Archives For Complaining

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Don’t mute Jesus. Excel in making Him known through loving the unlovable. Jesus never chose sides. He loved the world. He hung on the middle cross loving both the one on the left and the one on the right. He chose them both, but only one chose Him that day. He chooses everyone that everyone might have the chance to repent and turn to Him in surrender. 2 Peter 3:9b teaches that God is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”

The only division Christ came to bring was to a division that points all of humanity to a decision for Him or against Him. He did so because choosing Him or rejecting Him is the only eternal choice that really matters in this age, or the age to come. You must point humanity to the middle cross every day of your life through your actions and your words. People in our world are hungry to belong. They are hungry and thirsty to be heard, valued and love unconditionally.

Pointing humanity to the left or to the right will never satisfy the hole in their lives. Pointing them to the middle cross is the only answer. In John 6 Jesus speaking to the crowd said, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” Jesus is still offering that call to the world today. He doesn’t offer it through himself (his physical presence) anymore because He sits at the right hand of the Father waiting to return. However, he still offers it through us, His children by the power of the Holy Spirit.

As Christ followers,  you and I have the Spirit of God living on the inside of us seeking to serve and rescue the world. The rescuing of the world doesn’t happen by following the media, or by choosing the left or right. Rescuing happens by choosing to obey the command of love, and pointing the world to the middle cross where Jesus stretched out His arms wide to embrace everyone who would hear.

Will you obey and follow His leading, or will you be a quencher of the Spirit? Will you mute Jesus today by choosing the left or the right or will you live for Him and promote Him today by choosing the middle? The middle cross is still the only answer for the world because Jesus used it to defeat evil forever. Jesus turned an ugly cross of Rome into a vision of beauty that rescues the world.  His crucifixion was the greatest act of love ever accomplished for humanity, and it’s still the only path that leads us home.

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Have you ever felt numb emotionally and spiritually? I’m sure you have. Maybe even today you find yourself in just such a place. You don’t have any feelings because they seem to be gone. The effect of sadness and depression over the many closed doors in your life have slowly cut off your faith blood supply, and you feel only numbness.

Numbness! That place in your faith life where you want to completely give up, but you know you can’t, and you know you won’t. Numbness is the part of walking by faith that personally haunts me the most. Maybe you know the feeling I’m referring to?

You are doing everything right and still all the doors in your life seem to close with a dull rudeness. You break out your faith check list to make sure you are walking pleasing to the Lord and sure enough everything for the most part seems to be right on track. Why then is every door closing, and yet for everyone else around you, the doors seem to not even have a close option?

Numbness will take you to the place of Elijah. Elijah had just witnessed an incredible miracle in his life. He witnessed God move on Mount Carmel in such a way that human involvement couldn’t be credited with any part of it. Yet, not long after the open door miracle, we see him whining that he’s all alone as a follower of God. He is numb! He is in the perfect storm.

Numbness led him to isolation but even in the isolation God was there. Numbness can’t push God away from you. He is commanded to get up and eat and to his surprise food and water have been supplied for him. Numbness can’t cut you off from your needs being supplied.

Then he was told, “Go, stand on the mountain at attention before GOD. GOD will pass by.” We are informed that a hurricane type wind passed through the mountains and shattered the rocks, but God wasn’t in the wind. Then after the wind there came an earthquake, but God wasn’t found in it either. Next, fire came, and God was not found in the fire. Finally, a whisper! God was in the whisper.

Numbness can’t be blown away. Numbness can’t be shattered away. Numbness can’t be shaken away. Numbness can’t be burnt away. However, numbness can be whispered away.

The whisper always comes. The whisper always comes. I’m waiting on my whisper. It will come!  How about you?

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Is it just me or is there anyone else that worries about not worrying about what God may or may not do? When I’m under pressure, I tend to overlook for answers in my own strength.

At times,  it manifest in running every scenario that could happen, or should happen to the point I can’t even sleep well at night. Time and time again living my faith in this manner proves to be a big waste of…well…FAITH.

After all the time wasted searching in my own power, I always end up with nothing! Then it happens. God reminds me that I can’t do anything with NOTHING but He can do anything and everything with NOTHING.

Suddenly, deep in my heart I can feel a groaning of the Spirit of God praying for me the perfect will of God and then it happens; peace consumes me. Sometimes, when you stop looking, and you stop trying to figure it all out, God moves for His glory in your life.

The searcher of hearts is always looking and listening for the groaning of the Spirit inside our hearts. God is always having conversations and communion in our hearts. When there are no more words to pray, the Spirit of God intercedes with groanings at the intersection of ruin and misery within the Christ Follower.

You must share in God’s sufferings to share in His glory. However, suffering when complete gives way to a beautiful witness of His glory and that is enough. God uses suffering, emptiness and troubled times of unanswered prayers to build His character in us, conforming us to Christ, and prepare us for final glory when heaven and earth become one.

You might not get what you thought you needed, but you will get what brings Him the most glory. Sometimes it takes getting nothing to get everything.

Romans 8:26-30 (NKJV)
26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for uswith groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

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Acts 5:40-42 ESV

And when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.

 

It has been said, “God doesn’t simply want us to feel good. He wants us to be good. And very often the road to being good involves not feeling good.”

Suffering can be embraced as a wind of advancement OR Suffering can be embraced as a wind of retreat

In Acts 5, Peter and the apostles suffering pressed them forward and not backwards

  • They were beaten and charged not to speak in the name of Jesus anymore
  • They Rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name
  • They daily taught in the temple and from house to house, preaching Jesus

They could live through suffering because they had a view that looked higher than the suffering right in front of them.

Suffering becomes beautiful when you look up, down and around and realize you are following Jesus.

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I’m empty today. There is nothing inside of me that is happy. I’m my own worse nightmare. I break promises to God all the time, and I feel there is no way He can love me knowing the thoughts of my heart.

Bitterness haunts me and broken dreams seem to be the only thing in front of me. I keep going and yet deep inside I long for another direction for my life. I question if God knows what He is doing in my life. I fail so often I’ve almost started to expect nothing less.

I wonder constantly how to be a better Father, and yet I seem to never follow through on things and time is slipping away. I desperately want to be a better husband and yet I fall short time and time again. I want to be a better pastor, but I’m confused to what all that means and I wonder if I’m just setting myself up for more disappointment.

I write these things today to show you the voices I encounter on a daily basis, but I also write to tell you more.

I’m actually not empty because He said He would always be with me. That is a promise I can count on regardless of feelings. I don’t have to always be happy because He has promised me joy by the power of His Holy Spirit. I don’t have to worry about being my own worse nightmare because He is for me. I may break promises, but He is the God of mercy and even though He sees the thoughts of my heart, He knows I’m but clay and loves me anyway.

The Bitterness that comes from broken dreams only proves He has a better plan and a better way. The longing for another direction is only a thought of momentary escape, and God knows I’m committed until the end. He is not afraid of my questioning Him because in doing so, I’m drawn closer to His heart. I might fail more often than succeed, but He is there to pick me up when everyone else has run away.

He whispers to me that being a Father is not about being perfect but about loving them and pointing them toward Him, the perfect Father of all. He encourages me to love my wife as Christ loved the church and yet knows I will fail from time to time. Again He shows me His mercy and Grace. He calls to me to remain steadfast in being a pastor and promises me that when the chief Shepherd appears, I will receive the unfading crown of glory.

Oh the beauty of following Christ! Maybe you have similar feelings about your life today? If you do have similar feelings, then welcome to the human story. If you do have similar feelings, then He knows all about them. If you do have similar feelings, then you need to know they will one day pass away forever. Until then, keep walking, keep believing for He is with you.

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Don’t pick at your scabs! Healing can’t fully take place if you’re constantly picking at the very healing your body is trying to do for you. The same thing is true with emotional and spiritual wounds. They hurt and often feel like death is to follow, but soon, if you allow the Holy Spirit to do His work in you- scabs will form, and the healing underneath can actually begin.

It will be tempting to pick at the scabs. They will turn red and swollen. They will itch like crazy from time to time also. However, don’t pick them. Scabs are for a reason. Healing is taking place below the surface. You can’t see it, but one day you will see the beauty of the healing when the scabs naturally fall away.

Will any scares remain? Sometimes scars will hang around.  If scars show after the healing, don’t get upset. Instead of getting upset, try smiling because you are in good company. Jesus had a few scars also and even showed them off to the disciples.

1 Peter 5:10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

Pain is no evil, unless it conquers us.  ~ Charles Kingsley

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Be it my Heavy Metal Band of the 80’s, (click here to enjoy or laugh) or being a pastor for more than 24 years, I’ve always been on stage under the lights. It’s my role in life. I’m always in front of people. I’m usually the one that gets the recognition and applauds of the crowd. I’ve never felt like I’m the one that picked myself to be upfront.  I feel like being upfront  selected me. I know for sure God called me to preach, and that by default, has put in front of people for many years.

At times,  I don’t mind being up front. I know it’s my call and responsibility. At other times,  it feels like a curse. I’m always being evaluated, sometimes in a good way and then at other times in a bad way. At any given time,  it’s a mixed bag of opinions sitting right in front of me. To top it all off God watches it all go down.

There are some among us, (maybe you) which have a desire to be in the spotlight. Don’t misunderstand me; it’s not wrong to have that desire, just don’t miss the beauty of serving in the shadows. You are among truly esteemed company when you do. Many down through the history of following Christ have served in the shadows. Timothy served in the shadows. Gaius served in the shadows. Tertius served in the shadows.

Something tells me that one-day, those in the shadows will be brought into the light, and the last shall be first. It seems to me that serving in the shadows is underrated in the here and now, but will one day be elevated beyond anything you can imagine. If you are serving in the shadows, don’t get discouraged with your call. God is watching even when no one see’s what you are doing. Hagar gave God a name, “You are the God who sees me” (Genesis 16:13a)

Keep serving in the shadows. God will reward you soon enough, and I will be watching from the back of the line with a smile as you get your rewards to lay at His feet.

The Ugly Grudge Bucket

February 21, 2013 — 4 Comments

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There is just something ugly about a Christ follower carrying grudges. Carrying around that proverbial bucket filled with ugly is a laborious task to keep doing. In fact, not only is it laborious,but also it grieves the heart of God. We are supposed to be people of forgiveness.

Grudges lead to nowhere good! Grudges damage everything. Grudges will hurt you from the inside out and will produce a wedge between you and your fellowship with God. Letting go of grudges and moving beyond them is the only godly option.

Letting go of grudges can prove to be difficult. Let’s face it, when you have been hurt, it is hard to let go. Fear often plays a role in us not letting go because we don’t want to ever be hurt again. Therefore, we hold on to the grudge and keep our guard up. As right as that may feel, you and I know deep down inside it’s just downright wrong.

You can only be free when you forgive. Otherwise, you are in a prison of your own creation. You are letting the grudge be your Lord instead of Jesus. Anger and frustration control you more than you know. However, you would do well to remember Ephesians 4:26-27 – And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.

Grudges are nothing to play with. Grudges can take you down a path you never thought you would go. You might do something you will regret forever. Turn before it’s to late and you jeopardize your reputation and the position you carry as a Christ follower.

Holding on to a grudge is not done in a vacuum. The longer you hold a grudge the more you will entice others into thinking about the person you are angry at in the same way you do, then you become the blind leading the blind.  Read with your heart the following verses and enjoy the rest of your day.

Hebrews 12:14-15 – Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.  Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.

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Complaining feels like the right thing to do, when my world is falling apart. Complaining makes me feel like I’m fighting against injustice in my life. Complaining is something I falsely think I can control and direct in any direction that makes me feel a little better.

What about you? How do you view complaining? Do you like it? Does it feel good to complain when your world is not lining up the way you expected?

We like to complain because it seems to get the discontentment that is on the inside of us out. However, complaining is just downright wrong to do, and it changes nothing.

Complaining will never change the problem or problems you are facing. In fact, complaining most often causes more problems. Complaining spreads discontentment through your spirit faster than anything else I know.

The most devastating fruit of complaining is it keeps me from obeying God’s word and trusting Him with all of my life. When you complain, you reach into the hand of God and take little bits and pieces that you think should be changed the way you see it and not the way God see’s it.

In Philippians 2:14 we are instructed to “Do all things without grumbling…”

Notice the two words, ‘all things.’ That certainly sums it up! We are not to complain because God is in control of our lives. When we complain it is a form of non-trust in God’s working in and through our lives. When we complain, it is disobedience and unbelief. Worst of all, Complaining  gives place to the enemy to work stronger in your life.

So, what is the answer? What must we do?

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 gives us the answer and what to do. It tells us, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

For more on Complaining and some practical steps, see this post.