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Those of us who find ourselves free from addiction are very fortunate.  But being fortunate does not give license to be judgmental or critical to those who are.  Instead of looking at people with addictions as weak, stupid, or even hardened criminals – we need to look on them with compassion and the love of Christ.  As a Christian this can be the hardest thing of all.  The “I’m OK – you’re NOT OK” seems to fit most of us with a healthy lifestyle.  The “how stupid” or “what a weak person” comments are never far from our thoughts.  If only “they” were just like me.  If only they had real resolve and will power they wouldn’t be in this fix or lifestyle.  We say these senseless things without having any idea the journey others are on.

Dear Jesus – soften our hearts to accept others with their addictions and problems – just as they are.  Help us to see them as you see them – broken but wonderful creations loved by you.  Help us live in such a way that those that are bound by things here on earth will see YOU in US.  And by seeing YOU – they will want what you offer – hope, freedom, peace, forgiveness, love, acceptance, purpose and health.  Help us live in such a way that you are attractive.  That You would be a real solution to a huge unsolvable way of life.  I pray that the inner void would be filled by something that will last – a relationship with you.  And that I would be aware and take an active part in bringing about real change.  This is my prayer. Help us. Humble us.  Teach us.  Break our hearts.   Amen.

LIVETH

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How Do I Fit Into The Cosmos?

All of my life I’ve been fascinated by space, time and the cosmos.  When I was very young we lived in a city that had a planetarium and we would visit about once a year.  I remember reclining in the chair as the room would go black and the ceiling would become the sky above – lit up by a million stars.  It was dazzling.  And mind boggling.universe

Lately there have been a couple of programs on TV, “The Universe” and “The Cosmos” – both of which concentrate and attempt to explain some of the mind boggling science that is so fascinating.  It really is interesting to learn the origins and brilliant minds who took the first steps toward the future – glimpsing a world beyond our own planet and then setting about to prove the existence of other planets, stars and galaxies. Things that we know today, were hardly believed possible several hundred years ago.

Like anything where information is proved, it brings about more questions.  And even more awe.  Tiny little me.  On an obscure planet, in a tiny solar system – one of trillions in the known universe.  Am I unique?  How can this even be possible?  And yet, try as hard as they might – even with all the sophisticated equipment to measure, calculate and speculate – they still cannot find life on any other planet.  We are unique.  We are special.  Created by a loving heavenly father – who fashioned our earth to sustain very specific conditions – not found on any other planet.  Specific conditions to have living breathing human beings, animals and plant life as well as all kinds of fish in the oceans and birds in the air.

Am I special?  Do I matter in the larger scheme of things?  With swirling galaxies, shooting stars and incredible heat and cold, things WAY bigger, faster and much more intimidating than me.  Why does God care about me when I’m so small and insignificant?  In Isaiah we read:

Look up into the heavens! Who created all these stars? As a shepherd leads his sheep,calling each by its pet name, and counts them to see that none are lost or strayed, so God does with stars and planets!  (Living Bible)

Do you know how many stars there are?  Scientists are always discovering new galaxies and stars – even millions of light years away.  And yet God knows each of them by name?  And yet I know from what the Bible tells me, that He takes a personal interest in me.  Size and strength don’t mean anything to God.  He creates at will, possesses incredible strength and artistry not to mention attention to the smallest detail of creation.  Here in Luke 12 we read:

“And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span? “If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters?“Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.…

If God cares so much about naming the stars and clothing the lilies in beautiful colors – plants and flowers that are here for a few days and then gone, many of which are never seen, then He surely cares about me.  In fact the Bible tells that he not only created mankind to have a special relationship with Him with choice to love Him – but that He also came to earth Himself in the form of His son Jesus.  He did this because of our poor choices and rebellion against God putting us on a dangerous and deadly road destined to an eternity separated from Him.  In Romans 5:8 we read:

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Amazing.  Mind-blowing. Love.

How do I fit into the cosmos?

Bottom line:  I am a creation of vast importance to God.  So much so that the God of the universe creating things so far away, I will never even see or know they are there actually came to earth on my behalf.  He came in human form to relate with me.  He demonstrated His love toward me by teaching me how to live and then dying for me so that I can live. 

I am unique.  And special.  And so are you.

 

God Bless

 

 

The Great Unseen

 

IMG_5568Yesterday Greg found this colorful beetle.  He picked it up and brought it over to me – and my immediate response was to take a few pictures.  I’m afraid they do not adequately capture the intricacy and detail.  The color is a metallic green – and actually has sparkles in it!  So unique and beautiful.  People pay good money to have this color painted on their cars – bodies and other personal belongings.  The beetle has it on for free.  It is dressed in splendor for no particular reason.  Just because.

Reminds me of these scriptures in Matthew 6:

27-29 “Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.

30-33 “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

34 “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.

Message Bible

If God cares so much for things – most of which are unseen by human eyes – how much more must He care about us – what happens to us, where we go, what we do, where we live, how we manage life day by day, who we touch, influence, love and encourage?  Our simple day-to-day worries seem small when we remember how much God cares about the tiniest detail of His creation.

Greg remembers a time when hunting with his family years ago, they climbed up to a place where few had ever gone.  Well, except the mountain sheep – and if they saw beauty in God’s creation they weren’t telling 🙂  He remembers details in the rock formations, plants and flowers that no one would ever see.  Creatures that would live and die up there in just a few feet of space.  Here today and gone tomorrow with no witnesses that they had been.  And yet, God still created them and saw fit to make them stunning!  The creative, imaginative God spinning colors and details for His enjoyment.  The Great Unseen.

And that inspires me.  This God who sees all, creates beauty whether seen or unseen – lives within me.  Every detail and intricacy of my life, finely woven together for His pleasure.  Whether others see or not.  He is still working, creating, molding, weaving His legacy through me.  Whispering, “it’s okay – relax, I’ve got you”.

And He cares about you in the same way.  So don’t worry, don’t fuss and fume.  If your faith is in Him – you don’t need to be afraid of the future.  He’s got you.  You can trust Him and let it go.  He will come through.  In seen and unseen ways.  Caring more for you than the beautifully detailed flowers of the field.  He cares.  He sees.  He is.

 

God Bless

 

 

Good Friday Thoughts

Maundy Thursday Table

Maundy Thursday Table (Photo credit: revger)

Last night we attended our first ever Maundy Thursday event at our local United Methodist church. Both my husband and I were raised in denominations that did not celebrate the Lenten season so this was different and beautiful.  A time of deep reflection about the events in the upper room and the commission to “love”.  Soup and bread to remember the last supper – and special meaningful music.

I think sometimes we get caught up preparing for Easter Sunday – we miss the events leading up to the cross.  The events that are all about anguish and suffering. Knowing what had to be done – and yet still being present for those people who still needed Him.  I was once again struck by something when we watched, “The Bible” where Peter cuts off the ear of a soldier – and Jesus walks over and restores the ear.  It is huge, in light of the fact that these same men were out to arrest Jesus.  A simple gesture of caring and love.  In a world gone mad.

How could someone be so compassionate in the midst of such stress?  Many of us would have failed the test if we were on trial for our life.  He never lost His cool – He focused on the mission and never wavered.  He knew what was important and what was at stake.  He lived in the moment but lived for the future.

I think of how punchy and short I can be with people when I’m in a stressful or ‘time-pressure’ situation.  I’ve witnessed others around me that have done the same thing in their reactions.  It’s not pretty.  We tend to take it out on others when we are in a bad way – or retreat to be by ourselves to lick our wounds and not come out of hiding.  Jesus did neither.

I am thankful for a calm and rational Jesus.  One who stayed present and caring.  One who saw into the future to where I am today and said, “she is worth all of this”.

No matter what your thoughts are as you reflect on the events of a crucified Jesus – I am grateful that in spite of ourselves – a way was made for you and me.  It doesn’t matter what denomination who come from or where you worship – if you believe that Jesus came to earth and was the sacrifice for you – that is all you need to believe.  The rest will work itself out.  Just trust in Him – and that is enough.

May this be the best Easter weekend you have ever had!

God Bless

Beneath The Cross Of Jesus

Yesterday we sang this old traditional hymn at the closing of our morning church service.  It has been years since I have sung this – or even heard it.  The simple beauty of the words and harmonies are hard to describe.   It is a wonderful reminder in this season of Lent.

Like many of you, we are watching the mini series, “The Bible” on Sunday nights.  Yesterday we saw the dramatization of the birth of Jesus and some of his early ministry.  The calling of Peter was just as I had always pictured it to be.  A charismatic, positive and caring Jesus, a cynical, passionate and somewhat angry Peter.  It was a match made in heaven.  The scene of the calling to follow Jesus is wonderful.  Next week,  just in time for Palm Sunday and Easter weekends will be the miracles, teachings and then the betrayal and long walk to the cross.

If you are like me you have many questions.  Not that it really happened – but why it had to happen like it did.  Fully God and yet fully human, Jesus is someone whose life and appearance puzzles even the most devout critic.  Why He had to come the way He did – and save us by sending himself – we will never know.  The back story to the temptations by Satan is a deep mystery.   Why would that have even been an issue for God at all?   But it was.  And Jesus struggled with it.

I may not understand it.  But I have come to realize that God does not tell us everything about His plan 0r Himself.  We just need to take it on faith.  We are on a “need to know” basis – and apparently it is not important that we know why.  Only that it is.  And we either accept it or turn it away.  Either way it does not change it.   One thing is certain.  I am a hot mess by myself and need a Savior.  And God knew that even before I was born.  A plan was made for me before I even knew about it.   And I accept this gift and am very thankful.

Enjoy this wonderful version of “Beneath The Cross of Jesus” that I found on youtube sung by a college choir.  You may remember it from years ago – or you may have never heard it before.  Either way you will love it.  My prayer for you today is that you too will just accept that there are things that you will never understand – but admit that you too need a Savior to save you from yourself.  You will find Him if you truly want to be found.  He will change your life in so many ways – if you will open up and let Him in to it.

God Bless

Text: Elizabeth C. Clephane, 1830-1869
Music: Frederick C. Maker, 1844-1927
Tune: ST. CHRISTOPHER, Meter: 76.86.86.86

1. Beneath the cross of Jesus
I fain would take my stand,
the shadow of a mighty rock
within a weary land;
a home within the wilderness,
a rest upon the way,
from the burning of the noontide heat,
and the burden of the day.

2. Upon that cross of Jesus
mine eye at times can see
the very dying form of One
who suffered there for me;
and from my stricken heart with tears
two wonders I confess:
the wonders of redeeming love
and my unworthiness.

3. I take, O cross, thy shadow
for my abiding place;
I ask no other sunshine than
the sunshine of his face;
content to let the world go by,
to know no gain nor loss,
my sinful self my only shame,
my glory all the cross.

What Is Lent?

If you were ever wondering – here is a wonderful and humorous explanation. Thanks, Chuck!

God Bless

I’m A Pillar Of Salt

A few weeks ago, our pastor spoke on the subject of Sodom and Gomorrah.  Controversial to say the least – it has been a part of the Bible stories in the book of Genesis that has always troubled me.  And I am not alone.  This story alone has been what ‘the church’ has based its bias and taboo against homosexuality.

I thought our pastor handled the subject matter respectfully and provided information and clarity.  Because this passage of scripture is talking about violence and blackened hearts of the people in that place and not anything specific – it is easy to pick out what we believe scripture is saying.  Because there were not even 10 righteous people living there, God decides to destroy.  Everyone except Lot and his family.

The troubling points to be sure are these:

1) The wicked and violent men in the city

2) Lot offering his virgin daughters

3) The looking back of Lot’s wife

The thing that troubles me – and I guess it always has is this:  How are we any different from those wicked and angry men in that city?  There seems to be SO MUCH anger and violence today in our world.  There are also REALLY BAD parents raising children.  Drug addicts, those involved in alcoholism,  prostitution, child pornography etc.  It makes what Lot did – seem really tame.  And he was just doing what the culture of that time would have regarded as right – ‘the law of the guest’ – meant – that your houseguest came FIRST in comfort and safety – even before yourself and your own family.

And then finally – the last act of rebellion from Lot’s wife as they fled the burning cities.

She looked back.

Was this really so bad?  Have you ever looked back?  Grieved or lamented over something lost?  This woman lost her home and everything material she ever owned.  Her very existence was gone in a moment.  And yet God told them – “Don’t look back”.

I should be a pillar of salt.  And so should you.  We have all done it.  Are we ever sad and hurting?  Lonely and feeling abandoned – missing something you once had?

Or was this ‘looking back’ something more?  Once more – it seems to be a heart issue.  God is very good at getting right to the bottom line.  Since he knows our heart – and knows we are prone to wander – I believe He helps us and constantly stays with us when He knows we will have a hard time leaving something or someone behind.  When we forfeit His presence in our lives, turn our back on what the spirit whispers to us, rush past the red flags placed in our path to warn us – we are one step closer to a hardened heart.  I believe that this is what happened to Lot’s wife.  She had turned her back on God.  She wanted other things ahead of Him – even though she knew that God was with her husband Lot and her family.  Her spiritual undoing came long before she turned around and got that ‘last look’ at her home.

I am humbled by this story.  It is though-provoking.  It is raw.  And serves as a great reminder to us today – that we not stray from His touch and presence in our lives.  And He will keep us safe.  He will guard and guide us – just like Lot and his children.

God Bless

My Heavy Shield

Bugis warrior

Bugis warrior (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Joyce Meyer spoke about the shield of faith today.  She had a large shield on stage that was borrowed from the prop room.  As she talked about the “fiery darts” from the enemy she would lift that shield and hold it up over her body covering even her face and head.  She said it was very heavy.  At first when carried out by one of the men, she wondered if she would be able to lift it.  It actually made a great analogy for what we sometimes deal with exercising our own “shield of faith” in our own lives.  It is much easier to just leave it sit there on the side-lines – never pick it up and actually use it.   After all – it is kind of  – heavy.  It’s way easier to just to our own thing instead.

As she cited many scriptures on faith including the famous ones from the book of Hebrews, something swelled up in me.  Something made real sense to me.  Those people like Abraham, the woman with the bleeding issue, the man who asked Jesus to heal his daughter and many more were people just like us – but with one difference:  they spoke out their faith and believed even when it looked impossible.  

This is a great lesson.  It is one that I for one have heard my whole life.  I know those Bible stories by heart.  Went to Bible school and studied at great length and have been in ministry with my husband for 0ver 25 years.  And yet, I fall short.  I have let my personal situations bring me down.  I have allowed others to rob me of my joy.  I have failed many times.

And yet – I remember the times when I did believe for things that looked or seemed impossible.  I can remember a specific time when praying for and about my daughter.  I remember the times when I spoke out these words:  Lord, you know the future.  You already have the answer to this situation.  I don’t have to worry about it.  You are working behind the scenes for my benefit.  You are going to do what you promised.  I believe that things will happen just as you say it will – in your timing and not mine.

Things did not always change immediately.  But eventually I received an answer.  The problem is, I don’t always remember to pray that way.  When a storm comes – I forget.  When someone hurts me – I forget.  When a situation comes my way that I don’t understand – I forget again.  My first response comes from a severe lack of faith.  I pull into myself, or blame the other person.  Or worse than that – talk about it to a friend.  Ouch.  And I don’t have my shield of faith in place.  And that’s when I’m hit REALLY HARD in the head with those fiery darts.  And it feels like now I’m fighting for my life, while wounded!  When I could have just remembered to speak out those words of belief and faith.  All the while – raising that heavy shield – which gets lighter all the time I express my faith in God.

Are you going through something right now?  Most of us are.  It’s the unseen things that trip us all up.  Most people don’t look like they are in a battle, when they are.  There are things hidden deep in the heart, hurts that go way beyond understanding.  There are situations that bring us down like physical illness and loss.  It is hard to remain positive with long-term trouble of the heart, mind and body.  But just a little step of faith can make a HUGE difference.

God doesn’t promise to elevate us out of the trial – but He does promise to be with us.  And when He is with us, we CAN go through anything.  And I’d much rather have Him beside me than to face it without Him.

My own personal prayer today looks something like this:

Lord you know what I’m struggling with.  I know you have the answer.  You are working behind the scenes to bring healing and restoration.  I release my time-table to you.  I believe everything that happens is ultimately for my good and has a purpose.  Even when I can’t see it.  It is comforting to know that you see the final outcome for my situation.  I am convinced you are more concerned with my attitude and heart than anything else that might be immediate gratification.  I believe you will do what you have promised concerning my life.  Help me to be a blessing and help others even when I don’t yet have all the answers.  I trust you.  Amen

As I release this prayer – my shield doesn’t seem so heavy any more.  And I’m protected.  It doesn’t change the situation right away – but I am changed by saying it.  And as I believe – my shield holds.

 

What does your prayer of faith look like?

 

God Bless

Using Facebook For Good

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

I’ve hesitated to write on this subject for over 3 years now.  It is a sensitive issue – but as I always want to be an encourager and my purpose is to build up – here goes.

Is Facebook bad?  Can Facebook be evil?  I hear almost everyday – someone, somewhere telling me that they will never join Facebook because of what they’ve heard.  Or another person will write on a status update that they need to “fast” Facebook because they feel convicted as it can be time-consuming and maybe even tempt them in unhealthy ways and relationships.  Some pastors even believe that they should get their church members off Facebook.  That feels very discouraging to me.  Especially when I read about it in a person’s status update.  It is better to be encouraging and positive.  I love to read what other pastors and leaders say on the subject.  Those that use it for good.  They say that Facebook is not evil – people have sometimes misused it and made it that way.  But it is also a great tool for connecting with people.  This is so true.

I have been saddened by some status updates.  Status updates that say someone is taking a fast or going away altogether – leaving the impression by those of us still using social networking – that we have missed the boat – are wasting time or something worse.  It is these same people who feel convicted and then try to “convict” everyone else on connecting with people.  And while sometimes past connections can be unhealthy – or at least not the best, Facebook should not be blamed.

As long as we have had people – there has always been a tendency to wander and step outside the boundaries.  Affairs with people from the past happened as far back as the Bible days and before.  If you have the desire to go outside your marriage – you don’t need Facebook to do that.

I love Facebook.  It has allowed me to connect with people from our past ministry life and those I thought we would never see again – and be a very real part of their lives again.  It’s a miracle.  I also love seeing pictures and updates on students of mine past and present – and our wonderful family and close friends.

The problem comes when we listen to negative propaganda that claims that Facebook is the number one reason that marriages fail.  It is not because of Facebook, people.  It’s because people are flawed human beings.  If you are looking for that sort of thing – you can find it and not just on social networking.  Facebook is simply a tool.  It’s neutral.  Neither positive or negative.  If you want to message someone and have private conversations you can do this on Facebook – just like you can also do that on email or by regular mail, texting and cell phone calls.  Like any other resource and tool – it needs to be used wisely – not blamed when you or others mess up.

I believe Facebook can and should be used for good.  You can be an encourager.  You can be that positive role model – spreading around joy and hope for others.  You can use humor as a great way of relieving stress in everyday life.  And you can share pictures and updates in a way that build up – not tear down.  But most of all – you can stay connected to those that are a real part of your life.

Now I know what some of you are going to say.  “There’s so much drama and negative stuff on Facebook now – and what about those political opinions from those VERY VOCAL and opinionated!”  And ALL THOSE GAME REQUESTS!!!!  Here is what I do.  I don’t get involved in politics on Facebook.  You can’t win.  If I feel that someone is being too vocal on certain subjects and I’m uncomfortable – I just go to the home page and click the “x” on the right side of the comment.  This gives me the option of seeing any more comments from them.  It has cleaned up many things on my home page – so I simply don’t see the negative, inappropriate and the unnecessary.  I block any game request I don’t want or remove the app altogether.  I also clean up my friend list once in a while too – I simply don’t connect with everyone on my list and so I remove them.  When that is not an option – the “hiding” of their comments is better for me.

Here’s another thing I’ve done lately.  I’ve put the ones I talk to and connect with most often in a “list” called “close friends”.  I have another one for “Current students”  “Church friends” “Family” etc.  Instead of having my regular “News Feed” on my home page – I just pull up the list that I want and write a status update so that those people on my list are the only ones who see what I write.  This works great for me getting messages to my students without having to write a private message.  I also only “friend” people that I know.  This is a HUGE bonus.  If someone requests me that I don’t – I will not friend them unless it is a friend of a student or a friend of a friend.  If people from my past make me uncomfortable and try to friend me – I just don’t accept.  There’s no fear here – I am in control of who I talk to and let into my world.

Another blessing has been the ability to promote my music studio by having a “fan page” just for that purpose.  I show photos and videos of past recitals and the students who are involved with taking music lessons.  It is a great link to my actual website – since so many people are now on Facebook.

If you’re reading this and have done some of the status updates that I’ve mentioned above – those that would try to “convict” and “moralize” something that you feel strongly about – here’s what you could do next time.  Simply disconnect with others that are making you feel this way, unfriend those that need to be unfriended and if you are really having trouble with being disciplined with your time you spend – instead of making a statement about that – just walk away for a while.  You don’t need to tell anyone – or find excuses for why you’re leaving – because you are going to find that most people on Facebook really love what they’re doing – and the people who they’re connected with.  And making people feel bad should never be a conscious decision.   Being positive and allowing others to be who they are – is always a better choice.  

I’m hoping you will join me in using something so wonderful – a vehicle for staying connected with others – for good.

 

God Bless

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