Monday, September 5, 2011

The Weariness of Weariness

At one time or another, we all have days when giving up sounds so appealing; crawling into bed and watching soap operas day after day while the rest of the world goes on without us.  Our pastor spoke on this topic last weekend, relating how it is hard to battle something day in and day out without getting weary.  We get discouraged, and we get depressed.  We want to crawl in a cave and stay there.

1 Kings 19 tells the story of Elijah’s weariness.  He had just had a showdown with the prophets of Baal and killed them all.  He’d run all the way to Jezreel, and he was exhausted.  He was the last survivor of God’s prophets, all alone, and now he was running for his life from Jezebel.  And for what?  I can just hear his mind working, egged on by fatigue and the lies of the Great Deceiver…

“I slave away all day, day in and day out, and for what?  Nobody appreciates me.  They don’t listen to me, they wreck the altars, they want to kill me, everything I do is futile… I’m tired, hungry, and bummed out, and I’m done!  I’m just going to lay here and die!”

The little broom tree in the desert was the site of this pity party.  The angel brought him food and water for sustenance, and let him rest there. But God did not let him get into bed and pull the covers up over his head for long.

Elijah’s next stop: the cave – a good place to hole up and lick your wounds.  But God said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Elijah spilled his guts, not once, but twice.  He had some fellowship with his Lord, and then God sent him back out to keep working.  Elijah *wasn’t* alone, and his work was *not* all in vain.  All he needed was a little rest, and some dialogue with God.  God had a plan, even when Elijah didn’t see it.

What a good example to follow when life seems like it’s taking its toll.  Take care of yourself.  Rest, but don’t stay down.  Don’t listen to the lies of Satan - have a chat with your Maker instead.  Tell Him what’s on your mind.  Then get back up and get after it.  It’s not all in vain, even if some days it sure seems like it.  God’s got a plan.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Who I Am



I stand before You, God, alone. I am not defined by my job, my family, my financial status, nor even by myself.  You alone define me, and circumstances cannot change that.



Photo courtesy of Idea go

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Susie Larson’s blog post on forgiveness brought up this topic for me again. We all have to forgive and be forgiven, but sometimes we have huge, ongoing things to forgive, and so many complications are involved.  But besides destroying earthly relationships and affecting our own emotional and physical well-being, unforgiveness stands in the way of our relationship with God, and for that reason alone, can't be avoided.

Forgiveness... when I started picking it apart, I realized that I didn't know exactly what it was. I needed to know what it "looked it" in the life of the forgiver. At that point, there was only one thing I knew about forgiveness - simply saying the words "I forgive" didn't accomplish it.  Constantly barraging yourself with all the reasons why you should forgive doesn't necessarily accomplish it, either.

So I hit the internet, choosing some of the Christian websites I trust, to see what this thing called forgiveness really was, and how to go about doing it in one's heart. I found a few interesting points, some helpful, some not so helpful.

One site stated that if someone has not asked you to forgive them, you don't owe them forgiveness. This statement was based on the fact that God tells us to confess and repent, and then He will forgive, but that we need to confess and repent first. If the perpetrator isn't sorry, and doesn't want our forgiveness bad enough to ask for it, then we don't owe it to them. That might be fine when you're forgiving for the sake of the one who hurt you, but when it's you carrying around a heavy load because of the situation, it doesn't help much.

What are the actual steps you take to forgive someone? I couldn't find any particular set of steps or suggestions that could get a person from "here" to "there."

What does true forgiveness look like on a daily basis? Forgiving someone who has hurt you in the past is one thing, but forgiving someone whose bad behavior continues is another. Does true forgiveness demand that you continue to give trust to someone who continually abuses it? Does it mean that the hurts of the past aren't supposed to hurt anymore? Do we all just pretend that painful events never happened?  What does forgiveness look like on a practical, not theoretical, basis?

I finally found the answer in the grocery store parking lot. The bags of food weren't my only heavy burden that day; this issue was weighing me down as well, and it took a desperate, heartfelt prayer - the first of many - to tell God I have tried, but I can't do this, and how I need Him to show me what's next. Well, He did. As I sat there in my car thinking and praying, with my ice cream melting, I got a different perspective on the whole situation. It took many more prayers to completely come to grips with the situation, but I was able to do it when I quit trying to do it on my own.  This heart may be beating in my body, but I can't change it on my own.  Thank God I know someone who can.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Resolving Disputes

Matthew 18:15-17

Many of us have situations with others that need resolution.  Every time I read Matthew Chapter 18, dealing with sins believers have against each other, my own situation would resurface.  The passage essentially tells us to go to the person who has wronged you, and discuss it privately.  If that fails, go back with one or two other people, and finally, if things cannot be resolved, take it before the Church.  If things still can’t be resolved, treat that person as a “pagan or a tax collector.”

It’s hard to know how to work this solution in today’s world.  I would imagine that most of these disputes among early Christians were among persons of the same church, in the same geographic location, with similar beliefs, and respecting the same church elders.  At any rate, Step 1, talking directly to the person who has sinned against you, is obviously the place to start.

It’s nice to think that when you bring a wrong to someone’s attention that they will hear you out, recognize the deed as sin, and take responsibility for it.  And ideally, what follows then is resolution and restoration of the relationship, and best of all, both parties being right with God in how things were handled.  Apparently that isn’t always the case, or Jesus wouldn’t have bothered with Steps 2 and 3.  And it wasn’t the case it my situation, either.

So what happens next?  If there’s one thing worse than an imperfect resolution, it’s no resolution at all, or a confused feeling about how to complete things according to God’s plan.  I’ve been at this place for several years, not knowing exactly what to do, and it’s hard to move on under these circumstances.

This situation demonstrates the importance of a good church and pastor, or some other Christian mentor, who can clear some of the fog and point out the right way to go.  I was able to do just that with my pastor.  I wish I had not struggled with it alone for so long.

Tonight, I have resolution – not restoration, but that’s okay.  I can move forward with resolution, and I will.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Attributes of a Spiritual Hero

The topic of a recent “Live the Promise” radio show* concerned attributes of spiritual heroes.  Participants in the show were asked to give four characteristics they felt were important.  While I was unable to participate either via phone or Facebook, it did get me thinking about what I feel are important attributes of my spiritual heroes:

1) Knowledge of God’s Word, and knowledge of God Himself.

2) The ability to speak the truth, in love, regardless of who may be offended.

3) An enthusiasm for God’s people.

4) Humility.  Always remembering Who is at the top.

There is something about these special heroes of the faith that is contagious, yet at the same time they always keep the focus on God.

What attributes do you think are important in your spiritual heroes?

*KTIS AM 900 in Minneapolis/St. Paul - no affiliation with the show, the host, nor the radio station, I’m just a listener. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Time is Now

Matthew 25  (TEV)

"At that time the Kingdom of heaven will be like this.  Once there were ten young women who took their oil lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.  Five of them were foolish, and the other five were wise.  The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any extra oil with them, while the wise ones took containers full of oil for their lamps.  The bridegroom was late in coming, so they began to nod and fall asleep.

"It was already midnight when the cry rang out, 'Here is the bridegroom!  Come and meet him!'  The ten young women woke up and trimmed their lamps.  Then the foolish ones said to the wise ones, 'Let us have some of your oil, because our lamps are going out.'  'No, indeed,' the wise ones answered, 'there is not enough for you and for us.  Go to the store and buy some for yourselves.'  So the foolish ones went off to buy some oil; and while they were gone, the bridegroom arrived.  The five who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast, and the door was closed.

"Later the others arrived.  'Sir, sir!  Let us in!' they cried out.  'Certainly not!  I don't know you,' the bridegroom answered.

And Jesus concluded, "Watch out, then, because you do not know the day or the hour."

No, we don't know the day nor the hour that Christ will return.  But He warns, here and in other places in the Bible, that we are to be ready.  He is the bridegroom, and the church is His bride.  Some of us aren't going to be ready.  Some don't realize there's an urgency, and some of us plain and simply are not taking it seriously.

The whole country of Japan, one week ago, was living life as usual.  There seemed to be ample time, but for tens of thousands of them, there wasn't.  On the morning of September 11, 2001, thousands of people went to work as usual, with plans for their day, but the opportunity for carrying out those plans, or anything else, came to an abrupt halt.  It doesn't take a disaster of epic proportions to doom a procrastinator eternally; some of us won't even be here next week.  We don't know when our times are coming, yet so many of us don't consider the things of Christ while we do have time.  Perhaps it's intimidating; perhaps with school activities, working long shifts, or just daily life, there doesn't seem to be time to read the Bible or take a class at a local church.  But it takes less than 5 minutes to read a typical chapter of the Bible - something all of us can do on a daily basis.

Anyone who has experienced hopelessness and has lived to tell about it has had a small taste of hell.  The thought of going through that for all of eternity should open a few minds to what Christ offers us.  He's here.  He's real.  And there isn't anyone He isn't willing to forgive and redeem, but He won't force Himself on any of us.  Take the initiative, and think about it.  Today.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

All Who Are Tired

Matthew 11:25-30

“Come to me, all of you who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke and put it on you, and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit; and you will find rest.  For the yoke I will give you is easy, and the load I will put on you is light.”

That sounds good – to rest and let someone else carry the load.  And I think there are fewer heavy loads than trying to control people and things that are out of our control. 

Some of us have a “bent” in that direction, but despite that, there are some jobs we simply were not created for, and attempting to do them for any length of time results in exhaustion, frustration, anger and anxiety – more burdens we pick up, throw into our bags, and continue to drag along.

Instead, we have another option – we can turn it over to a God who knows all about it, has a handle on it, and can walk us through it every step of the way – and we can rest, assured that Someone more qualified is in control.