12.15.2016

Why Did This Happen, God?

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12-13 (NIV)

Has God ever hurt your feelings? I’ll be honest, sometimes I’ll read those verses from Philippians and think to myself: This is a tough pill to swallow.

Content in any and every situation?

Really?

When my middle daughter, Ashley, was younger, she was a state champion gymnast. To see her do gymnastics was like looking at God smile. She was beautiful, graceful and captivating to watch.

Then one night while practicing for one of the largest tournaments she’d ever competed in, she fell. It was a move she’d done hundreds of times with the greatest of ease. But this time something went terribly wrong and that one mistake destroyed her gymnastic dreams.

We spent a year going from doctor to doctor, only to be told she’d never be able to support the weight of her body on her injured shoulder again. Watching a 14-year-old girl wrestle with the fact that her dreams were stripped from her doesn’t exactly lend itself to feelings of contentment. Now, I know in the grand scheme of life, people face much worse situations. But in her world, this was huge.

It was so tempting to want to wallow in the “why” questions and tell God He’d hurt our feelings.

Why did this happen?

Why didn’t You stop this, God?

Why weren’t my prayers answered?

Have you ever been there? Have you ever had a big situation in your life where you just couldn’t process why God would allow this to happen? Maybe it’s one of your young children having behavioral issues that seems crazy complicated and daunting. Or one of your older children having issues with addictions and devastating life choices. Or your husband being distant or possibly even destructive in making choices that are harming your marriage. Or another year of singleness that brings you wave after wave of grief, while watching others celebrating the gift of true love.

It’s so tempting to wallow in the “why.”

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

If asking the why question doesn’t offer hope, what will?

The what question.

In other words: “Now that this is my reality, what am I supposed to do with it?”

Philippians 4:8 says, “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.”

I like to call this verse, “Directions on Where to Park My Mind.”

And that’s exactly what Ashley had to do with her dashed gymnastics dreams. Instead of wallowing in why did this happen, I had to help her say:

This is my reality. Now what am I going to do with it?
What can I learn from this?
What part of this is for my protection?
What other opportunities could God be providing?
What maturity could God be building into me?

Switching from the why to the what questions paves the road to parking our minds in a much better place.

Is it always easy? No.

But is it a way to find a perspective beyond situations where we feel God has allowed something in our lives we don’t understand and we absolutely don’t like?

Yes, it is, and I pray this helps you today. Because even if our circumstances aren’t good, we can trust God’s purpose always is.

Dear Lord, I want to process everything I face in life through the filter of Your love. I know You love me. But sometimes it’s just hard to understand the circumstances that come my way. I find myself consumed with trying to figure things out rather than looking for Your perspective and trusting You. Thank You for this new way to look at things. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

If disappointing circumstances have left your heart feeling empty and depleted, you can trade those feelings for a more personal fulfillment from knowing who Jesus is. That’s what my new Bible study, Finding I Am, is all about. You can pre-order your copy here and receive FREE resources you won’t be able to get once the study releases!

And today I’m giving away 5 copies of the Finding I Am study guide to randomly chosen commenters! Just leave a comment below for your chance to win.

11.22.2016

If God is Near, Why Does He Feel So Far Away?

There is a desperate cry within my heart that I’ve longed with every fiber of my being to see come to pass. Minutes have turned into days and weeks and years of learning to make some sort of spiritual peace. On my good days I stand assured, “It’s just not God’s timing yet.”

But on my less stellar days I crumble, afraid and hurt, “God, why? You know how much this ache in my heart steals a piece of too many of my smiles. Quite honestly, I’m tired of wondering if you’re withholding because I’m not good enough, capable enough, spiritual enough, trusting enough, or mature enough. I guess I’m really tired of hoping.”

And I don’t think I’m alone in feeling this way.

What is that relationship, that insecurity, that hurt, that desire, that prayer you’ve brought to God countless times?

In my own pain, I’ve learned that Jesus not only cares about our deep, spiritual wrestling, but He wants to step in and see us through it.

That’s why I wrote my new Bible study, Finding I AM: How Jesus Fully Satisfies the Cry of Your Heart. Through this interactive, in-depth study, you will learn to:

· Trade feelings of emptiness and depletion for a more personal fulfillment from knowing who Jesus is.
· Stop living like a slave to your circumstances by training your heart to embrace the life-giving freedom God wants for you.
· Gain a better understanding of how Jesus’ words 2,000 years ago are so very applicable to the answers we are searching for today.

If you’re new to Bible studies, this is the place to start. If you’ve studied the Bible for years, it’s time to travel to the Holy Land via video and see the truth of Jesus come to life like never before.

Finding I AM doesn’t release until January but if you pre-order today you’ll get all kinds of free resources to help you along the journey!

You can pre-order by clicking here.

11.8.2016

What We Can Do About This Election

We’re about to witness what might be one of the most divisive yet monumental elections in American history.

Some of us will rejoice with the results tonight and some of us will fall asleep weeping for what the election may mean for this country. Either way, it will be our reality.

But I refuse for that reality to stifle my sense of possibility. An election can determine who sits in political offices but it is God who is ultimately in control.

Now is the time for Christians to live the message of Christ. Maybe, more than ever before, we will be invited outside our comfort zones where living what we believe won’t be as easy. And dare I say, that may be the best thing that has happened to Christians in a very long time.

It’s one thing to hold fast to traditional principles, but a completely different thing to act whole-heartedly upon them.

It’s easy to say abortion is wrong, but let’s walk beside and support that woman who chooses life.

It’s easy to think we should help the poor, but let’s also write that check from our own bank accounts to do so.

It’s easy to point out wrongs in other people, but let’s also examine the many places we ourselves fall so short.

It’s easy to point out problems, but let’s also sacrifice our time to be part of the solution.

These are the choices that being a Christian is supposed to propel us to make. With grace and gentleness and humble spirits, we are to be more than a band of people labeled as conservatives. We are to actively be Christ’s hands and feet in this world.

Jesus never called us to the comfortable life. He called us to follow Him through whatever life hands us.

Jesus never waited for the circumstances of the times to line up in His favor. He called us to follow Him and be light in the darkness.

And in following Jesus, an air of excited expectancy will be breathed fresh in our souls.

Abraham Lincoln once said to a very divided country, “We are not enemies, but friends … though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection.”

Now is the time to be representatives of truth to all those around us. May we Christians be seen not as those who continue to strain against the unity of our country, but as followers of Jesus, who shine the light of His eternal hope.

Now is the time… today is the day… to follow Jesus like never before.