My office is a mess. I have papers stacked on papers, pens scattered across my desk, piles of stuff on my desk and table. Organization is not one of my strong giftings, but I do like cleanliness. I like it when there is nothing on my desk and everything is in its place. It seems to create a sense of peace. The problem is that as soon as I get everything where it needs to go, it all ends back up in a state of disorder in a matter of minutes.
Life tends to run the same way. We work hard to try to get things in order, to feel like life is neat and tidy. The next thing we know some whirlwind slams in and throws everything into a state of disarray. Our heads are bobbing from the current.
You may feel like everything has fallen apart today, but just take some time to pick up the pieces. Place your life in God’s hands and allow Him to help you straighten things up. Sometimes it takes a storm to help us appreciate the sunshine.
Have you ever wondered if God chooses to be silent? Are there times when you simply cannot hear Him speaking to you? I am at a place in my life where I am straining, pleading, needing to hear God speak to me. My family recently moved to a new town about two months ago, I confess it feels like an eternity. It’s been a slow summer, a spiritually dry summer. We’ve had a difficult time finding a new church, I haven’t made any close friends and I am terribly homesick. I’ve been isolated in a small town and the local Kwik Shop is about my only option for a fun night out.
Now, if you are an introverted, laid back personality this may sound like bliss, isolated at home, not a lot of people to hang out with, and not a lot to do. For an extroverted, Type A personality, it’s like sitting in the dentist chair getting a root canal that takes hours to finish. I confess that my personality needs a lot going on, projects to manage, people to interact with, places to go, and something to do other than laundry, (my boon companion). It’s difficult for me to be still. Now let me say that again like a 5 year old asked to sit quietly, IT’S DIFFICULT FOR ME TO BE STILL! I haven’t been able to find a job, I have no friends, and if I have to clean another toilet I may lose my mind.
In my lonely state of self-absorption, I am reminded of the Israelites. If they weren’t on the mountain top, they were in the valley complaining. If God wasn’t speaking to them directly or doing awesome miracles, they worshipped another. If Moses wasn’t telling them what they wanted to hear, they threatened to leave. The Israelites were fickle, wondering, emotion driven people who let their circumstances determine their value. It wasn’t enough to be a child of God, they needed to be a child of God with lots of stuff. It’s great to be a child of God when things are going well, with a place to live, food to eat, and prosperity in your future. It’s difficult to just be a child of God and not know where you will rest your head, how you will put food on the table, and have no employment prospects. We might not be that destitute as my husband has a good job. But the move has been difficult, in fact, the last few months have been down right trying.
Simply put, I get the Israelites. I love being on the mountain top, like attending a great worship service where the worship is palpable, the message is inspiring, and lives are changed. I love being around people who are friendly, kind, and interested in my life. I love having a job that makes me feel like I’m valuable and where I get all kinds of accolades. I love having lots of friends and lots of activity in my life.
My American driven ego and life style isn’t used to not having these emotionally driven activities. Therein lies the problem, I’m not used to being still and I’m not good at trusting God in the valley.
I believe the Word of God is true and I believe God fulfills His promises. Yet my heart is aching and my emotions are on a roller coaster. So what’s a girl to do? Run and worship another idol like the Israelites because my emotions are not falling in line with what I believe to be true? Or do I claim the Word of God and keep my emotions from influencing what I believe and how I behave?
I’ve let my emotions deter my course of action before, swerving from the truth just a little bit so as to appease my aching heart. It ended badly for me and has had a profound impact on my life. I will write about that in future blogs. So today, June 27th, I chose what I know to be true regardless of emotion.
God will not forsaken or abandon me.
God has a future and a hope for me.
God is still the same no matter what my circumstances.
God is doing something new in my life.
If you are in a difficult place where trusting Him doesn’t “feel” like the right thing to do and you want to run in the opposite direction from Him rather than to Him, then let’s claim this promise together.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
To be continued……..
I’ve been doing some reflecting on my life in recent days and I’ve come to a few conclusions. One is that I can’t believe I’ve turned 40 this year. Another is that I can’t believe we’ve been living in Herrin, IL for over 12 years now. Don’t get me wrong, I love being here; but if you had told me back in December of 1999 that I’d still be in Herrin in July of 2012, I might have laughed in disbelief. Over the years of my life, I think one of the things that God has been trying to get through this thick skull of mine is this idea of grace. When I look at the Scriptures, I see this colossal theme of God’s grace throughout, and I think it’s becoming more and more clear as the years go by. Paul shares an idea about this in Romans 7...
I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. (Romans 7:21-23)
I would encourage you to read that entire section of Scripture to get a better understanding of Paul’s point. I really believe I’ve caught a slight glimpse of what Paul is describing here, even though I feel as though it’s literally the very tip of the iceberg. I hate sin my friends. I don’t hate it nearly enough, but I do hate it. But I still sin and God, by His grace, shows me when I do. I wish I did not sin at all and that is the desire of my heart- to be 100% free from sin.
But this is where we live my friends. We are a fallen people, and if we are believers, we are being redeemed. And actually, we are being sanctified. As believers, we’re all in this thing together. We are a sinful people. We make mistakes. We fail frequently. We deal with issues of pride. We deal with lack of self-control. We deal with anger, jealousy, frustrations, and the like. But we have to co-exist. And, as believers, we have to learn how to be gracious.
For ourselves, we have to learn to be recipients of grace. One of the greatest dangers of dealing with sin in the life of a genuine believer is that it makes you want to give up in despair. We begin to think that our ability to live without sin is somehow proportional to God’s love for us, but this is not the case. We’re not on a performance scale here. Praise the Lord that is not the case! This does not mean we continue in sin, but it certainly does mean that we need to understand who we are and lean even more upon the grace of God. And we must bear with one another my friends. So, let us walk in grace and share His grace.
D. Courtney Hill
This morning I was listening to the radio on my way to work. It seems they have been talking quite a bit about a drug known as ‘bath salts’ recently. I have heard enough about this drug to learn that people who are addicted to meth warn others to stay away from it. Apparently it is extremely difficult to regulate and legal companies have been selling it on their shelves. They listed the stores that carry it as primarily convenience and porn stores. Illinois has recently cracked down by placing very strict punishment on those stores that carry the substances. The new law imposes large fines and jail time on any store owner convicted of selling the drugs widely known as ‘bath salts.’
While I am totally in favor of imposing laws that reprimand those who sell these destructive substances to the general public, I think legislators often miss the point. It seems that the majority of laws look at the ‘how’ but totally ignore the ‘why.’
It seems that we often don’t ask why people want to destroy their lives by giving themselves over an addictive substances. If we better understood the ‘why’ we may find a more useful ‘how.’ We restrict one addictive substance and people seem to look a more dangerous drug. We outlaw that drug and those same people find an even more harmful material. The cycle just continues. One thing that seems too often overlooked is the power of the human will. If a person desires and is addicted to a drug, they will often do whatever it takes to get that drug. They will turn into thieves or even murderers to obtain that one thing that they so greatly desire. We seem to never ask why they desire it so greatly. I think if we could do a better job of understanding why people turn to drugs in the first place, we may be better prepared to help keep that destructive behavior from ever starting. Instead we just outlaw it.
Blaise Pascal is quoted as saying, “There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.” I agree with this statement. I believe we all are born with a void inside, a ‘God shaped vacuum.’ We just don’t feel complete, it’s as though a major piece is missing from our lives. People try to fill this void with everything from pleasure to fame. It can only be filled by God, but we try to fill it with other stuff just the same. I think this is a big part of why many people use drugs. They are unwilling to accept God’s forgiveness and turn to chemicals to fill that void. The drugs make them feel good, at least temporarily. Once the drugs wear off, they want more in order to get that feeling of escape. They ultimately end up destroying their own lives and leave a huge mess in their wake.
You may or may not agree with my theory and that’s okay. I do pose one question to you, however. Don’t you feel that it is important to first understand why so many people turn to drugs before attempting to learn how to make them stop?
Since the Scientific Revolution entering on the heels of the Renaissance and the subsequent Enlightenment movement of 17th and 18th centuries, the Western mentality has taken on a unique way of thinking. You can read pieces of pop literature and other works from each time frame and see a shift happening in the very words you read. It is in light of this, that I would like to issue a brief challenge for your mind. Has the "Age of Enlightenment helped or harmed our understanding of Reality, Morality, Spirituality, Philosophy, etc.? In many ways, there is not doubt we are much better off than our ancestors due to scientific advancements and medical progress. In other ways, it seems we have lost our sense of being and a knowledge of our place in the universe. Since we are the product of the Age of Reason, many of the advantages from that development shape the way we think today. In fully acknowledging that, I will explicate a thesis that articulates the disadvantages that our modern and post-modern mentalities would tend to find disagreeable.
"One cannot prove by scientific means, that a supernatural being can exists." The very basis of this statement is true. There has never been an empirical study that can prove the existence of a supernatural being. However, there is a major fault in this line of thinking. That fault is this, the typical Western mind has been conditioned to think the highest disciplines are the sciences. Here it is often presumed that fact and truth are synonymous, therefore all truth must be found by verifiable facts (empirical evidence). The modern mind has set up the scientific pursuits as the highest of all disciplines. It is the basis for thinking in terms of medicine, space, physics, etc. It is also the foundational stone to atheist and agnostic epistemology. There is one undeniable truth to this basis--One can never answer the question "Why" with science alone. It can only answer "How." With the overarching assumption that only that which is empirical can be considered true is very minimalist and limited with regard to the spectrum of knowledge. People follow that way of thinking to form a logical strand to Theism and Intelligent Design--see below:
All Truth/Reality must be the result of Empirical evidence.
The absence of Empirical evidence=Not true/Not real
One cannot prove Empirically that Divine Beings exist, therefore they do not exist.
But there are other disciplines that play into a fullness of knowledge, which Scientism is vastly inadequate in its contributions.
The basis for scientific study is the ability to recreate results repeatedly to verify them. The scientist would quickly find himself ill-equipped to prove or explain the meaning of life. Why some people fall in love and marry other people...Why societies take on the forms they do...Why language develops the way it does (Note: to this day, linguists are still at a loss in explaining the meaning and origins of language).
Science cannot prove I was depressed last week over spilling my favorite coffee after I left the coffee shop. They can make inferences, but they can only trace the chemical reactions in my body without definitively proving the immediate event precipitated that chemical reaction. Science is also ill-equipped to prove that Napoleon marched 600,000 men into Russia and returned with about 6,000. They also cannot prove any other event in history--because those events cannot be repeated and recreated through thorough testing. Science is still ill-equipped in explaining what some philosophers have called the "Ghost in the Machine." (that which makes us as humans operate)--let alone the development of morality and ethics-the innate sense of right and wrong.
One of the disadvantages of our "Age of Reason" is that we have hailed empiricism as the ultimate in knowledge and keep it unaccountable to the other disciplines, like history, philosophy, music, religion, etc. There are many ways of knowing and empiricism is only one in a spectrum of others. So one major deficit of our Modern Man is that his ability to gain fuller knowledge is hamstrung by the almost worshipful reverence for scientific facts to which all other forms of knowledge are mere schoolyard games that have little bearing on the pursuits of reality.
When we open the door to other forms of knowledge, we may find a higher sense of existence and a fuller life. We may even be able to create categories in our head for the supernatural. And who knows, that may lead us into another "Age of Enlightenment" where all spectra of knowledge are harmonized, not monarch-ized under one dictatorial form, leading us to a better knowledge of ourselves and of the meaning of life.
Just a few thoughts for the evening.
May the Peace of Christ be with you.
I lathered my face with urine…
That is what comes to mind when someone asks me what my most embarrassing moment in life was. Today I am going to discuss a difficult topic – depression. It is a demon that I have personally faced and conquered in my life and I hope that today’s words can be of some help to people who are struggling with this dark enemy.
If you know me well, you would not associate the word depression with my personality. I am a happy, fun-loving guy. I love to laugh and say/do things to bring a smile to other people’s faces. I do have a dark period in my past, however, and it took place during the part of my life that I earlier referenced. Before I get to that story, let me give you some background. When I was a child I was thin, athletic, and popular. I have mentioned in another blog about some of the challenges I experienced when I moved to a new school and lost my popular status.
I changed when I hit puberty. I suddenly gained weight and went from being as skinny as a rail to ‘pudgy’ overnight. I also wore glasses and braces and began developing what would later become severe acne. My parents also went through financial strains. My mom worked for a company that made carburetors when fuel injection took over the industry and my father worked for a hardboard siding company while aluminum and vinyl siding were beginning to dominate the industry. Both plants closed around the same time and my parents were without jobs. They both had enjoyed good incomes while working, but we suddenly became very strapped for cash. This resulted in my not having as expensive clothing as other classmates. In case you didn’t get the picture I went from being thin, popular and well off to overweight, wearing glasses and braces, unpopular and poor practically overnight. I had normally been a very happy guy but suddenly became angry, sad and depressed. I had a very difficult time liking myself.
When I was twelve I went to a summer camp and had a wonderful time. I really felt like part of a group and it was nice to make new friends. I couldn’t wait to return the following year. That next year I ended up in a cabin with some extreme pranksters. Most of the guys in my cabin were from a different part of the state. They all went to the same school, were friends with each other and apparently of a high social status in their school. They really enjoyed having fun at the expense of others and I quickly became a target. I was already experiencing problems with acne. Unbeknownst to me they decided to take my bottle of Sea Breeze, empty half the bottle and fill it back up with urine. I used the bottle the next morning and they all began laughing at me. One kid in the cabin finally told me what was so funny and I cried. I felt like the worst person on the face of the earth and wanted to crawl into a hole and die. To make matters worse my face broke out into a rash so I had pimples and a rash on my face the rest of the week.
I don’t think I told anyone, including my camp counselor about the incident because I was so humiliated. That was one of the lowest points in my life. The guys played several pranks on me that week from dumping cold water on me while I was in the shower to hiding my clothes, but urinating into my facial medication is the one that hurt the most. I think the only reason I returned to camp the next year was because my dorm leader, Tim Bagwell, was a really nice guy who invested time into my life. I really felt like he cared about me and he was the main reason I went back. I never had another bad experience at camp like that again and camp later helped me overcome my depression and those later years still remain among my fondest memories.
I dealt with low self esteem throughout high school. My acne was so bad that I went to a Dermatologist and was put on a severe medication known as Accutane which was later linked to severe depression, sometimes resulting in suicide, and digestive disorders. While on that medication I exhibited strong swings in my emotional stability. I was sometimes angry and often withdrawn and depressed. I am naturally an extrovert but I was more of an introvert during that phase of my life. I did contemplate taking my own life but my strong faith in God overcame my negative thoughts.
When I was eighteen my outlook on life took a dramatic change. I began making new friends, some of whom I am still close and I began to see myself as God sees me. Over life I have realized I am important and I want to make that clear to you today. You are an important person and you were created with a purpose. If you are dealing with low self esteem, please know that you do have great value and life is worth living. I am about to release my first published novel and I would have never experienced the joy that comes with this accomplishment if I had allowed depression to rule my life or if I had taken my life at a young age. Don’t give up on your future. –Tim