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 knows...it'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 Faithfulness...here 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!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Running on Empty

Have you ever experienced running out of gas? Literally driving along and pleading with the car to give you a few more feet….PLEASE…just a few more feet! Except when you’re out, you’re out! Or how about when your brain has been running low on energy…like cramming for finals in college. Come on brain, you can do it!!! Keep going….just a little more information to cram in…Just a Little More! And once again, when you’re done, you’re done. Complete and utter exhaustion! We have trouble keeping our heads up, eyes open and feet moving. Our minds and body need to rest and be refilled! So we run to the refrigerator and seek food, run to bed to seek sleep, run to a comfortable place to see solitude. Refill and regenerate. And then we are able to get back to the task at hand and finish or keep going.

So what if the task at hand is life and there isn’t a designated “end point” that you are trying to finish (like a test or work project or goal). You just have to keep going whether you are on empty or not.

What if you are running low physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually? That’s enough to knock anyone to their feet and not want to get back up. This is where I was Friday and Saturday. Brought to the point where I didn’t want to care about anything anymore. I couldn’t think straight. My body didn’t want to do anything! Exhausted in every aspect!

Something important has to happen at this point. Perseverance and Faith. On Saturday morning I read my morning devotional about this very thing. Will also talked about this a bit in his blog recently (http://wbt4.blogspot.com). But I want to hit it from a different angle. The angle of how you refill…re-energize…get back to full working condition.

The verse that I'd like to focus with is 2 Corinthians 4:16 - "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day."

It's so easy to lose heart along our daily path when we face the issues and problems that come at us and even stick around. We want to set everything down and walk away! Our eyes and mind see only what we face, not what is on the other side when things are over. A blindness in a way takes over. A spiritual blindness in which we are focused on the world and the issues we face instead of God's purpose in the situation or because of the outcome of the situation.

What we have to do is go to God for the refill in these times! Not just do our best to get through them alive and then pray for regeneration! We say..."If I can just get to Friday, I'll be able to rest"..."If I can get this paper/project done, I can focus on something else"..."I need to get things straight with me before I add someone else to my life." This is just such a common subject. I was saying these very things this past week..."If I can just get through the competition Saturday, I'll be good"....but then i found myself saying after the competition on Sat..."If i can just get through the Art Awards dinner on Tuesday I'll be Great for the rest on the school year."

Today, Monday, two days after the competition I should have, theoretically, been rested and good for the rest of the school year. And was I? Nope, not at all. Why? Because there is always something else to "get through". It's a shame that this is what consumes our minds. These tasks and events to "get through". These tasks that when they are over and done, we assume will be the key to a stress release. Really?

If we read on in 2 Corinthians 4 verses 17-18 we read - "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."

We are not to let these momentary and (I really love this) temporary things drive us day by day. We are to go to God with these day to day things and let him fill us and give us rest as we go through these trials and stressful events. We are not to let fatigue set in, pain develop, or criticism force us into the mindset that we need to just get by till the next thing. We are to walk along side Christ as He takes us through each trial giving us rest along the way so that we are not just praying to get by!

Ephesians 3:16 - "I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through the Spirit in your inner being,"

Romans 8:26 - "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express."

God gives us the Holy Spirit to Fill us along the way! As a believer and beloved child of God, we are never left alone, to our own resources, to cope with problems!!! And even when we are tired and cannot find the words to pray the Holy Spirit prays with and for you! Friday night, I knelt to pray at my bedside and nothing! Nothing! Not a thought or feeling ran through my brain. I was upset that I couldn't even pray for strength. But the great thing is...that I didn't have to! I have a helper!!! And God hears and answers our prayers according to His beautiful and divine will!

Thank you Lord for that fact that we can come to you when we are neck deep in the issues of life! Thank you that when we do not have the strength to stand, we are made strong through your Son Christ Jesus! And thank you, that when the words can't be formed in our minds or mouths that your gift of the Holy Spirit prays for us!!! Thank you that You hear us and answers our prayers when we are running on empty!!!!!!!!!