How I Almost Quit Christianity

HOW I ALMOST QUIT CHRISTIANITY

“If my only reference was the comments or actions of professed Christians, heaven is not a place I’d want to be….What started with my disdain for others’ bad behavior ended with repentance for my own…as Pastor Tullian Tchividjian stated, “A preacher who doesn’t believe he’s that bad will attract people who don’t think they’re that bad. And that’s bad…” Taking lightly the depths of my own depravity takes lightly the depths of God’s abundant grace…I’m a Christian. I have thorns. I need grace!” READ THE REST HERE…

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When I Don’t Want God to Be God

1. fear is misplaced faith

Likewise, anxiety is misplaced divinity – something else is God.

4 a.m. – I still hadn’t gotten any good sleep, a daunting reality when I reminded myself the day’s alarm would be blaring in less than 2 hours.

5 a.m. – I jolted awake, somewhat confused because it’d been more than a year since a wave of panic had washed over me like it did in that one sweeping moment. Yet, also somewhat aware of where those overwhelming anxieties were stemming from.

I realized I didn’t want God to be God in HIS way, I wanted Him to be God in MY way.

Having survived years of abuse and working with a number of trauma survivors, I’m well aware of the brokenness life can bring. What heightened my awareness this week was sending all four of our children off to school where they’re no longer under my watchful care. I whispered, “God, please help me to trust You’ll protect my children.” Then, it hit me: what if God protects them the way He protected me? Tears spilled down my face as I realized I didn’t want God to be God in HIS way, I wanted Him to be God in MY way. I don’t want God to allow a fraction of the pain in their lives that He allowed in mine. I want His protection to look like mine would. I want Him to prevent our pain, but He’s determined to purpose our pain.

When I’m honest with myself, I have to admit there are times that I don’t want God to be God. That’s what the heavy dose of panic coursing through my veins was really about. It was really about whether or not I am willing to embrace God’s allowance of affliction over my preference of protection. Do I desire my Savior to also be sovereign? Quite often, at the root of our anxiety is a difficulty in trusting the sovereignty of God, a difficulty in relinquishing all illusions of control to an all-consuming God who won’t reveal all of His plans to us. Notice I mentioned we seek to retain “illusions of control” because our striving with God says nothing of His enduring omnipotence. He’s still in control. He’s still God.

At the root of our anxiety is a difficulty in trusting the sovereignty of God.

Our enemy uses the truth about our experiences to speak lies about our God. His native language is deceitfulness; he’s the father of lies (John 8:44). And, he is still feeding us the same lie he fed Adam and Eve all those years ago: we’d be better gods than God himself.

I’d have to agree with the saying that “fear is misplaced faith,” and I’ll add that much of our anxiety is misplaced divinity. We’ve made something or someone else God – usually ourselves. When we allow our emotions to escalate unchecked, when we listen to the lies about God’s goodness, lies about His character, about His steadfast mercy and love somehow not being what’s best for us, we’re choosing to exalt potential problems over the Prince of Peace. God foresaw that we would experience anxiety, but He calls us to submit those worries to Him because if we don’t we are essentially making a God of whatever or whomever we trust more (1 Peter 5:7). If I trust myself to handle my situation, protect my children, etcetera, more than I trust God, then I’m essentially saying I don’t want God to be God; I want to be God. If God isn’t God, then someone else will be. Quite often, that someone else is self, evidenced when we would rather be the person in control than let God be God. But even the most terrific person will make a terrible God.

If God isn’t God, then someone else will be.

If you are struggling with anxiety, first, know that you are not alone. Know that the God of the universe looked ahead in time, knew you would be burdened with this struggle, and specifically called you to cast all of those anxieties on Him because He cares for you. Second, know that help is available through Christ-centered counseling and medical interventions. You weren’t meant to bear this cross alone. I’ve already prayed for those reading and wanting more help; I believe God for you. Below is a list of resources for anxiety management and finding a skilled therapist in your area.

Click HERE: Anxiety Relaxation Techniques

Click HERE: Find a Psychotherapist (U.S.A. or Canada)

Click HERE: Therapist Locator (outside U.S. or Canada)

 

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The Pain to Push

godly sorrowI’m not a fan of pain. It’s not even that I’m unable to manage the pain, so much as I’ve nurtured a fear of experiencing pain more than I’ve nurtured the fact that I’ve overcome pain. In a brief lapse of judgment, I attempted to birth my oldest son without pain medications. Please note this is not at all to divide those who opt for pain meds and those who do not, but considering my fear of experiencing  such intense pain, it wasn’t wise for me. In fact, for our next child, I asked when the epidural would arrive, and I wasn’t even in labor yet! I just wanted to make sure we were all on the same page.

The most refreshing aspect for me was that I could actually fall asleep and not have to worry about contractions or, you guessed it, pain. The nurses asked me not to push, and I gladly took a nap until the doctor arrived. On the other hand, I’ve heard many women share their “natural” birth stories, and once the baby is in position and that pain to push hits, there IS no holding back! You see, while I was numb, while the pain had been taken away, I could make the choice not to give birth to the child I’d dreamed about holding in my arms. Oh, but when there’s pain there’s a persistent pressure to give birth to your dreams! Thank God for the pain!

As noted in the scripture above, Godly sorrow produces something. God’s pathway to peace often goes through a valley of pain. Make a commitment to stop looking for the easy way out, stop looking for the smooth, easy road where you can be lulled to sleep instead of birthing your dream. Your path will be filled with pain, but once you’re in position, the pain will get you to push! The pain will actually lead to your deliverance, it’ll lead to you birthing the dream! As the enemy sends fire your way, let it cause your purpose to burn within you even more. Below, I’ll share a relevant vlog on exactly that. Also, visit and follow the uplifting new blog of my friend ((You Can Shout Now)) who inspired this post by reminding me that some things are so pressing you just have to get it out!

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The Two Halves of Life

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I’m greatly enjoying a book by Richard Rohr, Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life, which holds the premise that life’s “necessary suffering” is not an obstacle to be surmounted, but a pathway to be journeyed, a pathway to the second half of life. In the first half of life, we are driven by our ego, our need to achieve, to build something for ourselves, to discover and be discovered. I would summarize, however, that in the second half, we are more propelled by empathy because we have tasted defeat. In the second half, we embrace a deep desire to join others in their joys and sufferings, a desire to see justice, but only through a lens of grace, a desire to be certain of less, tentative of more, and ever decreasing in our resistance to change.

As I absorb the many delineations of first vs. second-half-of-life relating, I see my old self as having operated out of many of the first-half-of-life issues, such as searching for and finding my identity. It’s with some apprehension that I proclaim I’m now fully embracing the second half of life, only because I know my ego would love nothing more than to convince me I’m better than “those people,” those still journeying through the first half of life. But, there’s nothing inherently wrong with the first half of life. In fact, we need the first half of life if the second half will ever be sustainable. We need the roots of our tree; we need motivation, achievements, suffering, winning, and especially failing. So, I haven’t become too entangled in the notion that I’m not right where I believe I am and right where I believe I should be. The second half of life has also come with a firm sense of acceptance, both of self and others, of our individual and collective experiences, a sense of belief in that thing called intuition, which the first half of life threatened to consume. I see second-half-of-life indicators in my life and the lives of some around me. I see it when a friend questions why she’s okay with the fact that human beings will sleep outside tonight, or when I question why I allowed the slightest bit of my initial outrage to wane after seeing impoverished children eating dirt cookies for sustenance. I see the second half of life emerging when a friend said that for her, getting older has meant accepting the parts of her that have been beneficial to others but detrimental to her and acknowledging that without being bitter about it. I see it in my life when I realize I still have anger for some of my first-half-of-life experiences, for the loss, for what was willfully destroyed and stolen, but that my anger isn’t vindictive; it’s redemptive. I see second-half-of-life living in a friend who recently prayed to become like a child, not for the purpose of shirking adult responsibilities, but for the purpose of loving with reckless abandon, for the purpose of wholeheartedly living out the beliefs we’ve collected throughout the first half of life.

I believe that in this second half of life, we begin to feel a righteous indignation for societal wrongs that we know we may never completely correct or even address in our lifetime, but we find it worth our tears, our anger, our voice, anyhow. In this half of life, I’d rather regret standing up at the wrong time than regret not standing up at all. I think it’s an impossible ideal to live life without regrets, but I’m rather determined to pursue life with such purpose that I prefer my regrets. All of these issues are merely foundational, though, merely questioning whether one is living from the first or second half of life. The book further discusses the unintentional, upward fall into the second half, and I look forward to the other directions it will carry my mind.
falling upward

The Two Halves of Life

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The Usual Suspects

devil's lies

The Usual Suspects

At the end of the movie, “The Usual Suspects,” Kevin Spacey’s character states, “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” I think that just as insidious, though, are the tricks he still pulls on those who do believe he exists. This post isn’t to give credit to the devil, but it is to address the common tactics he employs against us. We’re engaged in spiritual warfare, not wrestling against flesh and blood, and our enemy is not being passive; he’s like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (Ephesians 6:12; 1 Peter 5:8). That’s why we have to put on the whole armor of God to withstand the enemy’s schemes (Ephesians 6:11).

We are in battle and we can’t afford to listen to our enemy’s intel. He won’t give us accurate information; he’ll craft lies to combat every truth that would otherwise set us free (John 8:44) When I examine the common voices vying for attention, I can come up with a few “usual suspects,” a few common lies used to attack our faith. I believe the most common lie is that God’s promises are not for you. This lie comes in many forms and threatens to eclipse the many truths found in God’s Word ― that His grace is not for you, that you’ve gone too far, done too much, strayed too long, that you’re too broken, too damaged, too dirty, that too much has happened, you’ll never be okay, you’ll never recover, never fully be restored. Your enemy knows that if you instead believe the precious promises in God’s Word, you’ll know the Truth, you’ll be completely devoted to the cause of Christ, completely set free (John 8:32; John 17:17).

Another “usual suspect” is when the enemy tells you to look at yourself, look at your situation, look at how long you’ve been waiting for change. All of these ideas are antithetical to the Word of God and the exact opposite of where we find victory. We’re constantly reminded to look to God, look to the completed work of Jesus Christ, crucified, never to look to ourselves. Our enemy wants to keep us from looking to the God from where our help comes, keep us focused on our trials, not on the Truth. Recognize the usual, suspect voice that tells you you’re alone, tells you it’s useless to keep trying, or any of the other usual lies. Partner with a friend and confront each lie with God’s Word of Truth; lies have no power where Truth is spoken and embraced.

lies we believe

by all means paint

Truth will silence the loudest lies.

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Distance Makes No Difference

distant from god

Distance Makes No Difference

“If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room,

I would not fear a million enemies.

Yet, distance makes no difference.

He is praying for me.”

I’ve tweeted, blogged, and posted this quote on Facebook numerous times; I pass it, daily, on my living room wall. I know what it means for me, but during family worship, I asked our kids what the preceding quote meant to them. I was floored by the following responses:

3-year old twins: *incoherent sentences verbalized in the direction of the wall (something about Jesus praying)*

Middle Son: It means that God is praying for us. (side note: I continue to be blown away that Jesus intercedes for us, whether through prayer or being the atonement sacrifice for our sins.)

Eldest Son: It means that even though we don’t see Jesus right there, He’s praying for us, and it also can mean that even if we’re spiritually distant from Him, He’s still praying for us.

That’s when I was blown away all over again! The Word says He is able to save to the uttermost — that’s at all times, in all cases, to all depths, from any distance — those who draw near to God through Him, since He ever-lives to intercede for us (Hebrews 7:25). Thankfully, the bible also tells us we can’t even come to Him unless the Father draws us (John 6:44), and it’s God who works in us both to will and to do His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). So, even the drawing near unto God part is handled by Christ Jesus, the one who died, was raised, is seated at the right hand of God interceding for us (Romans 8:34). Whether we are drawing near to God or becoming distant from Him, the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings we cannot utter. He searches our hearts and intercedes for us (Romans 8:26-27). Whether near or far, in seeming physical proximity or spiritual intimacy, distance makes no difference, God is for us, and if He is for us, none can be against us. Distance makes no difference, He is praying.

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seated at the right hand of god

He Is Praying.

Where to Find Yourself

Where to Find Yourself – As Christians, we often find ourselves mired in service to others. Service is great, but unfortunately, it’s entirely possible to lose ourselves in things that seem good. This post is about where to find ourselves. Enjoy!

Project Encourage Mom

Today, I am pleased to share my first guest blog post.  Dee Knight is visiting with us today from Adjusted Sails.  We have become friends in the last 6 months, and she has been a great blessing to me.  Today’s post is a must read.  It is the very thing that I need to remind myself over and over again.  I pray you are blessed and encouraged.

Where to Find Yourself

I remember feeling incredibly saddened when watching Oprah interview Lance Armstrong’s ex-wife, Kristin Richard. She conveyed that her marriage ultimately dissolved because she had lost herself, lost who she was, and forgotten what she liked and disliked. She said she was trying to emulate whatever she thought was the perfect wife and perfect mother, and somewhere in the process of pursuing others’ goals, she lost her own. I don’t want to lose my marriage to find myself, but in…

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