Where’s Yours?

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We’re in this country called the United States of America, but it really doesn’t feel all that “united”. I have to admit that during my particular lifetime, this is the most divided I’ve felt this country has ever been.

We live in a “free” country.

“The land of the free and the home of the brave.”

If you watch any news channel recently (or even for the past couple of years), you can see our freedoms changing. Rules and laws being changed…it seems a lot of people aren’t even following the Constitution of the United States. Or they twist it so they can use it to their advantage.

Does that remind you of anything else that gets twisted to be used incorrectly?

Twisted so it can be used to someone’s advantage?

Maybe support their idea of how life SHOULD be?

We had our presidential election and Donald Trump was just sworn in as our president last Friday, January 20th, 2017. I believe neither “side” would’ve been happy in this particular election.

During campaigns, words get twisted…mistakes are brought to light, as if that candidate was the only one who ever made mistakes…names are called out…protests are held…for what? Unity? In the “United” States of America?

The theme for this week’s blog posts is “faith”. Here’s what I found when I researched the word “faith”:

faith

noun

  1.  complete trust or confidence in someone or something

2.  strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.

synonyms: trust, belief, confidence, conviction, religion, church, sect, denomination, ideology, creed, teaching, doctrine

Let’s look at these definitions a little closer. They say “COMPLETE” trust or confidence. A “STRONG” belief. The synonym, “CONVICTION” stands out to me.

What the definitions and synonyms show me is that faith is something big. When a person “has faith”, it means something to them…it means a lot. It’s putting your complete trust into something or someone. It’s having a strong belief, even if you can’t see the proof with your own eyes.

This might be a tough question, but it might not.

Where, or in whom, does your faith lie?

Is it Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton?

Is it the Constitution of the United States of America?

Is it in our law enforcement officers? The protesters? The ability to protect yourself with your own firearms? The control you have in your life? In your job? Your family? YOU?

Does your faith lie in any of these things or people?

If it doesn’t…should it?

If it does…should it?

I believe we do need to have some kind of faith in all of these things, praying and hoping and trusting that the best can come from all of them. Our officers, our constitution, our families…we have hope that they were created for a reason and are in our lives for a reason.

But our deep faith…our true faith needs to lie in Jesus Christ. It is only He Who can ultimately save us and protect us and it is a precious gift He wants to give every single human being on earth.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result a result of works, so that people may boast.”  Ephesians 2:8-9

This gift he wants us to grab hold of and accept will only help us in this world where there are protests, shootings, changing laws, corruption, doubt, mistrust and so much more.

Our eyes are glued to news channels. How about we glue them to The Word?

Our Facebook posts are about the trouble in the world. How about we post more about the perfection of the next world…the one we really belong in?

Our conversations about the constitution and laws changing…the orders this president and previous presidents have signed show the unpredictability of humans. How about we share His never-changing Word with each other? Something we can go back to over and over and over again, knowing God will never change no matter how many protests or laws are created?

Can we truly trust man? One hundred percent? All of the time?

Can we truly put our faith in any man or woman on this earth? One hundred percent? All of the time?

We are but mere mortals, who will sin. And then sin again.

We will hurt each other. And then hurt each other again.

We cannot put our true faith in man. It must go to Jesus. We have to trust that He is still in control of all that happens. We don’t understand the “why’s” or the “how’s”, but we can have true faith that He will work it all out for good. Every single thing.

Just like the constitution, people might twist His Word to match their agenda…to match their beliefs, to satisfy and explain their sin. Just watch for it. Watch out for the plans of “man”, but have faith in God.

Ask Him daily to show you the truth, the way and the life.

Ask Him daily how He wants you to respond to the chaos in division in our country.

He will show you. Listen for His answers.

Have faith in the One person Who will never change.

Jesus.

“Follow Me”

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I was heartbroken when we walked out those back doors. It seemed surreal at the moment, as if I couldn’t believe it was truly happening. Slowly, reality sunk in.

We had left our church for the last time. The church where my husband, our sons, and I were all baptized. Where my husband and I first participated in communion, confirmed our faith, and where we were married.

This was our home.

Our community of believers.

This was our history.

But it wouldn’t be from that moment forward.

Even though we had tough times before…extreme losses…hurt…pain and forgiveness, this felt completely different.

For the first time in my life, I had no idea where God wanted us to be.

I had no idea where He was going to lead us.

I took time away that afternoon to be alone….digest what had happened. I asked God for direction. I asked Him for the purpose in this. I asked “What next?” All I could see in front of me was darkness…the abyss…absolutely nothing.

I didn’t know where we were going. I didn’t know where our children would attend Sunday School or church services. I didn’t know who our new church family would be. It was a blank slate, but one I wasn’t excited about.

I was at a loss.

I grieved.

I cried until I couldn’t cry anymore.

I felt abandoned and alone that afternoon. Like I had been deceived my entire life and all that I had believed to be true, was a lie. It was an awful feeling and one I never want to relive.

So many questions…with no answers. So much hurt…but not sure where to turn. So much to think about…but I still didn’t know what to think.

Our synod had made some changes that my husband and I, along with others, didn’t believe were biblical. This led to more research, more questions, more unveiling of beliefs I didn’t know our church/synod believed. No one had come out and told us these things. It was as if they were “unspoken”, in a way.

Many fellow congregants didn’t have problems with any of the issues we were feeling convicted of. There were many who were angry we brought these issues to light. But the studying and praying and utter conviction on our hearts wasn’t something we felt we could ignore. We couldn’t stay in a church we knew didn’t believe the bible was the infallible, inerrant Word of our Almighty God.

It was ironic timing, as my husband and family had recently had the biggest growth in our faith to date. We were diving into scripture, relying on His promises and truths to get us through the hardest times of our lives. And when we were solidified and grounded deeply in our faith, this happens.

I don’t believe in coincidences…I believe God chose that moment to reveal that information after our roots had been so established in His Word and in Him. That was a time when we didn’t doubt God at all.

So, we felt we God wanted us to leave and follow Him. The only problem was we didn’t know where we were going. Where was He going to lead us? That church? Or that church? Or maybe that one? Which church? The only thing we were certain of was that God was still on the throne.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1

That’s what we were ultimately being called to do. Have faith…be sure and certain…even though we could not see our hands being held right in front of our faces.

Blind faith.

Complete and utter surrender to His will for our lives.

Yes, we had a choice…but we chose to follow Him and His lead, wherever that might be.

At times I admit I was a little scared. Probably because I was out of control and couldn’t see the future. But most of the time, I felt peace knowing we followed our hearts…we followed the Word…we followed what we believed God was telling us to do. I knew at some point, He would bring us to the church that would feel like home again.

And He did. Not right away…and not after some tears and sweat and frustration and a lot of discussions….but with time, patience and faith, I believe we have found where we belong. At least I hope so.

There’s been so much uncertainty in my life, especially this past year. So much I could bring up…so much I don’t understand. Yet, this story was the one that kept coming to mind.

I don’t know what tomorrow might bring, but I know Who holds tomorrow.

I don’t know where our lives are taking us at this moment, but I know Who already has it planned out.

I don’t know how I’m going to get through this winter, but I know Who will help me.

I can’t see the future. I can’t see the answers to the many, many questions I have about life right now. But God has proven faithful over and over and over again, so how can I doubt He has the answers and is just waiting to reveal them to me? That He is telling me to be patient, yet again?

I did finally figure a bit of this out. It took me awhile (I’m blonde)…but I know all of these uncertainties…all of these black holes in my life…are only meant to bring me closer to God.

They’re meant to bring me closer to my husband and children, who I hope will turn to God along with me.

They’re meant to help my marriage thrive with God in the center, as long as we obey.

You see, walking with blind faith is actually a gift. A precious gift our Jesus gives us. He gives us moment after moment to draw close to Him…to come to Him with our questions and desires…our impatience…our dreams and desires…our fears.  Everything.

How can that be bad? A closer relationship with Jesus?

My study bible says, “When we believe that God will fulfill his promises even though we don’t see those promises materializing yet, we demonstrate true faith.” (regarding Hebrews 11:1)

Is God asking you to have blind faith? Are you resisting? It can be a scary step and I can’t promise all roses without the thorns. But I do know that God wants us to follow Him more than ever.

It can be a very good thing. The places He can take you (and me) are limitless. The gifts He can bestow on us are priceless. The life He offers us can be all we could hope for…and more.

Take His out-stretched hand and accept His invitation with blind faith…take the risk and revel in what He does with your life.

I can’t wait to hear what happens!

Why Did You Doubt?

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“Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ he said, ‘why did you doubt?'”  Matthew 14:31

Oh, how I can relate with Peter in this story. It’s the story of when Jesus walked on water. When the disciples saw someone coming to them at night…walking on top of water, they were afraid. They thought He was a ghost and they cried out in fear.

And here was Jesus. Once again, doing the impossible.

Isn’t that just like Him?

Just when we think something could never be accomplished, Jesus does it.

Like when the scans come back and the cancer is gone…yet no doctor can explain it.

Or when we don’t know where the money will come from for groceries this week…and somehow a check arrives in the mail.

Or when we don’t think a pregnancy is ever going to happen…and it does when we least expect it.

I can see Jesus all over my impossible situations.

However, like Peter, I still doubt.

I think I can control my life, my situations, my dreams. There a ton of books out there, as well as speakers, who will tell you that all of your dreams will come true. Your life will be full of happiness, if you just believe. Or maybe you’ve heard that this will be your best year yet!

And then the unexpected arrives. The floor falls out from beneath you when the diagnosis comes. You get the phone call in the middle of the night. Your family is falling apart. You sink deeper into depression, or anxiety, or worse yet…both.

Where is Jesus in these situations?

He’s all over them. He’s in control. He’s waiting to do the impossible. With you, your life, your marriage, your illness, your worries. Everything.

But…there’s a secret I want to share with you, just in case you don’t know it already.

Fix your eyes on Jesus. Don’t lose sight of Him. Don’t take your eyes off of Him, because He is the way.

Not because then all of your dreams will come true, or only good will come your way, but because He is Jesus.  He’s the One Who can do the impossible. However, when we doubt…when we take our eyes off of Him…it’s so much easier to fall, or to fear, or to panic.

Jesus asks Peter to step out of the boat and come to Him on the water. So, Peter does. But the second Peter takes his eyes off of Jesus, he begins to sink.

Like us sinking to the pit of despair or discouragement when our eyes aren’t on Jesus, but are on our situations, our problems, our fears.

Peter cries out, “Lord, save me!”

If that would only be our daily cry to Him. “Jesus, save me!”

We don’t see His work behind the scenes. We don’t always see how He will work things out for good to bring Him glory. Sometimes…all we see are the pain and trials. For me, in this season of life, it’s hard not to constantly stare in wonder at the pain and hurt. I don’t understand how God could possibly be using all of these things in my life right now…for His glory.

But if I claim to believe the Word, then I have to believe He will work it out.

I need to stop doubting and resume trusting.

I do want people to one day look at the rollercoaster of my life and see Jesus’ hands all over it. Just as the disciples watched what unfolded and worshiped Him saying, “Truly, you are the Son of God”, I want others to see the Son of God in my life.

I want everyone to see how He has held me up, even when I doubt, even when I falter, even when I fail.

In this hard season of life, I am a faltering sinner saved by grace.

Where are you in all of this? Just hearing the story for the first time? Just learning to look to and trust Jesus? Maybe you’ve been a believer all of your life, but at this moment you’re doubting God can bring good to your situation.

Whatever the case may be, He is with you. He is with me. Our Savior can help us stay above our circumstances and not fall into despair.

But we need to keep our eyes fixed on Him. I’m trying…I hope you are, too.