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Archive for the ‘Anger’ Category

This is part two to my reflection on Disappointments With God by Philip Yancey.
See part one HERE. 

Then there’s Job.

Oh this book in the Bible has always terrified me.

What if God chose to do this to me?
Would my faith survive?

My most impactful moment came on page 203 with Douglas. He had had a string of “bad luck”, health issues, an accident and now his wife was ill with cancer.

“I learned, first through my wife’s illness and then especially through the accident, not to confuse God with life.

Did I even read that correctly? I went back and read that again. I had to put the book down and ponder some…days went by.

Really? What does that mean?

Douglas continued,

“Life should be fair because God is fair. But God is not life. And if I confuse God with the physical reality of life – by expecting constant good health, for example
– then I set myself up for a crashing disappointment.”

As a Christian I hear of the power of healing and prayer for financial blessings, for health and good stuff…all I really want is love and relationship.
Am I odd? I’ve asked (don’t answer that).
Is it UNChristian not to believe that God wants to heal everyone? To me, one thing is certain, Christian or not, we’re going to die. It’s a promise. As Christians, that should be a somewhat exciting thought, going home.

**Please forgive me if this seems insensitive to anyone who is praying for healing – I’m not saying God won’t heal you, nor that I think you shouldn’t pray for healing, He can and often does…but the point I’m trying to make is that so often our disappointments in God separate us from His heart for us – and we only see a glimpse of His picture. We can pray for healing, but we can’t demand it!

We’re going to suffer, that is a promise too. But what if we made love and relationship the motivation behind life?  Isn’t that what it’s all about? It all comes down to one thing (okay two).
Love and Relationship.

“Faith like Job’s cannot be shaken
because it’s the result of being shaken.”

It doesn’t sound as terrifying as I had once thought. Suddenly I am looking at it from a different perspective. I’m looking down from above, not up from earth. Suddenly the narrow view that pain has offered me had unveiled a whole new world. Job couldn’t bring himself to believe in a God of cruelty and injustice…and neither can I.
Much more was at stake than Job’s happiness.
What if life is to make us holy, not happy?
Maybe it isn’t about us at all.


It isn’t about us manipulating God to do our will
but Him positioning us to do His will.

Relationship. Love. More bubbles.

Without hope, there is no hope.

Where does my faith come from?
It comes from hope; from the knowledge that God is a God of love. He longs for relationship – us with one another and also with Him.

Yes, life is disappointing. We live in a fallen world and within each of us is a mountain of pain that is built by life.
No getting around it…


 But God is not life!

The one thing about mountains is they create valleys.
Deep. Lush. Life filled valleys.

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I am reading some really good, thought provoking books. So I’ve decided to post a few personal reflections on these books. I hope to inspire you and draw you in – maybe you’ll go right out and buy these books. I certainly encourage you to.  This one is called Disappointment With God by Philip Yancey.

I hold this book in my hands. Its smooth cover feels cold and warm at the same time.  What is in this book, I wonder. All at once fear grips me and I want to throw it, and then run to retrieve it and devour it…its title evokes fear, mystery, and intrigue. I put it down again. Then I pick it up and the words on the pages begin to infuse my spirit…

There isn’t a Christian on the planet who can escape the experience of disappointment with God – if it hasn’t happened yet, it will. “Why is that?” I ask aloud. The dog looks at me quizzically, as if she understands the depth of my question.  Page 1. I don’t know it yet but this book will be one of those moments when the proverbial light comes on and I realize something has connected; an unveiling, a whisper, a love letter from Papa to His Beloved Daughter.

Can God be trusted?

Can we really stake our lives on Him?

Is it worth the risk? Of course the answer is yes – it’s a good day; but what about the not good days? The ones where darkness begins to crouch in and like black ink, it ebbs ever nearer and threatens to overwhelm me?  Is the answer still yes then?  How do these questions make me feeland what do feelings have to do with it anyway?! I’ll tell you what, God made me a feeling person, deeply feeling. Chaos within continues the tug of war and I keep reading…suddenly, page 56.

“I marveled at how much God lets human beings affect him.”

I honestly never thought about that. Can you imagine? How true it is though. In an instant I can see this so clearly. He longs to have the freedom to love us and for us to be loved by Him. If I forced someone to love me, their love would mean nothing to me!

“Can love arise out of freedom?”

It’s a risk.

The entire Bible is filled with evidence of the King and His longing, the risks He is willing to take for love.

 “All disappointments with God trace back to a breakdown in [our] relationship”

Relationship…something inside of me begins to bubble. Love…more bubbles.

“Solomon went out of his way to make God feel loved.”

Again, rarely in my life have I thought of this. Sure I thought about what I should do, what God would want me to do but not how to make God feel loved…I am beginning to think of myself as a spoiled child. What would it look like to go out of my way to make God feel loved.
Relationship…love…more bubbles.

Is the God I know a God who proves himself through power or through love?

He is a God who longs for intimacy with me…with ME – broken me. He loves me so much that He dwells within me – so much that no matter the wrong choices I make, I subject Him to, He never leaves or forsakes me.
This is a new God I am seeing with new eyes. A God that is affected by me, a God that sees to my heart and

allows my choices to have COSMIC affects.

I liked the first part of this book. It felt mostly like review of my own questions and perhaps a deeper level of my own ponderings.  But the fact that everything about me affects God – this began to draw me out…

But the second part of this book literally took my breath away!
Stay tuned!

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A friend was telling me a story today that brought me to my knees, in tears and I want to share it here with you (with her permission of course).  Her little girl is 8, we’ll call her Lil Laney here.  Last night Lil Laney confided in Mama – through huge crocodile tears, about a heartbreaking thing that had happened at school.  Apparently for weeks they’ve been preparing and decoration eggs.  They all got to decorate their own basket. The thought was that the children could put an egg in the basket of someone they admired.

Suddenly I am 8 again and the schoolyard bully, Trina, who has pushed me down at least once a week since kindergarten comes to mind…and Danny, the boy with one artificial eye who the kids tease and I stand up for…the day Trina took after Christine and I stood between them on the corner by Cocoa’s house! I stood. The Mama Bear in me is rising up. I wonder what this teacher was thinking when she thought up this plan. If she’s sensitive at all to the dynamics of her classroom, she would know that some children would get more eggs than others and wouldn’t this set someone up for terrible disappointment?  Doesn’t this sort of thing feed into our culture of the prettiest, funniest and the best getting all the eggs in life?!

Lil Laney is a daughter of the King and she set her heart to making every student in the class an egg, even the ones that were mean to her.  A week went by and with anticipation, everyday Lil Laney would go to her basket to see how many eggs she had.  She would walk by the other children’s baskets, noticing they all had eggs, no less than three, some as many as 7.  Lil Laney did not despair, she somehow managed to gain the

incredible courage

it took to speak to her teacher about the fact that she had no eggs in her basket. Said teacher had her stand up in front of the entire class and tell them that she had no eggs in her basket and this made her sad, the teacher asked the students to please put some eggs in Lil Laney’s basket.  More time passed. No eggs. Not even the teacher made an egg for Lil Laney.  Friday it was time to take the baskets home, with pride.

Lil Laney lefts hers at school with not an egg in her basket, what was the point?

All day she must have quietly pondered why no one had given her an egg.  Rejection. All day she must have thought about the message those children sent to her with their deafening silence.  Unworthiness. All day the enemy must have laughed with glee at her plight…and poured out the lies that he so favors upon the heart of this precious child.

Lies. All LIES.

That little girl is the gem of the Father’s heart.  She is talented. She is lovely; Psalm 45:11 says that the King is enthralled by her beauty! She has a heart that runs after the God she loves!  He hears her song, and it entices Him, invites Him and fills Him with Joy. One little girl fills the heart of the Father with so much joy that it overflows onto others! Her light shines so bright because His light is within. She wears a crown of beauty and God hand painted her, painstakingly he thought about every intricate detail!  She is accepted. She is worthy. She is loved beyond measure.  Her heavenly basket if full of eggs! God holds your basket; it is safe with Him Lil Laney.  Life isn’t always fair. I’m so sorry you had to feel this disappointment and hurt.  I wish I could give you a great big hug!  Here is my basket for you…and on each egg, these words (and so many more);
Love. Grace. Heart. Beauty. Gentleness. Song. Crown of Peace. Joy. Compassion.

Laneys Basket

With this basket, I can’t take away your heartache,
but maybe I can help you to see the truth!

God loves you.

You are special, unique and He created you with a purpose!

Don’t let the unkindness of others change who you are inside.

From my heart to yours, with love Lil Laney…

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For Christian Studies, I have Booker reading the book Stomping Out the Darkness by Neil T. Anderson & Dave Park.  He reads a chapter and then journals about its impact. Then I journal after him about the impact it had on me. I challenge him with some questions to consider and thoughts to ponder. We get together afterwards and discuss each chapter.

Today, chapter 2 talked about ‘the life changing difference of being in Christ’…all about what Christ says about us, how much the Bible has to say about our identity in Him and it sheds some serious light on the promises God gives us, who believe! There is a quote in this book:

We can’t consistently behave in a way that’s different from the way we see or think about ourselves.

Whoa. Isn’t that huge? 

Booker wrote in his study journal today:  “I’ve been waking up in the morning promising myself I won’t do anything ‘bad’ today but everyday I do something that I didn’t want to do and I feel miserable about it!  This quote might have solved the mystery.  I do it because of what I believe about myself…so how do I change what I believe about myself?  By learning what God has to say about me, how HE sees me and writing His promises on my heart…so that what I believe about myself aligns with how I want to be and that will affect what I do!”

If we truly find our identity in Christ and we believe what He has to say about us…then we can start facing our giants with boldness!

We can come before the throne of grace and stomp out the darkness with light!

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When Anger Blooms…

It’s the heart of winter here in Northern Canada and as I walk out, all bundled up, to check the cows (it’s calving season here), I am dreaming of all things green.  I close my eyes and I can feel my hands, deep in the cool dirt, the warmth of the sun on my back – as I play in my gardens.  

Years ago, I found this beautiful little pink flower in the nursery and I brought it home and lovingly planted it in my favorite flowerbed in the front. 

Over the years, I’ve tended to it, nutured it but I began to realize something about this pretty little Pink…it was spreading.  Last year my beautiful bed was nearly over run with it.  I decided I would have to dig up the little beauty and do away with it…I dug. And dug. And dug. Do you know what I found? 

I found roots.

Tiny little hair-like roots with fingers spreading in all directions.  These roots were often hard to spot, they were so tiny.

Isn’t anger a little like that?  It starts off so small, maybe a tiny incident that we choose to overlook or even hide – and soon enough it has roots.  And those roots are hard to spot and even harder to weed out. They spread over your entire garden…but worse dear friends, soon enough this pesky little flower becomes a weed and it spreads into the gardens of the ones we love the most!  It’s fingers reach into the garden of our husband and roots begin to grow in our marriages.  It reaches to the gardens of our beloved babes and begins to bloom in their gardens. Maybe they don’t notice it at first, it seems harmless enough…pretty even.  Maybe it helps them get things out at first.  But soon, anger blooms and over runs their gardens too.  As a Mama, nothing hurts worse than seeing something you struggle with in your own garden, cropping up in the gardens of the ones most precious.

I don’t think I’ve really given anger the thought it deserves, or realized the power it has to crush.
It’s not that anger is a sin…it’s what we do with it that makes it sinful.  When we allow it grow and gain a foothold and an entire root system, oh friends, this is when it gets so hard to contain ~ harder yet to weed out.

What is in your garden? 

“Be careful that none of you fails to respond to the grace which God gives, for if he does there can very easily spring up in him a bitter spirit which is not only bad in itself but can also poison the lives of many others.”   
(Hebrews 12:15, J.B. Philips New Testament)

**You might also like this post on Emotions (anger) in our children, or this on anger in our marriages, or The Garden of Your Marriage.

 

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I’ve been really digging into the Word and a theme keeps emerging. Does God do this to you too?  When He is trying to get my attention, reveal a truth to me and get it thru my thick skull, my tough flesh – He just comes at me from all angles to show me His heart for me.

He never leaves me where I am.

That is a promise I can proclaim on high!

I’ve read Matthew 22:35-40 many, many times.  But this week God kept bringing it to my heart and I knew He wanted me to see it with fresh eyes.  When the expert of the law ask which commandment was greater, Jesus responded with v37 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”

What does that really mean?  In order to love God with all of my heart, I have to be diligent and guard my heart.  Proverbs 4:23 says to guard your heart and in 2010 I wrote a post about it (I love how God has continued to work a better understanding of this in my heart over the years).  I said this to a friend the other day and she said, “OH, I have got that one down!  If I’ve learned anything it is to protect my heart from others!”  Sigh.  That isn’t what this scripture is referring to – God doesn’t want us to put up walls and block relationship. In fact, that is the opposite of what God wants for us.  He wants us to keep our eyes on Him and to guard our hearts from anything that separates our heart from His. Anger, bitterness, jealousy, resentment – they all block relationship with others and with God!

v 38 says “This is the first and greatest commandment. v39 “A second is equally important, Love your neighbor as yourself.” (NLT)   Did you catch that? EQUALLY important.  It is equally important for me to love and have relationship with my neighbor as it is to have relationship with God.  My neighbor is ANYONE who comes into contact with me; my husband, my children, my parents and family, the friend who hurt me, the grumpy bank teller.  The book Sacred Marriage says that marriage is to make us HOLY, not happy.  God uses relationships to refine us, grow in us and draw us into holiness…deeper relationship with HIM!

Proverbs 18:1 says that a man who isolates himself seeks his own desire, and he rages against all wise judgement.  Proverbs 14:10 says the heart knows its own bitterness – nothing is hidden from God.  All He wants is our hearts. He doesn’t want us to withdraw from others, from Him.  He wants us to walk in relationship and strengthen and encourage one another in our faith (Romans 1:2).   When Jesus is talking to Simon Peter in John 21:15 he asks “Do you love me? …then feed my sheep, tend to my sheep, feed my lambs.”  His heart is for us to care for one another in relationship.

So here is the nugget! v 39 says “Love your neighbor as yourself.”   The question is not who is my neighbor, but rather

How much do you love yourself?

**note join me here as we talk about loving ourselves and what that means…

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Picture Elisabeth; she’s beautiful inside and out.  She’s spent her life trying to live in the image of Christ.  She has filled her heart with the Word and prayed over the man God might choose to be her husband. 

Her friend calls her and invites her to a BBQ in the park.

His parents ask him to come along to paint the kids’ faces and serve his neighbors.

Their eyes meet and they hold one another in a mesmerizing gaze for a long time.  Something is stirring in her and she knows…this is the man! The one she’s been praying for.  She starts to think, ‘oh my goodness, I’m so glad I wore this dress. Is my hair okay?’
All the while he’s thinking, ‘It’s her!  She’s the one my parents told me about – the one they’ve prayed for all of these years!’  Without noticing, he’s painted a beautiful heart on the little boys face.

“HEY! I wanted a tiger!”, the little boy shouts.  He blushes. She giggles. “Oh, sorry kid. Next time.”  …and it all begins.

Their story is starting to unfold. 

They are infused with the prayers of the ones who love them most, supported by friends and wise mentors who guide them into marriage.

They make their home in the country and it’s filled with the treasures they and others have worked so hard to build – self-esteem, honesty, communication, hard work, a diligent prayer life, study in the word, integrity, faithfulness, deep intimacy, joy.
Before he comes home from work, he calls to tell his beloved he’s on his way!  She runs inside and freshens up, she tidies the house.  Supper is creating the most delicious aroma – she’s ready for him to walk through the door, all smiles!

~~~~~

…Now it’s been awhile since you have seen them, you go to their house in the country, the one filled with flavor and aroma, treasures of the heart…but no one is there. You call her on the phone and she says, “We’ve moved. I don’t think you should come over. It’s too dangerous.” 

I guess you’ll have to decide, is your visiting worth the potential danger?

You follow her directions. It’s hard to find.  You’ve left the sketchy part of town and you’re deep in the heart of the slums.  There isn’t any color here, it’s dark and grey. No sound of children laughing.  There is no inviting flower bed in the front and you think back to the way she used to keep her garden, her sanctuary…is it all dead now, you wonder in silence?  You slowly walk up the broken stairs to the dark door, and knock. 

“Come it, it’s open.” 

How did Elisabeth’s marriage go from a country beauty to a home in the slums?

If it were an easy question to answer, I wouldn’t need to write this post.  I remember Elisabeth when they were dating. Oh, she was a beauty.  She really shared her heart, her dreams. She was inviting, inspiring, she served her Beloved with a heart open to God…I never went there and caught her in sweats and a ponytail.  I never heard her fart while they were snuggled up on the couch.  When I asked her how this happened, she said “I don’t know…I mean I never would have moved us here to the slums.  I guess it happened slowly.  Joseph started working longer hours and we decided to move a little closer to town so the kids could be in sports…”  There was a vacancy to her eyes that didn’t belong there.  “Before we knew it, we were here. In this house – if you could call it a house…” She began to cry and I could tell she was scared.

See, it never happens that you just decide to move from the country to the slums.  It’s a mountain of small decisions, seemingly inconsequential decisions…decisions made by both you and your husband (it is never the fault of one person).  It took two of you to build it and two to move you into the slums.  It’s true that it will take both Elisabeth and Joseph to move back to their country home filled with treasures…but it starts with one heart.
It starts with God’s heart for your marriage.
That whisper, the gentle breeze, the calling voice – can you hear Him?

Dear wives, have you let yourself go?  What are you wearing right now? Have you forgotten to praise your husband, to encourage him and lift him up? Have you forgotten to take interest in what he’s doing?  

Have you let the area of deep intimacy turn into a house abandoned?  Thinking that you can abandon your intimacy and forgo your marriage bed because you’re hurt or angry,

It is like moving to the slums and leaving the door of your marriage open to thieves and robbers.

Have you forgotten that God loves your marriage? He loves your husband and He longs to move you out to the country…maybe it’s your old home or maybe you’ve never been blessed with a country home.  Stand up dear friends.
Be Courageous.
Someone has to take the first step.
Walk with the King, submit your marriage to the Father
…and see where He takes you from there!

 

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