Category Archives: Faith

If You Want Something Done Right… (DIY?? Series Part 1)

DIY??

by Lydia Floren

We have all heard the saying, “If you want something done right, you better do it yourself.” But is that really true? Are you really the best person to fix every problem?

Think about it.  If your car is mechanically failing, are you going to watch a You-Tube video and pull out your wrench and start taking the engine apart?  If you have appendicitis, are you going to check Wikipedia, climb up on the kitchen table, get the butcher knife out, and whack away? I don’t think so. You, like me, are going to find the best expert available, and trust them to take care of things.

So, why are we so quick to take things into our own hands, when it comes to matters of faith?

Sure, we will trust a surgeon to take out our appendix and handle any post-op complications.  And, we will wait patiently for the best mechanic to fix our car properly.

But in difficult situations, especially those that don’t resolve promptly, we are quick to lose faith in God, who happens to be the best disaster-management expert in the universe.

Here’s an all-too-frequent scenario from my life:

1.  I feel pain.  This may be a physical pain, but often it is an emotional one, such as an unpleasant interaction that leaves me feeling wronged or slighted.  I’m not talking about the momentary unpleasantness that happens, say, when someone cuts me off in traffic. I’m talking about an ongoing dilemma, like a difficult relationship or an uncomfortable work situation, or a chronic health issue.

2.  I get restless. If the uncomfortable situation doesn’t resolve quickly (which for me is more than about 5 minutes) I get antsy. I don’t like pain. It needs to go away.

3.  I pray….maybe. (sometimes I skip this step.) I tell God, as if He didn’t know, exactly what my situation is, and politely ask Him to take care of it.   Before long (say, about 5 minutes), if nothing seems to be happening, I stomp my foot. “Why don’t you do something about this, God? Don’t you see what is happening here?”  Pretty soon, I start demanding, “God, get me out of this!  Make this go away! NOW!”

“…or else,” I whisper to myself, “I may just have to do it myself.”

4.  I decide it’s up to me. Here’s what goes thru my head:  “Somehow, God has missed the boat here. Maybe He isn’t seeing how much pain I am in.  Or maybe He sees it but just doesn’t matter to Him. Fine. Whatever. I’ll just handle it myself. After all, ‘if you want something done right, you better do it yourself.’  Isn’t that in the Bible somewhere?”

5.  I do my own thing. I try to eliminate the hurt (or the cause of it) myself. Here are a few ways I might do this typically by reverting to old coping mechanisms:

  • Avoiding. I dodge the person or situation that is causing me to feel this pain.
  • Complaining.  I make sure that not only God, but everyone around me knows how unjustly I have been treated.
  • Manipulating.  I try to manage or control the situation so the pain will stop, or at least lessen.
  • Self-indulging. I “treat myself” with something to take my mind off the pain. (Sort of an adult version of thumb-sucking.)  My favorite “pacifier” is food, particularly chocolate.  For others, it might be alcohol, surfing the net, working, shopping.

As you can imagine, when I take things into my own hands, they don’t turn out so well. Avoiding, complaining, manipulating and self-indulgence don’t make things better – they make them worse.

In Psalm 40:1-3, David said

I waited patiently for the LORD to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry.

He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire.

He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.

He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God.

Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the LORD.

DIY??

Are you in the middle of a difficult situation?  Do you feel like God is not doing enough? Not doing anything?  For heaven’s sake, don’t make my mistake and try to take things into your own hands.   You will only make matters worse. Trust me, you will be  sooooo much better off, if you choose to keep your focus squarely on God, waiting patiently for His strength and direction.

Just remember: God is the best disaster-management expert in the universe.

Rest assured: He will unfailingly pull you up out of your mess and put your feet back on solid ground.

 

All I have needed, Thy hand hath provided

AllIHaveNeeded

by Lydia Floren

Can we really count on God to meet all of our needs?

YES.

Really?   How can we know this?

All I have needed Thy hand hath provided. 

                Great is Thy faithfulness Lord unto me.

Thomas Chisholm wrote these words, and sang them with confidence because he made a habit of remembering.  He chose over and over again to recall all the times that God had provided for him.

When doubts creep in, make a habit of remembering.   Choose–and then continue to choose– to bring to mind God’s past faithfulness in your life, and in the lives of others.   And then choose to thank God for His consistent loving care.

The longer we follow God, the louder we sing

Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.

Once I was young, and now I am old. Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned or their children begging for bread. Psalm 37:25

thelongerwefollow

Related Posts: Great Is Thy Faithfulness

Recent Series: NOMB Part I, NOMB Part II, NOMB Part III

 

 

 

No Shadow of Turning

noshadow

by Lydia Floren

It is so easy to doubt God in a crisis.

Is God really going to provide?

Is He really going to take care of my current situation?  Or is it all up to me? 

In his song “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” Thomas Chisholm answers these questions with a remarkable image:

Great is your faithfulness, O God my Father, There is no shadow of turning with Thee.

There is no shadow of turning with Thee. 

What is a “shadow of turning?” When you are walking in the sunshine, you have a shadow.  Every little motion you make is reflected by your shadow.  Any time you turn a little to the right or left, your shadow also turns.  And if, as you are going along, you notice that your shadow has changed, you can be sure that your direction has also shifted.

When Thomas Chisholm says “there is no shadow of turning with Thee” he is pointing out God’s consistency.  God is steadily walking toward the light, toward Truth, and He invites us to follow.  As we do, we are, naturally, in His shadow.  If God were to get off course—to turn to the right or left—we would no longer be directly in His shadow.  The shadow would have turned.

In whatever crisis we face, we can count on God.  He will lead.  He will provide.  He will see us through.  100% of the time.  There is no shift—not even a slight one– in God’s faithfulness to us.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.   James 1:17 NIV

ThomasChisholm

Related Posts: Great Is Thy Faithfulness

Recent Series: NOMB Part I, NOMB Part II, NOMB Part III

 

 

 

Great is Your Faithfulness

Greatisyfaith

by Lydia Floren

I went to a funeral recently.  A celebration, really, of a life lived walking with God.  The service was mostly music, and during the course of an hour the 400 or so of us attendees (or should I say participants?) sang a variety of classic hymns.  I haven’t sung those words in years, yet I still knew most of the songs by heart. I guess that’s what comes from occupying a Baptist pew 3 times a week  for 18 years.   As I sang verse after verse of those old hymns, their words “fell fresh” on my heart. What wisdom and encouragement those hymnists gave us!    The words of Thomas Chisholm, in his song “Great is thy faithfulness,“  were particularly encouraging to my tired heart.

“Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father…”

What does “faithful” mean, exactly?

“Faithful” is a powerful word.  A faithful person is consistent. Steady. Loyal. Constant.  In our corner. A faithful friend is “there” for us.  A faithful person has our back, no matter what.  Chisholm declared God’s faithfulness.  How exactly is He faithful?

God is faithful to Himself.

No matter what, God is

  • Consistently loving.
  • Steadily leading.
  • Loyally defending.
  • Constantly providing.
  • Always present.

And God is always good.

God is faithful to us.  Whether we are faithful back or not, and He

  • Consistently loves us.
  • Steadily leads us.
  • Loyally defends us.
  • Constantly provides us.
  • Is always present with us.

No matter what our circumstance, God is always faithful to Himself, and to us.

And God always has our back.

Great is Your Faithfulness, O God my father.

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  Lamentations 3:22-23

Mountains

Related Posts: Be Still and Know That I Am God,

Recent Series: NOMB Part I, NOMB Part II, NOMB Part III

 

 

 

NOMB Part II: Curbing The Impulse To Fix Others

 

NOMB curb others-recby Lydia Floren

NOMB (None Of My Business) Part II: Curbing The Impulse To Fix Others

When I see someone else’s struggle and “feel their pain”, I want so much to make it better. WHAT’s a person to DO? Here are a few tips:

#1 Face yourself:

  • Check your motives. Be honest with yourself about why you want to make it right. Your urge to fix is probably not as altruistic as it seems. Our motives are often mixed: sure we want to help, but we may also want to avoid the discomfort of watching others suffer or the annoyance of their “imperfection.”
  • Accept your limits in understanding and skill, and the specific ways God has asked you to serve in this world.

#2 Remind yourself of truth:

  • Pain is important. We are programmed to avoid pain at any cost, but experiencing pain is necessary; the stove’s heat or the wind’s cold prompt us to practical action. Leprosy is a malady where the nerves that detect pain are destroyed. Much of the disfigurement of leprosy comes because of the lack of feeling, not from the disease itself: a burn goes undetected, or an infection untreated, which leads to irrevocable tissue damage. Pain notifies us of danger or a need to change, even if that is just taking better care of ourselves.
  • Suffering is a part of life on earth. “In the world,” Jesus said, “you will have tribulation. But take courage: I have overcome the world.” He understands that we will have suffering—He experienced it himself many times. But he also knows that accepting hardship is not admitting defeat: far from it. God works all things out for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.
  • God uses all the pain in our lives, and sometimes He allows us to suffer for a reason. If He does so, He can be trusted: He has a good purpose in it, either for us or for someone else.
  • Your fixing can actually do more harm than good. What you think is helpful for someone else can often be downright harmful; how could you possibly know?

#3 Pray:

  • Thank God that
    He is at work in this situation, and good will come of it.
    His love for you and your loved ones is much greater than your own.
    His ideas, His strategy, His perspective, His understanding are far beyond you’re own.
    He will let you know if He wants you to do something in this situation.
    He will give you the self-control to resist the urge to step in where you don’t belong, and        the courage to step forward when He leads you to act.
  • Talk to God about the specifics. He already knows what is going on, but also knows that you need the listening ear of a loved one to hear your concerns. (It really helps. Trust me.)
  • Ask God what He wants you to do or not do.
  • Listen for His answers.

#4 Act: There are many ways God MAY ask you to help. You might be led to do one or a combination of the following:

  • Intercede. Often when I see difficulties in another’s life, I feel like God’s primary request is for me is to pray for that person. This is not a last resort. It is actually the most powerful action I can take because prayers invite the power of God’s spirit into the situation. Perfect power and perfect love, working on the problem! Who doesn’t want that?
  • Encourage. The most important thing a person can do–outside of praying–for someone in difficulty is to encourage them. Encouragement can be as simple as a smile, a hug, a note, or a shared laugh. It is easy to encourage via phone, text, Facebook, or email. A moment of thoughtfulness can make a world of difference in someone’s day, especially when they are going through a hard time.
  • Listen. God gave us two ears and one mouth, right? Listening is a powerful encouragement. Giving someone a safe place to articulate a problem or vent emotion is actually therapeutic. I have seen this over and over in the practice of medicine.
  • Serve. Practical acts of service, such as a gift, a visit, a meal, an offer to babysit are “cups of cold water” given in Jesus’ name. They help lighten another’s load in the most literal sense.

“It’s God’s problem. He should worry”
To be honest, it is a relief to acknowledge my limits, and accept my inability to fix others. When I do, I find I worry less. I pray more. My focus centers on God’s sufficiency rather than specific problems. And I am more likely to pay attention when God leads me to how and when I should act, or if it is best for me just to concentrate on prayer.

At most I might be a small part of a solution to someone’s problem. I am certainly not meant to be The Solution. Only God can be that; when I try, I just get in the way.

Accepting my limits frees me to do what God has already asked me to do—what we are all called to do in this world: love people. This love may take the form of prayer, encouragement, listening, and/or serving.

It’s our job to love folks. It’s God’s job to fix them.

Recent Series: NOMB Part I: Letting God Be The Fixer; Patience

Four Practical Steps to Overcoming Problems – Overcoming Series, Pt. III

by Lydia Floren

In the Overcoming blog series, we have been talking about—well—overcoming problems. In this process, it helps to:

  • Remember who Jesus is, and what God can do.
  • Accept the truth that problems are a part of life.
  • Jesus has overcome the world. He has conquered the ordered system of evil we live in.

But how do we apply this to our everyday lives?

4 practical steps

Four practical steps to overcoming problems:

1. Face your problem

  • Face the problem honestly. Don’t avoid it, blame someone else, or pretend it isn’t really a problem. In intense emotional reaction to a situation, especially if it seems out of proportion to the facts, may be a clue to you that you have an unidentified issue; examine it with courage.
  • Identify YOUR problem. Ask questions. For example, if you have a problem with a coworker, ask yourself, “What is happening? What is my reaction? What reasons might I be reacting this way? Am I making false assumptions? Generalizing? Why?” Asking questions helps you get to the real problem, which may be that this co-worker triggers something from your past and brings up old pain.
  • Don’t let problems become your identity; keep the problem the problem. For example, say “I experience anger in certain situations” not “I am an angry person.” And don’t generalize about someone else, as in, “They are a no-good-very-bad person because they make me angry.”
  • Be willing to change in your reaction to the problem. Problems are opportunities and avenues for change. Be flexible and teachable. Own your own emotions. Be willing to change.

2. Focus on God by giving thanks.
Giving thanks is a powerful way to return our attention to God, and put our problems in perspective. Give thanks for the following:

  • The situation, and that you are learning from it.
  • Who God is, and his faithfulness to you.
  • What God is showing you about the dilemma you are facing, and what His perspective might be.
  • What God offers you: strength, direction, His presence, and–most important–his promise to work everything to a good end.

3. Follow God’s Leading: ACT

  • ACT: Step forward in the direction you sense God is leading.
    If you really don’t know what to do, wait for clarity, if possible. If a decision is pressing, align your choice with previous ways He has led. Use your best judgment, after reviewing as much information as possible.
  • Sometimes you will misunderstand what He is telling you, and head off course. That’s OK. It happens a lot, actually. It is part of the process of learning to listen and follow. Think of it like this: it is much easier to steer a moving ship than one that is dead in the water. As you go, God will adjust your path and redirect you as needed.

4. Repeat

  • When you face difficulties, it is great to have a solid habit in place for dealing with challenges. Repetition creates habit. As you choose over and over to face, focus, and follow, you will build a pattern of strength and wisdom to address the next problem. Which, after all, is only two weeks away!

‘Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ Isaiah 41:10 NASB

Share with us! What practical tips do you use to overcome problems in your life?

Related posts: Learning to Fish, Our Problems Are Not The Problem

To Be

todotobebelovedlovetitleby Lydia Floren

In my last post, I talked about TO-DO lists, and the importance of BE-ing restored every day.  That got me thinking:  What are some great things to have on a TO BE list?

TO BE:

Be Restored. (see last week’s post for more on this)

  • “He [The Lord] makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside quiet waters.  He restores my soul.” Psalm 23:2-3
  • Restore to me the joy of Your salvation And sustain me with a willing spirit. Psalm 51:12
  • I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and your joy may be filled John 15:11 

Be Cherished. You are fully known and completely loved. Not because of what you do, but because of who you are: a precious creation of God’s.

  • “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.”   Jeremiah 31:3
  • You have enclosed me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me. Psalm 139:5
  •  I have called you by name; you are mine. Isaiah 43:1

Be Forgiven. There is no reason at all to keep carrying around regret and guilt and shame.  Choose to receive God’s forgiveness, and forgive yourself.

  • All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the sins of us all.  Isaiah 53:6
  • He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. Psalm 103:12
  • Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Romans 4:7

Be Free.  Let go of worry, resentment, unforgiveness, expectations for yourself and others, old habits.

  • Now by “the Lord” is meant the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, freedom is enjoyed.  2 Cor. 3:17
  •  For freedom did Christ set us free: stand fast therefore, and be not entangled again in a yoke of bondage. Galatians 5:1
  • Don’t judge, and you won’t be judged. Don’t condemn, and you won’t be condemned. Set free, and you will be set free. Luke 6:37
  • I run in the path of your commandments, for you have set my heart free. Psalm 119:32

Share with us: What’s on your TO Be list?

Blog

Related posts: To-Do, To Be, Oil of Joy, Joy = Love + Laughter, The Barnacles of Busy-ness

The Difficulty of Blessings

wheat photo

Blessings can be much harder to handle than hardship. When God blesses us, if we do not immediately and often acknowledge that it is Him at work, we can quickly come to believe Satan’s whispered lie:

“God had nothing to do with this. You did this yourself. You deserve this.”

We abandon God’s leading and return to our old way of thinking—God is not good, He does not care.  We reject our growing connection with Him—our focus on following Him– and resort to self-dependence:

“I must get and do what I think will make me happy, and will make me feel good about myself.” 

God loves to give good gifts to His precious children

So in good times as well as hard times, it is helpful to remember:

  • What we think will make us happy—pleasure, power and pride—only makes us more miserable, because the momentary rush from these things is replaced by long term emptiness and gnawing discontent.
  • When our life is spent trying to impress or please others–or ourselves–we are enslaved in the worst kind of way.
  • The only way to joy, contentment, peace, purpose, and long-lasting blessing is to follow the Father who loves you more than He loved His own son’s life, and to do so with an attitude of anticipation and trust.
  • That means accepting “no” and “not now” exactly in the same way we accept “yes”: with gratitude, knowing that God IS good, and DOES have your best in mind, and fervently wants you to overflow with joy and contentment and the passion of a high calling.
  • God loves, loves, loves to give good gifts to His precious children. And He knows what is truly good.

God loves you. He really does.

james 1 17 blessingsWhat do you do to remind yourself that God truly has your best interest at heart?

By Lydia Floren

 

The Kindness of God, by Lydia Floren

ocean pray photoromans 2 4When we don’t have prayers answered in the way we would like, particularly the ones that start with,  “Lord give me….”, it may be because God knows what we desire is not good for us. At least not right now.  Yet, when we don’t hear a “yes” we are tempted to believe God is holding out on us, instead of protecting us. Our stubborn hearts say, “Fine, you don’t want to give me this, so I will just get it for myself.”  And we strike out on our own.

Good Gifts

When we follow this pattern, we move away from our growing understanding of God’s goodness.  We forget that God DELIGHTS to give good gifts to His children. HE LOVES, LOVES, LOVES to give good gifts to His children.  He does not try to spoil our fun.  He tries to protect us, give us what we can handle, show us the way.  He wants MORE for us, not less.  He doesn’t want us to settle for the mediocre, when He is planning “fantastic” for just around the corner.  When we choose our way over God’s, we are choosing to settle for less than His best, less than wonderful.

the kindness of God leads us to repentance

God’s leading is thoughtful, and it is kind.

He wants us to avoid the dangers that lurk beneath the surface of superficial satisfaction.  He wants to keep us from trading true riches for false promises. But in order to receive the blessings He so much wants to give us, we must choose to follow His way, His timing, His wisdom. We must choose to say no to the enslavement of our impulses, and accept the growing freedom that comes from saying yes to His leading.

We must remember and believe that God is good.

Daily we need to turn back as quickly as possible, and remind ourselves again that every step God leads us to take, is one He has chosen because He loves us, and wants the very best for us. When we are off track, the kindest thing God can do for us is to lead us back to following Him.

Repentance is turning away from our own way of doing things, and turning back to reliance on God’s leading.  It is the kindness of God that leads you to repentance. 

john 1 52 cor 7 10

What thoughts do you have? Please leave them below!

Photo by honorbound