Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine's Day

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Show God’s love to someone today! Happy Valentine’s Day friends!

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Is God Trustworthy?

is God trustworthy

I want to pose a question: Is God trustworthy?

Before you get religious and start forming opinions of the kind of Christian you think I am…do me a favor and ponder the question: Is God trustworthy? Or maybe I should rephrase the question: Do I, (Insert your name here), approach God like He is trustworthy?

I have spent years accepting the fact that I am incapable of overcoming all doubt and having unwavering faith. I have resigned myself to the idea that I am incapable of living a life that sees answered prayers and healings so much so that I decided that I would only ask God for something in desperate measures…after all other options had been exhausted. Prayer became something I did in desperation seeking an end-result after I spent hours on Google, reading books, seeking counsel, and/or creating my own solution. I believed faith was too complicated for me to attain and overcoming doubt would be a life-long struggle. Though recently, I was approached by my spiritual father and asked one simple question: “Are you saved?” And I said “Yes!” I absolutely am saved, I believe in God, I just struggle to believe He will work on my behalf. He then led me to this scripture:

“For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” -Romans 12:3 (NKJV)

The very act of coming into relationship with God establishes a measure or portion of faith into my life. That is mind-blowing! Then, why do I still struggle? Because the root of my inability to rely on God is that I don’t trust Him. I believe (have faith) in God but I do not trust Him. Trust as defined on dictionary.com is: “to rely upon or place confidence in someone or something.” Let me put it this way: faith is a noun…trust is a verb. Faith is something we have, we know, we believe…but trust is something we do. Trust is putting our faith to action. For example, I have faith and believe that my husband will take care of my children but I don’t trust him enough to let him pick out their clothes. While that is a simple example, you can see how easy it is to believe in someone’s character and capabilities but how difficult it is to rely or have confidence in them in day-to-day activities.

I say all that to say, when we, as Christians, face daunting situations: Who do you turn to first? Do you turn to yourself, the internet, friends, families, counselors, books? When and if you do approach God: Do you approach God like He is worthy of your trust? Do you approach Him like He is the only one capable of handling your situation? Do you approach God with a confidence that He will take care of you? Do you trust God?

We are surrounded by a culture emphasizing independence, self-sufficiency, self-reliance, self-discovery, and personal achievements that it is no wonder it is difficult to trust. Then, the culture enforces our inability to trust because we are surrounded by corrupt leaders, an ineffective government, scandalous religious ministries, Christian hypocrites, struggling financial system, an unjust judicial system, and the list goes on. Where truth be told…we don’t trust our government, don’t trust our leaders, don’t trust our schools, don’t trust our bosses, don’t trust our churches, don’t trust our jobs, don’t trust the banks…we don’t trust. Yet, 2 Corinthians 1:19 says:

“For Jesus Christ, the Son of God, does not waver between ‘Yes’ and ‘No.’ He is the one whom Silas, Timothy, and I preached to, and as God’s ultimate ‘Yes,’ he always does what he says.”

God is trustworthy because: He always does what He says (2 Corinthians 1:19), He does not lie (Hebrews 6:2), His very essence is truth (Psalms 119:60), He is consistent (James 1:17), He never changes (Hebrews 13:8), and He is faithful for He cannot deny who He is (2 Timothy 2:13)!

I posed the question “Is God trustworthy?” and with a resounding response I say “Yes!” As Isaiah 55:8-9 says, God’s thoughts and His ways are higher than mine…meaning God knows best and He is trustworthy! Whether it’s your marriage, your bank account, your children, your job, your life, or something else that is in desperate need of help…I am telling you that you can Google every resource, visit every counselor, use every skill you have and still get fruitless results. But with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26)! I urge you to change your perspective this year and begin to trust the God who spoke the world into existence, sent His son Jesus that you might be saved, resurrected Jesus from the grave, performed countless miracles, turned 12 unqualified men into the disciples that would start a movement to spread the gospel throughout the world, and preserved the Bible’s integrity and reliability despite decades of adversity! God is worthy of our trust and capable of whatever you need! I ask again: “Do I, Heather, approach God like He is trustworthy?” My answer has been “No” but 2014 that changes. How about you?

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Kitchen Sink

Jen Gallardo/Flickr.com

Jen Gallardo/Flickr.com

There is nothing worse than washing the dishes, loading the dishwasher, drying off your hands, going into the living room and finding a bowl or cup that failed to make it to the sink. No matter how many times I tackle the kitchen sink…I’m going to have to do it again and again and again and again! Quite frankly, it’s easy to grow weary of washing dishes. I keep secretly hoping they’ll clean themselves or the dishwasher will magically get loaded or when you dry off your hands you won’t mysteriously find another dirty dish that failed to make it to the sink. Yes, it’s easy to grow weary at the kitchen sink.

I am coming to find that life can sometimes resemble the “kitchen sink.” I work hard to keep things clean and tidy, take care of problems, and create an environment worth living in but as soon as I think I’m done there’s another “dirty dish”…or problem. Right now, My kitchen sink is filled with financial obstacles, spousal unemployment, disappointments, questions, and frustrations. As I ponder what’s in my “sink,” it seems that the number of “dirty dishes” has outnumbered my capabilities. As I write I’m starting to come to the conclusion that maybe that is the point…to reach a point beyond my own capability. I don’t think God is showering me with problems to teach me a lesson but maybe God is just staying out-of-the-way because that’s what I have wanted. Sounds strange to say I don’t want God’s help but I have acted that way. I’m a capable, independent, strong woman who always has had the solution or a “just in case” plan…until now. For the first time in a long time I’m facing problems that are beyond my control or ability to fix…now what? Matthew 11:28 says:

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”

I wish I could tell you that my “kitchen sink” would miraculously be emptied and I’d wake up and find my husband employed, the bills paid, and all problems resolved, but that rarely, if ever, happens. I believe the purpose of “going” to God and relying on Him isn’t about having problems miraculously disappear but more about entertaining heaven. Relying on God is about getting so intimate and close to His nature that we lean into and rest on His presence. When Matthew 11:28 says “come” it’s a beckoning from Jesus to get closer…it’s an intimate request. Visually speaking, it’s Jesus standing there at the kitchen sink with you, getting his hands dirty, washing the dishes with you. He relieves the burden, the isolation, the weariness, and that dreaded feeling of being overwhelmed. Relying and going to God gives me access to the help, wisdom, and rest and I need to make it through another “dish-washing” experience, another problem, and another day.

C.S Lewis once said:

“The thing is to rely on God. The time will come when you will regard this misery as a small price to pay for having been brought to that dependence. Meanwhile, the trouble is that relying on God has to begin all over again every day as if nothing has yet been done.”

I’m looking forward to that day when I can look back and see how small a price the “dirty dishes” were to fully rely on and get closer to God. Until then, I go to Jesus as He asked in Matthew 11:28, roll up my sleeves, and press on “washing the dishes”…but unlike yesterday, today I know I’m not doing it alone.

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Worry and Fear

Courtesy of Photoloni/Flickr.com

Courtesy of Photoloni/Flickr.com

I have been struggling to write this post for weeks probably because it is so significant in my life. Every time I sit down to write this post something unexpected happens…but I know the distraction is only because overcoming worry and fear is imperative to a healthy and spiritually productive life. 

When faced with an uncertain situation I immediately encounter worry. After the worry sets in my imagination starts rolling and the worry escalates to fear. No matter how close I feel to God I still struggle with this cycle of worry and fear. Recently I wasn’t feeling well and was having some unusual symptoms, I got worried, and my imagination immediately got the best of me and I began imagining all the terrible things that could be wrong. Until my doctor’s appointment I had trouble sleeping, thought about the “potential” problems I could face, and stayed anxious. I went to the doctor, found out I was fine, got some medicine, and after a couple of days on the prescription was as good as new. Moral of the story…I wasted a lot of time, energy, emotions, and thoughts towards an outcome I couldn’t control and in this case was mild and treatable. Huge sigh of relief! Despite the good news I was left pondering the purpose of worry and fear…and ultimately how do I overcome it? How do I live out Matthew 6:34 and 1 Peter 5:7:

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself…” (Matt. 6:34, NIV).

“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you” (1 Peter 5:7, NLT).

In an effort to overcome my worry and fear I have been pondering a few questions.

First: Does worry and fear serve a purpose?

I know I’m not the first one to struggle with worry and fear, and as scripture goes it seems that worry and fear have been around for a long time. Why? Does worry and fear serve a purpose? According to Marci Fox, Ph.D., at Psychology Today, “worrying is an obsessive, habitual behavior” and nothing more than a “bad habit.” Psychologists believe that worry serves no biological purpose and is something we have socially learned. What a thought: I was taught how to worry. Fantastic! Aside from the sarcasm, fear does have some biological importance. Biologically speaking, when you are in a stressful situation your brain releases chemicals that causes your heart to beat faster, breathing rate to increase, and your muscles to be ready for action…better known as “fight-or-flight.” In a life threatening situation fear biologically gets your body moving to face the situation or high-tale it out of there. The problem with the majority of fear is that we are not facing real life-threatening situations but imagined ones. Thus in my normal, non-life-threatening, day-to-day activities worry and fear serve no useful purpose. Which leads me to my next question…

Second: What is the root of worry and fear?

I have determined worry and fear serve no useful purpose in most situations so why do it? Why do I constantly struggle with this cycle of worry and fear? If I want to abolish worry and fear in my life I have to know the root cause…which is unbelief. Unbelief is the opposite of faith. GotQuestions.org describes faith as “an absolute belief that God is constantly working behind the scenes in every area of our lives, even when there is no tangible evidence to support that fact.” Therefore, worry and fear is the result of the inability to trust and believe in God’s provision, power, and character. Too many times I trust my own capabilities over God’s…but let’s face it, even on my best day I can’t do better the God. Yet knowing this I still have more faith in me than in God. So what do I do? 1 Peter 5:6-7 says,

“So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time He will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you” (NLT).

Humbling yourself before God means to “lower yourself below God” or to lean on God and ask Him for help. I love how Joyce Meyer says it, “He won’t take care of our problems and worries—our cares—until we turn loose of them and give them to Him. Either we’re going to do it or God’s going to do it, but both of us aren’t going to.” So, the solutions to worry and fear is trusting God through faith. Which leads me to my last question…

Final Question: How do I increase my faith?

Romans 10:17 says, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (NKJV). Trusting and having faith in God comes from knowing God and the most tangible resource we have to learn about God is the Bible. Thus reading scripture and meditating on it is imperative to increasing faith. But knowing about God isn’t enough, we have to have a relationship with Him…and where there is relationship there must be intimacy. Intimacy through communicating with Him through prayer and worship.

Think about marriage. If I spent my entire 7 years of marriage with my husband learning all about him and his likes and interests but never communicating with him or doing things he likes…eventually our marriage would fail. Constantly communicating, sharing experiences, and spending time with my husband develops love, trust, and faith in his capabilities. A marriage cannot be sustained without having an intimate relationship. The same goes with God. Spending time with God through worship, prayer and reading scripture will increase our passion, trust, and faith in his capabilities.

My problems…your problems…may be complex but the solution is simple…become spiritually intimate with God.

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How do I increase hope?

Darren Tunnicliff/Flickr.com

Darren Tunnicliff/Flickr.com

“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” ~Hebrews 11:1, NLT

I’ve stated in various blog posts that I struggle with having faith but when I read this scripture I wonder if sometimes my struggle with faith is because I struggle to have hope.

What is hope?

According to Dictionary.com, hope is an “expectation for something to happen.” There are days that I struggle to have hope. I struggle to expect positive results and outcomes. Personally, I find “hope” can be very disappointing and frustrating. There have been many times I have “hoped” or “expected” something to happen and it didn’t happen. For example, I pray for someone to get healed, I “hope” for healing, I believe and have “faith” that it is going to happen but it doesn’t. What a disappointment. While this shouldn’t deter my hope so often it does. Putting my hope in God thus produces some anxiety and raises the question…Can I trust Him? My struggle with hope and faith then really boils down to a trust issue: Do I trust God? After all my years following God and being in the ministry I still struggle to trust Him. Ouch! That is a hard realization to swallow but illuminating the problem is the first step in the right direction and I know that God’s grace is enough to cover me and my struggles. But the real question I have now is:

How do I increase hope?

While I don’t claim to have all the answers, God has revealed some important principles to me about increasing hope:

  1. Trust Him. At the heart of it all, neither my faith nor hope will increase if I struggle to trust God. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’” To trust in God means we rely on Him, we believe He is honest, and we believe in His capabilities. Hebrews 6:18 says it is “impossible for God to lie” and Numbers 23:19 says not only does God not lie He “does not change His mind.” God is trustworthy. He wants what’s best for us and has no intention to hurt us, disappoint us, or frustrate us. We are not immune from feeling hurt, disappointed, or frustrated but we have to understand that those emotions aren’t because God “wronged” us but rather because we are trying to process God’s methods through our earthly understanding. 1 Corinthians 13:12 says that what we are able to see now is “like puzzling reflections in a mirror” and is an “incomplete” picture. God is not flawed, we are. Until we can see as God sees we have to trust Him. He is trustworthy!
  2. Know God’s promises. In order to have hope we have to know what God has promised us. We have to know God’s plans for us. 2 Peter 1:4 says “He has given us great and precious promises.” We need to get to know these promises and trust them. While they are scattered throughout scripture here is a few to take a look at: Jeremiah 29:11, Matthew 11:28-29, Isaiah 40:29-31, Philippians 4:19, Romans 8:37-39, Proverbs 1:33, and John 14:27 to name a few.
  3. Read the Bible and Pray. Neither Point 1 nor Point 2 will happen if we don’t diligently meditate on His word and communicate with Him.
  4. Ask God to increase your hope. Matthew 21:22 says, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer” (NIV). And Mark 11:24 also says, “…whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (NIV). We can ask God to help us increase our hope and He will do it. If we truly learn to trust God, as point 1 states, we can rely on God to help us overcome our struggles. 

I can have more hope…and so can you! God will increase our hope if we learn to trust Him, know Him, become intimate with Him, and ask Him. Today, I pray Romans 15:13 over me and you:

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (NIV).

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