Tag: complacency

  By Sarah Callen

Have you ever met one of those people who is the epitome of freedom? They don’t care what other people think and don’t seem to be phased by what happens to them, but continue to go forward with almost reckless abandon? I’m not one of those people. I would like to be, but I am far from their level of freedom. I have a comfort zone, a routine, to which I have grown accustomed and like to maintain. Interestingly enough, the most free people I know are those who are very close to God, intimately tuned into his voice, and actively seeking his face. The most free people I know have trusted God through good and bad, displaying an awe-inspiring amount of faith. Trusting God is great in theory, until he asks you to do something that makes you uncomfortable. So, what do you do when his direction or instruction flies in the face of your instincts?

 

All of our favorite Bible characters navigated through this same internal struggle. Let’s look at Moses. God told him that he would be used to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. What a ridiculous notion! Then, after they had been rescued from their oppressors, God sustained his people through miracles as they wandered about in the desert. God’s instructions to Moses were ridiculous, but he obeyed, why? It wasn’t because he was being forced or coerced into submission. Moses obeyed because he knew God. He knew His voice and character, making obedience a no-brainer. So why do we struggle so often with following God’s instructions?

 

I want you to think about a time when God has told you to do something. It could be going and speaking to someone, forgiving someone who hurt you, quitting something or starting something new, or a thousand other things. Do you have yours in mind? I have mine. Now, how does that instruction or direction make you feel? Now, that’s a strange question coming from me, I’m not one to talk about feelings often, but I’m learning that there’s value to this type of self-assessment. I think two of the main responses can be: fear or freedom. I think your reaction depends wholly on your perspective. Let me say it another way, your response to obedience reveals your view of God.

 

The Bible says that God is love, it’s not that he can love or he loves well, but he is the very definition of love. The Bible also says that perfect Love casts out all fear, meaning that fear cannot exist in the same space as perfect love. When a frightening directive is given by God and your focus is on the directive and yourself (i.e. a selfish perspective), the natural result is fear. But when you focus on the one giving the command, it can be a freeing experience.

 

Most of the time, I take the selfish road, as I am a very selfish individual. But the interesting thing is that this perspective always leads to my detriment. By focusing on myself and how God’s word effects me it causes me to operate in a place of fear. But, when I change my perspective and focus on God, my response changes. When I know that God loves me and is always looking out for me I can trust that his directions are indeed good. I can know that He wants good things for me and will work things together for my benefit and not to my destruction.

 

I don’t know what you’re facing right now, but I know that God is good. Every time I have entered into a period of transition or stepped into something scary, God has pulled through and, despite all the bumps in the road, I’ve come out better on the other side. And I believe he will do the same for you. If you’re frighted by that next step He’s telling you to take, know that you’re not alone. It’s okay to react with fear, but you can’t stay there. When fear begins to creep in, whispering in your ear to run away or hide, change your perspective and focus on the One who is speaking to you and leading you.

 

I’m not writing this because I have mastered this or because I have this all figured out. I’m writing this because I’m in the middle of it right now. What God is telling me to do scares me and I have to daily, sometimes hourly, shift my focus to the Lord and off my situation. I’m asking you to join me on this faith walk as we continue to move toward God and away from ourselves.

 

A simple shift in perspective can change everything. I’m willing to humble myself and change my thinking, are you?

 

 

Sarah was raised in Tucson, Arizona, but now lives in Dallas, Texas. She currently works a 9-5 job, but in her spare time she loves to write, paint, draw, and sing. More importantly, she wants to help people receive hope when they feel like they have none.
Sarah:  “I believe every number has a name, every name has a story, and every story is worthy of being shared.”

Sarah’s Blog: workinprogressblog.co

CALLEN_PHOTOS-21By Sarah Callen

Have you ever met one of those people who is the epitome of freedom? They don’t care what other people think and don’t seem to be phased by what happens to them, but continue to go forward with almost reckless abandon? I’m not one of those people. I would like to be, but I am far from their level of freedom. I have a comfort zone, a routine, to which I have grown accustomed and like to maintain. Interestingly enough, the most free people I know are those who are very close to God, intimately tuned into his voice, and actively seeking his face. The most free people I know have trusted God through good and bad, displaying an awe-inspiring amount of faith. Trusting God is great in theory, until he asks you to do something that makes you uncomfortable. So, what do you do when his direction or instruction flies in the face of your instincts?

 

All of our favorite Bible characters navigated through this same internal struggle. Let’s look at Moses. God told him that he would be used to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. What a ridiculous notion! Then, after they had been rescued from their oppressors, God sustained his people through miracles as they wandered about in the desert. God’s instructions to Moses were ridiculous, but he obeyed, why? It wasn’t because he was being forced or coerced into submission. Moses obeyed because he knew God. He knew His voice and character, making obedience a no-brainer. So why do we struggle so often with following God’s instructions?

 

I want you to think about a time when God has told you to do something. It could be going and speaking to someone, forgiving someone who hurt you, quitting something or starting something new, or a thousand other things. Do you have yours in mind? I have mine. Now, how does that instruction or direction make you feel? Now, that’s a strange question coming from me, I’m not one to talk about feelings often, but I’m learning that there’s value to this type of self-assessment. I think two of the main responses can be: fear or freedom. I think your reaction depends wholly on your perspective. Let me say it another way, your response to obedience reveals your view of God.

 

The Bible says that God is love, it’s not that he can love or he loves well, but he is the very definition of love. The Bible also says that perfect Love casts out all fear, meaning that fear cannot exist in the same space as perfect love. When a frightening directive is given by God and your focus is on the directive and yourself (i.e. a selfish perspective), the natural result is fear. But when you focus on the one giving the command, it can be a freeing experience.

 

Most of the time, I take the selfish road, as I am a very selfish individual. But the interesting thing is that this perspective always leads to my detriment. By focusing on myself and how God’s word effects me it causes me to operate in a place of fear. But, when I change my perspective and focus on God, my response changes. When I know that God loves me and is always looking out for me I can trust that his directions are indeed good. I can know that He wants good things for me and will work things together for my benefit and not to my destruction.

 

I don’t know what you’re facing right now, but I know that God is good. Every time I have entered into a period of transition or stepped into something scary, God has pulled through and, despite all the bumps in the road, I’ve come out better on the other side. And I believe he will do the same for you. If you’re frighted by that next step He’s telling you to take, know that you’re not alone. It’s okay to react with fear, but you can’t stay there. When fear begins to creep in, whispering in your ear to run away or hide, change your perspective and focus on the One who is speaking to you and leading you.

 

I’m not writing this because I have mastered this or because I have this all figured out. I’m writing this because I’m in the middle of it right now. What God is telling me to do scares me and I have to daily, sometimes hourly, shift my focus to the Lord and off my situation. I’m asking you to join me on this faith walk as we continue to move toward God and away from ourselves.

 

A simple shift in perspective can change everything. I’m willing to humble myself and change my thinking, are you?

 

 

Sarah was raised in Tucson, Arizona, but now lives in Dallas, Texas. She currently works a 9-5 job, but in her spare time she loves to write, paint, draw, and sing. More importantly, she wants to help people receive hope when they feel like they have none.
Sarah:  “I believe every number has a name, every name has a story, and every story is worthy of being shared.”

 

Sarah’s Blog: workinprogressblog.co

headshotBy Heidi Trask

Comfort; we all need it, we all long for it, and we all look for it. We look to all sorts of things such as food, people, and wealth hoping to find comfort. We think that these different revenues will offer and give us what we seek, but in reality, no matter how hard we try, none of these will give us the true comfort we need, the comfort only Jesus Christ our savior is able to give us.

God has been teaching me what His comfort is and how much better it is to any other source I could try to find it in. In 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 Paul talks about the God of all comfort, who comforts us in our affliction so that we might comfort others. The Lord is really using this passage as an example in my life. He is teaching me what it means to be comforted by Him through physical pain and suffering so that I may then share that comfort with others who really need it. Sometimes, I feel as though I have to be strong, and “prove” that I am okay because of Christ and what He has done. I’ve gone through so much pain and suffering that when others ask me how I am, out of habit I usually say “I’m doing great” or “Yeah I’m wonderful” when the majority of the time I’m barely hanging on. The work that Christ is doing in my heart and how He is drawing me closer to Him is amazing, yet, too much of the time my pride sneaks up and says, ‘hey, I’m alright, I’ve got this, I can handle it, I don’t need help.’ I disregard my weakness and try to do it (whatever ‘it’ is) on my own.

I know that this is not what Christ wants, nor how I should feel, yet too often I find myself going through the motions. I often feel drained and like there is no point. I’m learning that without Christ, I can do NOTHING on my own. Sure, I may be able to get by for awhile, but eventually I’ll be unable to continue, hit a wall, or get lost or confused. When this happens, and when trials, sins, emotions, or attacks from Satan bombard me, God is teaching me to run to Him in prayer and to go straight to His Word for comfort, guidance, and peace. In the past, I would have sought out friends, other things or people to get comfort. I’d run everywhere trying to find an ‘answer’ or solution to ‘fix’ the problem and continue on with my life. I went everywhere but Christ.

True comfort in God is found through His Word and in communion with Him. The Bible has so many promises, more than I could ever imagine, and all of them He promises to us who have been adopted into His family through the blood of Christ; they are the best source of comfort to a hurting heart. His promises, such as “I will never leave nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5b, Joshua 1:9)”, “Nothing in all creation can separate you from my love (Romans 8:38-39)”, “Come to me you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28-30)”, “I keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on me because he trusts in me (Isaiah 26:3)”, “I am your strength when you are weak, my grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)”, “I began a good work in you and will be faithful to complete it (Philippians 1:6)”, “I have perfect plans for you for your good and not for evil (Jeremiah 29:ll)”, and “I will work together all things for good for you whom I love (Romans 8:28)” are all for me because Christ is in me.

I am His child, His daughter, His Bride. And because of Christ’s redemptive work on the cross, God is and always will be faithful to me. The more I seek and meditate on Him, the more I am able to have joy, find joy, and be joyful in the midst of so much pain and suffering. Even if my body always fails and even if I never find answers or healing, it doesn’t matter. Why? Because I HAVE Christ!

I know that I am human, that I will have days when I fall into the fear and anxiety, times that I will struggle to fight for joy, and days when I will want to give up (and do) on the fight against sin. Sin is something I will deal with and experience until the day Lord brings me home. For this life here on earth is temporary, this isn’t my home. But even when I fail, and when I fall down, Christ is always right beside me, picking me up, helping me, and upholding me with his righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10), loving me and forgiving me. What shall I fear? When I have God for me, who can be against me? What can man do (Hebrews 13:6)?

Will you open yourself up to the God of all comforts, who comforts us in ALL our afflictions? It truly is the sweetest, most precious comfort you will ever receive.

Oh Lord, my Lord, help me to continue to seek you through the Word which you have given to me, guide me where you will have me go. Give me the comfort and peace that you and only you can give. During those days and times when all seems hopeless and like there is no reason to go on, show me your Son and what He suffered for me, give me comfort in knowing that you are right beside me, holding me when I cry, and in knowing that you will never leave me nor forsake me. Thank you!

                                                                                                            Amen

 

Heidi is a single woman who has been dealing with chronic health problems and pain for several years and feels lead to share with others the comfort and hope she has received from Christ through it. Heidi wishes to reach out to not only those struggling with their own health, but to everyone that struggles with daily things like faith, hope, peace, etc. She has her own blog where she shares her heart and what Christ is doing in her life, and if you would like to know more or know of someone who would be encouraged by her writing, please visit her blog at https://comforted2comfort.wordpress.com/

lisa pic 2By Lisa Blanco

I opened my eyes and blinked a few times. Was she really awake? Was I just hearing her cry in my dream? Am I still asleep? I was stuck in the mommy fog: when you’re wondering which land you’re in, the sleep one or the awake one. The monitor crackled and gave its normal feedback, then I heard it loud and clear. “Mommy, mommy? Mommmiiieeee!”

After trying to rock Adley back to sleep, I finally brought her into our bed. She nuzzled up to me and I smiled. I was sleepy but I always like any alone time I can get with one of the kids, especially if I can sleep at the same time. But then came the gagging.

“Oh it’s okay sweetie,” I said as I sat up.

Gag, gag, I could hear the liquid making its way up.

“Alright, alright, alright,” I always say this gently to the kids when I don’t want them to see me panic on the inside.

Vomit.

After wiping off a few places. I laid back down and Adley was ready to close her eyes and sleep.

Then I heard another monitor.

“Mommy?”

Little Ernie couldn’t go back to sleep, I brought him in on the couch in our room. I kissed him and began to walk back to bed and then I heard the gagging.

“Ernie? Sweetie, are you okay?”

Up came the chunks. Twice, actually. My poor boy is only 3, throwing up is so confusing and terrifying. I still feel this way and I’m 28. I cleaned him up, laid him down and told him that mommy cries when she throws up too.

When my husband woke up with the flu also, items were soaked in puke, and our washer stopped working, I had to take a second. I locked myself in the bathroom to see if God had something to say at this point.

I felt like Moses before a burning bush, called The Flu, and God was telling me to take on the task of caring for his sick people in my house. By myself. And I was saying “oh, I can’t do that.”

“I will be with you.” I remembered he told Moses.

“But, I didn’t sleep last night. The washer doesn’t work. There will be more puke. I can’t do this!” I walked out of the bathroom with about as much faith as Moses started out with.

I really felt this was all about me. Of course this would happen to a mom, I had thought, caged in by the sickness around her and bouncing around from person to person, changing her clothes after getting thrown up on and tossing them in the “we will wash these when the washer works” pile, and trying to entertain the other kids that are healthy and going stir crazy.

I was acting like I had been dealt a bad hand, like my life was a game of cards and this week was just not my week. But God is gracious as always, and revealed to me what flu week is all about.

And I can tell you, that whole week brought more vomit, the virus finally took over me too, but God was with me.

The Lord brought us very low in weakness to show us that he’s the one who cares for our family. He’s the one who brings the sickness and he’s the one who allows it to leave. He brings it in the middle of the night or at nap time. He can allow sickness to stay for a week or 24 hours.

During a family flu, his goodness and mercy are still following us all the days of our life. Our flesh is failing during sickness, but He is our strength and our portion forever, and that is what helps us get up and clean off our sick child. The Lord being our strength, trusting his care in allowing the flu, gives us the hope to make it through a very long day. And when another member of the family announces that their tummy hurts, the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ will be your strength to run them to the toilet in time, or not in time.  And the hope of Heaven where sin and  sickness will one day be no more, will help you get through the moments of mopping the floors, or scrubbing the carpets .

As the season of much sickness sticks with us and invades our homes, remember Who allows the sickness and that he’s the strength and hope for those who trust in His Son.

Now I’m off to drink some Emergan-c. Cheers.

 

Lisa is a stay-at-home mommy blogger who regularly shares how God brings her into closer communion with Him through the joys and challenges of mommy-hood.  You can read more from Lisa on her blog at http://elizabethblanco.blogspot.com/

 

headshot By Christian Bonner

 

Is your New Year going as hoped?

I ask because, I love a new day and especially a New Year. I get excited about the opportunity to change something, start a new habit, to improve, or to put a rough day behind me.

This year was no different and I looked forward to January very much.

If you are anything like me, your hopes for the New Year would have been a complete overhaul of your life. My hopes had everything from getting in shape to being a better mom, person, wife, etc..  These, and much more on the list, are still my goals, but I can say that this year isn’t much different than the last, except the numbers in the date.

There wasn’t a lot of down time during the holidays and the new year started without much time to catch my breath or turn my hopes into plans. I am not making excuses and I am sure there was more I could have done to start with a plan, but none-the-less, I wasn’t able to make any resolutions or start off the way I had hoped.

Is that how you feel now that we are a few weeks into the new year? Do look over your week and think, “Nothing has changed”?

I feel that way often. I have some health struggles that make it a challenge to do more than just exist at times. I never know what each day will hold or if I’ll be able to do all I have planned. I know it is said to take things day-by-day, and we literally don’t have a choice, but what that means in my world is in making plans I know that I will have to make final decisions on that day whether or not I can keep them depending on how I am feeling physically. I was raised to keep my commitments and this season in my life makes trying to live out the verse from James 5:12, “…let your ‘yes’ be yes and your ‘no’ be no…” very challenging.

Do you find yourself too busy and unable to find grip or focus, just being pulled instead of in control? Or do you find yourself in a situation like myself? Maybe you are in a happy medium and life is manageable, full but not too full, and you accomplish all you need. Either which way, we all know seasons change and life can get mundane or overly stressful.

Even on my busiest and best days, I can at times end the day feeling like I didn’t get it right. I didn’t do the one thing that I really needed or wanted, or I didn’t do enough. So no matter what our lives look like and the activities we have on our to do lists, how do we make sure that we have that peace when the day is over?

I remember last year when I started swimming again. I swam competitively in high school and college, and even though my physique no longer proves that to be true, I still call myself a swimmer. The first day I went back, of course my body fought it and I didn’t swim as long as I had hoped, definitely shouldn’t’ have been calling myself a swimmer the last few years! I remember telling my husband, “Tomorrow is already better because of what I did today”. The excitement I had for the next day could not be measured or taken away. I knew that when tomorrow came, when I looked back on my yesterday, I wouldn’t regret my choice to go to the pool, to have done the one thing I had avoided for so long.

So back to the question about how do we have that peace when our day is done. It could be something practical like the example above, and those things are good, but where does our peace come from?

2 Thessalonians 3:16 says, “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all”. He is called the Lord of Peace.

Then in Philippians 4:7 it says, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”.

Knowing Him is where the peace comes from.

Do you need Him to guide you in your daily activities so there is peace in your heart?

As you think on your new year (there is still a lot left), don’t pressure yourself, but take advantage of an opportunity. Take advantage of a new day to draw closer to the Lord, to hear His voice and have Him guide you. Instead of thinking, “This year, I want to get in shape” or “I want to be a better homemaker”, think about what one thing you can change between you and the Lord.

I know that when I am focused on Him, when I spend time with Him regularly in Bible study and prayer, the practical things of the day aren’t as stressful and I am even able to prioritize my never ending list of ‘to-dos’.

So, what is that one thing for you? Do you need more time in prayer? Do you need more time to read the Bible?

It’s difficult to figure out how it will all fit in. So, maybe while you get ready for your day, while you do your hair or whatever, talk to Him. Maybe you already talk to Him and pray regularly, but you need more Bible time. Download an audio version of the Bible and listen as you get ready, or as you drive to work. There are podcasts and apps you can download. If you are less into the technology, there are really good daily devotionals that you can read in just a few minutes while you eat breakfast, like the Daily Bread. You can also go to LoveEverlastingMinistries.com for other resources as well.

All I am saying is there are tiny adjustments you can make that won’t overwhelm you, but will be of great benefit to you over time.

My hope for you this year is that you find a passion and fervor for the Lord while having a peace that is deep within you as you face each day.  As women, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves. Make this year different by filtering that through the Lord and His Word.

 

 

 

 

Deb Blue 5x7 tighter cropBy Dr. Deb Waterbury

 

The room is dark, and the bottle is close.  As she raises it to her lips with trembling hands, she knows that the burning liquid will dull the ache in her heart…for a moment.

What she doesn’t see is the lone figure standing in the corner of her room, sword hanging loosely by his side, a tear sliding slowly down his cheek.

“How much longer, Father,” he asks in a hushed whisper.

“Wait,” is the reply he hears.  And so he waits, quietly, painfully watching.

Also in the room are Despair and Loneliness and Anger and Guilt.  Soon they are joined by Greed and Malice and Fury.  Squirming around her, talons digging into her flesh, they continue to stab her repeatedly with unseen nails.  She doesn’t respond to their torment, however.  Instead her heart sinks.  With every passing moment she only feels more pain.  In ever growing sadness, she tips the bottle again.

“Please, Father,” asks the warrior standing in the corner, “how much longer?”

“Wait,” is his answer again.

Painfully, then, he obeys.

His knuckles tighten around the sword at his side as he watches the horde of tormenters now covering the room.  With every passing moment they are joined by more and more squirming things, their home the abyss, but their purpose now is tormenting her.  They cannot take her, for she belongs to the Great One.  They can, however, menacingly provoke her heart to sickness and pain.

Another tear falls unseen down the warrior’s cheek.  He vibrates now with the need to protect, to save.  But still he waits.

Next he sees joining the throng of creatures Discouragement and Rage.  Finally, when it seems that no more could possibly come, the one called Hopelessness slithers in uninhibited and buries its talons deep into her heart.  She moans, and very suddenly her heart gives way to utter despondency.  The warrior senses this change, sees the new arrival, and his own heart threatens to break.

Just as he opens his mouth to beseech once again on behalf of his charge, he hears the Father speak.

“Enough.”

With lightning speed he reacts, his sword barely visible as it slashes through the air.  The small tormenters scream and run, trying unsuccessfully to avoid his blade, but each is vanquished in a cloud of smoke.  The great warrior’s weapon is too much and too quick for any to evade.

Only a second has passed in human time before he has rid the room of every last one.  Instantly he is at her side, his strong face only inches from her tear-stained face.  With great affection and tender words he whispers in her ear:  “No more.  You are done now.  Stop, my dear one.”

She doesn’t see him.  She doesn’t see any of them, but she hears this voice, even if it seems to be only in her head.  Something in her clicks into place, and she knows she has come to the end.  She hasn’t any idea of where the strength will come, but she knows that she has been touched, and the end of this self-inflicted misery has come.  It is an end that will bring healing.  It is an end that has broken her, but it has broken her so that she will look to her Father.  It is a healing that must come, and it must come in this fashion.

The warrior will not leave her.  He will be there, protecting her while she finishes this exile.  And though it causes him tremendous pain to watch his charge go through such horrible pain, he trusts the Father who has promised to bring all of His children unto Himself—even if that path means He must leave them to themselves to do so.

It will be a long road, dear one, he thinks, but I am here, and you will find peace in the arms of your Father and Savior.

 

***************************************************************************************

 

This story may seem far-fetched to you, but if you are a believer and have sinned, losing yourself for a time to that sin, then something very similar to this allegory has happened on behalf of you.  There is a battle going on every minute of every day in the spiritual realm for your mind and for your purpose here on earth.  Satan wants to thwart all that the Father has done for you, and he will use all of the darkness available to him to accomplish his purposes. In the allegory above it was alcohol plaguing the believer. However, it could just as easily have been drugs, sex, lying, anger, malice, gossip, or a host of other sins that beset fallen man.

You must remember, though, that God will not lose you.  He will do all that is necessary, even if that means allowing you to fall to immeasurable depths so that you will once and for all find yourself on your face before Him, sobbing through tear-drenched eyes.  Only then will you be able to say, “I give up, Father.  I give up trying, and I give myself and my life and my struggles to you.”

Once you have truly done this thing, the end will bring a new beginning.  This end will bring peace.  Our Father loves us too much to let us live without the joy that only He can bring.  He will protect us, but sometimes He will let us fall so that we might stand.

So now, Believer, stand.  Whatever struggle besets you on this day, lay it down and stand.  Stand and hear your Savior say, “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

Will you stand today?  Because somewhere very near to you a warrior waits to slay all those things that torment you now.  Has it been enough yet?  Will you lay it down at the feet of your Savior and say, “I give it all to You”?