GRIEF


Psalm 34:18

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

        Haydee

We all experience losses; some are more devastating than others. The loss of a parent, or close friend can shatter our world. The loss of a child is probably the most devastating loss to deal with. There are other losses that are burdensome such as job loss, or surviving cancer but dealing with the lifelong issues that result from the lifesaving surgeries. Even moving to a new state brings the sorrow of leaving friends and everything we are comfortable with. When you experience loss of any kind, there will be grief and sorrow. We must all deal with these emotions as a part of life.

As I write this, my mother-in-law has just been laid to rest. She had a series of strokes followed by other declines in health, and eventually Alzheimer’s disease. Since that first stroke she wasn’t the vibrant woman who raised my husband. In many ways Gerry has been mourning the loss of his mom for years.

There is such finality to death. This truth can shake our faith. Even when death is expected it’s always catches us unprepared because it is final. There are no second chances. No more holidays or conversations. No more photographs. Even when a loved one is ravaged by an illness that leaves them bedridden and unaware, we mourn the loss.

On April 15, 2000, my husband rushed me to the emergency room where I lost a baby girl. We were devastated. We loved Hailey from the moment we started planning for her. I blamed myself and I felt the loss was unfair. Other women were experiencing the joy of growing their families while I had empty arms. People would say the oddest things to me to attempt to comfort me. Their words usually added to the pain. The grieving process shows us that life isn’t fair.

Psychologist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross explains there are five stages to the grieving process: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. As you deal with your grief you will move back and forth between these stages in a unique way. You won’t necessarily move from one stage to the next, to the next, and suddenly be in the acceptance stage because the grieving process is not usually predictable. In fact, grief can take us on a whirlwind ride of emotions. Our journey through the grieving process may change us in other, more subtle ways.

When dealing with grief, remember that it is a process. Your passage through grief and healing will not look like someone else’s journey. It takes time to accept the loss so spend some time remembering. Be grateful for the time you did have. Spend some time with cherished memories and old photographs. Eventually, you will try to balance the pain of loss, while coping with the struggles of everyday life. Allow yourself time to heal and experience the emotions you have. Seek out family and friends as you go through the process. Know that when dealing with grief you may experience physical symptoms such sleeplessness, changes in appetite, not wanting to participate in favorite activities, and changes in mood. This takes time, but If you have been grieving longer than a few months, seek professional help from a godly counselor.

It’s easy to blame God when there is a loss, especially the loss of your child, but we must remember that the Lord is mourning your loss too, and offering you peace and comfort. We live in a broken world. Death is a part of the circle of life; eventually it claims us all. But knowing this truth doesn’t make the pain any easier to bear. When confronted with grief, let the Lord wrap His loving arms around you. Accept Our Heavenly Father’s peace and comfort. In His Word, there are many passages and verses we can turn to help us cope and deal with our loss, and feel God’s healing presence.

The Psalms

 Ecclesiastes 3

 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

Psalm 147:3

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

Revelation 21:4

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

John 14:27

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

Romans 8:28

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

There is a song that became popular as I was struggling with my grief and helped me thorough my healing process. Some of the lyrics to “Blessings” by Laura Story (Capitol Music Group) are below:

“What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise.”

 Let the Lord comfort you and give you peace in your time of loss.

REST


Genesis 2:2-3

And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.

invest in rest

Rest is important, even vital to life, but our culture is so fast and demanding, that we rarely find time for rest, or rest may feel like we are being lazy. However, there are many places we can get a queue to take a rest. Nature is one example. There are four seasons. The environment rests in winter. Animals rest, some even hibernate. When we bake, we often let the dough rest. And in music, rests are necessary to ensure the melody plays correctly.

There are many benefits to rest. An article from Inc. Magazine explains twelve physical, mental, and emotional benefits to regular rest.

  1. Reduces stress
  2. Gives you time for recreation
  3. Reduces the risk of heart disease
  4. Boosts your immune system
  5. You sleep better
  6. Adds years to your life
  7. Restores mental energy
  8. You’ll be more creative
  9. You’ll be more productive when you return to work
  10. Better focus and mental clarity
  11. Improves short-term memory
  12. With regular time away from work, you might even love your job again!

You can read the full article here: https://www.inc.com/rhett-power/a-day-of-rest-12-scientific-reasons-it-works.html

 Rest is also a command from God. Exodus 34:21 states, “Six days you shall work, but on the seventh day you shall rest. In plowing time and in harvest you shall rest.”

Mark Buchanan states, “Most of the things we need to be most fully alive never come in busyness. They grow in rest.”  And, Alan Cohen tells us, “There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither.”

After the death of John the Baptist, Jesus told his Disciples, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves.” (Mark 6:31-32)

And Matthew 11:28-30 explains (The Message Version),

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Laziness is different that rest. The lazy person seeks rest as their goal, rarely or never pursing worthwhile activities. The Bible describes the lazy person as a sluggard and wicked (Proverbs 10:4, 12:11, 20:4). And the Apostle Paul warns, “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever (1 Timothy 5:8).

Rest is so very important to a your physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Won’t you take a break today and get some rest?

Blessings on your day.

Scripture: Openbible.info

Image: Google Image

“I Think, Therefore I Am” – René Descartes


i think....

I ran across this profound quote by René Descartes a few days ago. It made me stop and wonder about the various subjects I think about.  I began to reflect on the times I’ve been reactionary, or not thought good things. There we also times I remembered thinking about positive outcomes. We are all products of our thought life. So it stands to reason that what we think will become who we are. Frank Outlaw put it this way,

frank oulaw

I love how the King James Version puts it, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he,” Proverbs 23:7a.

I made mental notes about what I have been thinking about and compared those notes with what I want to be thinking about. I know who I want to become, so I must watch my thoughts. They will eventually become my destiny.

Philippians 4:8 helps us understand the right way think,Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”  There is so much beauty in this world; there is no reason to dwell on negative things.

Romans 12:2 also guides us, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” I’m making up my mind to change my thought life and get it more in tune with what God wants me to think about. Those thoughts will guide my future.

What are you thinking about today?

 

Scripture: openbible.info

Images: Google images

The Idols of Me, Myself, and I


pride

Romans 12:3

“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”

Recently, God has been talking to me about the idols in my life (see previous posts). A few days ago I was convicted again. A Christian radio program[i] discussed how we often put too much emphasis on ourselves – with ourselves becoming an idol in our own life. (I don’t remember the exact words, I was driving.) I felt an immediate conviction.  My life has often been about my three best friends: me, myself, and I.

Exodus 20:3

“You shall have no other gods before (or besides) me.”

It seems like a simple, straight forward command. Why then is it so difficult to put God first and love God purely? I think the answer comes down to pride. Pride is the first sin – Lucifer fell due to his pride (Isaiah 14:13).

Pride is subtle and it permeates so many areas of our lives. Pride means we are focused on ourselves. This can take on many forms. Pride can be arrogance, and thinking too highly of yourself or that you are better than others. It’s easy to recognize that attitude as pride. There are many other areas in which we a prideful but we may not be aware of those prideful thoughts. Self-pity for example; we are still focused on ourselves and not God. How about not being thankful, or forgiving? What about always needing to be the center of attention? What about being unwilling to learn (because you think you know it all)? Refusing to admit when you are wrong? Being disrespectful, or even sarcastic? Being impatient? What about jealousy? Seems to me that I am prideful in many areas of my life.

Proverbs 16:5

The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.

So how do we get past pride?

The first step many view God as God. We are not God. We know that intellectually, but we must not know it in our heart because we act in prideful ways. Remember that God’s ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). He is the creator (Job 38:4). He’s done so much that we cannot do.

The second step may be to remember that God is the provider of everything we have. We would not have what we have if God did not create us with our unique talents and personality (Psalm 139:13).

1 Corinthians 4:7

For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?

Being thankful, truly thankful for everything you have (1 Thessalonians 5:18) might be the third step. Next, admit to God how prideful we are. In prayer, ask The Lord to humble our spirit. God cannot use us if we are prideful, but a God can use a humble person.

Matthew 23:11

The greatest among you will be your servant.

I am praying also for a servant’s heart, and to accept the correction and discipline of God. I’m praying for God to lead me to humility.

Proverbs 12:1

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid.

I’m praying for God to help me conquer the pride in my life.

 

Blessings on your day.

 

Scripture: Biblegateway.com

Image: Google Images

 

[i] Charles Stanley, InTouch

Identifying More Idols


A few weeks ago I posted about food being an idol in my life. I have been conscious to try to break that sin, and I am making progress.

mobile-phones-tools-or-idols

God has convicted me of another idol in my life – electronics. Even though I use electronics for mostly good reasons, I do play games on my IPhone from time to time – when I should probably be doing something else. But that’s not all. The first thing I look at when I wake up is my IPhone. It’s only for a few minutes, to check the weather and email, but God deserves those first few minutes of my day.

todays-idols-christian-poetry-by-deborah-ann

I ran across Psalm 135:15. It says, “The idols of the heathen are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands.” That sure describes our culture today, doesn’t it? But Psalm 115:4-8 was even more convicting to me:

“Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see. They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell. They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; and  they do not make a sound in their throat. Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them.” (Emphasis mine).

Isaiah 44:9-11 explains the folly of idolatry even further:

“All who fashion idols are nothing, and the things they delight in do not profit. Their witnesses neither see nor know, that they may be put to shame. Who fashions a god or casts an idol that is profitable for nothing? Behold, all his companions shall be put to shame, and the craftsmen are only human. Let them all assemble, let them stand forth. They shall be terrified; they shall be put to shame together.”

Our idols are not alive, but our God is more than alive. The Word of God is living (Hebrews 4:12), Jesus is the bread of life, (John 6:35) and living water (John 7:38).

It’s high time for me to put electronics (and everything else that has become an idol in my life) in their proper place. They are just tools. God is first in my life, more than worthy of my full devotion and attention.

Blessings on your day.

Scripture: OpenBible.info

Images: Google images

 

 

 

What Does It Mean to be Truly Thankful?


Bible-thankfulness-gratitude

It’s November and bloggers are writing posts about being thankful. Many are wonderful blogs and well worth reading. It is good to be thankful. The Psalms and many other places in the Bible command us to be thankful. Colossians 3:15b (ESV) states, “And be thankful.” But what does it mean to be truly thankful?

A few years ago I posted 101 Things to be Thankful For (November 24, 2016). I’ve been questioning myself to determine if I am truly thankful or is it that things are going well for me so I have nothing to complain about.

I thought I would start by making sure I understand the word. Dictionary.com explains that being thankful is a feeling, or expression of gratitude and it is being appreciative. Merriam-Webster.com tells us that being thankful is being conscious of a benefit received, it is expressive, and it also means well pleased. I turned to a Bible Dictionary and learned that Thanksgiving is an act of worship.[i] So, thankfulness is a state of mind; a matter of the heart. I also think it means to have the proper perspective in life.

It’s easy to feel thankful when surrounded by friends, and food and things are generally going well in life. But are we thankful in the difficult circumstances of life? Some people are struggling with health issues, or the mourning the loss of a loved one. Others are finding it difficult to pay bills, especially at this expensive time of year. Perhaps there are difficult, even toxic, people in our life. There can be many circumstances in life that cause you to feel anxious instead of thankful.

So what can we do to be truly thankful? I think there are several steps.

  • First, deliberately thank God for sending Jesus Christ as your Savior. Thank him for the people in your life and your material blessings. Also thank God for the trials in your life and his protection in the midst of them. Those trials develop your character and mold you into the wonderful person you are.
  • Second, count your blessings. A gratitude journal is one way to do this. I kept a gratitude journal years ago during a difficult season of life. While my circumstances didn’t change, keeping that journal changed me. I was more at peace and accepting of what was happening in my life. And I felt God’s presence daily.
  • Third, accept where you are in life. It takes spiritual maturity to stop thinking about yourself, and be thankful for all the blessings God has given you. God has control of your situation. You are where you are because of his sovereignty. Thank God for his constant presence and protection.
  • Forth, be generous. There are so many people who are less fortunate that we are. Realizing this and sharing helps rise above our circumstances and gain a godly perspective.
  • Finally, recognize that being unthankful is a sin. Romans 1:21 states, “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” Instead, remember to worship the giver of all good things.

May your hearts be filled with Thanksgiving.

Blessings on your day.

 

Sources:

Scripture: OpenBible.info

Image: Google Images

[i] Holman Concise Bible Dictionary

The Idols in Our Lives


32-goldencalf[1]

The women in my Bible Study recently had a discussion on the Biblical discipline of fasting. Through that conversation I became aware, convicted in fact, that food is an idol in my life. It has been for a long time.

Let me explain. We’re programmed to eat at various times, whether or not we are actually hungry. While food is necessary to sustain life, we think about food a great deal. In the morning the question is, “what do we have for breakfast?” (And don’t even get me started on coffee.) But that’s not enough. We often make dinner plans before we even have breakfast. At work, we look at our clocks wondering what we will have for lunch, and whom we will share the meal with. And there are so many snacks to choose from. We rush home, possibly making a stop at the grocery store first, where we usually buy more things than were on our list. We then rush to prepare a meal. But we have options. We could go out to eat, spending four to ten times the amount that it would cost to cook our own meal. A few hours later we follow that with dessert.

Food is big business.

Our minds revolve around food in some way: when to eat, what to eat, how to pay for what we eat, how good a certain restaurant is, and getting a copy of that really great recipe. Our minds seem to be consumed with food.

Realizing that food was taking up so much brain power, I began to consider the other things that have become idols in my life. I thought I was a good Christian. And I don’t worship idols, or so I thought. So I looked up the definition of an idol.

A simple google search explains that an idol is an image or representation of a god used as an object of worship. The Bible is clear on this particular subject. In Exodus 20:3 God tells us, “You shall have no other gods before me” (English Standard Version). There is a footnote in my Bible that adds clarity to this verse. It reads, “You shall have no other gods besides me.” So God wants to be our only god.

We can consider ourselves safe on this matter because we don’t worship images. We don’t put anyone or anything above, or even equal to God.

Or do we?

What about our families, homes, cars, and jobs?

The next definition goes on to explain that an idol is, “a person or thing that is greatly admired, loved, or revered.”

Quite possibly I have many idols in my life.

I thought about that for a while and decided we can recognize an idol by looking at our calendars and bank statements. I pondered this for a while and came up with what I think are the top ten idols in our lives and culture, in no particular order.

1. Food
2. Money/status/possessions
3. Work/profession
4. Relationships – family and friends
5. Technology, including computers, internet, phones, and social media
6. Materialism and comfort
7. Self – meaning our ego, image, status, pride, and beauty
8. Entertainment/Escapism
9. Sports
10. Celebrities

Several others could have made the list, but I limited it to what I consider our top idols.

Ezekiel 14 is a passage in which God condemns those who have taken idols in their hearts. Verses 4 and 5 states (The Message Version):

“Therefore tell them, ‘The Message of GOD, the Master: All in Israel who install idols in their hearts and embrace the wickedness that will ruin them and still have the gall to come to a prophet, be on notice: I, GOD, will step in and personally answer them as they come dragging along their mob of idols. I am ready to go to work on the hearts of the house of Israel, all of whom have left me for their idols.’ Therefore, say to the house of Israel: ‘GOD, the Master, says, Repent! Turn your backs on your no-god idols. Turn your backs on all your outrageous obscenities.”

Wow.

So the question now becomes, “How do I remove idols from my life?” Reviewing my top ten idols list, there are things on there that we need in order to live. We have to work to get enough money to buy food, shelter, clothing, and medicine. Technology is not necessarily a bad thing, neither is entertainment. And our relationships are very important. These things become idols when we love them more than God.

So that seems to be the answer to the dilemma of idols in my life – to love God even more. Be satisfied with God first, then enjoy the blessings He sends my way.

Consider Philippians 3:8. “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.”

It’s up to me to seek God first; to pursue a more intimate relationship with him. To put Him first. Above all else. As I get closer to God, I pray to lose interest in the things I have held in high regard.

Blessings on your day.