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Monthly Archives: September 2013

Encountering God in the Midst of Tragedy, Disappointment, & Pain

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Photo Credit: Time Warp Wife (Pinterest)

“Though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress…Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. “ Psalm 36:3-11.

We live in a sinful world. It is a world not immune to tragedy. It is a world that if studied for long periods of time can bring great grief, pain, and hurt. If that is where the story ended, we could cry and live depressed lives. Life will hurt. Disappointments will come. No person is immune from the potential of disaster or a tragedy striking. Jesus said, “In the world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world.”

I would not be able to write this post if I had not walked through my own personal tragedies with God. The unexpected phone call. The friends who have betrayed me. The loved one who didn’t get healed. The loss of something held dear. Or even an accident that changes life forever. I’ve been there. For seven years I felt I lived there. Year after year it seemed someone was dying or a part of my life was dying. I spent most of my teens and early twenties trying to survive. My life is still not immune from trials, hardships, or pain. This year alone I’ve lost three aunts, was in a car accident that totaled my car, and have had some overwhelming disappointments.

Looking back:

I recall the day my mum died. I prayed like my life depended on it that she would live. We lived at the hospital, and I knew God healed. I had seen it with my own eyes. I went to work the day she died. I worked a full day. They told me to come home instead of go to the hospital. I knew something went wrong. I arrived home and felt like the bottom of my chest ripped open. One of my best friends was gone. Where was God in the midst of my pain? He was was holding a fragile 20 something together. I had just graduated college and life was changing forever. God flooded my heart with worship. During those moments and even after her death, I did not have anyone to hold me. Everyone had their own grief; I had God.

People have called me independent, but I’ve learned to lean on God. I know what it’s like to try to lean on people who cannot help you and some don’t want to. They don’t like their own pain, let alone yours. I knew and know there is no better source than Jesus. In moments of suffering with God, I can confidently say, “God is able!”

What God showed me through grief:


He’s bigger than any disappointment or pain and God’s ways are higher.
My mum told God she wanted to go home. She had her own personal relationship with God. Her life belonged to Him. She was tired of being sick. Her life had already touched so many for Jesus. We all have an appointed time to die. This life is but a whisper. I was hurting, sad, and thought of all the ways God could have done things differently. Looking back, the more I surrendered my pain to God, the more comfort He provided.

God doesn’t watch our pain, He enters into our pain. He doesn’t watch His children suffer and provide comfort from a distance. He stands right in the middle of the fire with us. We hurt, God hurts.

God is good and can handle our doubts of His goodness. It’s impossible, at least in my thoughts, to go through a tragedy, betrayal, or trauma and not have the thought pop up, “If God is so good, why did He allow this to happen?” I think of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. Lazarus died and Jesus stayed where He was. Jesus waited until Lazarus was good and dead before showing up to resurrect him. It was for the glory of God. In our situations God can use anything for His glory. I am not saying God causes the pain and suffering. I am saying He can use it.

Suffering builds compassion. I truly believe compassion is a much needed trait. And not the pat the person on the head ministry. I mean the ability to enter into someone else’s pain like it is your own. Jesus entered into people’s pain. He had compassion on the sick & healed them.

Cry it out, scream it out, let it out. God is not afraid or offended by our emotions. Some pain or grief is quickly healed. Some grief or pain lingers for years. And some grief and pain seems to go on with us for a lifetime. We will never forget the people we’ve lost. We may never forget how we felt the day the bad news came or the trauma occurred. I can say, though we may not forget, God heals memories. He brings comfort to them. He is the Healer.

God’s plan is good even when it doesn’t feel good. God has our best interests at heart. It does not always seem that way. Some things we will not understand until heaven when we see Him face to face.

There is always hope in Jesus. It’s easy to get jaded by life and say, “If God didn’t do this, then He won’t do that.” Disappointment is a horrible thing to be our foundation for what God can or will do. He can do anything. Just because He does not answer the way you or I would like, does not mean He is limited in any way. God is God. He is all powerful.

As someone who’s walking through this sinful world with you, I say these words of encouragement; there’s no better friend, Healer, or Savior than Jesus. God loves you! No matter how bad it hurts, He will never leave or forsake you!! This I can promise. May you invite Him into the pain. He will give you beauty for ashes and joy for your mourning. I’m practicing what I teach as I continue to invite God into my own pain, hurts, and disappointments. God bless you. You’re in my prayers.

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2013 in From the Author, God's Heart

 

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When Reality Does Not Match God’s Promises

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Photo Credit: Pinterest

Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. Yet to us God has unveiled and revealed them by and through His Spirit, for the Holy Spirit searches diligently, exploring and examining everything, even sounding the profound and bottomless things of God [the divine counsels and things hidden and beyond man’s scrutiny],
” 1 Corinthians 2:9-10.

We live in a world that is flooded with negativity and fear. I normally cannot stomach the news, not because I like to stick my head in the sand, but because they normally don’t have anything good to say. Fear has replaced love and hope. Cynicism has replaced optimism. Sarcasm has replaced encouragement. And we call it all normal.

In this often upside down world, it can be challenging to look with the eyes of faith. I had someone call me Pollyanna once because for the most part I’m looking for something to be thankful for. There’s a difference between denying reality, and praying or expecting God to create a new reality. Even if God’s answer is no, He is still good. Either God is who He says He is and can do everything His word says He can do, or we need to throw in the towel and close all the churches.

If God no longer heals, let’s stop praying for the sick.

If God no longer delivers, let’s stopping pursuing breakthrough.

If our circumstances or what we see determine the ability of God, we have created a demi-god. The God we create is powerless. We make our circumstances and what we see more impressive than God.

The truth is, nothing is ever impossible with God. He is the One who spoke and it was. He is the One who formed Adam from the ground and breathed life into him. He is the One who came as a child, walked among us, was crucified for all sin, and was resurrected on the third day. This is the same God we are crying out to today. God has not changed. Our expectations of what He will do have changed. We’ve put God in a box.

On missions and hearing from missionary friends, there are more miracles and radical encounters with God. People are desperate for God and not the Jesus painted on the stained glass windows. It’s not for show, money, or entertainment. People come hungry and leave fed.

God change my situation:

I am no fan of bossing God around. We don’t tell God what to do. He can do as He pleases. I do believe unbelief blocks us from the richness and fullness of God’s presence. He never promised us a trouble free life. He did promise to never leave or forsake us. He did promise to be faithful to His word. He never ceases to be God. Sometimes He changes our situations, sometimes He gives us strength to walk through them, and sometimes we remain where we are because we choose complaining over praise.

No matter the circumstances, what is true of God:

God is love.

God is good.

God does not fail.

God saves, heals, and delivers.

God has already won and will be victorious again over all evil.

God’s saving power is greater than our capacity to sin.

God is faithful and keeps His word.

God cannot lie.

God’s perfect love casts out fear.

God will always love you!

God is not surprised by what’s happening in the world or ill equipped to deal with it.

God is all powerful. Nothing and no one trumps His power.

God will bring perfect justice in His time.

When your circumstances don’t match God’s word, I encourage you to dig into His Word. Pull out verses about His character. I’ve cried many nights and had great comfort in God’s presence. What’s helped the most was to look to who He is and remind myself of who my Father is.

Yes, life will hurt. Gosh, I know all too well. There are some things I’m surprised I lived through. I counted, I’ve almost died or could have died at least a half dozen times. As a young person, I feel I’ve lived a 100 years. I look back and see countless miracles. Despite it all, I’ve found none more faithful than God. He can be trusted. When we are faithless, He is still faithful.

Bless you. Praying for you. You are deeply loved.

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2013 in Devotions, From the Author, God's Heart, Uncategorized

 

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Why Love?

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Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us, Romans 5:7-8.

So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment?Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? Romans 2:3-4.

The title of my book is I Thought I Knew What Love Was. God’s love is so much better than anyone told or demonstrated for me. I yielded my heart to God because of His great love and pursuit. The longer I know Him, the more my life is transformed.

I never wanted to write a book. I don’t like public speaking. I could contently live as mostly a hermit with Jesus. I’m an introvert who often retreats after long periods of time of human interaction. So, ministry was never something I longed for. God deposited His heart for people, and He’s the reason I share with others.

Over the course of many years the conversations with God were often documented and many turned into psalms, poems, and prayers. You’ll find 7 years worth in the book. Some from me to Him and many His responses to me. This book was put together after friends and family kept telling me to publish them. I walked through a year or so of hesitation. I don’t care if people know who I am. I do want people to encounter Jesus and know who He is.

So why love? That’s what God asked me to talk about and share with the world. In 2008 on mission to Brazil I was asked to preach in a tiny village. This place was a secluded village off the Amazon River. I prayed and asked God what topic or passage to cover. He responded with, “Tell them I love them.” How simple, yet so profound. I asked why such a simple message. His reply, “People do not know how much I love them.” So the message was John 3:16. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son so whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life. People who you’d probably see on National Geographic were the target of God’s incredible love. God’s love is on full blast 24:7 towards every person on the planet. Every person matters.

I’ve met some opposition from people saying I must talk about the wrath of God. Or God is not only loving, He’s angry with our sin. He’s sending His punishment and wrath on evil sinners.

Here’s my take on God’s love with biblical backing.

Love is who God is, it’s not simply what He does. It’s His identity (1 John 4:8).

God’s discipline is a result of love. You cannot separate love from discipline. Discipline is a fruit of love (Hebrews 12:6).

God invites people into relationship and out of relationship transformation happens (John 15:5).

Obedience to God is a result of love for God (John 14:5).

We cannot love God without first receiving His love (1 John 4:19). We cannot give God love He has not first given us. We can only give what we possess.

God knows that we are weak (Psalm 103:14) and prone to sin so He gives us His Holy Spirit (John 14:15-21).

Out of love Jesus came to save the world. He knew we could not save ourselves, John 3:17.

The penalty for sin is death and for the unrepentant eternal separation from God. However, God longs for no person to perish (1 Tim 2:4). Out of love, He sent His Son.

So why love? Love is who God is. It’s not our human love. It’s not a we get to claim God and live as we please ( see the Unconditional Love vs. Unconditional Approval post).

God is not weak, and He is not unmerciful. His mercy triumphs over judgement (James 2:3).

God is perfect in all His ways. He longs for none to perish. He is perfect in power, love, mercy, judgement, and He is holy.

I’ve seen the picket signs, “Turn or burn. God hates sinners.” I’ve seen people turned off from knowing God because those representing Him forsook love.

I’m thankful God is better than our understanding of Him. I’m thankful the Gospel is about redeeming sinful people. I’m thankful God didn’t offer me death, but an invitation to life. I respect, honor, and fear Him. However, I’m with Him not for fire insurance, but out of the great love He’s showed for me. If there were no hell, I’d still be pursuing His heart as He’s pursued mine. Out of love I serve and obey Him. There is no greater love! God’s love is beyond amazing.

The world needs to see and encounter God’s love, real love. Love that redeems, heals, tells the truth, corrects to restore, forgives, leads, helps, serves, honors, and empowers. Love that does not seek to dishonor, embarrass, or condemn people because those things are not really love.

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Posted by on September 8, 2013 in From the Author

 

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Humility or Insecurity

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Photo Credit: Pinterest

I normally don’t post the same things on my personal blog and this site, but I felt led to for this topic. God longs for us to see ourselves and our circumstances through His eyes. Hope this post encourages you.

So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you, Deuteronomy 31:6.

Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong, 1 Corinthians 16:13.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline, 2 Timothy 1:7.

I’ve met numerous people who have mistaken insecurity with humility. Insecurity is one of those things we either glorify (that person is so humble) or pity, or we make excuses for.

The Bible does not link insecurity with humility. Jesus was perfect in humility and completely secure in His identity as the Son of God. He did not put Himself down, compare Himself to others, or doubt the Father’s love for Him. He knew who He was, why He came, and made no apologies for His confidence. Jesus was confident and bold, yet humble and compassionate. He was not filled with fear. He was filled with love.

What if I’m insecure?

Most people have battled or battle with some insecurities. It may not be appearance, status, or age related. It could be insecurities about God’s love, insecurities about the future, or just plain fear of bad things happening (foreboding).

The cure is an identity rooted in Christ and a filling of God’s love! There is no fear in love, all insecurities are rooted in fear.

Insecurity is not only rooted in fear, but unbelief. It is refusing to fully believe and accept God’s truth about who He is, what He’s called us to do, and our identity as sons and daughters.

God does not want us to be insecure. He longs for us to trust Him and receive His great love.

The Bible tells us to be courageous, to trust God fully, to place our confidence in God’s abilities and not our own. Jesus changed our names and gave us new identities in Him. We are called to live out our God given identities. We have a reason to be confident; our hope is not in ourselves or something, but Someone great. We place no confidence in our flesh, but place all confidence in God.

What is humility?

Humility is being a servant, seeking what’s best for others.

Humility is rooted in love.

Humility gives God the credit and acknowledges dependence on God.

Humility is trusting God. Without Him, we can do nothing.

Humility is God centered. Insecurity is self centered (the focus is not God, but us).

Humility exalts God. Insecurity exalts our weaknesses or shortcomings.

Humility is acknowledging that greatness comes from God.

Humility is being able to be corrected or admit fault. Insecurity can’t handle being wrong.

Sweet friends, God longs for us to see ourselves and our situations the way He does. He loves us. Our feelings may not line up with His word. If we ask God for help, He will help us to be confident in Him. We are a chosen people, set apart for His glory!

Prayer:

Father help us to receive the fullness of Your love. Uproot all lies and unbelief. Replace them with Your truth. Your perfect love cast out fear. Help us to be bold, courageous, and humble. We need You. In Jesus name, amen.

From the Killing Insecurity Series http://morena242.wordpress.com.

 
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Posted by on September 5, 2013 in From the Author, God's Heart

 

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