Archive for the ‘Obedience’ Category

Photo Credit: Photos by Mavis via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Photos by Mavis via Compfight cc

In this life there are always going to be problems. After all, as I have been reminded of time and time again, we live in a broken world full of broken people. And broken people hurt each other – sometimes on purpose and sometimes by accident. The bottom line is, everyone gets hurt at some point. And I’d venture to guess if someone insists they have never been hurt, they were probably either the ones inflicting the pain, or they are lying to themselves. I suppose there could be the rare case that it’s actually true, but if it is, then it truly is a rare case indeed. It would be nice to be able to say that the cause of all my problems rests squarely on the shoulders of others, but unfortunately for me, often I am the cause of my own problems.

So, if I am the problem, what can I do to fix it? And shouldn’t that make things easier to fix? I mean, the only person I can really do anything about is myself, right? Alas, it’s not that simple. It’s actually easier to see the problems in someone else’s life because I’m not part of that life, and it has no bearing on me. I’m a neutral party. But the reality is, it’s not my job to see everyone else’s problems. It’s my job to work on me. So, how what does that mean for me?

First things first. Before I can begin to fix a problem in me, I have to actually know that there is a problem. My experience has been that I don’t really see my own problems. I’m too close to the issue. That’s where friends come in and help. I am blessed to have at least 2-3 good friends who are willing to point out to me when I have a flaw in my thinking or if I am overstepping my bounds. I trust these friends with pretty much every aspect of my life – which is saying something because I don’t really trust people easily. But because I trust these friends, I know that if they are taking the time to tell me I have an issue, I listen. I don’t like it. But I listen. I might get angry at first. But I listen. I listen because I don’t want to be one of those people who refuses to see the issues in my life and stay in the same unhealthy patterns. But what do I do once I have seen or someone has pointed out to me that there is a problem?

I think there are three things I need to do in this situation. After all, God gave me a brain, and He gives me the tools necessary to learn and grow.

1) I need to review what has been pointed out to me or what I suspect, to determine the truth in the situation. Sometimes a perceived problem, isn’t truly a problem. But often it is. So, first, I need to examine the facts. Who is telling me I have an issue? Is it someone I trust or someone I just happen to know? Is it someone who tends to find problems in everyone or someone who usually thinks well of people? Am I just feeling insecure, or do I have facts that back up my suspicions? This could mean that I need to ask for honest feedback. It definitely means I need to get into God’s Word to see what He says. The main point here is that I need to be willing to take an honest look at what has either been pointed out to me, or I have a suspicion about.

2) Once I have determined that there is actually an issue, I need to be willing to admit that there is a problem. Admitting the problem means that I recognize the issue, and now I want to do something about it. I don’t want to be one of those people who says “Oh yes, I have a problem, but that’s just who I am.” That’s not a healthy outlook. If I have a true issue, then it is something that can be remedied and worked on. Yes, I have a personality, and that personality makes me who I am, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. But if I allow myself to be ruled by my personality, then I am not looking out for the best interests of others. And as a child of God, I am called to care about other people. Philippians 2:1-4 says:

“Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (NASB).

I don’t have the luxury of thinking only of myself. I have a responsibility to look out for the interests of others. So, if I have an issue, I need to admit to the issue. It doesn’t mean an overnight change necessarily, but it does mean I need to admit there is a problem.

3) Finally, I need to address the issue. I need to take steps to improve in that area. Sometimes that’s difficult to do because perhaps the action or thought has been so deeply ingrained that it takes a long time to make the change. Making the change quickly isn’t required. Committing to making the change and then acting on that commitment is. Some things I can do to help me with that is to ask someone to help hold me accountable. Knowing someone is going to be asking me about my progress means I am more likely to take action. Another thing I can do is get into God’s Word and see what He says about that issue, and also memorize Scriptures that can help me stick to my commitment. I can also keep a journal to track my progress.

I do need to remember, though, that making progress isn’t necessarily overnight. I am going to have times when I fail. At those times, I need to remember that this is a process, and instead of giving up, I need to get up and keep moving forward. My experience has been, when I have actually done this, I have walked away feeling better about myself and have been better able to help others in the process. And really, isn’t that what I’m here for – to help others?

What about you? Do you have other ideas for how to make changes in your life? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear them!

~Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

Photo Credit: Flооd via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Flооd via Compfight cc

Church should be a place where you can feel safe from harm. It should be a place where people don’t cast stones and where love, healing, and growth takes place. The problem with that is that those who gather for church are human. And when you get more than one human together in one place, the chances are, someone is going to get hurt. So, how in the world are we to handle it when it comes? If it’s inevitable, how do we protect ourselves?

I will admit, it’s difficult, and it’s something I struggle with because I have been hurt more than once by a church or someone who was a part of the church. It is so difficult when those who should be leading you, instead of resolving issues, turn to cutting you down and tearing your dreams to shreds. I very recently went through a very hurtful situation, where I felt attacked. I wish I could say that I handled it in the best possible way, but I must admit, I probably could have done better. I wanted so badly to see issues resolved, that when it became obvious that wasn’t the intent of the other person/people involved, I lost all interest in trying to show respect. That isn’t to say that I did lose respect, but I probably didn’t speak as kindly or listen as carefully as I would have normally. I spent the rest of that day fuming and hurting and crying over the way things went down. I was so hurt. And I was so mad at God. How could He allow this to happen? How could He allow me to go through all these crazy drama things I have going on lately? How could He not do something?

But then a new day came. I can’t say I’ve completely gotten over being mad at God. I haven’t. But I’m closer. I am finding comfort in His Word, and through the counsel of my friends, readings, devotionals, and yes, even Facebook statuses that have come my way. And interestingly enough, I’ve begun to look at this differently. See, I want to be a leader. I don’t necessarily want the title of leader – I want to have the actions of a leader. A leader leads whether they have a title or not. That means, even when I am hurting, even when others respond badly, even when I feel like throwing in the towel, I set an example of what love looks like. I set the example of treating others with kindness instead of casting stones. And that’s hard. So, how do I do that?

1) I need to forgive. Forgiveness starts with me. It doesn’t start with receiving an apology. It doesn’t start with someone else realizing they were wrong. It doesn’t start because I feel like forgiving. It starts because I choose to forgive.  One of the statuses I read on Facebook last night said,

“Recently, I received a text message that caused me to stare at my phone in complete disbelief. Why couldn’t this person see how hurtful they were being? How could they be so insensitive?

Hurtful situations tend to make me want to fight back and be mean too. Maybe you feel the same way.

But Colossians 3: 12-14 reminds me, “…as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

My job isn’t to fix this person or make them see my side of things. My job is to obey God by offering an extension of the forgiveness I’ve been given.” (Lysa Terkeurst)

My job isn’t to fix the person/people who hurt me. Do you know how much of a relief that is? Again, my job isn’t to fix the person/people who hurt me. My job isn’t even to make my side heard. My job is to forgive. I am commanded to forgive. And forgiveness is a choice – sometimes one that has to be made over and over again.

2) I need to stand strong and persevere. James 1:12 says, “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him” (NIV).  Maybe this is a test or trial I need to go through so that I can grow. If I look at it as a punishment or a bad thing, then I do myself a disservice. However, if I look at this as an opportunity to grow and learn, then I find a purpose for the trial. I now have a reason to move forward because now I have an opportunity to learn. Hebrews 12:11 states, “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (NASB).

It’s not going to be fun to go through the painful situation, but in the end, if I allow myself to be trainable, I will grow from it, and yield “the peaceful fruit of righteousness.” That’s something to look forward to!

3) Finally, I need to keep serving God. If I allow myself to be hurt to the point where I feel I can’t serve, then I am being disobedient to God. We are called to serve, right where we are at. OK, so my ability to serve in the capacity I was in has been taken away at least for the time being. That doesn’t change the fact that I have other ways to serve. I have talents and gifts that God has given me. I will continue to use them to serve Him. Nobody can take that ability away from me, except God Himself.

So, while I am still hurting, and I am still upset, I know God has a good plan for me. He will use me in other capacities if I allow myself to be open to it. I can’t wait to see what He has in store for me!

Your turn. Have you ever been in a hurtful situation where you felt like someone was casting stones at you? How did you handle it? What do you do to remind yourself that you still have a purpose? How do you handle hurtful situations? I’d love to hear from you!!

~Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

This morning I received a call from my Dad.  I was in the middle of something else, and the temptation was to let it go to voicemail and check in with him later.  But I just couldn’t do that.  This was my Dad calling.  “And besides,” I told myself, “you just don’t ignore a call from your Dad.”  My Dad is important to me, so I want to make sure that when he calls, I answer.

Often when I have these “conversations” with myself, they lead me to thinking other types of thoughts, such as, “I wonder if that’s what I do with God sometimes?”  How many times have I felt that I needed to be in God’s Word instead of doing whatever it was I was doing a point in time?  How often have I said, “I’ll get to it later” or “I’m too busy right now”?  How often have I “ignored” His request to respond in a certain manner or say a certain thing, or even go to a certain place?  How often?

There are so many times in my life, even recently, when I have put off my time with God in favor of something, or someone, else.  I do “great” sometimes, “ok” most times, and then there are those times when I just “fail” when it comes to my relationship with God.  Yet, isn’t my relationship with God supposed to be my most important relationship?

The Bible says God is my Father in Heaven.  He created me.  He gives me good gifts.  He provides for all my needs.  He is with me even when I don’t ask Him.  He picks me back up when I fall.  He cradles me in His arms when I need comfort.  And yet, I will ignore His voice when He calls me to do something I am either too scared to do or just don’t want to do.  I will push Him aside and only pay attention when I need Him for something.  I will turn my back when I want to go my own way.  I do not make this up – I have done all of these things at some point in my life.

Yet, how much more important is it that I “take that call” from God?  How much more important is it that I put Him first in my life.  If my earthly Dad is so important, that I would drop what I am doing to take his call or change my plans to spend time with him, how much more important is my Heavenly Father supposed to be in my life?  Shouldn’t He be number one?

My prayer for me and for you is that we would remember who our Heavenly Father is, and we would respond to Him in a worthy manner.  My prayer is that we would recognize His importance in our lives and put Him first.  My prayer is that when He calls, we will answer.  After all, “You don’t ignore a call from your Dad.”

Until Next Time,

I have had a few run-ins with my almost-14-year-old daughter.  She’s always been the more out-spoken (and by that I mean mouthy) of my daughters, but she’s also been the daughter I had few problems with obedience – at least in action, if not in attitude.  But lately, she has been pushing the envelope and doing things that are contrary to the rules that have been set for our home.

For instance, I had a rule that Facebook would not be used until they were 14.  She will be 14 in July, and so she’s been begging to have a Facebook.  I have resisted.  However, last week, she won a laptop at her school due to an essay she had to write and good reports from every single one of her teachers.  Had she come and asked me if she could have a Facebook page, I was prepared to say yes due to the good reports and her birthday being so close.  However, she determined that instead of asking, she was just going to “do”.  She created a Facebook.  I found out.  When I asked her to explain her only response was, “I wanted one, so I created one.  Besides, you wouldn’t have known if you hadn’t spied on my computer.”  I’d like to point out at this juncture, that I had warned her that I would be checking her computer periodically to see what she was up to.  However, her response was, “You didn’t earn it.  I did.  You can’t take it away from me, and you can’t tell me what to do on it.”  My response of course was, “I’m your mother, and I will be checking on you because it’s my job to know what you’re doing.”  Needless to say, that was not a fun night.

Fast forward to last night.  One of my hard and steadfast rules is, don’t ask me to be allowed to do things via text – especially when you’re in the same house as me and can walk over and talk to me directly.  My daughter decided that she did not have to follow that rule.  However, she did come talk to me later when I didn’t respond to her, and basically said I had to give her an answer by today.  My answer was “no”.  Now, again, let me take this moment to say, I have said yes to almost everything she has asked for lately, and I had valid reasons for saying no, so I wasn’t being unreasonable.  She did not take that very well, and had a little “pouty” party and refused to say goodbye to me.

I find myself wondering, after episodes like this, if I am crazy for thinking, as a parent who loves and cares for her children on a daily basis, that I am warranted some obedience and respect.  I also wonder what happened to my doting little girl who did what I asked with minimal arguments in the past.  She seems to have been replaced with this willful replica of my daughter.  Some days, I don’t even know if I recognize her.

Now, if I feel that way about my daughter, how much more does God think that of me?  Think about it.  How often have I done something that I know is wrong, just because I wanted to?  How many times does He watch my willful behavior and wonder if I am ever going to get it?  How many times have I gone my own way or had a “pouty” party because I didn’t get what I wanted?  How many times have I rebelled against God?

One of the greatest things I love about God is that even while I know He mourns when I sin, I also know He forgives when I confess and I ask.  That doesn’t mean that I have a right to go out and do wrong things just because I know He will forgive me.  It doesn’t give me license to sin.  What it does do, is free me from the consequence of sin – death.  Because His Son bore my sins when He died on the cross, and then conquered death by rising again from the grave, I now have freedom from sin and death, if I put my faith and trust in Him and follow in His ways.

See, it starts at the time of salvation, but as James says in his letter, “Faith without works is dead.”  Read the following passage, where goes on to explain:

14  What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? 15  If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food,16 and one of you says to them, “ Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? 17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.

18  But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” 19 You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. 20 But are you willing to recognize,you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? 21  Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “ And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God. 24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. James 2:14-26 (NASB)

James isn’t saying that I can earn my salvation.  There is nothing I can do to earn Salvation (See Ephesians 2:8-9).  What he is saying is that if I believe, I will act on that belief.  What good is my faith, if I never act on it?  It is just useless words, and it isn’t really faith at all.  But when I act on my faith, and I do good to others, my faith is a living, breathing, active thing.

Look at what Paul tells us in Romans 12:1-2:

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (NASB)

How do I do this?  By serving others.  I put aside my wilfulness, and I obey God.  As I taught my children when they were little, “Obedience is doing as you are told, right away, all the way, without arguing or complaining.”  Even today, they can still repeat that back to me when I ask them what obedience is.  See, they know it, but it’s hard to do sometimes.  Every day I have to fight my willful spirit and sometimes even have to force myself to do what I know is right – and sometimes I do it kicking and screaming.  I do not always succeed, but on those occasions, I get back up, pray for forgiveness, and start over again – and God says “I forgive you, now go and sin no more.”

Someday, I am sure my children will be in my shoes, and they will be saying similar things to their kids.  When that time comes, I will know that I did my best to teach them to follow in the footsteps of Christ.

Until Next Time,