What Faith Can Do

In this new year, I asked myself recently, “What’s my goal for 2019?” In previous years, my spiritual goal centered on growing in trusting the Lord.

As I contemplated my question, a song from a number of years ago came on the radio: “What Faith Can Do” by Kutless.

I don’t recall all the exact struggles during my life when this song first came out in 2009.

Yet I do remember how I clung to the words in the song, “What Faith Can Do” back then. I felt in danger of losing my faith because of all that had happened, and all that was happening. It seemed so much was out of my control, and on so many days I felt God was doing nothing.

I also remember that over time God intervened—not so much in the circumstances of my life, but in my heart. He healed my broken heart. He kept my hope alive. He gave me love for those who were hurting me and grace to forgive them.

As I once again sang the words to “What Faith Can Do” recently, I thought of the troubles that surrounded me in my life in recent days–some of which are a continuation of my struggles in 2009: loved ones who once walked closely with the Lord continuing to go their own way hurting me and others in the process, other loved ones trying to take advantage of me and treating me badly, loved ones ignoring my words of wisdom, loved ones fighting with and acting hateful toward each other and trying to put me in the middle, lots of blaming and shaming among those I love. Physical, emotional, and spiritual unhealthiness plagued the lives of so many that I cared about. And the list went on.

Yes, God had wondrously answered prayers recently, but so many other issues seemed to get worse the more I prayed.

I listened to the song that day, and I knew my goal for 2019 was to grow in faith.

I thought of the definition of faith in the Bible. I like how the Amplified Bible says it: “Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses]” (Hebrews 11:1).

I thought of Corrie ten Boom’s definition of faith: “Fantastic Adventure In Trusting Him.”

The end result of growing in faith would be that I could trust Him more. Faith and trust are so closely related.

After looking at some sites on the Internet and thinking about this, the conclusion I came to is that faith is about believing the truth such as the truth about God—even when I can’t see evidence of it–and trust is having confidence in Him.

Another verse that came to mind after listening to this powerful song, was about salvation. I remembered that it had the word “faith” in it. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).

I applied this to my ongoing troubling situations: if I wanted to be saved from them robbing me of my  hope in God, I needed to realize that it would be by grace that I would be saved, through faith. It wouldn’t be from anything I did. It would be a gift from God.

I looked on to verse 9 which read, “not by works, so that no one can boast.” The salvation which I wanted from the Lord would not be from any works I did, so that I wouldn’t be tempted to boast. I confess that often I did try to “save” the people in my life to obtain my salvation from hopelessness, thinking if I could just do something, things would change for them and then me. What I really needed was grace from God through faith, where I could believe that He would be Savior in these difficult circumstances. I didn’t need to wait for them to be saved in order for His salvation—His saving grace— to flow into my life.

Right now I realize fear is once again getting in the way of my faith. I hate the what ifs that keep coming to mind about my lost and wayward loved ones and about my own ability to cope with how they affect my life.

Yet I know God’s grace can cause the fear to go away.

Another verse that comes to mind is this one: “When I am afraid, I put my trust in You.” Psalm 56:3

There’s the word “trust” again.

Then this verse with Jesus’ question came to me: “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:40 NLT). Fear definitely interferes with my faith.

Here are other questions I’m asking:

Will I let go of fear and trust God enough to believe that He is able to save my loved ones and rescue them from their bad choices and help them to turn around and walk with Him? Do I have enough faith to release them to Him instead of trying so hard to save them myself—to believe the truth that He is able? Do I trust that God can and will heal my broken heart and bind up all these wounds? (See Psalm 147:3)

Yes, yes, and yes.

2019, I welcome you. My God is going to do great things in and through me. I’m looking forward to it, and to this being my best year yet.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NreUhPk9s9Y

“What Faith Can Do” by Kutless

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Guest Blog: Hope in the Midst of Calamity

Today I am posting a guest blog written by Kristine Diaz Coffman, who lost her home in Redding, California this past summer. Since then—in November 2018—more homes and at least 86 lives were lost due to California wildfires. I remember the first time I heard Kristine’s story I wept. Her mom is a friend, who attends my church and a weekly Bible study with me.

Here was Kristine, a former fellow Floridian, who moved to California, and then she lost everything.

What impressed me about Kristine is that she wrote this piece shortly after losing her home, while she was still in the midst of intense grief. Also, instead of getting wrapped up in this grief, she looked ahead immediately, staying focused on the call God had on her life to help a specific group of hurting women.

All of us face crises in our lives. What inspires me is when God puts someone in my path who handles their crisis in a godly way, keeping their eyes on Him and maintaining a godly perspective. That’s what I want to do with every calamity and crisis in my life.

Here is the link to Kristine’s blog: “The Carr Fire stole our home, but it can’t steal our hope.” I pray you will be as inspired and moved as I was.

https://selahliving.co/the-carr-fire-stole-our-home-but-it-cant-steal-our-hope-2594e233a0ad

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It’s Me Who Needs You, Lord

I did it again.

When someone who claims to be a Christian suddenly said he didn’t believe in heaven, and he wasn’t sure if the Bible could be believed, I determined I would change his mind.

This led to arguing and to anger on my part because he seemed to ignore everything I said.

At the end of our phone conversation, I wondered if he just expressed unbelief to try to get to me.

This person battles depression and has many physical maladies. He’s elderly, and I felt bad for yelling at him.

Once again I was in the place I’ve been so many times over the years—feeling bad that I failed to get a person to believe biblical truths. God has gifted me with this, and I do have many successes in this through my writing and speaking ministry, but when I get connected with someone I care about deeply who rejects truth, it still upsets me.

I forget what God has reminded me of again and again—to give wise reproof only to a listening ear. (See 25:12 NASB) This man showed no desire to listen to me. I also realized that arguing was a waste of time and didn’t please God. A saying came to mind which God gave me years ago, that sometimes it’s necessary to “pray, not say.”

I apologized to this person for getting angry at him, arguing and raising my voice. The next time I saw him we got along well, and we didn’t speak of spiritual matters.

Another incident happened after a sermon not long ago at my church about answering God’s call on our lives and how God would give us another chance. All of I could think of at first was how many loved ones had rejected God and were not listening to or for Him or answering His call on their lives—even though they were so gifted and could do much for the kingdom if they would only use their gifts for God’s glory.

My mind started thinking of ways to speak to them in the days ahead.

But then suddenly, God spoke to my heart. What about you?

I asked God, “Are there ways I’m not answering Your call on my life?”

What came to mind is that God had called me to pray for my church when I first arrived there many years ago. And for a number of years, I was faithful to do so. He had never removed that call from my life, but I had backed off from doing it for a variety of reasons. A better word is excuses.

I went to the prayer room after Sunday school and repented for backing away from what God had called me to do just as Jonah had when God called him to preach in Nineveh. (Jonah was the main character of the “answering God’s call” sermon I had heard earlier.)

I realized that the issue when it came to praying diligently for my church was unbelief. I didn’t believe my prayers would make a difference. Yet, if I was honest, I recalled that when I was praying in the prayer room on a regular basis, great things happened—not only in our church, but also in my own soul. I remember one week I prayed in the prayer room, and a certain phrase came to my mind about our church. I don’t recall at the moment what it was, but I do remember one of the pastors said that same exact phrase the next Sunday.

I also remember that the pastor and I disagreed on a certain aspect of the Christian walk. Instead of talking to him about it, I prayed about it in the prayer room for a long time. Then one Sunday he said he threw away his prepared sermon, and he told us that God had changed his mind completely on what he thought and believed on that particular subject.

God gave me songs in the prayer room and calmed me so often. He also helped grow my love for my church and the people there. With a change in my work schedule and traveling more, I didn’t get to come to church as often, and I felt distant from other church members. But I realized that if I had been faithful in the prayer room, this probably wouldn’t have happened.

Once again I have committed to answering God’s call on my life to diligently pray for my church every week—at my church in the prayer room—whenever I was in town. He knows there are too many distractions at my home and elsewhere to do it at another location.

What I learned from arguing with a man who seemed overcome with unbelief and thinking that I needed to correct the prodigals in my life who also battled unbelief is that when I’m busy trying to fix others, I don’t give God room to work on me. I’m so busy telling others the truths I believe they need to hear, that I’m not listening for truth God wants to speak to my heart. I’ve written about this theme again and again, but I need to hear it again and again. I, too, can slip into unbelief—maybe not total like the prodigals or in what I consider “big” areas like the man on the phone—but it still hurts me and others when I’m not diligently listening for God’s guidance and following it.

The thought that came to mind in regard to various people in my life was that they need the Lord so much. But I realize I also need the Lord. I’ve come so far because I realized this along the way, but I can get into a place where I think I know a lot, and I forget how very much I need Him and how far He’s brought me—that I have not reached this point in my journey by myself, and I can’t move on by myself.

In my Bible study today, God reminded me of another instruction that He gave me in regard to my work with the mentally ill. I have committed to returning to carrying out that instruction. Once again I repented of not continuing to answer God’s call in a particular aspect of my walk with Him.

I praise God for all He’s teaching me lately. I feel willing to receive wise reproof from Him, but I do feel bad that it can take me awhile to hear what He’s trying to say to me. It seems many distractions get in the way.

That’s why I know it’s not just the others who need truth and prayer, but it’s also me.

Please pray for me that I will be able to hear God quickly and clearly and move closer to my goal to obey Him every day in every way.

“Standing in the need of prayer” sung by Bill and Gloria Gaither and others.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2x8M1t8bW8

 

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What God Says

When hard times come, I can be tempted to believe lies about myself because of how people treat me. The good news is that who God says I am does not change because of the rejection of others.

As I continue to face difficult days with heartaches in various relationships, I need to remind myself not to be dictated by my own thoughts and feelings, but instead to be led by my faith in God and His unfailing love–even when people who once were loving toward me treat me in unloving ways.

What hurts is when I’ve shown sacrificial love, and another person returns evil in response to help I’ve given at their request in their hard times. That’s one trial I’m facing now. I did good, and the person responded with evil. This harsh rejection from this loved one has caught me by surprise, and the hurt lingers as the rejection continues.

Once I started realizing this person is depressed, I remembered that hurting people hurt people. As I let go of fretting, I prayed to God about the situation, and He calmed my heart and assured me that it wasn’t wrong of me to give the help this person requested. He reminded me of His love for this person and for me, despite her withdrawing love from me.

Here is some of what the Lord spoke to me: KEEP PUTTING YOUR HOPE IN ME. YOU CAN’T CHANGE HER. I CAN. AT LEAST YOU KNOW HOW STRONGLY BOUND SHE IS. FORGIVE. PRAY SHE WILL TURN TO ME, SO SHE CAN BE EMPOWERED TO FORGIVE. WHEN SHE TURNS TO ME, SHE CAN STOP BEING A VICTIM AND BECOME A VICTOR IN CHRIST. DON’T WORRY. I WILL CONTINUE TO PROVIDE FOR YOU.

I’ve discovered lately that when I consult with my own mind and heart instead of consulting the Lord, it brings me down. His words— from Scripture, spoken directly to my heart from the Holy Spirit, from others, and in books and songs in the midst of sad circumstances— lift me up.

The words from Lauren Daigle’s song, “You Say,” have really ministered to me lately as it plays often on the Christian radio station I listen to (The Joy FM). In the song, she reminds me I’m loved, I’m strong, I’m held, and I’m His–even though I can feel these aren’t true when people treat me badly.

God is faithful to remind me who I am in Him. He does it through this song and even when the song isn’t playing as I tune in to Him and determine to receive His truth rather than the lies of the enemy and those around me.

I remember years ago I listened to Elisabeth Elliot on the radio. I loved the two statements she proclaimed at the close of her show, which reminded me of God’s unfailing love for me: “I have loved you with an everlasting love, (Jeremiah 31:3) and underneath are the everlasting arms.” (Deuteronomy 33:27).

No matter what happens, those statements are true. What a treasure God’s unfailing love is to me. He never wants me to forget that it’s there for me through every difficulty—even if I can’t feel it at the moment.

Today I pray for my unloving, loved one that she will come to the point where she feels loved, strong in the Lord, held, and His.

The thought that came to me yesterday, which I’m determined to act on, is to do something loving toward this person who has been unloving toward me. What came to mind is to send an uplifting card and a gift certificate for a massage.

I also pray this person will call out to the Lord, since she is not walking with Him. As I do so, I find myself taking my eyes off of me and how I feel and putting them on her and on the Lord, and He is giving me compassion for her.

I wait in thanksgiving for Him to bless her and our relationship. He has already lavished blessings on me through His love, comfort, and strength in this difficult time.

“You Say” by Lauren Daigle

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8WK9HmF53w

 

 

 

 

 

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Counting Every Blessing

My heart continues to ache over the ongoing, unwise—even life-threatening—choices of a loved one, who is battling mental health issues.

The main gift as a writer, speaker, mental health worker, God has given to me is the gift of proclaiming truth. What hurts so much is that this loved one refuses to receive truth. At times she becomes verbally abusive when I speak it to her.

As I reflect on my own life, I know I’ve been in the place of rejecting truth. That’s exactly where the enemy wants us. Even as Christians, we can be enticed to go there.

This dearly loved individual surrounds herself with peers who believe lies, and they support one another in this.

Other circumstances have threatened to bring me into the pit lately as well: more allegations of sexual assault—even in the writing world, Bill Cosby in the news as he was sentenced to prison, the sad supreme court justice confirmation hearing, severe problems in extended family members, other loved ones with mental health problems, marriages of loved ones failing, other loved ones caught in the grips of addiction and dependence on many other enticements of this world rather than on the Lord.

The sexual assault crisis, especially as it pertains to Bill Cosby, brings back memories of the sexual assault against myself in my college years, which was done in the same way. I was given a drug, and then the person, whom I knew and trusted, raped me. I was conscious, but I could not move.

As I think of these matters and others, I feel oppressed by the evil of this world.

Yet in the midst, a song has been coming on the radio, which has lifted my spirits. It is “Counting Every Blessing” by Rend Collective.

I listen and remember that the world has been evil since the fall, and that’s why Jesus came. Because of that, I have so many blessings, which cannot be taken away.

As thoughts of negative circumstances invade my mind, and fears of the future threaten to overwhelm me, something else invades my mind: the words, “counting every blessing.” And then I begin to do just that.

One blessing is that God’s love for me and my loved ones will never fail. Another is that He will always be with and for me and them. Yet another is the promise of heaven that nothing on this earth can take away. Then there are the many promises in His Word. Each one is a blessing I can count.

At this moment, three come to mind:

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1 NIV

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Isaiah 26:3 NKJV

God is keeping each of these promises as I go through these latest difficulties.

What I know is that I must keeping holding on to Him. Others have not done as well in the midst of the crises and calamities of life because they chose to hold on to someone or something else. Only He can help us through every dark and difficult day. And if we let Him, He uses the difficulties to make us more like Jesus and to help us grow in trusting Him.

A saying comes to mind, which always holds true: “Life is hard, but God is good.”

During these days, I do not want to doubt God’s goodness. I desire to grow in trust and be a shining light for Him. He wants to give me everything I need to do just that.

God wants my wayward loved one to grow in trusting Him as well. I believe that He will one day use her as a shining light for Him. How wonderful it is that her bad choices do not disqualify her from that.

When I asked God recently how to pray for this loved one, Psalm 139:7-12 came to mind.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

I pray she will sense God reaching out to her in her darkness, and that she will take hold of His hand.

“Counting Every Blessing” by Rend Collective

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7X9d4ubvWH4&start_radio=1&list=RD7X9d4ubvWH4

 

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Finding God’s Will Repost

Recently, I heard a song about finding God’s will that helped me through a difficult time years ago. Today I’m reposting a blog about the subject, which I first posted in 2013. This time I’ve put that song at the end of the blog. I can’t remember what the difficulty was back then, but the truth I discovered still stands up in my latest trial. As I listened to the song and reread the blog, I realized that peace comes as I determine to let go and submit to God’s will instead of trying to make things happen or attempting to control or abort my latest difficult circumstance.

I pray this blog will minister to you in any trial, trauma, or tragedy you may be facing.

Repost of “Finding God’s Will”

First Posted on July 12, 2013

As I have been facing a difficult challenge lately, I find myself crying out to God, “What should I do?” Which way to go seems unclear.  I want to do what’s right, but every choice seems to have its drawbacks.

Slipping into negative emotions and negative thinking makes things even murkier.

“Please show me Your will and Your way,” I have prayed.

What God has done is to reveal to me the next step to take. He doesn’t show me the complete picture of where He’s leading me and how He will bring me to the other side.

The key is to believe He will show me His will, and He will carry me through this just as He has brought me through every other trial in my life.

Discovering God’s will is tied in to being still. The Word says,

“Be still and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10 ESV.

When I forget that He is God or fail to act that way, I try to plow ahead doing whatever comes to mind. That makes matters worse.

When I embrace fully what my Sunday School teacher has been repeating lately, “He is God, and I am not,” I can trust Him to lead me.

When going through hard times, being still before the Lord to discover His will can seem impossible. It’s especially challenging when the enemy is bombarding my mind with thoughts that bring on moments or multiple moments of doubt, fear, and unbelief.

One of the reasons it can be rough discovering God’s will in difficult times is that I ask myself, “How can this thing that’s happening to me possibly be God’s will?” and “How can a loving God allow this?”

The faith side of me says, “God does allow bad things, but He brings good out of them—if I submit to Him and trust Him with the outcome.”

I confess that too often I try to stay in control and straighten out a difficult situation or a heart-tearing relationship conflict on my own. That doesn’t work.

I notice when I try to do it on my own, love does not lead the way.

One thing I’ve become ever more certain of is this: “Love is always God’s will and God’s way.”  If I’m unwilling to love, this shows that I have not been fully set free. I’m moving back into bondage.

When I love even though others have hurt me, God is present and working. The other person may not change in every way I desire, but God changes my heart to become more like His. That’s what trials are for—to transform me into the image of Christ.

Changing me is God’s will.

As  I’ve been submitting to Him with an attitude of, “Lord, do what You need to do in me to make me more like You,” the hardness in my heart is melting away. I’m embracing what Jesus said,

“Not my will, but Yours be done.”  Luke 22:42 ESV 

There is great joy in discovering God’s will. There is even greater joy when I’m willing to embrace it and live it. I’m excited to see what God has in store in the days, weeks, and months ahead. He is so good.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CsjZ94K7UQs

“Help Me Find It” by Sidewalk Prophets

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Rescuer

“Lord, rescue her,” I pray fervently lately for a loved one who seems determined to rebel against every authority in her life.

The problem is she doesn’t want to be rescued.

The image which came to mind yesterday was that she struggles in the deep end of the pool, has forgotten how to swim, and refuses to grab hold of any life preserver thrown to her.

Why would she do that? I asked myself.

The reason came quickly to mind. There are people she sees as friends in the deep end of the pool with her, none of whom knows how to swim, and she doesn’t want to leave them.

Yes, they are treading water and are keeping their heads just above water with much effort, but it’s just a matter of time that they will sink. Somehow they don’t believe that.

I’ve tried to rescue her myself, but she just fights me off and shouts, “Leave me alone.”

Yesterday a song came on the radio as I thought about this loved one in need of rescue. The song sung by Rend Collective is called, “Rescuer.”

As I listened to the song, the Lord whispered a promise to me, “She may not want to be rescued right now, but I will rescue you.”

I thought of what I needed rescuing from which related to this loved one’s struggles: fear, worry, trying to control, devising my own feeble attempts at rescue, depression, blame, shame, unforgiveness, judging, negativity and more.

So today I changed my prayer, “Lord, rescue me.”

Right now I confess the sins I’ve given in to as I deal with this crisis.

I apply the words to the song by Rend Collective to me and to my struggle. I grabthe life preserver the Lord is throwing out to me. I am allowing Him to bring me back to the place of faith in Him, of believing His promises, and holding to His Word. I determine not to give up on prayer, even though it seems the more I have pray, the worse things get.

One promise which came to mind today is this one: “You will keep him in perfect peace,
whose mind is stayed on You…” (Isaiah 26:3).

I listened to more songs on the radio yesterday after the Rend Collective song, which lifted my spirit and reminded me of God’s faithfulness. How often He has rescued others I prayed for–in His way and in His time. I knew He was able to do it again. I no longer needed to see myself as the rescuer. Only He could rescue her from this place of defiance and disobedience.

As I sense God rescuing me from these negative responses to this loved one’s rebellion, I feel one emotion well up in me for her: love. It’s not my love, but the love of the Lord. I thought of the many times I was the rebellious one and how He loved me through it all and how He forgave me and helped me and once He had transformed me, He showed me how I could help those who had grabbed the life preserver to return to living a godly life. I’ve done this through my writing, through mentoring, and through public speaking.

I’m not going to stop praying for God to rescue my loved one, but I am going to stop trying to be the rescuer, and I’m going to let go of my negative thoughts toward this dear one who needs rescuing.

Once again my trust in the Lord is being tested.

Today I choose to keep trusting—even though circumstances seem dark.

I think of a song the Lord gave me years ago, which I know I shared here in the past. The Lord gave me this song during a different crisis years ago. I still believe the promise the Lord gave to me back then through that song, and I apply it to this latest crisis.

Everything will be alright.

Everything will be alright.

Morning will come

to end this night, and

everything will be alright.

 

Everything will be alright.

Everything will be alright.

Into this darkness,

He’ll shine His light, and

everything will be alright.

Just trust, and

everything will be alright.

God reminded me of the title of another song I wrote years ago for another rebellious loved one. I don’t remember the whole song, and I haven’t listened to it in years. (It’s on an old cassette somewhere.) That loved one is on her way back to wholeheartedly following Jesus. The title, and the words repeated over and over were, “She still belongs to Me.”

I receive that for this loved one as well.

I’m determined this moment, for the rest of today, and in the days to come to keep my eyes on the Lord, and not on all I see that’s wrong, and allow Him to keep rescuing me—even as I hold to the belief that He will rescue her.

He is able.

He is faithful.

He is trustworthy.

Rescuer (Good News) by Rend Collective

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=leh-4fCc5MI

 

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