Monthly Archives: April 2014

Grief, Loss and Hurt Feelings

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I read the excerpt below from Lysa TerKeurst’s book “Becoming More Than A Good Bible Study Girl” My first thought was “Has she been spying on me?” Of course, this is ridiculous. Lysa TerKeurst doesn’t know me from Adam. However, the Holy Spirit knows me and knows what’s going on in my heart in this season. This spoke to me on so many levels, personally, emotionally and spiritually. I related to Lysa saying,  “Sometimes God hurts my feelings”. And sometimes, He makes me weep. 

When God Hurts My Feelings by Lysa TerKeurst, from the new revised edition of Becoming More than a Good Bible Study Girl

I don’t know another way to say this, so I’ll just shoot straight.

Sometimes God hurts my feelings.

Now, hear me out. I don’t mean this in an irreverent way. I very much know my place, and I very much have a holy reverence for God. But tiptoeing around my gut reactions and pretending to be just fine-fine-fine with everything that comes my way doesn’t pave an authentic connection between my heart and God’s.

So, I’m honest in my conversations with Him because I know He can handle it.

Of course, when I’m completely honest with God, I have to prepare myself for His honest response back to me. Not that God would ever be dishonest.

It’s just that the bolder I am with pouring out my heart to Him, the bolder He is with His responses to me.

Bold Is Beautiful

I like bold. And I like bold responses from God because they help me know that it is His voice speaking to me and not my own. My own thoughts tell me to curl up my pity-partying self next to a big tub of chocolate ice cream and eat until I feel better. Or to arm myself with my credit card, head to Target, and throw caution to the wind. Sound familiar?

Though God has been bold with me many times, the situations I remember most are those when I’ve been disillusioned by a life circumstance — often a conflict with another person — and have taken my frustrations to Him. I would pray for God to change the situation and just make it better. But time and time again, God wanted me to learn how to look at things from His vantage point rather than my own self-centered perspective.

Deep Grief

Sometimes when hurts and disappointments come, they cause a temporary panic that rises and falls in a mini-tidal wave.

Like the event I just shared. The hurt feelings escalated, crested with some hand-wringing and mind-racing, and then slowly ebbed away. In the end, I could see how God grew me through it, and I wound up being thankful for that growth.

But other times the hurt comes in the form of a loss that cuts into your heart so viciously it forever redefines who you are and how you think. It’s what I call deep grief. The kind that strains against everything you’ve ever believed. So much so you wonder how the promises that seemed so real on those thin Bible pages yesterday could ever possibly stand up under the weight of your enormous sadness today.

I once stood beside a casket far too small to accept — the one containing my baby sister, Haley. Pink roses draped everywhere. And I watched my mom as she lay across the casket, refusing to let go. How could she? Part of her heart was sealed within that casket, so quiet and still.

Just days ago we were laughing and doing everyday things, assuming that all of our lives stretched before us in spans of many, many years.

And then suddenly everything stopped. I was paralyzed.

In the flurry of funeral plans and the memorial service, we operated on automatic. People were everywhere. Soft chatter filled the gaps that our stunned silence could not. And enough food was brought in to feed the whole neighborhood.

But eventually people went back to their own lives. The soft chatter dissipated. The food stopped coming.

And we were forced to carry on. Except that our deep grief was still wrapped about us, strangling our throats and setting our feet in thick mud.

I remember I tried to go to McDonald’s to order a Happy Meal. But I couldn’t. I sat in the drive-thru with the speaker spouting words at me I couldn’t process. The woman in the speaker kept asking if she could take my order.

Yeah, I had an order. Take away my bloodshot eyes. Take away my desire to hurt the doctors who couldn’t save my sister. Take away my anger toward God. And then take away my guilt for being the one who lived. I’ll take all that with no onions and extra ketchup, please.

I drove away sobbing. How dare they offer Happy Meals. No one should be happy today. Or tomorrow. Or next year.

This is the reality of deep grief. I’ve already mentioned how I walked away from God at that time. That is how many people process loss.

Disillusionment can break people.

It’s understandable, really.

We are told from an early age that God can do anything, and we’ve read the stories about Jesus helping people. But how do we process such beliefs in the face of loss?

Trying to come to grips with the fact God could have prevented this grief but didn’t is a bit like trying to catch the wind and turn it into something visible. It’s an answer we could chase our whole lives and never get. And sometimes this chase just simply wears people out. They turn and walk away, whispering, “I tried, God, but You just didn’t work for me. You hurt my feelings and I don’t want anything to do with You anymore.”

Asking the Right Question

Looking back on my chase after the loss of my sister, I can see the reason the answer seemed so elusive. I was asking the wrong question. I was asking why. Why did this happen? Why didn’t You stop this, God? Why were my prayers not answered? Why?

Asking why is perfectly normal. Asking why isn’t unspiritual. However, if asking this question pushes us farther from God rather than drawing us closer to Him, it is the wrong question.

In most situations, nothing positive can come from whatever answer there might be to a why question. If God gave us His reason why, we would judge Him. And His reasons, from our limited perspective, would always fall short. That’s because our flat human perceptions simply can’t process God’s multidimensional, eternal reasons.

God describes it this way:

For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts. — Isaiah 55:8–9

Isaiah 55:8

We can’t see the full scope of the situation like God can; therefore, we must acknowledge that His thoughts are more complete and that He is more capable of accurately discerning what is best in every circumstance.

In the case of losing a loved one, love skews even the most rational parts of us. Our love for the person we lost would never allow God’s reasons to make us feel any better or to understand any more fully. We would still feel as though God had made a terrible mistake.

So, if asking the why question doesn’t offer hope, what will? The what question. In other words: Now that this has happened, what am I supposed to do with it?

Good can come from any loss if we make the choice not to resist the birthing process required to bring this good to life.

Good did eventually come from Haley’s death. I can stand here twenty years later and assure you of that. And I can assure you that good still comes in small, unexpected ways. Just last week my mom and I had the most amazing conversation we’ve ever had about Haley’s death. We both experienced a spiritual breakthrough I thought might never come.

I shared with my mom that Psalm 139:16 tells us every person has a certain number of days assigned to them: “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Nothing we do or don’t do can add to or take from that number. She was finally able to let go of a lot of questions and guilt surrounding the medical problems that eventually caused Haley’s death. And I was able to see the beauty of God reaching my mom in a new way. But that conversation was twenty years in the making.

It Takes Time

Even when you love God and believe in His promises. Even when you know without a doubt that you will see your loved one again. Even when you know hope is still there. It takes time.

It takes wading through an ocean of tears. It takes finding a possession of your loved one that you thought was lost and realizing God did that just to comfort you. It takes discovering one day that the sun still shines. It takes being caught off guard when you catch yourself smiling, only to realize it’s okay.

It takes prayer. It takes making the decision to stop asking for answers and start asking for perspective. It takes telling people to please not avoid saying her name — you want to hear it, over and over and over again.

Then one day you take off the blanket of deep grief. You fold it neatly and tuck it away. You no longer hate it or resist it. For underneath it wondrous things have happened.

The why questions have been replaced with truths from God’s Word. Verses that stung to read at first have now become the very lifeline you cling to. God’s presence has fallen softly upon you and helped you see that good can come and will come in you and through you.

Yes, in time things have happened. Wondrous things. Things that could have only come about because divine hope still intersects with our broken world. The secret is letting God’s Word get into you to achieve the purpose He intends.

Then you can lift up your despair, your doubts and questions, your feelings of being hurt by God. And with open hands held high, you let the wind blow them all away.

And, finally, you will see years stretching before you once again. Hope stretching before you again. New perspectives even when others hurt you again. Possibility stretching before you again. And more honest conversations with God stretching before you again.

 

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A word to the newlyweds

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This morning, I was reading through some of my favorite Christian blogs. One that I particularly like is Club31Women: A passion for husband, home & family. Lisa Jacobson is the writer on this blog. She writes with passion about family and marriage from a Biblical perspective. Today, I read her blog post “25 Tips I want to Share with Younger Wives” Really, really good advice and wisdom here. Below, I have her list of 25 tips:

25 Tips I Want to Share with Younger Wives

1. Hold hands whenever you can. We do and always have. We’ll clasp hands when sitting next to each other on the couch, while we’re driving along in the car, and when we’re out walking. A simple connecting that goes a long way.

2. Pray for him every day. Faithfully. What better gift than to offer up a prayer for him? Ask God to bless him, protect him, and work in his life.

3. Look for the many ways to love on him. Small gifts and thoughtful gestures. Those little things that say, I love you and I’m thinking of you.

4. Make friends with people who’ll encourage your marriage. Surround yourself with those who will support and pray for you both as you grow together.

5. And avoid those who pull against you. If they were “friends”, I’d ditch them altogether. (Real friends are going to cheer you both on). It’s harder with extended family members, but I’d dodge those as much as possible too.

6. Go to the Word of God for the best marriage counseling. You can get good advice from others, but there’s no replacing the loving, powerful Truth to be found in Scripture.

7. Cultivate your friendship. Marriage isn’t merely a business deal.

8. Never give up on each other. People go through difficult seasons and we get to persevere through them. Don’t let go.

9. Confess your sins to one another. Doesn’t help to smooth it over; instead repent and ask forgiveness. (Jas. 5:16)

10. And then forgive freely. (Col. 3:13)

11. Be patient with him. Love is long-suffering, remember? (I Cor. 13:4)

12. Show him respect. It’s in the Bible. And it’s what he needs (Col. 3:18).

13. Leave off with the complaining. It only drags the both of you down (Phil. 2:14).

14. Focus on those things which are true, pure, and lovely. (Phil. 4:8)

15. Speak kindly to him. Gracious words are sweet to the soul (Prov. 16:24).

16. Let the little irritations go. Is it really worth bothering about? Probably not.

17. Keep the home fires burning. Intimacy is still important. Yes, even long after the honeymoon.

18. Stand by your man. You’ll probably find loyalty toward the top of his list.

19. Make loving him your priority. Over your job, your friends, your extended family. Even over your children.

20. Give him – and yourself – room to grow. I know that we’re not done growing yet and I’m guessing you two aren’t either.

21. Express appreciation for the man that he is. Be an encouraging voice in that otherwise thankless world he lives in.

22. Protect your marriage. Value your relationship for the treasure that it really is.

23. Never leave off with kissing. No matter how old you grow. My husband’s 80-year-old parents still kiss each other goodbye – on the lips!

24. Decide you’re going to stick together. With God’s help, you’re going to stay together throughout the years. (Mark 10:9)

25. Put on love. Above all things. (Col. 3:14)

All of these are solid, Biblical pieces of wisdom. The two that stuck out to me were #9 and #10: Confess your sins and forgive one another. Easy to say; hard to do; but confess and forgive you must! Unforgiveness is the death nail in a marriage. From unforgiveness grow the roots of bitterness, resentment and anger. 

Dr. Phil and I have been married for over 22 years. We have given each other plenty of “fertilizer” with which to grow the roots of bitterness, resentment and anger over the years…BUT we haven’t. We have chosen to forgive and love  each other.  Forgiveness is not a feeling; it’s a choice to lay down your grievance against another, even if it’s justified. Forgiveness is working together toward a resolution of peace; it’s not a cease fire. Forgiveness is actively showing love toward the other; it’s not a cold war. 

Ephesians 4:25-27 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.

I have seen how unforgiveness has devastated marriages and families. The anger and bitterness causing divorce and children to be bandied about as weapons between warring parents. Unforgiveness is a foothold for the enemy to enter into the fortress of marriage and destroy it from within. 

I have also seen the miracle of forgiveness and restoration in a marriage and family. When spouses surrender to the mercy, grace and forgiveness of Christ; they are able to forgive each other and emerge stronger on the other side.  I have experienced this in my own marriage. 

Colossians 3:13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

I love newlyweds and young married couples.  They are so full of excitement and anticipation for their future. It’s beautiful. I love seeing them form the nucleus of a family, founded in Christ. It makes my heart happy. It’s difficult for them to even imagine being at a crossroad where they must choose to forgive a sin that has been committed against them OR choose not forgive and travel the path of bitterness. It will happen. Why? Because they are married to flawed people. The choice is theirs. I would ask this of a newlywed: how would you want your spouse to respond to your sin? Would you want forgiveness and restoration OR bitterness and anger?  Choosing forgiveness is choosing love. It’s choosing Christ.  It’s choosing restoration and reconciliation. 

2 Corinthians 5:17-19 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!  All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

 

If you are having difficulty forgiving; seek help. There is no shame in seeking help to strengthen your marriage.  It’s a tragedy when we are too afraid or embarrassed to ask for help and guidance to the detriment of our marriages. 

Pray for your marriage, friend. Pray for the marriages of others who are struggling. The enemy would have us cultivate unforgiveness that leads to the destruction of marriages. 

Philippians 4:6-9 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

 

Mommy and the terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad morning…..

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Did you read Alexander and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day  when you were young? Have your children read it? Poor Alexander starts off his day with a very rough morning and things continue downhill all day. 

Have you ever had a morning like that? If you have children, I KNOW that you have, at least, had a terrible, horrible no-good very bad morning. I’ve had some. (Understatement of the year!!) Actually, I’ve had a lot. Some mornings all I seem to be doing is raising my voice, putting out fires of strife, cleaning up spills, and constantly reminding little people that we are on the clock! “Get dressed already! Who let the dogs in? Why are you just NOW telling me that you need a pioneer costume for TOMORROW?!” 

In the following post, Lysa TerKeurst gives voice to some of the very frustrations that we all face. No mom is perfect. No mom has it all together.  The mom who looks perfectly calm on the outside is probably full of doubt about her ability to parent on the inside. She is probably beating herself up because she yelled at the children this morning. Don’t let a bad morning steal your joy and victory in Christ. Read this encouraging message from Lysa TerKeurst and be blessed today!

The Day I Lost My Smile by Lysa TerKeurst

“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.” Proverbs 31:25 (NIV)

I looked at my schedule and an overwhelming sense of dread started creeping into my heart. “What’s wrong with me? Why am I always running late, running behind, and running after my people who all seem to compound this issue?”
Because time refused to stand still while I pondered, it was necessary to jump right into task mode. There were lunches to pack, permission forms to sign, and tangles that needed gathering up into ponytails. I put one foot in front of the other and kicked into automatic, mentally crossing off one thing after another on my morning routine checklist.
I gathered up backpacks and lunchboxes and started announcing from the front door that we had to leave right this minute. And then I said it again. And then I yelled it in a tone that finally got my kids to appear. I quickly checked to make sure we didn’t repeat yesterday’s mistake of letting one leave with no shoes on. Then I marched out of the house while tossing out a stern reminder to please shut the door quickly so the dog didn’t get out.
But the dog did get out.
As I slipped the car in drive, the dog darted right out in front of me causing me to simultaneously slam on the brakes and spill both cups of orange juice I had gingerly perched between my purse and the little stacks of toast.
I jumped out to usher the dog back into the house and let hot tears just have their way. The green numbers of the dashboard clock seemed to simultaneously mock and remind me I had no time to sit and cry it all out.
I handed my kids their soggy toast and in a rare moment of silence, they took it without protest.
We pulled into the carpool line at school and I stared at the long line of cars ahead of me. I imagined all the wonderful smiling mothers who were doing this better than me. They probably had organized systems for packing lunches the night before and making sure their kids kept up with their shoes. They probably did family devotions each morning, ate breakfast at the table, and sang songs all the way to school.
I compared all that to the realities of my morning and came to one heart-sinking conclusion: “I stink at this.”
Almost at that exact moment my phone buzzed with a text message from a friend: “I had a really hard morning with my kids today. I’d love to have coffee some time and learn how you do it all so well.”
I couldn’t believe it. I half sighed and half chuckled at the irony.
I turned around to my kids in the back and said, “Hey guys, I’m really sorry Mommy was such a grump this morning. I think I misplaced my smile. So I just want you to know while you’re at school today I’m going to do everything I can to find it.”
After I dropped them off, I called that friend and told her what a gift it was to get her text.
I shared with her. She shared with me.
Together, we brainstormed better ways to prepare for these morning pitfalls we both kept finding ourselves in.
Together, we gave ourselves the permission to admit how hard motherhood can sometimes be and that it’s okay to feel caught off guard by the endless demands.
Together, we listed reasons to be so very thankful.
Together, we found strength.
Together, we regained our sense of dignity.
And it wasn’t too long until we both found ourselves laughing together.
It reminds me of our key verse, Proverbs 31:25, “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.” But sometimes it takes a friend to bring us back to the place where we can live this verse.
We need each other. The key word that day I processed life with my friend and gained a better perspective was, “together.” It’s such a powerful word and the exact reason I wrote this devotion today.
You are not alone.
Oh, how easy it is to lose our smiles and forget to laugh at the craziness of our lives. I need reminders. Just recently, I bought a necklace with a gold pendant that reads, “She laughs.” (See below in related resources for more information.) When I see the reflection of this necklace in the mirror I remember laughing is one of the best ways to show those I love that I enjoy them and I like doing life with them. What a gift for them to have memories of me laughing.
I imagine, though the circumstances might be different for you, you know that place where I was. And maybe you need a reminder to laugh too. We all have times where we feel like failures. We feel like others are doing life so much better. We feel so very alone in our struggles and issues and chaotic emotions. And we look up one day and feel like it was a lifetime ago since we laughed.
So, I slip this little devotion into your life and whisper, you’re not alone. You’re doing this so much better than you think you are. God has entrusted you with your life, your loved ones, your unique challenges because you are perfectly equipped for it all.
Just don’t lose your smile. And if you run into me today looking a little worn out, might you remind me of this as well?

Dear Lord, help me not to lose my smile today. I want to find my joy in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

“Idle” Worship

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Yes, you read that right. “Idle” worship. It’s what I have termed the act of going to church and being a non-participant in all aspects of the service. Completely unengaged in what should be one of the most sacred, beautiful times of the believing community. Instead, we sit idly by and say, “We are not amused”. We make excuses for our mental and spiritual laziness. How do I know this? I have done this very thing, my friend. Can I just tell you this: idle worship is a heart issue. It’s my heart issue.

 

Recently, Donald Miller wrote a blog post that caused quite a stir. You can read it here: http://storylineblog.com/2014/02/03/i-dont-worship-god-by-singing-i-connect-with-him-elsewhere/

Miller wrote this in his opening paragraph: 

I’ve a confession. I don’t connect with God by singing to Him. Not at all.

I know I’m nearly alone in this but it’s true. I was finally able to admit this recently when I attended a church service that had, perhaps, the most talented worship team I’ve ever heard. I loved the music. But I loved it more for the music than the worship. As far as connecting with God goes, I wasn’t feeling much of anything.

 

Miller goes on to write his reasons for not attending church. He can’t remember sermons, he doesn’t like to sing, it’s not his learning style, etc. I don’t recall every having seen the words “I”, “my” and “me” used so much in an article that was supposedly about church.

Here is a newsflash: Church is not about you! Church is not about me!

Church is about “WE”. Church is community.

 As I have thought about my own heart and the Donald Miller article; I came to realize that the gathering of believers in one location, church, is about three main things: Loving, leaning and learning. (Catchy alliteration, yes?)

This is by no means an exhaustive list of the benefits for believers meeting corporately. (Secretly, I ran out of “L” words)

1. Loving: Church is about loving God first and then, loving others. Worship, thanksgiving, and even tithing are all acts that we participate in to love the Lord. Loving each other is loving God. Is it difficult to love those flawed people sitting in the rows of the church? Yes and amen! What better place for flawed and sinful people to be than in a house of healing? Church is where we learn to love other flawed people, like ourselves; so, we can go out into the world and love.

  • John 15:17 This is my command: Love each other.
  • 1 John 3:18 Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.
  • Psalm 48:9 O God, we mediate on your unfailing love as we worship in your temple.
  • Psalm 100:4-5 Enter His gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good, His unfailing love continues forever and his faithfulness continues to each generation.
  • Psalm 95:6 O come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.
  • Acts 2:46 They worshiped together at the Temple, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper and shared their meals with great joy and generosity.

2. Leaning: Church is about leaning on each other. We cannot do it alone. We need accountability, fellowship, prayer, encouragement, correction: we need all aspects of community. Those who try to stand alone can be taken down in trials when there is no one to help or provide counsel. Those who are sick, in body and spirit, need prayer. God doesn’t call us to do life alone. Church is about the body of Christ coming together to strengthen, encourage and challenge each other.

  • Hebrews 10:24-25 Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—all the more as you see the day approaching.
  • Galatians 6:2 Carry each other’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
  • James 5:13-16 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call for the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
  • Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

3. Learning: Church is about learning. Learning about God, His will and how to apply His Word in our every day lives. Have you learned everything you possibly learn from God’s Word? I know I certainly haven’t. In fact, the more I study; the more I find that there is so much more truth in God’s Word than I will ever be able to uncover, absorb and apply in my lifetime. Learning strengthens your faith, prepares you for daily battles, informs you of right & wrong, and gives discernment when you hear false doctrine or worldly teaching.

  • Proverbs 18:15 The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out.
  • Proverbs 1:5 Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance.
  • Psalm 119:9,15 How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your Word…I meditate on your precepts and consider your way.
  • Titus 1:9 …hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.
  • Ephesians 6:12-18 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground and after your have done everything, stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and request. With this in min, be alerts and always keep on pryaing for all the Lord’s people.

 I will confess to you that I sometimes have difficulty motivating myself mentally and spiritually to go to church on Sunday. I belong to a fantastic church. We have wonderful music, Biblical teaching, great youth programs, lots of community outreach, Bible studies during the week, etc. I have difficulty getting motivated because I am spiritually and physically lazy at times. I want to turn off the alarm clock and go back to sleep. BUT I get up and go! I know my children are watching my example and I want to live in obedience to the Lord. I am always glad and my soul is refreshed and encouraged when I obey.

 I have been in church and been completely distracted. I have allowed outside things to take over my thoughts. Again, a heart and mind issue. I have some action steps that I take in order to combat my tendency to be distracted.

  • Listen to worship music. I do this while I’m getting ready for church. It helps my mind and heart to focus on the Lord before I even get into the sanctuary.
  • Actively listen to the sermon. Take notes, look up the complete Bible reference. Ask yourself “What can I apply to my life this week?” There is always room to grow.
  • Attitude of expectation. If I go into church expecting NOTHING; then NOTHING is what I will get. If I go in expecting to gain Biblical wisdom, or healing or fellowship; then I will receive those things. Low expectations = low return.
  • Sing along I can hear some of you now. “But I’m not a good singer” Who cares? It’s a JOYFUL noise not a “perfect pitch noise”. If you really just can’t sing; then close your eyes and meditate on the words of the songs. Say them as a prayer.
  • Be a giver Church is not and should not be a spectator sport. Be an active participant by giving. Yes, I’m talking about money but I’m also talking about giving in other ways. Help in the nursery for one service, then attending the other service. Ask where you can serve in your church. Don’t be a taker. Be a giver.

 Do I struggle sometimes with my lazy self? Yes. Am I tempted to give in to stay home and not honor the Lord? Yes. I know that I am not alone in this.

I know there are times when going to church is just not possible. I have four children. Believe me, I know. But whenever it is possible, please, GO! You will be blessed!

 

Colossians 3:15-16 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body, you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as your teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

 

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