An Earful

Do you ever get frustrated with or mad at God? No matter what your religious background or training has been, I think we have all had times & seasons when we’ve been mad at & frustrated with God. And I don’t think this is a bad thing. 
This morning during my prayer time, I had some heated words with God. I expressed some frustrations & took some time to listen for a reply & feedback. Did I hear lots of input from my diatribe? Not heaps, but I did sense the Holy Spirit with me, listening & with loving presence. In these times when I get frustrated, I never sense that God is displeased with me when I’m upset or angry with God. I think God can be more disturbed with us when we don’t engage or when we withdraw. People in the Bible who argued with God include: Abraham, Moses, Job, David, Elijah, Peter & lots of other folk. Let’s keep talking with God even when we’re upset or frustrated! 🙂

Being Honest

“How come all these awful things have happened?”  Ever ask God this kind of a question?  I think probably everyone alive has asked God some variation of this question & the Bible shows people asking God the same stuff. 

I’m reading about Gideon & I seriously appreciate his honesty with the angel at the beginning of their conversation: If God is with us, how come all this stuff has happened to us? This was in reply the the angel’s salutation, “The Lord is with you, valiant warrior” 
Gideon’s initial behavior & words didn’t really confirm that he was a valiant warrior & if we are honest, there are lots of times when our behavior & words don’t express that we are valiant.  Nevertheless, God knows our substance & potential so God speaks to our true self rather than the smokescreen insecurities we wear. Not only does God call us by our true identity but God also helps us know who He is, as Gideon acknowledges when he experiences God as the Lord our peace in Judges 6:23-24. 

So let’s make it a premium value to be honest with God so that we can honestly know God 🙂

Smoke & Mirrors

I recently read about how Jacob tricked his dad & brother to get Esau’s birthright & blessing – definitely shifty for sure. Whenever I read how Jacob’s mom put him up to being deceptive with his dad about getting his dad’s blessing, it makes me twitch because of the smoke & mirrors manipulation scheming. I find it positively revolting that Jacob & his mom would be so deceptive with their family, conniving, tricking & undermining trust. It’s repulsive to me because their actions totally sabotaged any trust & ultimately intimacy / connection they may have had with their family – maybe this trust never existed in the first place.

Nevertheless, for me an important take away is that when people are shifty & deceptive, there’s no real or grounded connection with them. Ultimately, it’s all just smoke & mirrors.

Admit it!!!

The Bible is filled with people who didn’t want to admit their failures, weak spots, shortcomings & downfalls, starting with Adam who deflected his blame for eating the forbidden fruit to Eve.  When God confronted Cain, Adam & Eve’s son, about his sinful intentions toward his brother Abel, Cain also tried to wiggle out of the confrontation with the question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”  I could keep going with lots more examples (Aaron, Saul, Judas, etc) but my point is that by not owning their garbage & getting honest with God about their junk, they painted themselves into an ineffective and opaque corner.  Each of them had lots of potential but their potential was compromised from their lack of honesty.

The counter-examples are equally as powerful.  Consider David, after his downfall with Bathsheba and how he owned his garbage in Psalms 51.  While they lost the child that came from the affair, let’s also consider that their next child, Solomon, was the king of Israel during it’s most powerful time in history.  If you think about Paul in the New Testament, he’s the guy that said he was the chief of sinners in 1Timothy 1 and how the grace of God was powerful enough to change him, who was a very fallen and love-less man.  Paul was tremendously & powerfully used by God after he humbled himself and let God change his heart.

For each of us, let’s sidestep the denial and deception trap and live in synch with the Holy Spirit, Whom Jesus calls the Spirit of Truth 🙂

God Makes a Way

Sometimes I get frustrated with God, not so much because I’m not getting my way (that was a problem when I was younger), but moreso because of some struggles I have with God about faith & trust.  As followers of Jesus, we know that we’re supposed to trust God & keep the faith, but sometimes this gets tricky.  It’s in those “sometimes” that I can get frustrated and even mad with God because it can get really difficult and seemingly impossible.  Maybe you’ve had some similar challenges in your walk with God pertaining to a health or relationship situation.  Maybe you’ve struggled with God about some decisions or the direction you’re supposed to go with your career, education or family consideration.

The Bible is full of people who have been in some of the exact same situations with which we may be struggling.  So here are some thoughts that can be helpful:

  • timing:  sometimes God does last minute work that can be really unnerving – consider when Abraham was about to sacrifice Issac in Gen 22
  • bits and pieces:  I often find that even though God knows the beginning & the end of stuff, we frequently find ourselves in the “need to know” zone, a little bit at a time and not the giant picture – consider Moses and the incremental nature of how God used him to liberate the Israelites from slavery in Egypt
  • honesty with commitment is important for intimacy:  you can be honest with God about your frustrations without putting your entire relationship with God at risk – consider Job
  • endurance & persistance:  the Apostle Paul comes to mind when I think about a biblical example of what endurance looks like, even finishing an extremely well run race with getting his head chopped off
  • community:  the Bible is full of examples of people encouraging each other in staying obedient to & passionate for God – consider when Jonathon encouraged David about being the king of Israel in 1 Sam

God makes a way when there seems to be no way so be sure to share this with a friend to spread some encouragement! 🙂

poise or poison

I’m a sucker for compliments and maybe you are as well.  I like to be told that I preached a powerful message, that I’m a great mom, I’m an excellent wife and I could keep going with a really long list.  Compliments are frequently really helpful, unless you get them from someone who you know isn’t a friend.  Compliments from people who are not your friends can be poisonous because the compliments are often insincere.  If you think about it, people who don’t have your best interests at heart can and will say anything nice to you because they don’t have any “skin in the game”.

In contrast, people who are genuinely your friend will tell you things that could be difficult to hear:

  • your zipper is unzipped,
  • you’ve been really cranky lately,
  • your thinking is really messed up,
  • that’s not a good color on you, etc

In Prov 27:6 it says that the wounds of a friend are faithful but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.  Don’t fall for deceitful kisses!

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enemies

“I’m not your enemy, please stop fighting me!” I said to one of my kids recently.  Enemies can be very interesting as I’ve seen from reading about King David in 1 & 2 Samuel.  He was an interesting man and had many of the challenges in his life that we face – external & internal enemies.

David’s external enemies were people who opposed his progress – people who didn’t want him to be king, his brothers who derided him for being the troublesome little brother, Nabal who thought he was just another slacker looking for a handout, etc.  We all have people & even situations in our lives that seem to oppose our progress and efforts to accomplish things & to go places. Perhaps we have external enemies to develop internal strength & fortitude.

David also had several internal enemies.  In my opinion, David’s internal enemies were more harmful to him than his external enemies.  Here are some internal enemies that David had, that might be familiar to us:

  • focus:  David didn’t control his focus & therefore his passions which resulted in his relationship with Bathsheba & the death of her husband, Uriah (read Ps 51)
  • confronting:  David didn’t confront his son Amnon about raping Tamar (Amnon’s half-sister);  David didn’t confront Absalom about killing Amnon;  both occasions combined to make for heartache in David’s life (killing, rejection, dishonor, rebellion, relationship breakdown, etc)
  • counting:  at the end of David’s reign, he made a decree for the Israelites to be counted.  Perhaps David wanted this census to measure his success, power, influence, etc.  I don’t know why David made this census, but it was displeasing to God – some kind of wrong motive.

Let’s be attentive to the weakspots / enemies in our hearts & thinking – they can most certainly be more destructive than any external enemy 🙂

Jesus Chix: just love

There is a chick who followed Jesus who always takes my breath away: Mary of Bethany. I love watching her because of her devotion to Jesus & her authenticity. The first time we read of her, she’s sitting at Jesus’ feet listening to Him – a place reserved for men who were learning from a teacher, not women who weren’t deemed as worthy to receive education nor instruction. Mary should’ve been helping Martha in the kitchen, doing domestic stuff. But Jesus applauds Mary & says that “this one thing won’t be taken from her.”
Mary’s devotion to Jesus is tested when her brother Lazarus dies, even though Jesus could have prevented his death. Mary is extremely upset by Lazarus’ death & it seems to me that she let her emotions prevent her from seeing her brother raised from the dead (John 11).
The final time we read much about Mary is when she is washing Jesus’ feet with her tears, drying them with her hair & anointing Jesus with costly oil. Her love & devotion to Jesus were nothing less than authentic & extravagant. May I love Jesus as Mary did