Honking Horns

I hate being honked at! It makes me jolt and become disoriented, worrying more about what I did wrong than what I should be doing to drive my car forward.  I don’t get honked at frequently, but when I do and the initial “what did I do wrong” thought goes through my head, I then start to blame the person who honked the horn. “They didn’t even give me a chance to see the light before laying into me.”  or “They didn’t have to honk so loud; a polite tap would have done the trick.”  This is all in Texas where the commutes are as easy as apple pie when compared to New York City or Los Angeles.  My nerves would be shot before I ever started driving out there.

As Christians, it seems we are rarely willing to honk our horn for Jesus.  And when we do honk it, we give it a little love tap that sounds more like “peep peep” than “HONK HONK.”

We are called to be disciple-making disciples (Matthew 28:19).  How are we going to make disciples if we don’t first let the world know that we stand for Christ?  You can honk your horn by hanging a Christian sign in the yard.  Or by wearing Christian t-shirts while running errands or mowing the lawn.  Put a bumper sticker for God in the back windshield of your car.  Email everyone in your department at work inviting them to Bible study.  HONK that horn, don’t love-tap it.

Make sure to pray for God’s direction on when and where you should honk the loudest.  Just because we should honk doesn’t negate the fact that we need to follow Christ while doing so.

Check out Waving Flags for additional encouragement on this topic.

Matthew 5:16 – Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

Matthew 4:19 – And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

Mark 3:34-35 – Looking about at those who were sitting around Him, He said, “Behold My mother and My brothers! “For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.”

Matthew 16:24 – Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.”

Everything Dies

This post may be more therapeutic than purposeful but I pray God will weave His words through my fingers so that He will be glorified, and that His glorification will find its way to your heart.

Our AC unit is a year and a half old.  People kept saying it was too hot in our house for it to be working properly, but I lived in denial.  I didn’t want to have an AC problem.  We called a repair company out, and then another and another.  Our lifetime warranty with the original installers apparently meant nothing since they are now out of business, and you hear “your call cannot be completed as dialed” when you call them.

A couple of days later, the dishwasher died.  We knew that it was dying for a while but, with everything else going on in life, we ignored the problem until one day it was done.  We’ve been without a dishwasher for three weeks now.

Then a couple of days after that, our two-year-old, still-under-manufacturer’s-warranty fridge died.  It’s been almost three weeks and we still don’t have a fridge.  Samsung told us Thursday that it isn’t repairable.

All within 6 days.  It has been an interesting last three weeks to say the least.

What situations in your life are you ignoring until you are forced to confront them?  What relationships are you neglecting?  What are you turning a blind eye to?

Had I fixed the dishwasher when it first started going out we wouldn’t have been without a dishwasher for a month.  Had we used a reputable AC company instead of trying to save money we wouldn’t be in the mess we are in now.  Not everything is fixable, some things can’t be saved, but you do move forward.

I urge you today to address those situations which you’ve been ignoring.  Seek repair in the relationships you find the most trying.  And don’t forget about repair in our relationship with Christ.  Without repair in our relationship with Christ no other repair is possible.

You may not have the same job, the same friends, or even the same house (I’m frustrated with ours at the moment, venting!), but you will always have the same God.  He loves you even through all this mess.  He wants nothing more than to walk you through the repair and break the cycle of fear, anger, remorse and grief.

Everything dies and is made new in Christ.

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 – We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed, perplexed but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

Philippians 4:12-13 – I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want  I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

1 Peter 5:10 – And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

James 1:2-4 – Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

 

Photo by Vali S. from Pexels

There’s Always More

There is always a never ending list of stuff to do, things to buy, places to go and busyness to partake in.  Grocery store lists, errands to run, phone calls to return, kids’ activities to race to, it’s the stuff that makes life, life.  It’s also the stuff that makes life suffocating.

I find that the busier I am, the less quiet time I spend with God.  The day is busy from the moment the alarm goes off, and there “isn’t time” to start the day with prayer and relationship with God.  The busier I am, the more I rely on myself to get stuff done and the less I rely on God.  “I can get it all done,” “I can make it happen,” “I can get it accomplished”—there’s no room for God in any of those thoughts of the heart.  The more time that goes on like that, the wider the chasm in my relationship with Christ.

Our God is a good, good Father and He is waiting for us to return to His arms.  I imagine him sitting on the front porch, light on, waiting expectantly for our return home.  He wants nothing more than to spend time with us each day, just sitting and talking one-on-one.

If you are far from Christ today, or maybe just haven’t had a focused quiet time in a while, now is the time to stop and spend time with your Lord.  He is waiting for you.  He can’t wait to hear your heart and share his love in return.

Zephaniah 3:17 – The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

Psalm 73:28 – But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.

James 4:8 – Come near to God and he will come near to you.  Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

Mark 1:35 – Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

Psalm 62:1 – Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him.

Revelation 3:20 – Here I am!  I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

Isaiah 2:17 – The arrogance of man will be brought low and human pride humbled; the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.

Psalm 73:25-26- Whom have I in heaver, but you?  And earth has nothing I desire besides you.  My flesh and my heart may fail, but my God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

2 Peter 3:9 – The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.  Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

 

Photo by Johannes Plenio from Pexels

The Day of the Ugly Cry

We’ve all had the ugly cry.  The one with tears pouring down uncontrollably.  Snot running, mixing with the tears, no tissues within sight.  Shoulders heaving, chest tightening, body in uncontrollable waves of sobs.  That ugly cry.  We each have a memory that comes to mind when someone says “ugly cry.”  When we are at our absolute lowest of lows, God is there.  He lifts our face and smiles love and hope into our hearts.  That doesn’t always mean it is puppy dogs, rainbows and unicorns though.  (Can you tell I have two little girls?)

I’ve had two big “God gripping my life” ugly cries.  It seems when God needs to get my attention gentle words aren’t effective; I need my head beat against the concrete instead, but I digress.  First ugly cry was the Sunday after I filed for divorce.  Yes, Christians can be divorced, we sin just like the next person (another blog for another day).  That was the first time in many years that I attended church and I sobbed through the entire sermon.  I don’t think I heard a word the pastor said and found myself sobbing and weeping at the front steps of the sanctuary begging for absolution of my sin and confirmation of my salvation in Christ.  (Luke 7:36-50 was me!) That was 8.5 years ago.

The second big ugly cry was in the parking lot at UT Southwestern before my neurosurgeon appointment, to receive a 3rd opinion on my spine and neurological diagnosis.  The first two opinions were not encouraging.  I prayed harder than I’d ever prayed for longer than I’d ever prayed just for that one appointment.  Seriously, when the Bible talks about praying without ceasing (1 Thes. 5:16-18) that’s what I was doing, for weeks!  Before walking in for the appointment it came down to do I really believe that God is good?  Do I really believe that living the rest of my life in constant nerve pain that cannot be medically improved is God’s best and God’s “good”?  How could a good God really do that in my life?

I decided before I walked in to the appointment that God was good, no matter what.  Then I wiped all the snot and tears away, using at least 10 napkins, gathered myself (and water because I was dehydrated after all that!) and went inside.  The appointment didn’t go well.  I didn’t get good news and the doctor didn’t have the best delivery of the unfortunate news.

However God is good, and he is faithful.  He has used my journey of pain and suffering to reach others for Christ in the most miraculous ways one could imagine.  I met a random woman suffering in constant pain at the exact moment her husband was across the world in the Sea of Galilee praying for help for her pain.  God gave us to each other to love and mentor each other through this journey.  She is now pain free, I am not.  And that’s okay.  I’ve been able to share Christ openly in several doctors offices.  Nurses have been able to see the example of my love and joy through suffering and have received encouragement.

God has used my pain for His glory.  He has used my suffering for His glory.  But the biggest result of my big ugly cries was God changing MY heart towards Him.  I had to pray incessantly to God which forged a new level of relationship with Christ.  He taught me to trust Him even when it doesn’t feel good.  God lifted my head, ignoring my running snot, looked into my eyes and said “Peace be with you.” (Philippians 4:7 ringing in my head).  God taught me it isn’t about this moment, it’s about the future discipleship of others using the giftedness God has given me, which includes my pain.  My pain is a gift from God.  And God is good.

If you are struggling today my friend, be encouraged; God is WITH you and God is FOR you!  He will absolutely give you more than you can handle just so you will rely on Him to make it through.  If you are having a hard time, I encourage you to sit and worship with these songs today: “Blessings” by Laura Story, “Thy Will” by Hilary Scott, and “Hallelujah” by Pentatonix.  These three songs have gotten me through the last 9+ years of pain and worship, worship in pain.

Philippians 4:7 – And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Matthew 11:28-30 – “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Psalm 29:11 – The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.

John 16:33 – “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”

Isaiah 54:10 – Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

 

 

Weary and Discouraged

There are times in life when we feel lost and disconnected.  Void of emotion to connect with others and lacking any “give a poop” to try, we sit stagnant, sinking deeper and deeper into a place of apathy and discouragement.  It is frustrating when we pray and pray yet our prayers seem to go unanswered.  Fighting the fight day after day with no end in sight makes us weary.  We each go through these times and phases.  If you are feeling far from God, take comfort in knowing that you are not alone.

It is in the deepest valleys that God’s glory shines brightest.  It is in the deepest despair that we cry out to God the most and in doing so draw closer to Him.  Light shines brighter in darkness than in light.  Mercy and grace are more meaningful when received while experiencing guilt and shame.  The farther we are from God the greater our need for Him becomes evident.

The book of Job (in the Bible) is a struggle, more like argument, between man and God.  If you are struggling today, be honest with God about your feelings.  Tell him your anger, your hurt, your disgust, your frustration, your sadness.  He already knows how you feel, but trust me, it feels good to tell him.  It feels good to be honest.  By freely admitting where your heart is at today you can begin to rebuild moving forward.

The song Blessings by Laura Story got me through divorce and the aftermath.  I have countless memories of singing this song, tears streaming down my face, while wrestling with God about how my life ended up in such a shambles.  The song Thy Will by Hillary Scott recently helped me through grief and anger from a devastating medical diagnosis.

There will always be times of weariness and discouragement in life.  God is faithful to help us make it through, even when it doesn’t feel like He’s there.  He won’t wave a magic fairy wand and end your suffering, but he will wrap his arm around you and give you a shoulder to lean on each and every step of the journey.

Start by praying.  If you are at a place where you can’t even pray then just close your eyes; God knows the words without you having to say them.  Surrender all, lay your hurt at the foot of the cross.  God’s love will chase you down and fight until you’re found. (Reckless Love by Cory Asbury)

1 Peter 5:6-7 – Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.  Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

John 14:27 – Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Psalm 34:17-19 – The righteous cry out and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.  The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.  The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.

Deuteronomy 31:6 – Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

Isaiah 40:31 – But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on the wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Bumps and Bruises

Bumps, scrapes, bruises and blood are all common around our house.  With a rough-and-tumble kid there is no telling what adventure and injury the day will bring.  We’ve had three days of school so far this year, and she’s been to the nurse every single day.  She’s also my child who had four concussions in two years and still continues to be a daredevil to this day.

Life can be a beating as well.  Sometimes there are physical scars but more often there are emotional scars.  The saying “sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me” is a lie.  Words hurt.  We are left hurting and wounded by people’s words, careless actions and senseless deeds.  Sometimes our wounds are temporary and will heal with time.  Other times we are left with permanent scars showing our former hurts and forever wounds.

Be encouraged today.  Bumps, bruises, scars and wounds mean you are actively living life.  If you don’t get in the game of life you won’t have pain and suffering, but you also won’t reap the rewards.  Life is messy.  Life is painful.  Life hurts.  But with Christ, it is worth every bruise, every scar and every wound.  Christ came to save the world not condemn it. (John 12:47)  Jesus loves you and wants to heal your hurts today.  Accept God’s love, grace, mercy and hope today.  Expect joy in Christ in your life today.

PS:  Imagine our scars compared to Jesus’ scars.  Mine will be NOTHING compared to his!

John 12:47 – If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.

Psalm 34:4-6 – I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.  Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.  This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles.

2 Corinthians 3-5 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.  For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.

Psalm 6:1-10: O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger, nor chasten me in your wrath.  Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing; Heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled.  And my soul is also greatly troubled; But you, O Lord – how long?  Turn, O Lord, deliver my life; save me for the sake of your steadfast love.  For in death there is no remembrance of you; in Sheol who will give you praise?  I am weary with my mourning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping.  My eye wastes away because of my grief; it grows weak because of all my foes.  Depart from me, all you workers of evil, for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping.  The Lord has heard my please; the Lord accepts my prayer.  All my enemies shall be ashamed and greatly troubled; they shall turn back and be put to shame in a moment.

The Emergency Room Visit

At a recent visit to the ER, it struck me that hospitals are the great equalizer of life.  It doesn’t matter what your socioeconomic status is, you still feel terror accompanying a loved one in the ER.  It doesn’t matter your ethnicity, religious beliefs, gender, age, your anything, because there is still the fear, crisis, emotional exhaustion, grief, etc. in your heart.  At the ER you are not in control.

Which reveals the true question, who IS in control?  It clearly isn’t me because, if it were, I’d like to think we wouldn’t be in this mess.  Is it the patient?  Probably not because it’s doubtful they would choose to be in such a place voluntarily.  Could it be the doctors and nurses?  No.  They would have all the answers and the magic cures if they were in control.  Most people (visitors, patients, medical staff, etc.) would agree that a higher power is in control.

God isn’t just in control at the ER in the hospital, he’s in control of all the emergencies in life as well.  Whether it’s the loss of a job, the death of a spouse, a recent divorce or trouble with children, you can rest assured knowing that God is in control.  Even when you walk through the fire you will not be burned (Isaiah 43:2).

God told us that we would have trouble in this world (John 16:33) but to be in peace knowing that He has already conquered all the hurt and pain that this world brings.  If you are living in the bondage of fear, anxiety, stress, pain, guilt and shame, you can be free!  You can be delivered through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

If you are already a Christ follower, lean not only on God’s word, but also on your fellow brothers and sisters to help carry the burden (Galatians 6:2).  Remember, also, that God is completely committed to our spiritual growth through the trials we encounter.  “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” – Romans 5:3-4

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 – Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

Romans 8:18 – I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

John 16:33 – “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble. But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”

Isaiah 43:2 – When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.

Galatians 6:2 – Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fullfill the law of Christ.