When things get hard it’s easy to forget, or worse, let go, of who Jesus is and what He can, will and has done for you. When the sickness comes, the depression sets in, the pain overwhelms and fear is a constant companion it is so easy for the human mind to say ‘that’s enough! If there is a God then why is this happening?’
This is going to make you sick and cause you to roll your eyes -I know it is because not only have I seen this response before but I have felt it- God has a purpose.
Don’t groan. I know that’s the easy response. But the truth is that God does have a purpose, trusting that He has a purpose is so hard some times that when people tell you that it is all within His plan it can make you angry, or sad, or simply can feel like it’s adding to your brokeness, but He does have a plan. Then you wonder how your pain could fit in His plan? Good question. I wonder that about my own pain, and I’m sure that theology egg heads could give you a great response that is filled with scripture refrences and quotes from great scholars and pastors, but for me, all I can say is that it’s not about understanding the how or why, it’s about understanding that not knowing those things is where faith comes in. He is the same Jesus who loved me on the cross and before time itself, He hasn’t changed, He isn’t suddenly trying to hurt me, He loves me, His plan has always been best and it has always been ready for this, whatever the ‘this’ is at the moment, in the end He works it all together for good, I don’t know how, I can’t know how, all I can know is that He promised to take care of me and that He is doing that right now.
I can’t promise a sudden or easy answer, all I can promise is that there is one.
We needed Thomas to doubt.
Some say that Jesus was just a good man and a prophet- if that is true then we have no hope or reason to hope, because Jesus as just a man couldn’t pay for our sins and His death would be meaningless.
These same people say Jesus coming back from the dead and appearing to the deciples was just a vision given to the deciples by God of the man coming and talking with them, but that Jesus Himself was not actually, Physically there.
But when Jesus was with the deciples He met a friend who was so broken by His death that he couldn’t believe that the Jesus he saw was more than a vision or a trick of his mind. Jesus had to encourage Thomas to touch Him. To touch His scarred hands and the wound in His side and to know through that physical touch that this was no illusion, vision, or trick of the mind, He was actaully there; smiling, laughing and chatting with His friends. If Thomas hadn’t doubted his own eyes and needed the physical connection to Jesus, then those people who claim He was just a vision or illusion of grief wouldn’t have an eye witness account that could hold water, but Thomas actually touched Him, you can’t touch a vision, and if he hadn’t doubted that Jesus coming back was true -like so many still doubt today- then maybe we wouldn’t have the record of that human to human, flesh to flesh, touch that shows once and for all that it was a physical and real risen savior standing there. Thank you Thomas for your doubt, because it was needed for those who need proof beyond Faith.
So rightly, amiably, spiritually, sensitively- anything but usefully
Let us not permit our belief in Jesus and the doctorine we stand on turn into something that is pleasing to the whole world and useless to it at the same time. The cross is offensive because it holds our sins and condems them as sins as Billy Graham said. When it becomes pretty and easy to be around because we no longer have to change to be present with God then we have lost the purpose. A sinner who continues to sin freely cannot claim Christ – so says 2 Peter.
Let us not make the Cross and Jesus something coated in neon lights and fully accepting of us in a way that makes it so we never have to take on the new person and leave the old behind. Let us not preach and believe a doctorine that is useless to those seeking God.
When you’re working with your horse, remember that you’re not trying to perfect every single lesson everyday; you’re just trying to improve each one a little bit. Clinton Anderson
We get so caught up in perfection don’t we? It’s good but it could be better, seems to be an ongoing thought to general life, as well as our Christian walk. Now don’t get me wrong. We are supposed to live lives that are a reflection of our perfect Jesus. However. When we get our heads focused on us being perfect we tend to forget who we are trying to be perfect for, we can also work so hard at one thing that (like our horses) we get frusterated and learn to despise what we are working on. In the same way as when teaching your gelding to not spook at a flag, when you start and find that you are doing better than yesterday then tomorrow give yourself a break and work on something else. If you get so caught up in doing prayer perfectly or worshiping in the right way that you can forget that it’s about spending time with God, it’s about having a connection to him, it’s not about doing things perfectly, it’s just about doing better than you did the day before. And many times doing better than yesterday can simply be actually doing something. And if you do that something three times a week instead of one, then you’re improving. A Christian singer once wrote a song… okay many have written songs on this, but he wrote on feeling Christ deep in your soul, it’s more than hammering through your prayer list or trying to read a full chapter of the Bible before bed, it’s about being with Him. When we stop trying to be perfect and start working on communion, time spent alone with the Father, then we love past all other realms of religon and into truly being part of the body of Christ.
If this doens’t make sense to you then please ignore it, it makes sense to me because of my years training horses, but I don’t want to confuse anyone. Praying everyday and Bible time is very important. But it doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to have you openly seeking Jesus.
In Jeremiah 3:16
God tells His people that when the Messiah comes the Ark of the covenant, the symbol of God’s presence will be gone and no one will even think to make a new one.
That must have been so scary to hear as someone who knew nothing but the Ark. But once Jesus came God’s presence was able to abide within us, it no longer needed a house because we became the vessel. Later on I read about God’s great anger at His people and admittedly I skimmed ahead, looking for where Jesus interceeds on our behalf, then I remembered that this was before Jesus died for us, our sins were not yet forgiven or paid for, there was no voice saying that we should be given another chance to repent and change.
We forget sometimes just how important Jesus is. He is the presence of God, He tore the vail and made something as Holy as The Ark of the Covenant no longer necesary, He made it so that we can pray and ask forgiveness. He died so that when God is angry with our sin He can say, ‘but I died to pay for that sin, give them another chance to do better.’ He reminds us that we screwed up and need to repent and change so we don’t make the same sin again, but He gives us the chance to do better, we have the opportunity to realize we messed up and fall to our knees and try to change. We no longer need someone to take a sacrifice to God for us. Jesus is the sacrifice for us.
He is so important. We must never forget that.
We all have a testimony. Where we were, what God has done and where we are now. But sometimes God doesn’t do the miraculous healing. Sometimes He doesn’t stop you from falling. What then? If He hasn’t done what you have prayed for does your testimony still count?
I have a testimony. With all the ‘God delivered me from drugs’ and ‘God healed me from cancer’ I have heard and seen I wasn’t sure if what I had was a testimony or a survival hand book. Then today, I finally heard a woman speak her testimony and guess what? She was still a broken mess and she admitted it. But she had found that God’s powerful love was moving her to help other people with messes because she understood them.
My best friend who is also my mother (and I say that with pride) has had a disease my whole life. She has always pushed herself and given it her all no matter what, but she does struggle. She has to take medication to fill her body with cells that you and I have naturally. Doctors told her she wouldn’t see my 12th birthday. But she did. Then they said she wouldn’t see me graduate. But she did. Then they said she wouldn’t see me turn 25. I’m 26. They don’t understand how she is still as strong, though she feels weak, she isn’t in a wheelchair and that is amazing.
She works harder and cares for more people than anyone else I know. She’s my miracle. Everyday I pray for a miracle healing. But God’s sustaining power is sometimes more amazing than the sudden transformations we see. It hurts. I never know when my next day will be my last. I’m scared some days, broken other days and I know that doesn’t sound very faith filled but God never said it wasn’t going to be hard. I’m not saying that I’m amazing for never denying God because I don’t see my answers. I have fallen down and yelled and cried at Him many times. But God is more than knowledge and Faith, He’s the Holy Spirit living in you, He’s your safe harbor when it all burns down around you. I know through His strong love and strange peace that He is still good and that He still loves her and me, because even when I find myself sitting in a ball on the floor saying ‘God, why?’ I have a peace that passes past the pain. Living with joy in the moments that God has given us. It’s so hard and so vital.
Why does He heal others and not the one who I love? I don’t know. But I know Him, so I know there is a reason. One of my favorite singers said that He started writing music in a time of shifting, when the tables had turned over and he was trying to find where he stood, instead of taking the pain and running and going, ‘this hurts and makes no sense so there is no god’ he chose to reach out to God and seek Him more and in doing so, found more of Him. That’s the big choice we all have when the shifting happens and things hurt, do we say ‘forget it I’m better off on my own’, or do we reach up and say, ‘whatever you’re doing God, it feels awful, but I know that you are God and I am not and you have a purpose’?
It’s easy to give up when life gets hard, it’s hard to hold on.
Have you ever been knocked off a surfboard? You feel like of you just took the strap off your ankle you would be fine and could swim to the surface. But so many times in the delirium of the waves and the rock and the lack of air, the only thing that shows you which way is up is that strap. I have almost drown a few times boarding and everytime it was following the safety strap on my ankle that brought me back to the surface. God is your safety strap. You feel you could swim better without Him, but then you lose focus of which way is right.
Sometimes your prayers go unanswered. Sometimes the pain is confusing.
But God still loves you. And your testimony of His sustaining power and grace without the sudden life transformation is something someone needs to hear.
I’m not down playing the times that God does grant a gift in His miracle, those times are important too and need to be told, but sometimes the day to day step forward is the miracle, don’t down play that or forget how important it is.
Can we pray a moment and just say ‘thank you Jesus’?
Thank you Jesus for your power even when I don’t understand. Thank for your love even when it hurts. Thank you for who you are even when I feel like I can’t find you, you are always there and you always love me. Thank you for who I am because of you. You are so good God. I know I will fall and I know it will hurt, but also know that as your word says, I will not be thrown headlong because you hold my hand. Thank you Jesus.
Sometimes when it feels like the world is coming at you from all sides and you see fellow Christians- people you may have even respected- fall to the taunts and the lies of the devil and his world workers you might start tp doubt, you might even want to run and hide or give up, but remember: what God has said is always true. If He said it was wrong 2000 years ago it is still wrong today. If He promised something 2000 years ago, the promise still remains. If 2000 years ago He claimed to love you, then He still loves you today.
Sometimes it feels like the devil is winning and you are all alone in loving Jesus with your whole heart and following His word. It feels like the hate has never been worse, and that all beliefs are considered acceptable exept ours. But you are not alone. Even if every other Christian falls and you still remain you are not alone, because Jesus is with you. He is proud of you for not compromising your faith and your values. Don’t be afraid. No matter how hard it is. Keep fighting. Your soul is your own, what you do that effects that soul is up to you, don’t let anyone take your treasure from you. Because in the end, the things you missed out on and the people who abandoned you because they didn’t accept your beliefs won’t matter. The only one who matters is Jesus, and His opinion is the only one that counts. It will be hard. It will hurt. Somedays it will make you sick as you watch the devil take ground, but God has a reason. Even before the beggining He knew the ending and He knew that you would struggle and He knew that you find a deeper connection to Him as you struggled. Evil is not suddenly good just because everyone is doing it or accepting it, and that can be so hard to understand. But if you go back to the basics. Back to what you learned when you still had faith like a child what do remember. In this world you will have trouble, but take heart I have overcome the world.
And Jesus loves me. This I know. For the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong. They are weak but He is strong.
And the He patient not wanting anyone to perish. 2Peter 3:9
He is patient with you because He wants you to change and to find Him, the real Him, the one that takes sacrifice. He wants you in Heaven with Him, so He waits, until you come to Him.
You are never too dirty to come to the front door of God’s home. He tore the Veil through His son Jesus so that you could show up no matter what you had done. He doesn’t expect you to be perfect, He expects you to simply come.
I love how the pure love our dogs feel for us is such a beautiful show of God’s love. People beat and starve their dogs (which is beyone horrible) and yet those dogs still love them. We can call God names and hate Him and He still loves us. The love is unconditional. And that is so rare in people.
My first dog came from a neglectful home. When we rescued him we were told by the vets that he wouldn’t live a week. But they didn’t realize the power of prayer, and he lived till he was eight years old. Some may say that science saved him, and yes science saves a lot of people. But the science didn’t know what to do this time, he had no surgeries or Special Operations. All he had was love and prayer and lived a happy, loved life. All that to say- neglected to the point of death, yet no one was more compassionate or kind then my dog. He had a special love for seniors and those with mental illness and would go out of his way to be near them and to sit on their knees and comfort them, because of that unconditional love.
We neglect God too. We turn our backs on Him, we give Him only enough of ourselves to try to squeeze into Heaven but not enough to actually know Him. And guess what? He still loves us with His whole heart and wants us to come to Him in our filthy rags so He can cover us in beauty. Unconditional love.
Have you ever seen a flower trying to grow up on a pathway?
Of course you have.
Some people see it growing and skirt around it so they don’t interfere with it’s progress, but most people just walk on top of it and keep going. Why would it’s progress matter to them? Why would it’s success make a difference to them?
Broken and head bent with sap seeping out of the stem the little flower looks like it will die there, never to reach it’s final goal.
But if I kind person sees it and tries to help it by binding it’s stem and tying it to a small ground stake, the little flower might grow a little longer. But eventually the old wounds will kill it, because even the simple kindness of a stranger can’t heal the torn tendrils inside. However, if the guardener sees it, broken and dying as more and more people crush it under their feet He would have the power and knowledge to save it. He could dig up the flower and transplant it in a safer spot, then He could go to work, feeding and watering and the perfect amount of sunlight, adding nutrients and stapling back together the broken stalk until it is able to stand. With the help of the Master the little flower can grow, and grow and grow and keep growing until it’s too strong to be crushed by the world again.
As Christians we are trying to grow. Some people see that and let us keep growing but others try to stomp on us and crush us and seems like no one cares. We may find support in a small group or in our friends and even in our pastor, but until the broken vines search for Jesus we will never be truly fixed. People can help but they can’t heal. Until we reach out to Jesus we will continue to fade. But once we reach for Him He knows how to cure us and love us and help us. He is our God and He is our friend and He is good.
Turn to Him when the world is crushing you, only He can truly help you.
Shake the walls
We have seen a lot of fall away from the church over the years and that can be discouraging. But we have also seen a lot of people deemed hopeless by the secular world come to Jesus and turn their lives around. What I have been loving is the courage I’ve been seing in the remnant. I’m not that old and yet in my growing up years we were in a place where we didn’t do a lot of work for God. The street crusaders and tent evangalists were no longer a thing. The churches were full and we all ‘knew’ Jesus, and that was enough. I was blessed with parents who taught me how to truly know Jesus and encouraged me to spend time with Him beyond Church- not required, just encouraged- so I knew how to grab for His hand when the big shake happened. You know. The times that came where God seemed like a dictator because TV said He was and following Jesus was too much work and boy did the parties and the dating and the raves look like fun. Then there were the times when bad things happened, really bad things and we couldn’t figure out why God permitted it to happen. And then there was the shake of people who felt that because some churches and Christians were bad than all were bad and we were openly attacked for our faith. Times when everyone should be permitted to be who and what they want to be…just so long as that isn’t a Christian. I watched so many fall away. Even I hit a point where being a ‘good little Christian’ (as the popular TV shows jeered at us) seemed like a drag, and we were shown as crazy or evil even though we aren’t so it was painful and hard and confusing. But having known the bliss of His freedom the junk the world fed me was never enough to make up for the lack of Jesus. I fought my way home, leaving so many friends behind that I wish I could have brought with me, but the devil had their ear, he still does, some day I pray they look to see that Jesus is still reaching for them and that they grab Him and don’t let go.
The whole world has been shaking over the past three years, and many have fallen because the drop looked less painful than holding on, but I have seen a new hope, a new generation that doesn’t want to just ‘know’ Jesus, they want to be enveloped by Him. They’ve seen hell taking over this world to an extreme I never thought we would see in my generation, and they have decided to fight back. They have escaped the prison and are turning back and shaking the walls till they fall down and all trapped inside can run away and run to the freedom of Jesus. Kids. Ten year olds and fifteen year olds. People who never had parents or teachers encourage more of Jesus in their lives then ‘just enough’ are standing up as warriors. People want to claim that kids like this are brainwashed by being forced into it, but the kids that I have seen chose on their own to seek after God. Some of them have parents who oppose their choice to love Jesus, but they know in their souls that He is the answer. We can’t let them beat us guys. Come on adults, let’s stand beside these kids and fight too. Pray more often. Fast with faith. Use whatever gift God has given you to fight back. Let’s shake the walls. The devil will fight back and it will get hard, but we are not fighting alone. Jesus fights with us. Angels fight with us. The Holy Spirit fights within us. Our fellow soldiers fight with us. Whatever front line, whatever fort to hold, whatever ground to take back God has put in front of you fight for it. Don’t give up because it’s scary and hard. Keep fighting. Jesus has got you covered, and you are not alone.