God is always by your side, but He’s not always on your side.

With five kids in the house some kind of conflict is inevitable. No matter how well they get along, fights still pop up from time to time.

As mothers, our instinct is often to rush to defend our children. But when you have multiple children, you’re forced to take a step back and find out what’s really going on.

A couple of years ago, my middle child came to me crying because his siblings wouldn’t let him play the board game they were playing. My first impulse was to march into the other room and tell the other children to let their brother play.

I couldn’t imagine why they would treat him this way. Middle Child is usually our most pleasant child.

And I know what it’s like to be excluded from a group.

But I went against my impulse. Instead I went to them and asked, “Why won’t you let Middle Child play with you?”

Their answer surprised me. But it shouldn’t have. Middle Child had been going through an unpleasant phase.

They told me that he was being excluded from the game because every time something didn’t go his way, he would knock all of the pieces off the board and onto the floor.

This wasn’t at all like him. This was the behavior we were desperately trying to cure our Foodie of. But there Foodie sat calm as a cucumber, while Middle Child stood accused of throwing a temper tantrum. I was in an alternate universe.

Again I wanted to question what they were saying. How could this be? But Middle Child didn’t deny it. What they said was true.

In that moment I couldn’t be on Middle Child’s side.

I wasn’t necessarily on the side of my other children either.

I had to be on the side of right.

Middle Child was wrong right then.

(WARNING: Stepping up on my soapbox.) This is why I get leery when we start calling excluding someone from a group bullying. I’m not making light of it. As I said I know what its like. Often though it’s just bad behavior that needs to be corrected. Sometimes it’s thoughtlessness. Occasionally it is a form of bullying. But other times the group is protecting itself. We need to learn to tell the difference before we start labeling children as bullies. (Stepping down now.)

I still loved my Middle Child. I still wanted to rescue him. But I also wanted, and still want, him to grow up to be a decent human being.

With that in mind I had to tell him that he was behaving badly. I had to tell him that his siblings were justified in excluding him. They were simply reacting to his bad behavior.

I wouldn’t want to play under those conditions either.

Sometimes we grownups behave badly too. Like on Tuesday morning when I was pouty and irritable with my husband. Oh I had my excuses. I hadn’t slept well, and woke up not feeling well. I had a pinched nerve in my arm… and so it went.

Basically I made it all about me. Again.

We are His daughters, and He loves us, but our husbands are His sons, and He loves them too. God can't have favorites. He can't be partial to one side or the other. He always stands for right. Just like I had to tell my son that he was wrong that day, when I am wrong God has to come along side me and say, "My dear daughter you're wrong this time."

 

Feminist ideology that makes all men bad and all women virtuous has crept into the sub-conscience of even the most conservative Christian women. When there’s conflict in our marriages our first instinct is often to defend ourselves, and to condemn our husbands.

But that makes things worse.

Sisters, we are not always going to be right. We are not always the victims in our marriages. Sometimes our husbands are going to react in unpleasant ways to our bad behavior. And we’re not being bullied or persecuted when someone is reacting to our bad behavior.

Please know that I’m not talking about abuse here. It is never okay for a man to react with physical violence. It’s not okay for us to react that way either, ladies.

I’m talking about things like avoiding coming home from work, or spending the evening on his computer. All those little things he used to do for you? Maybe he stopped because you didn’t express any appreciation. Maybe he withdrew emotionally because you withdrew physically.

Maybe he headed off to the showers without saying a word because you were pouty and irritable. Oh wait, that was me.

If we want God to fight for us, we have to be on the same side as He is. But when we’re behaving badly He can’t be on our side.

He’s always on our side in the larger sense, in that He wants what’s best for us, but when we are wrong that means He can’t take our side.

We are His daughters, and He loves us, but our husbands are His sons, and He loves them too. God can’t have favorites. He can’t be partial to one side or the other. He always stands for right.

Just like I had to tell my son that he was wrong that day, when I am wrong God has to come along side me and say, “My dear daughter you’re wrong this time.”

Just like Jesus had to get harsh with the moneychangers. (John 2:14-16) He didn’t love them any less than He loves us. Yet he made a whip with His own hands to drive them from the temple with.

Grace is a miraculous thing. But grace isn’t a license to do what ever we want. That’s turning the grace of our Lord into lasciviousness. (Jude 1:4)

And forgiveness doesn’t mean that we are free from the consequences of our actions.

There are many applications here. God can’t be on our side when we’re murdering innocents, Or when we’re celebrating a lifestyle He has said is sinful. Or when we are pridefully thinking we’re better than anyone else.

God’s primary characteristic is love, but His primary concern is justice. It would be both unloving and unjust to allow us to continue to behave in way that would harm us or someone else.

A parent must always act in the best interest of their child, and God must always act in our best interest. Even if it means He can’t be on our side.

 

Fighting the fear monster

What if the devil was right?

What if that Sunday two Octobers ago, when I had my really horrible mom fail that led to the fight, that led to the devil whispering that thing in my ear, that led to my curse-God-and-die moment, that led to never wanting to show my face again, the devil was right?

I think this when there’s another fight, and the devil comes whispering, “See, I told you this would happen. It’s all going down just like I said it would.”

The thought creeps in at other times too. Worming it’s way into my subconscious, a parasite that refuses to leave.

I hear couples say that their trials brought them closer together. But it hasn’t felt that way to me. Through this trial, I’ve felt a distance grow between us.

There have been so many times when I’ve felt myself pull away. And I’ve felt pushed away too. I’ve felt constantly needed, but not really wanted.

At least not in the way I wanted to be wanted.

But sometimes we need to let God change our wants. Oh yes, He can. If we’re willing to lay down our desires on the alter of His love for us, He will give us new desires that are so much better for us than we can even imagine.

But we get so afraid, don’t we? So afraid to let go of what we think should be, and just trust God for whatever will be.

And at the root of my urge to pull away is fear. 

Fear of the future, fear of the unknown; fear that the devil was right that day.

And what if he was?

What if it all really goes down that way?

Well, it may. It really may.

So what?

God is still God. He’s still the one that hung the stars. He’s still the one formed us from the dust of the earth. He’s the one that joined us into one flesh, for better and for worse. (Matthew 19:6)

And He’s still the one that purchased our souls with His own blood.

There is no power in heaven, or earth, or under the earth that can undo any of that.

The devil tells the truth sometimes.

But he doesn’t tell it with our best interest in mind.

When the devil whispered that thing in my ear, he had one purpose, to cause fear. The devil loves fear. He loves fear because it paralyses us.

This formless, shapeless monster pushes its way into our lives, and stops us in our tracks.

But we don’t have to let it. It doesn’t have to be that way.

The devil wants us to fear the pit in the road ahead. He wants us to be so afraid of the pit that we can’t go forward. Instead we turn back or try to find another path.

The devil tells the truth when it suits him, but mostly he makes stuff up. He’s the father of lies, and he’s a terrible prophet. He doesn’t know God’s plans.

There may not be any pit at all.

Even if there is, God still wants us to trust Him.

Trust is the cure for fear.

The cause of our fear is doubt and unbelief. When we doubt God’s love for us, and His plans for us, fear creeps in.

But He asks us to trust His love, and His goodness, even if we don’t understand.

Trust is moving forward even if the pit is there. Maybe God will make a bridge over it, or send a rope to climb out with. Maybe the bottom of the pit is exactly where He wants to meet us. 

When we trust Him enough to travel the road He’s laid out for us, no matter what lies ahead, He’ll meet us on that road and walk with us. We can trust Him with everything, and for everything.

We don’t need a backup plan.

When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were faced with a choice between bowing to an idol, and the fiery furnace, they didn’t make a backup plan, they didn’t hedge their bets. They stood before the king and said, “We’re all in. We’re taking the road God has for us. We believe He can save us but even if He doesn’t, we’re still going all in.”

“If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” ‭‭Daniel‬ ‭3:17-18‬

Of course they went to the furnace. What did they find there? The Forth Man in the fire.

The fire was exactly where God wanted to meet them. They would have lived if they had given in and bowed to the king’s idol, but they would have missed so much.

God wants to meet with us too. Maybe it will be in the fire, and maybe in the pit. But if we don’t want to miss Him, we have follow where He leads. And we have to trust Him.

When we trust with our whole hearts, there’s no room for fear.

I’m tired of the fear, and the distance. So I’m choosing to trust. I’m choosing to press in instead of pulling away.

Because when we’re finally out of this desert, I don’t want to look back on ashes. I don’t want to have missed meeting with The Master. Even if it has to be in the pit.

The devil loves fear. He loves fear because it paralyses us. This formless, shapeless monster pushes its way into our lives, and stops us in our tracks. But we don't have to let it. It doesn't have to be that way.

To the wife wishing for romance: 5 ways to find that spark again

A common complaint I hear from wives, is that their husbands aren’t romantic enough.

They feel date nights are too boring and routine, or there’s no date night at all. Maybe he doesn’t flirt with her the way he used to, or he doesn’t hold her hand anyone. One woman says her husband never brings her flowers anyone, while another says he only brings her flowers when she’d rather he did something else.

Whatever the reason, many wives are unsatisfied with the level of romance in their marriage.

I’m familiar with all of the complaints, because I used to be one of those wives.

I remember crying over a box of chocolates one Valentine’s Day, because it wasn’t what I wanted. I don’t remember what it was I did want; I just know it wasn’t the chocolates.

Another year it was the way the chocolate was delivered that set off the tears. Or rather, the way it wasn’t delivered. He said “There’s chocolate in the truck for you if you want it.” Hrmph. It turned out to be a fifty cent Hershey bar from the gas station. Hrmph. More tears.

I feel your pain ladies. I understand where you’re coming from.

While a gas station candy bar is legitimately not romantic, the truth is we women can often just be hard to please. In fact women are kind notorious for being fickle. It’s a reputation we’ve earned I’m afraid.

Most days I would say my love language is touch, but sometimes maybe it’s acts of service. On other day I might want words of affirmation, or some quality time. And sometimes he just needs to buy me something. Not out of obligation either, (e.g. gas station Hershey bar) it needs to be because he wants to. There is a difference, am I right?

All that to say: if I don’t know what I want, how is my husband supposed to know what I want?

Answer: he can’t. He’s human and he doesn’t read minds. I’m glad mine doesn’t. He’d probably be terrified if he did.

Does that mean there’s nothing you can do? Does that mean you have to give up on romance?

Not at all, but pouting and complaining won’t help. In fact it might make things worse. If he’s really trying, complaining will only hurt him and make him feel like his efforts aren’t appreciated. I deeply regret all of the “constructive criticism” I gave my husband in my efforts to make him more romantic.

But there are actually constructive things you can do.

If you’re looking to revive the romance in you’re marriage, here are five ways to find that spark again.

A common complaint I hear from wives, is that their husbands aren't romantic enough. They feel date nights are too boring and routine, or there's no date night at all. Maybe he doesn't flirt with her the way he used to, or he doesn't hold her hand anyone.

1. Learn to recognize and appreciate the way he expresses love.

Our default is to express love in the way we feel loved. It’s what we know so it’s what we do. Our husbands are no different.

Observe what he does do. Does he put gas in your car, make the coffee in the mornings, or take responsibility for pulling the kids teeth since it make you queasy? Those are all acts of love.

Maybe it’s getting up every morning and driving an hour in a car he hates, to a job he hates, so he can put food on the table.

Learn to see the value in the things he does, even if it’s not on your top ten romantic ideas list. Take note and you might just get that warm fuzzy feeling you’re looking for. Make sure you let him know you appreciate what he does.

2. Romance him.

There’s no rule that says our husbands are solely responsible for providing the romance in the marriage. In fact if your husband feels the responsibility for romance is all on his shoulders he may burn out, and stop trying all together, especially if his efforts aren’t being appreciated.

Instead of complaining, be the romantic you want him to be. If you feel like holding hands, hold his hand. You won’t be breaking any rules. Your husband might even like it.

Wish he would flirt with you? Flirt with him. He’ll probably flirt back. Unless he’s concentrating on something else right then. Timing is everything.

Instead of waiting for him to plan a date night, go ahead and plan one. Incorporate things you know he likes so that it’s about both of you. Surprise him. It’s surprising how easy it is to run out of ideas when you’re the one doing all the planning. Maybe your creativity will inspire him.

Take turns and make it fun.

3. Adjust your expectations.

Romance changes as our seasons of life change. When you were dating and first married, a night on the town might have been your ideal date.

A few years, and a couple of kids down the road, and the ideal date might be eating junk food in bed while you watch a movie.

Maybe one day when the kids are older, and you have a little more freedom, the nights on the town might come back into the picture. Or maybe something else will appeal to you then.

Learn to love the season you are in now. Embrace it, and make the most of it.

Realize also that life is not a romance novel, and your husband is not Fabio. The hero in an average romance novel or movie is seducing the heroine to get her in bed. Real life romance is meeting each others needs regardless of what we get in return. Which is pretty much the exact opposite.

4. Meet his needs.

Marriage is not just about having our own needs met. It’s about seeing that out husband’s needs are met.

It’s not our job to make sure they know what we need. It’s our job to find out what our husbands need and want and do that. There’s nothing wrong with lovingly letting him know your needs, (See number 2.) but do it in a way that doesn’t devalue what he’s already doing. (See number 1.)

Meeting our husband’s needs should be our primary focus. Whether it’s keeping the kids quiet on a Saturday morning so he catch up on his sleep after a long workweek, or stocking up on his favorite snack foods. Maybe there’s something he’s been putting off doing that you could do for him.

Or it could be just making sure to keep up with his laundry. Nothing says, “I love you” like clean undies. My husband would tell you I’m not very good at the laundry thing, but I’m trying. I promise I am.

When you see him smile because you made his favorite meal, you’ll get those warm fuzzy feelings again.

5. Realize he can’t meet all of your needs.

Our husbands are human just like we are. We can’t meet all of our husbands needs, and they can’t meet all of our needs. The only one who can meet all our needs, and satisfy us completely is God.

One thing He keeps reminding me of, is how thoroughly and completely he wants to meet our needs. He created us for companionship, and He wants to be our number one companion. All other relationships flow from this primary relationship.

If we’re walking with God, and letting Him water our souls, we’ll be able to pour some of that life giving water back into our relationship with our husbands.

Don’t rely on your husband to supply what only God can.

While none of these tips will guarantee a perfect marriage, applying these truths will go a long way toward making you both happier. God intended marriage to be picture of His love for the church, but it can only be that if both husband and wife are willing to put the other first and let God take care of their own needs.

A Godly marriage takes the power of the Holy Spirit. And to have the power of the Holy Spirit we must give our lives to Christ. If you would like to know more about that you can contact me, or click here.

I’m linking up at Tell It To Me Tuesdays, A Little R & RThe Reading List, and Grace & Truth.

 

GraceTruth-Featured

Marriage is tricky. I can’t write about that.

I had an idea for a post on marriage.

But I hesitated.

I’ve never written anything about marriage. It kind of scares me.

I’m not any kind of expert on the subject. I don’t really think I’m very good at this marriage thing at all. Some days I think I’m failing at it in every way.

Not that I think I’m an expert on anything else I write about. I’m learning as go through this life, and I’m sharing what I learn with you here.

Maybe I’ve learned something about marriage too? Maybe what I’ve learned is also worth sharing?

I had an idea for a post on marriage. But I hesitated. I've never written anything about marriage. It kind of scares me.

There’s something else too. Something I’m not sure I want to admit.

I’m a little bit afraid of myself.

I’m afraid I’ll be tested on what I say, and I won’t be able to live up to it. I’m afraid I’ll fall short. I’m afraid I don’t have what it takes.

The thing is though, no one really does. A Biblical, God honoring marriage is something that is only possible through the power of the Holy Spirit.

If I try to do anything for God without the help and guidance of The Holy Spirit, then I’m sure to fail. Or at least only see minimal fruit, if any.

I still have to reminded of that occasionally often.

Marriage is no different. We need to walk with the Spirit daily. The Holy Spirit must be the third strand in a cord of three.

Maybe that’s the most important thing I’ve learned.

Not to rely on my own strength and my own wisdom, but to seek God’s wisdom and His strength.

It’s God who ordained marriage, and God who holds our marriages up as examples of His love for His people.

Every trial, and every hardship is there to perfect our example.

Another thing I’ve learned is the devil hates marriage. He hates your marriage, and he hates mine. He hates it because God created it and ordained it. He hates it because it represents Christ’s love and sacrifice for the church.

That’s why he loves it when we put our needs ahead of our husband’s needs. He loves it when we hold grudges and punish each other.

He’ll look for any opportunity to sneak in and plant seeds of bitterness and resentment.Don't set a place for the devil at your dinner table. He has no place in your marriage.

But we don’t have to let him in.

We are not the devil’s daughters. He has no ownership, and no authority over our lives. We don’t have to wallow in the mud with pigs, and eat their slop. We are God’s children, sanctified and set apart, a royal priesthood.

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; 1 Peter 2:9

We are called out of the darkness to live in the light. The darkness has no place in our homes. Don’t invite it in.

Don’t set a place for the devil at your dinner table.

We invite darkness when we are ungrateful, when we let our anger simmer, when make our emotions more important than they should be, and when let our own needs take first place. 

Am I guilty of those things? Yes, I am. But my mistakes don’t have to define my marriage. The grace of God is greater than all my weaknesses.

If I am willing to set aside my pride, admit that I need God every hour of every day, then my life and my marriage can stand as testament to the truths of God, and to His might, and His sovereignty, and His power over Satan, sin and death. He conquered them all two thousand yeas ago, and His victory still stands.

So I’m polishing my armor. I’m getting it ready. I may be tested, but God is the owner of this household, and the powers of Hell have no authority here.

I’m linking up with Grace & Truth.

 

 

Is there one sin that’s worse than every other sin?

Is there one sin that’s worse than every other sin?

If there were, what would it be?

Murder?

Adultery?

Homosexuality?

Lying?

Idol worship?

Taking God’s name in vain?

 

All sin separates us from God. In that sense, it doesn’t matter what that sin is, we’re still cut off from enjoying a relationship with Him while we are living in our sin. But is there one sin that God finds particularly annoying?

 

Until the other day I had never seriously considered that question. All sin separates us from God. In that sense, it doesn’t matter what that sin is, we’re still cut off from enjoying a relationship with Him while we are living in our sin.

But is there one sin that God finds particularly annoying?

This thought crossed my mind while was reading recently in Matthew.

I’ve been studying the Gospels a lot recently. Lately I’ve had an intense desire in me to truly know My Savior. Not just the many great works He did while He walked this Earth, but who He is. No matter what else I might be studying, I find I just keep coming back to these four books.

Modern teachers like to paint Jesus as a happy-go-lucky, peace-nick who staged hug-ins between healing services and fish fries.

But that’s not the Jesus I find when studying the gospels.

Yes, He healed the sick. Yes, He fed the hungry. But He was so much more than just what He did. 

And He wasn’t happy all the time.

I see Him getting frustrated with His disciples when they were unable to cast out a demon. (Luke 9:41)

I see Him calling Peter Satan. (Matthew 16:23)

There’s the well-known incident in the temple. (John 2:14-16) If that happened today, Jesus would be arrested for assault and destruction of property, and made to attend anger management classes. Twitter would blow up with cell phone videos and people wondering why He had snapped, and hopping He got help.

Clearly Jesus had a full range of emotions.

But, as I was reading in Matthew twenty-three, I was struck by Jesus’ reaction to the Pharisees. Over and over, these men tried to trip Jesus up by asking Him trick questions. Of course they never succeeded. After they had finally given up, Jesus lit into them big time, calling them hypocrites multiple times. He even called them vipers.

In the modern picture of Jesus, how can this be? Did Jesus not love the Pharisees? How could He verbally abuse them that way if He loved them?

Of course Jesus loved the Pharisees. He loved the moneychangers too. Just like he loves you and me.

But, loving someone doesn’t mean you approve of every thing they do. If you have children you know this is true.

Jesus experienced all of the same emotions we do. The difference is, He didn’t act on them in the uncontrolled way we do. And He was never angry without cause.

So, what cause did he have to be angry with the Pharisees?

In the gospel of Mark, there’s a clue. In the third chapter, Jesus was in the synagogue on the Sabbath, when He encounters a man with a withered hand. The Pharisees were there watching to see if would heal the man on the Sabbath, hoping to find something to accuse Him of.

Jesus knew what they were thinking, so He asked them, “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath days?” But the Pharisees didn’t answer. Jesus looked at them with anger, “being grieved for the hardness of their hearts.” (Mark 3:1-5)

It was the hardness of their hearts that caused Jesus to be grieved, and angry.

But is a hard heart a sin?

No, a heard heart isn’t a sin. It’s a symptom of sin. There was one sin in particular that was the cause of the Pharisees hard hearts.

Pride.

So, why would pride be worse than any other sin?

First, it sets us above God in our own minds. We become our own idols, and worship ourselves instead of God. What was the first commandment God gave when giving Moses the Ten Commandments?

Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Exodus 20:3

This was serious enough to God to make it the first commandment. He didn’t mean, “no other gods, except yourself.”

This is exactly what got Satan dismissed from the presence of God.

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: Isaiah 14:12-13 (Emphasis added)

The second reason is the one that caused Jesus to grieve that day. Our pride keeps us from coming to Him. Our unwillingness to humble ourselves keeps us at a distance.

If we’ve made ourselves gods, we don’t need the one true God. If we can’t admit wrongdoing, we won’t ask for forgiveness. And if we can’t admit that we need a Savior, our path to salvation is blocked. Jesus said it this way:

he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. Matthew 9:12

Another reason God may find the sin of pride so abhorrent is that our pride can keep others from coming to Him. The Pharisees stubborn clinging to their own ideas, kept people in darkness. For us, our pride puts a barrier, not only between us and God, but between us and those around us.

We damage our testimony when we, won’t ask forgiveness. Or when we continue in sin, which is declaring that we know better than God. Or when we claim we are enough on our own.

We are supposed to be shining our light for Christ, not for ourselves. We are supposed to be pointing others to him. If we are pointing anywhere, but to Christ, we’re pointing in the wrong direction.

In the next couple of weeks I hope to write a post or two on what the sin of pride looks like and why I think it is the most common sin.

Did I really just ask to go back to Egypt?

Yeah, I think I did.

I just asked to go back to Egypt.

I didn’t use those exact words of course, but close enough.

Alone in my bathroom, trying to collect myself in an emotional moment, I asked God to just put things back the way they were.

Just like the Israelites begged God to send them back to slavery in Egypt when things got hard in the desert.

I knew immediately that I shouldn’t have said it, even if it was only in my head. I knew I was being bratty again. But I did think it. in that moment, I really did just want the old life back.

This place we’re in feels like something I’m not equipped for.

While the Israelites were headed for the promised land, if I’m being honest, this just feels like wandering in desert. A journey with no destination and no point. It feels like whatever progress there was has been lost, and we’re going backwards now.

But there’s always a point, isn’t there?

My grace is sufficentGod always has a plan. Even if we don’t know what it is.

Even the wanderings of the Israelites had a point.

All of the doubt, the fear, and the unbelief had to be fleshed out. It had to be replaced with faith, trust, and hope.

I want so much to understand. I want to know God’s purpose. I want see what’s up ahead on this long and frightening road.

But we’re not called to understand, were called to trust. It’s not my job to figure things out. It’s my job put myself in the Savior’s hands, and trust Him to carry me through the mess.

The Holy Spirt gently reminded me that He’s doing a work here. All this messy, and all of this hard, serves a purpose.

And the way things used to be was just a different kind of hard.

I might not be equipped for this journey, but that’s kind of the point. It takes going though the hard places to see how much we need Him.

While the devil says “you can’t,” God gently whispers “My grace is sufficient.”

God wants to be glorified in us and through us. He said if He is lifted up He will draw all men to Him. That’s our ultimate purpose here, to draw them to Christ.

But if we’re relying on our own strength, God can’t get the glory. We lift ourselves up instead of pointing to Christ.

If I’m honest with myself, I always knew that was the point of the desert. That’s always the point.

I want so much to understand. I want to know God's purpose. I want see what's up ahead on this long and frightening road.

 

 

8 Scriptures for when you feel alone

Have you ever felt alone? Have you ever carried a burden that you felt no one else would understand? Have you ever longed for some understanding soul to come along and lift your spirits?

I’m sure we all have at some point.

I know I have.

As members of the body of christ, we are supposed to be there for each other. We are supposed to bear one another’s burdens.

But sometimes we drop the ball. Sometimes our lives are crazy and our sisters in Christ get lost in the shuffle.

Sometimes we are the ones who get lost. Maybe marriage difficulties have left us feeling isolated from our husbands. What if the burden is one we don’t feel we can share?

Sometimes it’s no ones fault, we just feel stranded.

What are we supposed to do then?

We turn to God. Where we should have turned in the first place. When David was distressed, he encouraged himself in the Lord his God. (1 Samuel 30:6) We can follow his example.

Here are eight scriptures for those times when you feel alone in this world.

Sometimes even our closest friends can hurt us. Sometimes we hurt them. In any human interaction there is the possibility, even the probability, that we will be hurt and left feeling alone.

1. Proverbs‬ ‭18:24‬ ‭

“there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”‭‭

Sometimes even our closest friends can hurt us. Sometimes we hurt them. In any human interaction there is the possibility, even the probability, that we will be hurt and left feeling alone. 

But our Savior will never let us down. He will never leave us feeling alone. If we keep our eyes on Him, we will always have someone in our corner.

2. ‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭13:5‬ ‭

“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”

‭‭‭‭It’s easy look around and us at others who appear to have lots of friends, a perfect marriage, or large support group rallying around them, and feel we’re missing out. But no ones life is perfect, and looking at what others have will only leave us more dissatisfied.

Just as no one else’s life is perfect, ours is rarely as bleak as we think. If  we stop focusing on what we don’t have, and focus on what we do have, we’ll probably find we already have what we need.

3. Matthew‬ ‭28:20

“lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

When your world feels like it’s falling apart and you have nowhere to turn, The Savior is there. He never left you, not for one minute. And He never will.

Ever second of every day He walks with us. He experiences all of our joys and sorrows. He sees every tear, and knows every pain. He’s not turned off by our brokenness.

He longs for us to turn our brokenness over to Him, and let Him fill in the cracks and change it into something beautiful.

4. ‭‭‭‭Psalms‬ ‭37:25

“I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.”

Friend, are you a child of God? If so, then you are one of the righteous, and you will never be forsaken. You will never be forgotten.

The entire world may turn its back on us, with or without cause, but our Heavenly Father never will. Not matter how we disappoint Him, He will always welcome us with open arms.

5. 2 Corinthians‬ ‭4:8-9‬

“We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;”

Our enemy wants us to believe that we have been abandoned. He loves it when we believe everyone has turned their backs on us, and start feeling sorry for ourselves. Even if it’s only one person that we think has abandoned us, the devil celebrates when we let it get us down in the dumps.

Even if our dearest friend really has walked away, God will be there to fill the void if we let Him. He will not forsake us.

6. 1 Corinthians‬ ‭3:9

“For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.” (Emphasis added)

The moment we become children of God, He begins a work in us. Molding and shaping us until we are a perfect reflection of Christ. If we’re not growing and changing, then we’re dead. Growth is nessasary for life, and whatever God allows in our lives is intended to grow us. Even the loneliness.

He doesn’t intend for us to walk those roads alone. The work is a joint effort. He wants our cooperation, and promises His presence.

He wants to work in us, through us, and with us. He won’t let us go it alone.

7. ‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:35, 38-39

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

No matter what this world, and our enemy throw at us, we can never be separated from God’s love. It’s not possible.

He has given us a promise that He will never leave us. It’s up to us to believe that promise. Cling to it. Cherish it. Holding onto this promise might just mean the difference between persevering in our work for the Kingdom, and quitting it all.

When we remember who is fighting for us, we can endure any hardship. We can survive any storm, and even thrive in the midst of it.

8. Philippians 4:19

“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Emphasis added)

This isn’t one we normally associate with companionship. Normally we think of more tangible needs, like food, clothing, and shelter, and those certainly apply, but this verse says all our needs. Not just the easy ones.

The needs we think only another human being can meet, He can supply those too.

Yes, God uses others to meet our needs. But if we’re constantly wanting someone to meet our needs, we can never be the one He uses to meet the needs of others.

We miss out twice this way. We miss the peace and comfort only God can give, and we miss the blessing of being used by God to bless someone else.

Our God is truly our everything. No human being can supply what only God can. We need to go to Him to have our tanks filled. Only when we’re trusting Him for our every need, can we become all that He wants us to be.

Did some of these surprise you? Do you have any you would add? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Let me know in the comments what I left out!

I’m Linking up at A Little R & R and Grace & Truth


 

Confessions Of A Recovering Politics Junky

Once upon a time I was really into politics. The radio or television was on some news channel pretty much the whole day, and I would spend large amounts of time reading news sites online. I thought about politics all the time.

My mind was constantly churning with thoughts of all that was wrong in world, and what would fix it. Of course I had the answers, if only anyone would listen. (Ahem)

One election cycle several years ago, I remember becoming so emotionally invested in the election and in my preferred candidate that I had a physical reaction when that candidate dropped out.

It occurred to later that maybe this wasn’t good. Staying informed is one thing, but I had taken it to an unhealthy level.

So I quit it all.

I stopped turning on the radio, and the television. I stopped checking all those news sites. I stopped obsessing.

I still manage to keep more or less up to speed with what’s going on in the world, but I don’t spend hours a day on it.

That said, this current election cycle is driving me bonkers. I really just want to go to sleep and wake up it find it all over with. While I do tend to be impatient, there’s more to it than that.

It seems almost impossible to avoid being bombarded with vast amounts of information. A lot of which is frankly contradictory. It feels like an impossible task to wade through all of it to find the truth.

And people are becoming emotionally invested. They say they feel betrayed. They’re tired of broken promises, and the “establishment” running things. Who or whatever the “establishment” may be.

Of course there are lots of people lining up to tell us who Jesus would vote for. Or who he wouldn’t vote for.

I’ve thought about that question too.

Now I’m just thinking out loud here, which I know is dangerous, but the more I think about it, the more I think Jesus wouldn’t vote for anyone.

I don’t think He would tell us not to vote, but getting involved in politics just wasn’t what He was here for. He told us as much.

If Jesus had come to earth in the United States in 2016, I have no doubt that His followers, especially Peter, would expect Him to run for president. His answer now would be the same as was then, when He tried to prepare His disciples for the cross and Peter protested, still thinking Christ had come to save Israel from Roman rule.

But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. Matthew 16:23

Harsh words, don’t you think?

While I don’t believe Jesus would tell His followers who to vote for, or who not to vote for, I do think He would ask us some very pointed questions. One of them would be, “Why did you chose that person to vote for?”

Not in an attempt to point us to the right candidate, but to help us understand our own motivations. Because the “why” in this case might matter more the “who.”

What is driving us? What are we looking for? In whom are we ultimately putting our trust?

So many of us seem to be looking for a Messiah. Someone who will save this country from the evils of crony capitalism, the gay rights agenda, social injustice, or any number of other bogymen. They’re sure changing the occupant of the White House will fix everything that’s wrong.

Except the man in the White House didn’t cause all of our nations problems.

The occupant of the White House is only a reflection of who we have become as a nation. It doesn’t matter whether we agree with him or not. If we feel that some of the things he has done are contrary to the Word of God, and reflect badly on our nation, we have only ourselves to blame. Not because we voted for him, or because we sat out the election, but because we haven’t been the salt and light that we are supposed to be.

We’ve been too busy pursuing our own agendas. We’ve been savoring the things of men rather than the things of God.

Along the way we’ve put our trust in our leaders instead of God. And now we feel betrayed. Is it any wonder? Our fellow human beings will always let us down. They will lie to us and make promises they have no intention of keeping. Even the most trustworthy ones can make sincere promises that they find out later they can’t keep.

But the problem isn’t the men we vote for, as much as us putting our trust in the wrong place to begin with.

Several years ago our pastor made a statement while he was preaching on Psalm twenty-three that has stuck with me. He said, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want… another shepherd.”Another Shepherd

We’ve wanted another shepherd for a long time now. We keep looking to men for the answers to the problems only The Savior can solve. We believe their lies because they say what we want to hear.

I think sometimes our over reliance on worldly leadership is a rejection of God’s leadership. 

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t vote or participate in our democratic processes. I think we should participate. The right to elect our leader is a privilege most people around the world don’t have

But we should be careful about putting too much of our hopes in those we elect. We shouldn’t become emotionally invested the way I did when my stomach churned because my favorite dropped out. And we shouldn’t put all of the responsibility for the state of the nation on their shoulders.

No one forces us to live the way we do, and the right to proclaim the Gospel freely is also a privilege a lot of the rest of the world doesn’t have. We shouldn’t take it for granted or neglect it with disuse.

Once upon a time, the nation of Israel wanted another shepherd too. They had their choice and they chose Saul. I imagine at least some of them felt betrayed.

I’m linking this up at Tell It To Me Tuesday and Grace & Truth

One election cycle several years ago, I remember becoming so emotionally invested in the election and in my preferred candidate that I had a physical reaction when that candidate dropped out.

 

 

Surviving Spiritual Growing Pains

There’s lots of construction going on where I live. There are two new shopping centers going in and an intersection being completely redone. It seems like everywhere I go I’m met with disheveled roads, ugly mounds of dirt, and traffic cones.

And honestly I’m kind of sick of it.

Yes, I will be happy to have the new stores, but the construction is getting on my nerves. I just want it done. I would rather not have the new stores than put up with months of construction. I want those stores to be finished and the roads paved right now.

I’m beginning to realize I’m that way in my spiritual life as well.

I would rather stay where I am now than go through whatever it takes to get to where God wants me to be. I want the transformation He has planned for me to instant. I don’t want to put up with the construction and traffic cones making things inconvenient.

I’m not one hundred percent certain, but I’m pretty sure that makes me a brat.

Possibly even a snot nosed brat.

But here’s the thing, growth isn’t possible without some disruption. And sometimes that means growing pains. As much as I’d like to think that I have “arrived,” I still have a lot of growing to do.

There’s a remodeling going on in me. Walls are being torn down, and light being shed on long hidden problem areas. Sometimes cleaning up the rotten places is painful.

 

When we come to Christ, we are instantly transformed from children of darkness to children of light. But becoming a perfect reflection of our Savior takes a lifetime.

Not even the apostle Paul considered himself to have arrived. He said in Philippians:

“Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect:” Philippians 3:12

When we come to Christ, we are instantly transformed from children of darkness to children of light. But becoming a perfect reflection of our Savior takes a lifetime.

From the moment we put our lives in God’s hands we become a construction zone. He is constantly molding and shaping us into the image of Christ. Sometimes that process can be painful and messy.

But he stays with us. He’s there every step of the way, to guide us and nurture us.

The process requires trust that our Heavenly Father wants only what is best for us.

Not necessarily our material best, but our eternal best.

What we think is for our best may not really be. Kind of like when our kids want to eat cake for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Our father knows better than we do what we need.

The things we ask God to rescue us from, may just be the things we need to become a perfect reflection of Christ.

He knows where we need to grow and change. He knows all of the wall walls that need tearing down and rough places smoothed over.

The more problem areas are repaired, and the more complete our restoration, the more like Christ we become.

If we resist the process takes longer. And we can quench the Holy Spirit and halt it all together. (1 Thessalonians 5:19)

He doesn’t force change on us any more than He forced salvation on us. 

We have to choose to set aside our willfulness and pride, and choose to take part in the work of grace. Then we must daily surrender to His continued work in our lives.

We have to surrender our lives into the hands of Him that is able to keep us from falling, and present us faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. (Jude 1:24)

 

When You Feel Like You Can’t Run Anymore

I hate running. I hate it with a passion. It’s not just because I’m getting old and fat either. I’ve always hated it. I will walk all day if I have to; I enjoy walking, but please oh please don’t make me run.

It takes me about six good strides before I feel like I can’t go on anymore. Six good strides and I want to quit.

Have you ever wanted to quit?

I’ve wanted to quit a lot lately.

We’re running, not just for Christ, but also to Him. He is our example and our prize.

We have a spiritual race to run. Not for our salvation, that’s a once and for all deal, but after that the race starts. This race isn’t about us. It’s about recruiting others to join us in the race. We’ve signed up to run and God doesn’t want us to quit. He wants us run our race with patience.

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Hebrews 12:1 (Emphasis added)

I know this. I’ve known it for a long time. But I still wanted to quit. Everything.

I felt like I couldn’t run anymore. Not another step.

I wanted to go to bed and stay there until the second coming. And maybe run away from home. I was done. Just done.

I had lots of excuses. Some of them were even good ones. Most of them weren’t. A lot of it was just whining.

“It’s too much work.”Hebrews 12:3

“I’m not being treated right.”

“Somebody else can do it.”

“It’s too much stress.”

“I’m not good at it.”

“I’m not qualified.”

“Nobody cares anyway.”

On and on my list of “reasons” I should quit went. I was done, with all of it.

Even as three different preachers stood in the pulpit of our church, for three weeks in a row and gave very good reasons not to quit, I still wanted to walk away.

I was reminded in a thousand other ways too. But I wasn’t listening.

Oh I heard. I just didn’t apply what I heard to my life, to my circumstances.

Have I mentioned that I’m a slow learner sometimes most of time?

Then God put something in my path that woke me up and put things jarringly into perspective. As I was contemplating my new perspective, I was reminded of this verse:

Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; Hebrews 12:12

And this one:

For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Hebrews 12:3

I had let myself become weary, and to faint in my mind. I was letting my hands drag on the ground, and my knees buckle.

I had become so focused on my own situation that couldn’t see the bigger picture. Like Peter, after he had stepped out onto the water, and was frightened buy the storm around him, took his eyes off of Jesus and started to sink.

I felt like I was sinking. Drowning.

I was distracted by the storm and the waves.

But Jesus was still there, with His hand stretched out waiting to pull me up again.

I was fainting because I hadn’t considered Christ and all that he endured for us. He is supposed to be our example, the one we want to be like.

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. ‭Hebrews‬ ‭12:2‬ ‭

While He was on his earth, Christ had a course to run. There was a prize for him at the end. And that prize was us. He wanted that prize so badly, that he endured so much more that any of us can even imagine.

If we consider Him, if we keep our eyes on Him, we’ll see there are very good reasons to keep running.

The beginning of Hebrews chapter twelve tells us to run because we’re being watched. All those listed in that famous chapter eleven, sometimes called the hall of faith, they are our witnesses.

Witnesses like, Noah (Heb. 11:7), Abraham (11:8), Sarah (11:11), and Rahab (11:31) among others.

and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: Hebrews‬ ‭11:35‬ ‭

How can we quit knowing who has gone before us?

It’s not just the greats of the past watching us. Our families, friends and even strangers look on to what example we will set. Our enemy watches too, and wants us to quit.

But there’s more.

We have a prize waiting for us too. A heavenly prize!

But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel. Hebrews‬ ‭12:22-24‬ ‭(Emphasis added)

We’re running, not just for Christ, but also to Him. He is our example and our prize.

If He would run for us, I think it’s worth it to run for Him. Don’t you?

Will you run with me?

I”m liking up at A Little R & RFamily Friendship And Faith Fridays, and Grace & Truth.

 

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