Category Archives: Faith

“Pilgrim’s Prayer for Wavering Faith”

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I’ve come to a mountain on my pilgrimage. It’s named Mount Wavering Faith. It looms before me so that it’s all I can see. I’ve heard of it before, but thought surely I’ll never face it. I’ve blindly followed a winding path of pride, rebellion, sorrow and regret, right to the very foot of it. Will climbing it, and getting to the other side, lead to a surety of what I say I believe? I want it to. But I fear what awaits. What if I crest the top and find there is nothing to find? That thought leaves me in a fog of defeat and despair.

Have you been to this mountain before?
Maybe you’re there now?

You’re not alone. *Do not be afraid do not be discouraged…

As I stare up at Wavering Faith, I feel it’s weight deep inside. I drop to my knees, and rest my head on the foot of that mountain. Slowly a gentle stirring begins in my spirit.

Jesus…

I feel You here! Even here Lord in this shadow of Wavering Faith. May I curl up at Your feet and stay all day? I need Your rest. I don’t want to deal with the world today. It’s hurtful and crazy and sad. I feel like I can’t cope anymore Jesus. I can’t help my hurting loved ones. I can’t turn hardening hearts from Satan’s lies. I want to force them to know Your truth. *But that’s not Your way is it Lord?

I want to lay here in Your presence and pitch a fit as You wipe tears from my eyes. I want to feel the release that being alone with You provides. I’m tired Lord. I’m tired of standing up when all I want to do is fall. I’m tired of waiting for something to happen, when I don’t know what that something is. My soul is restless and not at peace. I want to understand what troubles me so. God forgive me, but, I have moments when I fear that I’ve fooled myself into believing I’m saved. I fear there are parts of my heart that You want, yet I won’t let You have. Maybe because I fear Your power in me. Maybe the real fear is that I’ll call on that power, and it won’t be there. Maybe, Jesus, I don’t believe at all. Then what God? What salvation is left for me if I can’t feel my faith? Or trust? I read Your Word and find myself seeing it with the eyes of an unbeliever. Your being is incredible. It’s so big how can I hope to absorb it? And I’ve been a Christian for decades. Haven’t I? How have I come to this barren place?

Aside from day dreams Lord, I can’t recall ever longing to be any particular thing. Other than what I wasn’t. Always leaping and grasping for stars that weren’t mine to shine.

Since giving my life to You I’ve longed to find and fulfill a calling. Surely I’m meant for something? *Your Word tells me it is to be a Christian and to represent You well. I found solace in that for awhile. Now, in my failures, even that feels shaken. Oh God, if I’m being refined for something here in this valley, reveal it to me. I know you’ve freed me from the bondage of my mistakes, my sins. Still my heart so that I can feel You working. Stay my mind to keep it from searching for signs that just aren’t there. Forgive me for trying to take matters into my own hands. *Now God grant me the kind of faith, not to climb this mountain, but to make it move! Then grant me the patience to wait as You reveal the path it has concealed. *Restore to me the joy of my salvation and renew a right spirit within me. Thank you for calming me as only You can do.

In Jesus Name amen.

Please…click to read each passage
*Deuteronomy 31:8 *Isaiah 55:8,9 *1 Peter 2:9 *Matthew 17:20
*Psalm 51:12,13  (All from NIV)

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“Familyweed”

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On August 13th I wroteA tragic event in March of this year left my families lives turned upside down. It’s not my story to tell. Suffice it to say our balance has yet to be regained. If anything mid July saw it thrown off once again. I would say I’ll be happy to see the back side of 2016…but I have to wonder what 2017 will herald in?

A scant four days after I posted the above statement another harsh reality slammed into my family. We didn’t have to wait until 2017 for another mind numbing experience. One we’re still in the throes of. As if we aren’t still caught up in the gale forces of January, March…and July. Will I never learn? How could I even begin to relax and think we’d weathered the storm? Now August has blown into the mix.

I sit here gazing out my window, feeling only slightly like Job. I feel guilty too for not making the 70 mile trek to the hospital today. A place I’ve grown to despise even as I appreciate all it provides. It’s kept two of my beloved ones alive these past long weeks. One endless stay turned into another. A dark tunnel with no end. Emotionally drained. All of us. Weary and helpless.

Fear. Denial. Anger. Sorrow. Tangible frustration that knows no bounds. Aching acceptance.

It’s the realization that absolutely nothing will ever be the same. Massive tumbleweeds, familyweeds, of lives more than half over. Lives that have been enter twined since birth. Brittle and gnarled. Traveling in whatever direction the wind rolls them. Hither and yon. Landed here in the twilight. Full of debris picked up along the journey. Crumbling, weary and breaking apart. I fear complete detachment. It’s a chasm that can’t be crossed this side of Heaven. I began as the last of three. I can’t imagine life without my two. Friends, enemies, timeless love. Good, bad and all in between. Thick and thin. Even strangers sometimes. Dare I wonder how the inevitable will come?

Where would I be with out my faith? Without my God who strengthens me and hears the plea in my heart? Pleas I can’t put into words though the Spirit does. I feel Jesus surrounding the broken places that I don’t understand. Reaching up for the peace that surpasses. I long for my loved ones to have peace. I feel refinement being wrought. Almighty El Roi lead me in the path You’d have me go.

So I pray.* My Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil for Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

I know, as I release my pent up breath, that my woes are smaller than most but larger than some. Aren’t each of our troubles? Isn’t that the very nature of humanity? All I need to do is watch the evening news to realize that God has been kind to me and mine. Kind indeed.

Now to share the sliver of light that is breaking through my dark.

 

*Lords Prayer: Matthew 6:9-13

“On Guard”

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The weight of the world is more than I can bear. My own personal struggles exhaust my spirit. My heart wells up with sorrow when I see the state mankind is in. Is it sapping your strength too?
When it’s bearing down on your heart and your soul and your mind, turn that energy instead toward God, for He tells us:

5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.
Deuteronomy 6:5-9, Matthew 22:37, Mark 12:30, Luke 10:27

Brothers and sisters are you finding it hard to find your footing in the war of good vs. evil? Lately I am finding that things don’t feel as “sure” as they used to. It frightens me. Until I remember who is causing these feelings of fear and unrest. Until I remember the insidious ways in which Satan forces himself into my thoughts. Even when I pray it’s as if he hovers ’round my prayer chamber. I believe this is only the beginning dear friends. Why are we so surprised by current events? The Bible warns us of it’s coming. Perhaps we didn’t think we’d see it in our lifetime? It’s hard to admit but part of me feels robbed somehow. I’ve finally reached this golden time in my life. I feel I’ve just learned how to live yet stability crumbles all around me. I wonder which world event will be the swell that bursts the dam of my strength? Which event will plunge me into the rush of chaos and try to erode the walls of my faith? Even as I type I envision footage of a dam bursting. Retaining walls collapse and the force of the water blasts through the wall that has held on as long as it can.

I think of the small crack in the wall that led to the total breach. I think of my view of right and wrong. I think about tolerance vs. acceptance…are they one and the same? I know in my life I’ve made small allowances here and there for one sin or another. If I take my one small fracture and multiply it by every other Christian’s small fracture, over the course of a century what do you have? A flood of watered down Christians preaching a watered down gospel. We’ve allowed the subliminal messages on television and now social media to seep into the weak areas of our faith. We’ve decided to just live and let live. Now we’re living in a torrential mess that makes Sodom and Gomorrah pale in comparison.
Yes, Christian’s are to love everyone and do all that we can to keep the peace. But we simply can not tolerate or accept that wrong is right or that right is wrong. We can’t let what our minds are being bombarded with weaken the resolve of our biblical teaching. This verse of Scripture has been quoted so often in the last couple of years. We’re living it.

3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
II Timothy 4:3-4

Take heart loved ones, listen you who call on Christ as your lifeline and Savior;
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings.
Hebrews 8-9a

Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town. “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.

Be on your guard…

Matthew 10:15-17a

“Existential Exodus”

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Have you ever just ended up in situations, qualified or not, with out meaning too, yet you handled it? I have. I have the gift of blundering into the middle of sticky wickets I’m not qualified to be in the middle of. I handle them, not perfectly, because they need handling. It’s always in the haze of retrospect that I realize, God used me! God equipped me to be in the middle of those particular wickets. Then there are other times I long to be used in certain area’s because I want it, and end up tripping over my very unqualified self. That’s when I feel I don’t fit, even if I’m trying to do good. It’s a merry go round…less the merry.

I’ve been back in the book of Exodus for a couple of weeks, studying Moses.

I have a new appreciation for him. He was in way over his head when he rolled through the wicket to the Burning Bush. I mean, here is this Hebrew, who as a baby, had been placed in a basket and set adrift on the Nile River by his momma. She was sparing him from certain death. The Pharaoh of that day feared being usurped by the Israelite’s numbers, so ordered all male Hebrew toddlers killed. The irony? The daughter of that very Pharaoh pulled the babe from the river and kept him as her own, yet he was nursed and nurtured by his very own mother. Coincidence? No. For the first forty years of his life, Moses was raised and educated as an Egyptian, perhaps being groomed to be the prince. There is no evidence leading us to believe that Moses didn’t know his lineage, even if others were confused. I wonder though, did it leave him feeling inferior to his Egyptian counterparts somehow? Like he wasn’t all that and a piece of cake too?

Years later Moses visited the labor yard, where his race toiled. He witnessed an Egyptian slave master beating a Hebrew slave. In defense of this slave, Moses killed the overseer and tried to hide the body, and his deed. Not long after, he saw two Hebrew slaves bickering and tried to reconcile them. They turned on him…asking if he’d kill them too. They knew his secret! Pharaoh knew it too and wanted Moses dead. So, he fled. He left his homeland, leaving family and friends in fear for his life. But his training during that time period taught him battle and organizational skills. Moses became a man without a place to be. He couldn’t stay in Egypt. The ones who raised him and loved him as their own had turned on him. I truly believe Moses thought he was doing something good in that slave pit. He’d left his princely lifestyle and met his heritage head on, only to be despised by them too! How lost and alone he must have felt.

His flight ended in Midian. He became a lowly shepherd, gaining a wife, two sons, and a priest for a father in law. Moses learned more about the God of his forefathers. He was content and living his happily ever after. He’d found a place to be…to belong. For forty more years. One day as he tended his herd, a blazing bush that didn’t burn up, peaked his curiosity so he went to it. Would you have? Imagine Moses’ state when the very voice of God came to him. He’s told he’s to be a leader in God’s army, at eighty years of age. Wow. It’s no wonder Moses balked at first. Here he’d been minding his own business, maybe wondering what was for dinner, and wandered right into an assignment such as he could never have imagined. But he did answer the call. He said yes, even as unqualified as he felt. Once again Moses left the serenity of home. He left the quiet life of shepherding sheep, to become a shepherd of God’s people. Moses was to return to Egypt and to the Israelite’s. All of which forty years earlier had despised him or wanted him dead. His training during this time taught him how to be a patient shepherd.

Moses was no longer an Egyptian prince in training. Nor was he a Hebrew slave. Nor was he a fugitive. In the Egyptians eyes he was but a lowly shepherd. He was also, and forever to be remembered as, the man who answered God’s call to lead His people out of bondage. When Moses returned to Egypt it wasn’t easy. A lot of time had passed, there was a new Pharaoh in place, but he too feared being usurped by the Israelite’s. It wasn’t the their numbers he should have feared though…only God. God used all of the miraculous events recorded in Exodus to show His people who He is. Even the hardened heart of Pharaoh. Even the scoffing, grumbling hearts of the people Moses was to lead. But Moses was prepared, he’d been trained. He sought God’s counsel at every turn.

A beautiful tapestry was being woven. Moses left his princely heritage to go and serve as God commanded. Moses was meant to lead the people out of physical bondage but more importantly to teach about the bondage of sin. People had wanted him gone, yet God spared him and used him to teach the people about His Sovereignty. God instructed Moses in the ways of worship. Moses mediated between the people and God.

All of this teaching and leading up to Jesus. Jesus, Messiah.

He left His princely throne, the very right hand side of God, to come and serve His children. An earthly king was threatened by this Jesus and wanted Him gone as a toddler too. He was despised by His own, yet He willingly came. Our Christ came in the form of a babe, born in lowly estate. His mission, to shepherd us through this pasture called life. But above all, to lay down His life and free us once for all from the bondage of sin. He came to mediate between us and our Father forevermore. Even when we mess it up. Even when we wander in a wilderness of our own making, we’re being trained for the time we say yes to God.

I imagine Moses felt so overwhelmed and under qualified, but he handled what God gave him the ability to handle. When we feel called to something, or bungle into a situation feeling unqualified, yet saying yes to God, He’ll equip us. Our lives and our trials train us up. Our failures spotlight areas we need to either let go of, or let God refine. You never know what roll your yes might play in someone’s life.

As the saying goes, “If God calls you too it, He will get you through it.” Goodness…I didn’t even talk about the Red Sea!

“Out of This World”

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 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
Matthew 7:7

I have a confession. I can relate to people who’ve struggled with believing the Bible. There. I said it.  I mean let’s face it; some of the accounts in that Book sound other worldly.

Because they are (Eph. 6:12,13 KJV).

It’s easy to see why the Bible might be placed next to the mythical good reads. Maybe you struggle with this too. Are you trying to walk the Christian path but you just aren’t sure what to think?  Add to that the mixed up signals of today’s world and it’s no wonder we paint ourselves into the corner of qualms.

God understands.

Allow me to introduce Thomas. I was happy to meet him even though our commonality is an attitude of, “seeing is believing.” He was a real guy’s guy…a disciple of Jesus, practical, loyal and courageous enough to die for Jesus (John 11:16 NIV). He was also a tad bit skeptical. After Jesus’ death on the cross some of the disciples gathered behind locked doors but Jesus appeared amongst them in the flesh (John 20:24-31 NIV). Thomas wasn’t there the first time this happened and when told of the account, didn’t believe it. I don’t mean to make light of this but can you honestly imagine his reaction? Be honest…what would your first thought be? Thomas stated that he wouldn’t believe until he could touch Jesus’ nail scarred hands and riven side (vs.25). Jesus’ response when He did see Thomas (vs.29), leads us to a crucial point of faith. Jesus isn’t likely to waltz through the walls of our room so we can see His hands, feet and side. Not that He couldn’t. But He does waltz through the walls or our hearts. We’re blessed when we believe without seeing. How? By Faith.  So what is Faith?

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Heb. 11:1 NIV)

 It’s inexplicable, invisible and intrinsic. It starts small, small as the tiniest mustard seed (Luke 17:6 NIV).  It’s like one of the obscure, undeletable programs that come in a computer. You can’t see it…but you know it’s there…but you never use it. Then something comes up and you think, I have a program for that. You try to pull it up but it’s buried under a myriad of other things and slow coming to the surface. But once you start utilizing its features regularly it comes right up without hesitation. Faith grows when we ask the Divine Programmer for the full version. Asking…that’s all it takes! We can ask our Creator God for more faith and for more belief! (Mark 9:23-25 CEV)
(Luke 17:5 NIV)

Faith ceases to work only if you choose to not use it.

God knows we doubt…this is why He gave us Thomas’s account. Those were radical times for Thomas and the other disciples. Today’s issues are the same as yesteryears. Christ and His church are still being persecuted. It’s okay to ask questions, it’s okay to not have all the answers. Keep reading the Bible, it leads to growth and understanding. Go to God and ask for more faith and more belief…He will not let you down. You’ll see the Bible isn’t so otherworldly after all.