Are You Kidding Me?


Have you been going along in life and had an obstacle or two thrown at you? You handled those obstacles well and thought to yourself, “Well, that wasn’t so bad.” And you return to what you believe is your “normal” life. You are walking along and BAM! Another one. You go through the same reasoning. Once you figured everything out you say, “Good, things are under my control now.” No matter how many times we are tested, we usually think in the end, we have figured everything out.

I know a mom whose kids test her from time to time. She often asks, “Are you kidding me?” or “Are you serious right now?” She asks because she knows they are testing her with intention. She asks because this testing happens frequently.

Just like this mom, we may be tested in life over and over. We can recover from one event and think we are “over that one.” Once again, you are “minding your own business,” and then the REALLY BIG ONE hits. Now this one is life-changing. Maybe it is a loss, or a sudden unexpected diagnosis. Maybe there is a sudden family financial crisis. Now you are spinning out of control.

You question everything. How could this have happened? I thought I was doing everything right. How did this come my way? Why did this happen?  Sadly, you may begin to question your own reasoning and faith. Maybe God isn’t on my side. God left me. You might even become angry because you know your life will never be the same.

Having recently experienced one of life’s unexpected challenges, I was tempted to think those same thoughts. In the middle of my “woe is me” party, I read Job. Now, everyone uses the phrase “the patience of Job,” but what does that really mean?

As a refresher, Job was doing very well in life and was a faithful man. He had a large family and wealth. All of a sudden, his life was full of catastrophes. He lost his family, his wealth, and even his health. He was angry and questioned God. His friends gathered around and attempted to support Job. They tried one explanation after another. They reasoned with Job that God was totally in charge of everything and that Job should not question Him. As one of his friends noted in the verse below, God was watching over Job during these multiple crises. He pointed out to Job that we are all under the light of God.


Dominion and awe belong to God, he establishes order in the heights of heaven. Can his forces be numbered? On whom does his light not rise? Job 25: 2-3

Another friend reasoned with Job that God is with him and does not despise him.

God is mighty, but despises no one, he is mighty, and firm in his purpose Job 36:5

As I came out from the other side of this blow, and of similar events that have shaken my path over time, the most important lesson for me has been the same as Job’s lesson. God is over everything and has a purpose or intention for us that we may not see right away. God may not intervene immediately. Sometimes it seems like forever to get to the other side and know our purpose. God lets us go through this process for a reason. He knows we will be better and He knows what it takes to move us in the right direction. Job eventually recovered his losses and had more children. Job learned the lesson that God is always present and, in the end, like Job, our path will be made clearer to us. Do not lose your faith. As the saying goes, when you are hanging on by a thread, make sure it is the thread of His robe.

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise, you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before and you lay your hand upon me Psalm 139:1-5

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Fear and Trust

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When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, In God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?  Psalm 56:3-4

Did you know the word fear occurs five hundred times in the Bible? And the word love occurs five-hundred and forty-seven times? Faith occurs more than three-hundred times in the Bible and believe appears just under three-hundred times. It is clear by examining the frequency of these words within the inspired word of God that He understands our human nature. God knows even though He wants us to trust him, we will still have fear and anxiety.

Why do we have fear and anxiety? There are many reasons. Some have anxiety about health as they wait for their latest test results. Others are experiencing fear about their children or other loved ones who have challenges or who are away from home for the first time. Some fear they may have said or done something that hurt a friend or a family member. Our friends, families, and loved ones provide us with joy and happiness but we feel anxiety and fear when we know they are struggling.

When we are anxious, we turn our eyes upward and know that God can reassure us and provides comfort and strength when nothing else seems to work. This comfort comes through the love and the spirit we have from Christ within us. We don’t have to know all of the particulars of how this works. We just need to have faith in God and we know He will comfort us. We must trust in Him.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding Proverbs 3:5

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act Psalm 37:5

By trusting in God, will our prayers be answered? Will God comfort us? Will He fail us?

In our own lives, the world will test us. Our own families provide challenges.  In all of our challenges we know we have direct communication with God and can ask for strength and hope. We trust comfort will be received from Him and we know this will help us go through life’s trials.

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Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours Mark 11:24

In the verse above, Jesus tells us something very important. He said to ask in prayer,  believe we will receive it, and it will be ours. Does this mean we can pray for anything and get it? Can we provide a shopping list to God of things we want? Not exactly. God’s plans may require other things. Blessings are waiting for us that we might not even have dreamt about. The way our personal battles are fixed may surprise us. Our family issues may be resolved in a different way than we would have designed, but this is part of God’s doing and will ultimately work for the good. We may wrestle with finances or jobs but coming out on the other side according to God’s plan will make us stronger, wiser, and in better shape. Waiting for these to work out requires trust. Our fears and anxieties are diminished knowing that we are His and He has our best interest in mind. Having a relationship with God means that we can rest in His plan. We can trust in His design for the resolution of our challenges. We are simply asked to pray and trust. Praying for comfort and strength first will make the journey easier.

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New Beginnings

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This morning I witnessed an announcement. It was the first brown leaf fluttering down off a large tree. Granted it was only a single leaf but seeing it, I knew. The summer is coming to a close. Schools are opening their doors. Teachers have prepared their classrooms and are meeting with parents and greeting their students. Kids are piling on and off school buses all over the country.

For students, it is exciting and scary. Their excitement is channeled into getting school supplies, organizing their belongings, and checking school schedules for another year. A new school year is full of anticipation about school activities, experiences, new teachers, and new friends.

For parents, there are mixed emotions. There may be more free time for a few hours each day. But there is a trade-off of time spent helping with  homework and driving kids to activities from mid-afternoon through the evening. There will be additional expectations of activities on weekends. The return to hectic schedules can be tiring and rewarding.

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up Galatians 6:9

When parents turn their children over to teachers for the first time, it can be heart wrenching.  After the first few years, it becomes a tiny bit easier. And then, when parents send their kids off to college, to the service, or to a new town for a new job or marriage, it generates more anxiety. Will they find the right kind of friends? Will they remember what they learned at home? Will they turn to you with their concerns? Will they remember to call? Will they stop by the house to see you when they have moved into their own place?

As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty Matthew 9:37-38

In the verse above, Jesus tells us that for those who listen and understand the word of God, those who are deeply committed to God, will increases in goodness throughout their life. Through the word of God and love of God, their blessings will be many.

Parents who raise their children with the love and values taught by Jesus know the seeds have been sown. When times are troubling for your child, you know that underneath it all, they will hear the quiet voice reminding them to love others, strive to lift others up, and to carefully follow the teachings of Jesus.

He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness 2 Corinthians 9:10

The air will be cooler, our hours of sunlight will decrease, and we will enjoy the festivities of fall. Before beginning the new season, we can reflect on the closing of one season and prepare for the beginning of a new one. This time of year provides us with an opportunity to give praise for the blessings of seasons, family, and friends.


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Silent Warriors


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Silent warriors live among us. I have seen them. You have also seen the silent warriors. Who are they? You might be one. They are the spouses taking care of their loved ones who are sick or frail. They are children taking care of aging parents; older siblings taking care of younger siblings. They are the go-to emergency babysitters that never say no. They are the nurses and teachers who live their lives to serve others. They are firefighters and their families. They are the spouses and families who stay behind while their loved ones fight for the freedom of people they will never meet. They are the families who take in children whose parents are not able to care for them.  All silent warriors. All work to make the lives of others better.

 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go Joshua 1:9

The day-to-day service to others while putting your own wants aside can be testing. When your primary role in life is to help others, your own life may become smaller. You are a part of something bigger than yourself. There may be times when you feel you are not in control of your plans and your schedule. In reality, our lives are not in our control. The bigger picture, the plan for our lives, is always in God’s hands.

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God Hebrews 13:16

His plans may include tests of faith. For some, it may feel like tests of faith happen daily. You may be wishing for a break from the trials you undergo. You may pray for patience and strength. Your prayers might include the ability of self-control. Your prayers may include the wisdom to say the right thing during a testing time. At times like these, we can turn to Scripture and be reassured that God is with us always.

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control 1 Timothy 1:7

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Then David said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous and do it. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the Lord God, even my God, is with you. He will not leave you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the Lord is finished 1 Chronicles 28:20

The verse above is one that was spoken from one king to his son, Solomon, who would become king and build Solomon’s Temple. King David assured his son that no matter how difficult the task at hand would be, never give up because this is in service to God. Indeed, building the first temple for God took years. It was a test of endurance. So too is the caretaker’s role, the spouse of a firefighter, a nurse’s family, a soldier’s spouse and children.  All are in service to others and following expectations set before us by God. Protect others, serve others, care for others, and love others as God loves us.

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Do You Measure Up?

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For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Chris Galatians 1:10

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men Colossians 3:23

Paul wrote these words, and other similar verses below, to the early church in an effort to point out the difference between the old way of Jewish law, and the new measure of faith which is believing in Jesus Christ. He wanted new believers to understand that the judgement of mankind by human standards was not what Jesus taught. He wanted new believers to know that living a Christ like life was more important that what any other human thinks of us.

In our everyday lives, we worry too much about what others think. I am as guilty as anyone. Today, we have all sorts of measures with which we can compare ourselves. We watch TV and find out we can use any number of products to look thinner, younger, or wealthier. We can cook better, have more fun, have more friends. We can drive a faster or fancier car or have a better house. In viewing these images, we value ourselves as less. We are not enough.

Viewing social media allows us to see the lives of our friends and contacts. While the intent is for all of us to be happy for the achievements of others, some may look as these images of people posting their vacations, new homes, new cars, even new babies, with envy and sadness because they do not feel they measure up.

In the end, it is not the measurements created by mankind, or that we create for ourselves, that are important. It is that we know our works serve our Father in heaven; when we believe we are doing the right thing and serving His purpose.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect Romans 12:2

And try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord Ephesians 5:10

When things are not going well we may find it difficult to maintain the standard that we have set for ourselves, or to reach a goal we have determined we should reach, in order to measure up. If we continue to encounter obstacles and tests, we might want to examine the goals we are trying to reach. Are these goals or measures the ones that God would have us complete? Are these measures or standards good in the eyes of God? Paul reminds us that God may use circumstances to test our understanding of what is good in the eyes of God. When we find ourselves questioning which path to take, how to make a choice between options, we should ask the question, “Am I using an earthly yardstick for this decision or is this in service of God?”

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