Sunday, July 26, 2015

Anger Inside Us

There it was, right in front of me.  It was a Sunday morning not so long ago.  I woke up and was excited to go to church, to worship our Lord.  Yet, something took over my thoughts.  As we got into the car, I could feel myself getting more and more frustrated, more and more angry.  The "what" I was angry of frustrated about is irrelevant.  What I kept saying to myself was, "I am on my way to church, the most wonderful and sacred place for me to have peace.  I know what is RIGHT to think; I know what is RIGHT to feel."  Yet, those thoughts and feelings were very far from me in that car.  This certainly wasn't the first time I have felt like this, but it had been a long time and I was angry - most of all with myself.  

As I was sharing this story with someone else, they too, shared that they had a similar experience.  Although they knew the RIGHT thing at the moment was to let the anger and frustration go - that just didn't seem possible.  It is hard when frustration and anger consumes us.  When someone or something makes us so frustrated that we just want to stand up in a crowd of people and scream; or the anger that is inside of us is ready to pounce on anyone that stands in our way.  

Many things can cause us to be this frustrated, to be this angry in life.  Someone may have done something wrong against us or our family.  A situation that you don't agree with may be way out of your control.  Something seems so wrong in your opinion that you just can't justify it.  Yes, there are many things that can get us to the point where we just don't know how much more we can take?  We may share with our friends and our family our frustrations, yet, they these feelings don't seem to leave us.

When our souls are so conflicted between good and evil, it can be a defeating battle.  We know what is right - we know how we should feel, but the evil takes over us.  The devil is looking for that opportunity to make you angry, to make you bitter.  He wants that stronghold on your heart and wants you to bear such anxiety that it overpowers your days and nights.  

Yet, God wants us more.  God wants us more than the devil does for He loves us every moment of every day.  God wants ALL of me - He wants ALL of you.  That moment when the struggle seems so strong and so overwhelming is when God wants us to come to Him - broken and full of everything we are feeling.  He wants us to go to Him with our hurt, with our frustration and with our anger.  God wants us more.  It is at those times we may struggle in going to Him, knowing that what we are feeling may not be pleasant to God.  Remember, God wants us more.  

So how do we go to God at those times?  We go to Him in prayer.  As Job cried out to Him in despair, we too can cry out to Him.  We can scream and yell.  We can cry and sob.  We can lament and whine - we need to give it all to Him.  Then what?  We step away and watch what the good Lord can do.  His mercy and grace are big enough for all of our anger and frustration.  Peace will elude us and life will crumble unless we give to God what He wants, US.  Go to Him and share.  Go to Him and scream.  Go to Him and cry.  Go to Him and GIVE - give it all to God.  Let his wonder and awesomeness reign down on you.  You can't work the miracles, God can.  Let Him work the miracles in your life.

So that morning, in the car, I prayed.  I prayed for God to lift the thoughts and feelings from me.  I prayed for restoration of my soul.  I prayed over and over again for the evil to go away and for the Holy Spirit to fill me up.  I prayed.  I let go.  I let go of what I couldn't control.  By the time of the second hymn, I could feel His beloved miracle changing my heart.  I could feel His Word taking a hold in my mind.  It was all there for me all along - I just needed to give it to Him, because God wants me more!!!

"Dearest Lord, there are times in my life that I am not proud of.  Times when anger and frustration find a foothold in my heart.  Those times bring such unrest and discontent to my life.  Yet, I know that when I bring them fully to You, the devil is defeated.  I know that I can bring all this to you because YOU WANT ME MORE!  Bring peace to my life and use your healing hand to take away the anger.  I love you God."

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Road Work

"Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm.  Nothing is too hard for you."

I don't know about you, but lately, it seems that regardless of where I turn, there is - just as the sign above states - ROAD WORK EVERYWHERE!!  It seems that whether you are traveling a back road or a major highway, there are construction crews out - which ultimately, means traffic and delays.  I guess this is somewhat to be expected in New England.  There is a small window of opportunity that these crews have to work before the winter cold and elements come for their yearly visit.  

What does this have to do with Simple Faith?  I promise to make the connection.  The other day, I saw one of these signs on a side street and knew that around the corner, I could anticipate road crews directing traffic or detouring the travelers from a hazardous condition.  I might even come upon holes in the road that I might need to maneuver around.  I would have to be prepared for whatever was in front of me.  It made me think.  Don't we wish that we had signs like "road work ahead" in our daily lives that would help us from making hazardous decisions or from sinning against our Heavenly Father?  I know I wish I did.  It would be great to have signs that would help us divert a difficult situation.

I think about the "Road Work" of my life.  There have been many times that I wish I knew what was coming ahead of me - times when the road was going to be full of detours and potholes.  I wish I knew ahead that I was going to have cancer many years ago; I wish I knew ahead that my dear father was going to pass; I wish I knew ahead . . . .   There are many times that I wish I had a warning like "road work ahead" to better prepare myself for what was coming.  Yet, I didn't have those signs (or at least, I wasn't looking for them).  

Although I might not have seen a sign in those events, I was prepared.  I had God on my side.  He was there with me as my passenger in those times.  He was directing me, guiding me, supporting me, so that I knew I would come out on the other side of the road - safe and in His arms.  I can't imagine what my life would have been like without God in those situations.  I am just so very grateful every day that he was there.  To say I have been blessed is truly an understatement.  Like our verse states, nothing is too hard for God.

What about other events in our lives when we wish we had the warning signs of "road work" ahead?  Maybe we made more choices, maybe our words or actions were not in line with God.  In those events we do have this type of sign - it's the Bible.  God's word helps us to know what types of situations in our lives may be considered hazardous.  When my life doesn't line up with God's word, I'm usually headed for a difficult situation.  These difficult situations may be in my words or actions, or putting myself into a path/journey that God wouldn't want to me to be on, or may even take me away from Him altogether.  These are not places I want to be.  When I am away from God's word, it usually means I am headed for an accident of some sort!

I encourage you this week to pick up your Bibles - read just one verse if this is something you don't typically do.  Do you have a Bible app for your phone?  There are some great free ones and they provide a daily Bible verse.  I know that when I read mine first thing in the morning, my day is focused on He who can provide warning signs to me.  And if I don't read the sign, I know He is there to guide me when I'm lost.

"Heavenly Father, thank you for the warning signs in our lives.  Whether it is 'road work' or a verse that guides us to make better decisions, we know that you are always with us with an outstretched arm.  How blessed we are that you care for each of us in the details of our lives.  May the week ahead help us to be guided by your word, your grace, and your love."

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Build It Up


"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing."              1 Thessalonians 5:11

Time to share some "self reflections" with all of you!  I am not addicted to much TV, I can live without it.  Except for two things:  cooking shows and fixer upper shows.  I love to watch both of those things.  I think it all stems from the incredible transformation that happens.  Chefs begin with some key ingredients and put together a tremendous meal.  Watching them cut, sauté, bake, and form things into a delight to both eye and palette is amazing to me. 

Probably more amazing, though, is watching the programs where they take a house that was completely in disarray and create a warm and loving home.  In this case, there is a house that was inhabitable and, though much hard work and building materials, a home that a family can grow in is constructed.  That absolutely blows my socks off and helps me to be reminded of the gifts God gives certain folks, especially those that can vision something beautiful and actually create it to get it to their vision.

I couldn't help but think of how this happens every day, right around me.  When you think of the cooking shows, and the amount of different things they use to create a masterpiece, it certainly is like each and every person we meet.  God has given each of us a set of wonderful gifts to use on earth with those around us.  It is up to us to realize these gifts and use them, together with those around us, to form something wonderful and special - a masterpiece.

Who should be doing this?  How should we do this?  Simply, all of us and with the above Bible verse in mind.  Each one of us can encourage another person.  It is part of what God expects from us as Christians.  We should be taking the time to actually help in building someone up - to help them find their special gifts and use them with others.  How do we do this?  With words of encouragement, notes of growth, smiles of support.  All of these things can help to build someone up. 

We are all fixer uppers!  We all have sin that can continue to move us away from what God wants us to do each and every day.  We may have thoughts of prejudice, gossip, and lack of patience.  We may actually not only have these thoughts, but words that can degrade and beat down people may even pass from our mouths.  Think about it.  Have you recently thought or shared something that doesn't necessarily build up a friend, a co-worker, or a family member?  We certainly need to be "fixed" to be better people - not just for us, not just for those we are in contact with, but most importantly, we need to be fixed for God! 

Who can fix us?  God can.  How?  Through our prayers.  Take a moment and share with God times when you were broken, times when you might not have "built up" those around you.  Let Him know that you need His help to fix us - to build US up!  When this happens, you will find yourself wanting to build up others, taking time to help others become new. 

After all this fixing, what happens?  A life filled with goodness, kindness, patience.  A life filled with opportunities for all.  A life filled with the blessings that God has for us.  It may take a little extra time.  We may need to "hold our tongues" before speaking.  We may need to find patience in situations.  The results are worth us waiting, worth the extra time.  We can all do this.  We can look past our own brokenness and ask for God's help.  In turn, we can look at others with a sense of building up instead of breaking down.  Let's commit during the week ahead to do a little building!  The results can be astounding, beautiful, wonderful and pleasing in God's sight.

"Heavenly Father, be with us this week.  As we look for opportunities to build other people up, let us also be reminded how we need your help in continuing to build us up - to be more of what you want us to be, children of God.  May our thoughts, words, and action be  pleasing to you and the people we are in contact with - continuing the fixer upper movement!"

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Change Around Us

Change seems to be all around us!  Now there is a statement that we hear often, but for some reason, change seems to be even greater these past 6-12 months.  Around every corner, there is change in my life - and I'm sure change in your life as well.

I look at work and change is all around me.  Change in those who are with the company and those who have decided to move on.  There are always changes in priorities, what is most important to work on right now and what needs to take back seat.  There are changes in me as I work hard to continue to strenghten my professional skills to keep up with the . . . . CHANGES!  

I look at the world around me.  Our society is changing.  Yes, there are things like new laws (New Hampshire just passed the law that you can't hold your phone while driving anymore - a safe law).  There are many other societal changes, what is legal, what is not legal; what is right, what is wrong; what is good, what is bad.  Yes, we could spend much time debating all of those changes (not something that I want to take on right now).  I am sure you can agree, our world is changing.

I also look at my own family and there is plenty of change.  Our children are getting older and making decisions that will change their future.  The landscape of our home is changing with those decisions - it is much quieter than it used to be.  Even Juan and I are looking at how our lives will change in the upcoming years - we will eventually be on OUR own in the next few years.  We certainly never thought that day would come!

Change can get the better of us.  It can motivate us to do better, or it can beat us down to depression.  Change can bring us hope or heartache.  Anyway we look at change - it can be difficult.  Think about change, though, as a child.  We were a bit more flexible back then (and I'm not just talking physically).  We tended to "go with the flow", to follow our parents wherever they guided us, and didn't seem to get too wrapped up in the details of change.

That is why I chose the verse for this week.  Change can be hard.  It can be difficult.  It can lead to a tough path.  It can be devastating.  Yet, if we look at change through the eyes of a child, the change can be fun, it can be exciting, it can be a new journey.  As Christians, we can look at change that way because we have the solid rock, the guiding father of JESUS to bring us forward.  Change can be uncomfortable because we don't know what the future holds - but Jesus does.  Change can drain the energy from us - but the Holy Spirit can fill us back up.  Change can build distrust - but we have God in whom we can fully trust for the very best of US.  Change is a word that can be scary, but there is no need to fear for our kingdom in heaven will always be waiting for us.

Reflect back on all the changes that took place in the Bible - changes in people (Saul to Paul), changes in kingdoms (Nebakanezer to David), changes in jobs (slave to leader).  Through all those changes and more, God was, is, and will always be, present!  Remember that as we face the changes ahead of us.  May we follow God and focus on Him alone - change will be easier and more meaningful.  Trust in God when change surrounds you.  His foundation will be all we need!

"God, our rock and foundation, bless us as we see change all around us.  Help us to rely on you and you alone when change seems insurmountable.  May we see change through YOUR eyes, God, and know that we should not fear it, but embrace it.  Thank you for being our rock of salvation.  Amen"

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Thank you for visiting my blog. I hope we can share how God's grace has been life changing and that SIMPLE FAITH, getting back to a life that is rooted in the basics, can truly set us free to achieve so much in our lives.