Friday, July 9, 2010

Ouch, what was that for?...Doesn't matter because it's in the Past!

My headline is from a beloved movie the Lion King. Grown Simba is talking to wise Raffiki about the mistakes and regrets from the past. How he can't go back or forward in life because of the things that he has done in his life. Raffiki interrupts this speech by wacking Simba on the head. Simba cries out, "Ouch! What was that for?" And Raffiki replies..."It doesn't matter, it's in the past!"

That easy is it? It doesn't matter, it's in the past. Not an easy concept at all I can tell you that from experience! I recently shared conversations with several others about everyones pasts and experiences in life. And believe me when I say that the last thing on my mind when it was my time to share was it doesn't matter. We all carry the weight of our choices and decisions in life around with us where ever we go. They are always with us....sometimes rearing their heads at the most inopportune times. We walk into our jobs, our churches, our home lives, and our relationships with our loved ones with them. Sometimes we find that the past controls our future and keeps us from moving forward (like in the movie). Sometimes we find that they spur us on forward with the wrong intentions or approaches. And then we are right back where we did not want to be in the first place.....face to face with the past!

Why do you suppose the past controls us so much? Why do we dwell? Why can't we seem to move on and let go at times? Why can't we realize that even though the past is a part of who we are, we should learn from it instead? That's what I want to talk about about. I don't want to dwell on the things that we can't change, but on the hope that we have that lies ahead if we can take hold of it.

There's a little prayer called the serenity prayer:
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.

This is the perfect example to illustrate what I am getting at here. The truth of the matter is that we cannot go back and change the past! We CANNOT! It's not within our ability, so then why do we dwell on the if only's? This is a topic that hits very close to home with me. I am one that will take my mess ups, bad decisions and mistakes to heart...I can't seem to let them go. Not only not letting them go, but even gripping on to them so tight that my knuckles turn white. This seems a bit extreme. Ask yourself what you do when your past whatevers won't go do you handle it? Really.

Let me tell you what God says about it and what to do. Psalm 103:10-12 says, "he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us."

If our past is as far away from us as it could possibly get...I don't know about you, but I find extreme relief in that! Knowing that I am no longer defined by the actions of my former life and past is the most relieving thing that I can possibly comprehend. You see, God does not see the sin in our lives whether past or present because of our savior Christ Jesus! It's his blood that covers us and God can no longer see the sin, but instead sees his son Jesus who is blameless and without sin. What a beautiful thought that the issues of our past longer exists when we accept and give our lives over to God!

1 John 1:7 - "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin."

Not just some....but ALL sin! Take hold of this promise. Don't hold on to the things of your past that will continue to hold you back or bring you down. Let your relationship to Jesus bring you to the sight that the things of your past are forgiven and you are to move forward in step with our Lord, Jesus! Let go! Because what God says to us is..."Precious child you are now mine, your past no longer exists because of my son! Rejoice!"

Thursday, July 8, 2010


So over the last few weeks I have been on several trips that have taken me out of town. And while going on vacation is great, I come back and feel so out of place. Everything that I had going on in life suddenly seems different and as if I have come back missing a piece of the puzzle. Almost like life has continued while I've been out of town....the nerve that this would go on even in my absence! Funny our opinion of things isn't it? That life in general revolves around our own person and how things are effected by us or how we effect other things and people.

Well, isn't this the same thing with our relationship with Christ? When we step away from our relationship with God, a vacation or hiatus of sorts, doesn't it seem harder to step back into the same place that we left? Isn't it a bit difficult to jump right back into the flow of things, especially with God? We go through struggles and questions before we consider ourselves worthy, don't we?

I need to get myself back on track first before I go back to God.
Does He even want me to come back?
I'm so unworthy because I was the one who walked away.
I can't let God see me like this, I'm unfit to be in His presence.
Am I ready to go back?

Aren't these the thoughts that seem to race through our minds. But the thing is....these inklings couldn't be father from the truth! Yet as humans we feel this disconnection. Sometimes, even to the point where we feel like we're only hanging on by a thread. Why do we feel like this? What has happened during our vacation time? What causes us to take time away from God to start off with? I know that times that I have stepped away has been because I want to try things my own way. I have found that I am not a very patient person when it comes to waiting on God's timing. So, I've have stepped away and tried to do things on my own. I remember occassionally looking back to what it was like with God and longing to be there again. But at that point I was embarrassed at my leave of absence and behavior toward God with respect to my impatience. My insecurity, whatever that may be, kept me at a stand still...kept me from walking back towards God. The shame that I felt completely consumed me...ashamed that I would leave the one who trully knew everything about me and loved me for it!

See, that's the thing that we forget when we disconnect from God. That He loves us! He loves us despite our flaws...He loves us with our flaws! Did you hear what I just heard? He loves us just the way that we are, the way he created us to be! I don't know about you, but when I think about this I want to cry! But the emotion is not an emotion of sadness, but an emotion of complete amazement!

In Luke chapter 15: 11-32 is the story of the Lost son or prodigal son. The youngest of two boys wanted to take is share of inheritance and go off to experience life on his own instead of sticking around home. He went off to a distant country and blew everything that he had. He then slipped to the lowest of the low because he had lost everything and a didn't have a way to make a living. Scrounging at the smallest, most depressing job to scrape by. While at the bottom in life looking up, he realized what he had left and set off for home to beg forgiveness and plead to become hired help in his own home. Have you been here? No where to go after you have set off and done things on your own....made mistakes along the way....and wound up worse off than you already were. I have been here.

What gets to me every time is this next part to the story. verse 20 - "So the man got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him."

I'm quite speechless at this because we are the Lost Son/Daughter and the father is our Glorious Father above. And even though we have turned away, lost ourselves even along the way, God our Father sees us turn and walk back to Him. And He rejoices in our return...Rejoices! This is incredible!

Romans 8:34-35 - "Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died- more than that, who was raised to life - is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or or famine or nakedness or danger or the sword?"

Nothing can separate us from the love, the unconditional love of God through Jesus Christ. Not even our own stupidity! Which is exactly what we face everyday. When we doubt, when we make a mistake, when we turn away, when we make complete fools of ourselves..............when we look back to the cross after our absence, God is there with His arms open wide rejoicing for our return!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Broken and Limited

It's never fun to be put into a position out of your own control! A few weeks ago, I broke my thumb. Now I could give a great many stories of how it happened but the fact remains that it is broken. Broken...I am broken. This has been a whole new experience for me, this is my first broken bone ever! And I am not handling it well. But isn't this true of any time that we find ourselves broken whether physically or emotionally?

When the doctor at the ER told me after seeing the ex-rays that it was broken, I cried and thought of everything that I would no longer be able to do flashed through my was I going to finish the school year, how was I going to clean my classroom, how was I going to drive and get where I needed to go, what about swimming (there goes my summer), how am i going to cut my steak.......why, why did this have to happen? And then came the overwhelming feeling of self-pity. Poor me, I would no longer be able to function correctly in the world without both limbs. I know that this seems all a bit dramatic, but isn't this how we truly feel when we are broken in some sense? That we are damaged and that there is no hope.

And yet, we somehow come to grips eventually with the brokenness but still have to struggle with the limitations set upon us until the healing is done. This also can be either physical or emotional. Physically, i find myself unable to do things without pain. Emotionally, i struggle with trying to do things myself so that I don't have to ask for help. I Do Not like the limitations that I find myself with. (On a side note, I may be venting a bit here, but hopefully you can relate or have been through the same struggles.) I hate having to be careful on a daily basis like it could make things worse...I hate not being able to be active like in sports, running, swimming....I hate the fact that I have to wear a plastic bag over my arm in the shower....I hate that it actually makes me perspire getting dressed and ready for the day. I just want to scream sometimes!

And the asking for help thing...well, pride comes before a fall. And fall you inevitably do! For some reason we (I) feel that asking for help is a sign of weakness. If I have to ask for help than I am unable to do the task at hand myself. But isn't that the point of asking for's because we can't do certain things ourselves!

God is our loving Father and does not want to see us struggle or in pain. His love for us is so deep that is own heart breaks for us when we are in distress. He wants to pick us up, dust us off and hold us close! Why do we resist? Why do we say, back up, I can do this....I need to do this myself? Instead of asking for help? I don't understand it much myself and I am 100 % guilty of this very thing! What I do know is that God waits with open arms and pleads with us to see that He is there to show us the way when we ask...

Psalm 147:3 says "He heals the brokenhearted and binds their wounds."

Broken can mean a great many things...but however broken, God can and Will heal the wound! What we have to do is humble our pride and ask for him to help! Matthew 6:8 says that God knows what we need before we ask!

Matthew 7:7-8 "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened unto you. For everyone who asks receives, he who seeks finds, and to him that knocks, the door will be opened."

Limitations aren't meant to limit us...interesting concept. Limitations are a made so that we can learn to rely on the only one who can sustain us!

Psalm 54:4 "Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me."

So what if I can't use my hand completely? So what if there is a wound in my heart from a past experience? There are so many possible restrictions that can be placed on us at any time whether we want or expect it. So, are we really going to live in self
pity or struggling with doing things ourselves when in the long run it would do us good to ask for help? It would do us good to ask. God wants the good for us. Romans 8:28 - And we know that it all things God works for the good of those who love him...

It shouldn't matter the brokenness or limitations we find ourselves with on a yearly, monthly, or daily basis. Does that mean that it is easy...absolutely not (it sure was not easy typing this blog with one hand). But We must choose to Not do it alone even if we think that we are fully capable of it! Broken and Limited we walk with Jesus!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Hard Question

I was having a conversation with a friend this past Sunday about the concept of the hard questions in life...namely why? She and her husband are in the process of adopting. Everything for the room has been prepared and they are 200% ready. Yet, they have to wait. Why?

Why do we have to wait?I think it's a legitimate question that we need to ask. Who says that we have to keep the agonizing questions inside, sometimes to the point when it starts to turn us bitter. And that is Not good. I know that in the past, I have become bitter and disillusioned because I didn't feel like I could ask the questions that I really needed answered. And because I didn't ask, they grew to resentment and disdain for the circumstances. Why?

So, Sunday night my mom and I were watching one of our favorite television shows final episode. We had invested years into this program and at the end, we were left with a little disappointed and with questions left unanswered. Hundreds of thoughts ran through our minds as we tried to figure things out. Question after question after question...with no answers! Why?

We will always feel the need to have answers, but will we actually ask the questions? Or will we feel that our questions are too trivial to ask? I don't think they are...trivial. God wants us to ask why! Think about the years you spent as a toddler or if you're around toddlers now. When you begin to speak pretty much the only thing that comes out of your mouth is why. How inquisitive we are at even an early age. Wanting to know everything. Wanting to know why things are they way they are. Why is the sky blue? Why do I have to eat all my vegetables? And as we grow up...Why didn't I get that job? Why am I at this point in my life and miserable? Why did this person have to die? The unexplained has a huge effect on us.

When I was back in college, I had a summer job as a youth ministry intern at my home town church. That summer they sent me to a training retreat where I met other interns and youth ministers. I became friends with most everyone, but grew close with only a few. One of the guys that became a close friend was Donald. A few years older than I and full of God's love and light called to pour out into students in high school. Several years past, keeping in touch and continuing to grow even as everyone went in different directions in college. About two years later, Donald got a job doing youth ministry at a church in Corpus Christi. So another friend from the youth ministers camp and I moved Donald down to Corpus. I often talked with Donald as he made his trips to and from Houston to Corpus. I still remember getting to hear him witness to a cop that had pulled him over for speeding! Then one trip from Houston to Corpus in February of 2003 a drunk driver turned the wrong way onto the highway and hit Donald head on at 70 mph on an overpass where they couldn't see eachother before it was too late. Why? All that clouded my mind when I heard the news was why? Why Donald? Wasn't God using him to bless and minister to others? Why?

Why? Is the question that we ask when we don't understand. I know I ask this very question a lot! What we have to understand is that we may not understand everything! God understands, he already's okay to ask why because God will take it to grow you!

In Psalm 10:1 - The writer expresses honest doubts but did not stop praying. He was not complaining, but asking God why and to come and help during this difficult time.
The whole book of Job is why? Why did these things happen to Job? He asked God constantly and then let God show him why. And he will show us why!

Philippians 4:6 - Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present you requests to God. God wants us to come to him with the questions!

Psalm 3: 4 - To the Lord I cry aloud, and He answers me from his holy hill. Selah

Psalm 120:1 - I call on the Lord in my distress, and he answers me.

1 John 5:14 - This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.

This last one is my favorite and the one to pay the closest attention to. First of all, we are to have confidence to approaching God. How awesome is that???!!! All we have to do is go to God with our questions. Sometimes that may sound easier said than done! But well worth it, if we can open our mouths to ask.

We can ask anything. There are no limits to what we can ask! The small things...why did I have to stub my toe or get a speeding ticket. To the bigger questions...why did my parents have to split up or why do i feel so alone?

But making sure that we are acknowledging His divine will! He is the one that knows the answers and we need to realize that it's not just about what we want to hear...our answer... but that we are open to hear what God's answer would be!

And lastly...He hears us! Our questions do not fall on deaf ears...they fall on God's ears!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Silence is Golden

So last night at small group bible study we watched a Rob Bell video called Noise. It was talking about the things that are distractions in our lives that keep us from hearing God’s voice. The video starts as if we were the television screen that he was watching from the couch in his living room. After speaking for a few moments about the noise in our lives, he flipped the television off. ALL went black! Silence. The room immediately became uncomfortable in reaction to the statement of the video. Inevitably, someone broke the silence with a few comments before we could even figure out what was going on. Soon enough words flashed upon the screen, no commentary, no music accompaniment. I found it very interesting that the video was trying to get across the point of noise and silence and throughout the video there was no a moment of consistent silence. Noise from outside mowers, a running air cast machine, the air condition coming on, and natural human breathing infiltrated the room.

It made me think about the noise in My life. I know that my daily routine is filled with noise. I find it very difficult to sit in silence…I can’t even sleep without the sound of the fan running. Some of the distraction noise is intentional and some of it can’t be helped from the surroundings we find ourselves in. A friend even made a comment during the evening that we can’t even really get away from the noise…even out in the wilderness, planes still fly over or trains still sound in the distance. I laughed at this thought, but also recognized that he had an excellent point. Noise…distraction is all around us. Bombarding all of our senses! And reality is that it will never totally go away ever…it will actually continue and increase with time!

So what are these distractions? Let’s list them…

Television – a long time favorite


Computers – it is the age

Cell Phones – permanent attachments now a day



A packed and busy schedule




Face book

Everyday Life Circumstances

Why do we avoid silence? See, I think we look at this idea of silence in the wrong way. Walter Bagehot put it this way – “An inability to stay quiet is one of the most conspicuous failings of mankind.

Why is this the case?

Several things pop into my mind. One is that I’m scared of what the silence will reveal. Will God lead me or tell me something that I don’t want to hear or do? Or two, that I just don’t know How to sit and be in silence with God. It is a foreign concept. But these “reasons” to avoid the silence are the distractions of our lives. God wants us to sit with him in silence so that he can speak to us.

We need to find God, and he cannot be found in the noise and restlessness. God is a friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass – grows in silence; see the stars, the moon, the sun, how they move in silence…” Mother Teresa


During Jesus’ ministry here on earth he had moments when He needed to get away from the distractions around Him to get rest or regain the right focus with God. In Matthew 14, he had been teaching and healing...he was going to be providing for the five thousand…and received word that one of his beloved; John the Baptist’s life was taken. Vs 13 – “When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitude place.” Jesus need time to be with God alone, time to hear the soft voice of His Father speak. He sought solitude, the only way to truly hear Him amongst the happenings of the day. Then after Jesus fed the people, vs. 23 says, “After he dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.” Again, we see Jesus retreating to the silence to pray and focus. And in Mark 1:23 – “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” Jesus was intentional about finding time to pray and focus on God.

What we don’t often realize without too much thought, is that prayer and time with God is our Lifeline! Think of it like a power source: gas makes cars and other vehicles run/ no gas…no go or electricity – no power/we sit with no access to the things we depend on (like air conditioners here in Houston !)

God is our Power source, our lifeline…taking time to be with him intentionally is what keeps us going and functioning. If we want to be able to do what God wants us to do or hear what God needs us to hear…we have to sit and talk to Him. It may take enduring the silence at first, but then the silence will take on a new form! It will become an experience that we look forward to instead run from, turning to the noise.

Don’t run from the silence to noise…run from the noise to the Silence! The comforting Silence with God!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Complicated Wants – Simplistic Needs

Why do we have to make things so complicated? We look at life for what we can get and for what we want. I want nice clothing, I want a beautiful home, I want an expensive car, I want a Great marriage, I want the perfect family…and the list goes on. Our wants in life really are endless, aren’t they? But I think we want these things because we think that’s what we’re supposed to want out of life. But when we really look at what we need, a very different picture emerges. One that is simpler. We may not even like it at first and it may even take a while getting used to it.

So what’s the difference between need and want? How does wanting something make our lives so much more complicated?

A need is something that have to have; something that you cannot live without; necessary to survival. For example – food, shelter, and good health.

A want is something you would like to have but not necessary. This would be things like designer clothes, flat screen tvs, ipods, huge bank accounts….etc.

We complicate out lives with all our wants. All things that we desire, and if we don’t get them, we take life as a disappointment. All these wants in our lives, we make such a big deal over them that after a while we feel we cannot live without them. They become a “need” as the attachment grows. But what do we actually need in this life?

I want to share an experience with you from this past weekend. My mom, sister and I went up to Oklahoma for my cousin’s graduation and to see my Grandma, who has Alzheimer’s. She recognizes very little anymore…where she is or even the people around her. After the time we spent with her this weekend, I thought a lot about needs. What did my Grandmother really need? What did she truly need in this stage of her life? Shelter, clothing, nourishment, Love and Care were the things that popped into my mind. These are the things that would impact her life the most. 5 things. Simple things. Then, I thought about the things that I think that I need. I think I need. Well, I came up with a list greater than these 5 simple things. And I have been trying to figure out why that is. Why do we make things so complicated with our wants if they’re not what we really need?

Can we use these want in our lives forever? Have you ever noticed that the things we want are the things that constantly change? There is always a newer model, advances in technology, new color and patterns. And this concept will continue, it will not stop, ever! Think about this for a minute…the last want you wished for, what happened when a newer or better option came out?

This can even be applied to people in our lives. “I want a special someone in my life.” And along the way you pick out someone you want to become special to you…the relationship forms and yet soon you find yourself wanting something more from the person or a different person altogether. Sounds pretty complicated to me that you can’t be satisfied with the things that we want out of life.

In Exodus 16 – the Israelite people have escaped from Egypt and started to wonder in the desert running low on food and supplies. God reins down “manna” for the people to collect and eat. They can only gather what they need for eat day…anything that they want to gather for the future will spoil. It's so easy for them, and us, to get carried away. This concept is more prevalent today I think with everything that is made available to us.

See, the Great thing is that God knows what we actually need!

Psalm 116:5-7 The LORD is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The LORD protects the simplehearted; when I was in great need, he saved me. Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the LORD has been good to you.”

Matthew 6:8 – “Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

He knows what is necessary and what is not. We just need to realize and trust that what He offers and gives us is All we really need in this life.

Matthew 6:31-33 – “So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

His clarity in the matter makes it very simple for us! Seek Him first and He will give you what you need!

Philippians 4:19 – “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”

When I flipped to one of my devotionals this afternoon, today’s verse May 18 was: Isaiah 58:11 – “The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.”

Tonight at BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) one of the hymns we sung drove this point home even further! The hymn was Great is Thy is the chorus
Great is Thy Faithfulness!
Great is Thy Faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed, Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy Faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

God will satisfy All our Needs and He will help us distinguish between the wants and needs in our life when we look to him! All we have to do is lay those wants at his feet and receive what we need from him alone! It’s Simple, God is truly all we Need in this life!