Tag Archives: Faith

Desiring to Know God

I love when several things that I encounter in a day all point to the same truth about God. That’s what happened today.

As part of my devotional reading, while I played ball with the dog, I decided to read a couple of Psalms. I went to my old favorite, Psalm 116, which I’ve written about before. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say I’ve read this particular Psalm at least 50 times (probably closer to 100). Yet as I read this morning I saw a truth that I hadn’t seen before in verses 8 and 9, which say:

8For you, O LORD, have delivered my soul from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling,

 9 that I may walk before the LORD
in the land of the living.

My focus has always been on verse 8, because God did deliver me from death, tears, and stumbling when He showed me the root of my major clinical depression. But this morning I noticed why He delivered me. It wasn’t so I could go about my business and do whatever I please. And it wasn’t so I could work hard to earn His approval. It was so that I could have a relationship with Him, so that I could “walk before the Lord in the land of the living.”

Later, after I had showered and dressed for work, I kneeled to pray as is my morning habit. But first I read a one-page devotion from My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. (I started this devotional this year because I thought it didn’t have dates in it so it wouldn’t matter if I missed a day, but I discovered this morning that the dates are in the footer at the bottom of the page. Oops.)

Anyway, as I read the January 31 entry, I came across this sentence: “Christian workers fail because they place their desire for their own holiness above their desire to know God.” Ouch. As I prayed, I pondered where I might be doing good works to prove my own holiness. I asked God to help me focus on just knowing Him. I’m finding as that becomes my desire, the work that is before me becomes less of a burden. Instead, it becomes a blessing because I do it in His power and for His glory.

Finally, I was finishing up my children’s lesson for Bible Study Fellowship, reviewing my answers to the week’s questions to decide how to answer the question “What have you learned about God in this week’s study?” The study is about the suffering Christians face. My answer was that, “All of our suffering, comfort, and joy are designed by God to bring us into a closer relationship with Him, like the one He had with Adam and Eve before they sinned.”

This life really is about walking with God in all that we do, whether it be work or leisure, suffering or blessing. When we do it all with God, instead of apart from God, we have the abundant life Jesus promised. John 10:10.

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My Redeemer, A Psalm

The Lord is my Redeemer
He is my comfort in times of sorrow
He is my Rock when the tempest roils
O Lord, You are my Hope when all seems hopeless
My refuge from the storms within and without

The Lord is my Peace
When conflict and strife seem never-ending
He is my joy in good times and bad
For His Joy is my strength
O Lord, how long until my striving cease
And You make all things new

My heart wants to doubt, O Lord
That You will fulfill Your awesome promises
Yet I know my heart is deceitful and vain
But You are faithful and trustworthy
So I will put my trust in the Lord

The Lord is my Redeemer and my Hope
I will rest in You and be satisfied
I will trust in You and be at peace

____________________________

The dVerse Poets Pub prompt on Tuesday was to write a poem inspired by the poetry of our favorite poet. Well, my favorite poet is King David and his Psalms have inspired me to write before. I wasn’t able to write to the prompt in time to link there, but this morning I turned to the Psalms and wrote this psalm of my own. What I love about the Psalms is that there is often both praise of God and lament within the same poem. As I read several favorite Psalms this morning I was also struck by how they often switch from speaking directly to God to speaking about Him to another.

Since I missed the Tuesday Mr. Linky I’m sharing this today for Open Link Night.

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Impatience with God’s Timing

Do you ever just want to say “I don’t care”? Not an “I don’t care” that’s apathetic, but an “I don’t care” laced with anger and frustration.

The serenity prayer starts “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.” I don’t want serenity and acceptance; I want change. I want God to step up to the plate and fix the things I can’t.

(So I’m typing this on my phone and autocorrect changed God to Food in that last sentence, which is ironic because I tend to use food to avoid the pain, too, and that is something He has given me the power to change.)

My response to my desire for God to fix everything NOW is to impatiently say “I don’t care” in an attempt to mask the pain.

I feel a bit like the Psalmist who often asked “How long, O Lord?” I guess I’m in good company in my impatience with God’s timing. Even the saints under the altar in Revelation 6 cried out to God, wanting to know “How long?” They were told to wait; I am told to wait. In the process of waiting, I’m learning God’s timing is perfect even if I don’t understand it.

Some things never change, or so it seems from my limited point of view. I believe God has a plan, is working in His timing, and will answer my prayers for change. And so like the father of the possessed boy in Mark ch. 9, I exclaim “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:24 (NIV).

The waiting, I think, is most challenging when you see a glimmer of hope, a sliver of change when a crisis brings someone to the end of their rope. But then the crisis is diverted and you see the change wasn’t all that you thought it was. Or at least it doesn’t seem so on the outside. That’s when I have to remember that God sees the heart; I’m looking only at external factors.

So the next time you hear me say,  “I don’t care,” don’t believe it. I care much too deeply and am simply feeling impatient. Perhaps you could remind me that means it’s time to pray and trust.

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One Shone Brighter

“Gazing at a sky filled with stars,”
Wrote the Magi in his memoirs
“One shone brighter than the rest.
So onward towards that star we pressed.”

He never says how many they were,
Those magi travelling with gold and myrrh
But their destination he makes quite clear
Was to greet the new King who would soon appear

The brightest star that rose in the east
Would guide them to One deserving a feast
But instead was born in a simple barn stall
And one day years later would die for us all

“By the time we arrived the Child was but two,
And already we could tell He was holy and true.”
I read this man’s memoir and gazed up at the sky
Looking for the star that led the Magi

All I could see in that vast expanse
Was the truth that it didn’t happen by chance
The Creator of each and every star
Led the Magi who came from afar

___________________________

At dVerse Poets Pub today Toni is calling for poem about the stars. Since it is so close to Christmas, of course I thought of the star that led the Magi to the baby Jesus.

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Rejoice!

Revel in the joy of Christ who
Empowers us bid sin adieu
Jesus born so He might die
Once for all our souls to buy
Incarnation a great mystery
Calling all throughout history
Ever more to rejoice, rejoice

_____________________________

I wrote this for dVerse Poets Pub Open Link Night, and also to promote my new poetry book, Rejoice! Rejoice! Poems for the Holidays, available now on Amazon.com in print and on Kindle. This poem isn’t in the book, because, well, I just wrote it. But maybe I’ll add it to the next edition.

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The Red Horse and His Rider

When the Lamb opens the second seal
The red horse and his rider will go out
With power to take the peace of this world
That the end is then nigh there is no doubt

But will the rider find any peace on this earth
Where mothers kill their children and nations war
Despite our songs of peace in a post-hippie culture
We daily venture closer to hatred’s door

They say “let’s coexist” though we are in disagreement
Even so the so-called peaceful want their peace by force
Requiring agreement with them on fundamental issues
Never realizing the need for repentance and remorse

Peace without God is what mankind desires
But such a thing is only temporary
Though we must live in peace as far as we are able
Of mere men promising salvation we must be wary

Amidst the strife and turmoil of this life
The only true peace is that which Jesus gave
The rider on his fiery red horse is surely coming
But can’t take peace from those the Lamb died to save

__________________________

The Poetics prompt at dVerse Poets Pub this week is brought to us by Bjorn. He’s calling for us to write about peace in a way that is not trite and doesn’t rely on platitudes. The night before reading the prompt, I spent the evening teaching Revelation 6 to fourth graders, so my mind immediately went to the image of the second horseman of the apocalypse. I didn’t have time to write yesterday because I wanted to read the haibuns from Monday first, but as it turned out this one needed overnight to percolate anyway.

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What We Deserve

We think we all deserve God’s love
All good gifts that come from above
A good God wouldn’t send folks to hell
And therefore the story we tell saves all with love

Except, of course, men like Hitler
Terrorists and Jeffrey Dahmer
They don’t deserve to see heaven
Don’t belong with the eleven we are so sure

But just where do we draw the line
What is your fate and what is mine
We all deserve God’s holy wrath
Because we’ve followed our own path and think we’re fine

We must be repentant sinners
When the truth of God’s mercy blurs
Vision of the Lamb who was slain
And how He took all mankind’s pain troubled heart stirs

Not one of us deserves God’s grace
Praise to Jesus who took our place
He saw our need and came to save
His life for us He freely gave, we must embrace

* * * * *

As is typical for me, when I learn a new poetry form I can’t write just one. The idea for this poem was originally going to be an essay, but this morning this Florette started forming in my mind, so I finished writing it while I ate my breakfast and decided to post it in time to share for Meeting at the Bar at dVerse Poets Pub.

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Why Are We Surprised?

When people do terrible things, such as yesterday’s terrorist attacks in Paris or the most recent school shooting in Oregon last month, people are surprised. And when you believe, as our culture seems to, that people are basically good, the surprise is understandable.

But my Christian brothers and sisters, why are you surprised? Scripture tells us that we are all born with a sinful nature. In Romans 3:23 Paul points out that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We are all of us sinners—the difference is the degree to which we accept that fact and the measures we take to overcome our sinfulness. When others sin, we should not be surprised.

Nor should we be surprised as things seem to get worse in our world, as we hear stories of terrorism, of child abuse, of the acceptance of pornography as normal, of the staunch defense of the practice of abortion, greedy corporations and politicians putting their own bottom line first, and much more. The daily headlines can be depressing, especially if they take you totally by surprise.

Spend much time at all in scripture, however, and you’ll find that the current state of our world is not a surprise to God and shouldn’t be a surprise to us. We see a clear warning in Paul’s second letter to Timothy:

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—
2 Timothy 3:1-4 (NIV).

That verse pretty much sums up our culture and our news headlines, including the tabloid headlines about our favorite stars.

So if we aren’t to be surprised about what is going on around us, what as Christians should we do? Especially in the wake of a terrible tragedy like the multi-site terrorist attack in Paris yesterday? Well, again, let’s turn to scripture for our answer.

Love in Action

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
    if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Thinking of the people of Paris, the phrase that stands out to me in this passage is “mourn with those who mourn.” We certainly do today. And we encourage all to trust in Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who alone is able to change hearts and help us overcome our sinful nature.

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Not Unforgiven

The Meeting the Bar prompt at dVerse Poets Pub today is brought to us by De Jackson who wants us to write using the poetic device of enjambment (which is when thought doesn’t end at the end of a line of poetry but spills over onto the next line). Lately I’ve been writing more form poetry, but I’ve been known to write a fair amount of free verse using enjambment. So I decided to take on De’s challenge to write using hyphenated words for this short poem on forgiveness.

Not Unforgiven

Feeling un-
forgiven is what I am

I will be-
loved for all eternity

Love is with-
held only by the wicked

You are whole-
some of what I need

God is all-
knowing my heart’s desire

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A Cautionary Tale and Forgiveness

I’ve been pondering my past, my regrets, a lot lately and it was starting to get me down. Regrets will do that, you know. I was really starting to let it get to me, praying that God would just let me forget the things I’ve done and have had happen to me that I wish I could change but can’t.

But some things aren’t meant to be forgotten (even though they’re forgiven) because God wants to use them as a cautionary tale to others.

So here are my thoughts, my warnings to those young girls who might be heading down a similar path that I once followed. Trust me, you don’t want to get to 50 and wish you could either forget or go back and change your teen years.

Teens today think it’s cool and acceptable to have sex with their boyfriend or girlfriend, even if they have no intention of it being forever. Sometimes a teen girl will have sex with her boyfriend because she is looking for love and acceptance and thinks that’s the only way to find it. Sex is just no big deal, they think. But it is a really big deal. Oh, what I wouldn’t give to be able to say my husband is the only one I’d ever had sex with. Well, I could say it, but it wouldn’t be true. And there is nothing I can do to change that.

God’s Word says that sex is to be reserved for marriage. Our culture thinks that’s old-fashioned and that sexual freedom is better.

Clergyman Richard Cecil once wrote, “God denies a Christian nothing, but with a design to give him something better.” Sex outside of marriage is denied by God because monogamy and having only one special, perfect lover is better.

Though I can’t go back and change the past, I was reminded by a favorite Sanctus Real song the other day not to let that get me down because that was the old me and Christ has made all things new. The lyrics to that song speak to me. The second verse and chorus are:

My mistakes are running through my mind
And I’ll relive my days in the middle of the night
When I struggle with my pain, wrestle with my pride.
Sometimes I feel alone and I cry.

And in this life
I know what I’ve been
But here in your arms
I know what I am

Well, I’m forgiven
I’m forgiven
And I don’t have to carry
The weight of who I’ve been
‘Cause I’m forgiven

Forgiven, Sanctus Real

Every day we make choices. I pray young men and women will make Godly choices instead of the worldly choices I made when I was young. I pray that if you are reading this cautionary tale, you will take it to heart and avoid the regret, the struggle of reliving your days in the middle of the night. Practice patience and self-control, waiting until you find your real one true belove, the one you have married, to discover the wonder and joy of God’s gift of sex.

But if you are like me, if you have regrets, remember that you, too, can be forgiven. When a woman who had led a sinful life came to Jesus, He had compassion on her. “Then Jesus said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’” Luke 7:48 (NIV). He will say the same to you.

 

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