Psalms of Lament

psalm-13-lament

Fifty or one-third of the Psalms are classified as laments. Gary Yates further explains, “Laments are times when the psalmist prays to God in times of trouble, distress, sadness, and in life-threatening situations.”[1] Walter Brueggemann classifies laments as psalms of disorientation as the relationship between the psalmist and God is conducted in an honest engagement, and where pain and hurt are acknowledged rather than denied and avoided.[2] The basic elements of the laments consist of: (1) an opening address or an introductory cry out to God in a very personal way; (2) a lament where the psalmist gives a description of present troubles, often in a very figurative, extreme, and over the top way, to make God aware of the dire circumstances; (3) a petition or prayer, which consists of what the psalmist is actually asking God to do; (4) a confession of trust and faith that God will act; and (5) a vow of praise where thanksgiving and sacrifice are offered when the Lord delivers the psalmist from his trouble.  Logan Jones describes the depth of pain in laments, “was the characteristic way of expressing and voicing the hurt, [but] the distinctive movement from plea to praise [demonstrated] an act of boldness. This movement does not stay stuck in the plea of brokenness and grief; [it] moves beyond to praise and unparalleled transformation with joy, wisdom and hope.”[3] This transformation did not deny the reality of brokenness or grief. Instead, the lament provided trust, confidence, and gratitude towards God.

Yates also illustrates, “The Bible does not command us to fake joy; it promises us a deep and real joy that is so satisfying because we know God is with us, regardless of what we are facing in life, [enabling us to] come to Him with complete honesty, especially in times of desperation.”[4] Jones adds, “By praying the laments, Israel had a way of directly facing the hurtful dimensions of human life. Israel did not try to explain them away, deny them, or avoid them. Instead, Israel held to the premise that all of life – even the hurtful dimensions – was embraced by it covenantal relationship with God.”[5] The psalmist’s relationship with God is deep, personal, and authentic. In Psalm 13, Nancy deClaissé-Walford et al. explain:

The prayer is spoken from a situation of severe crisis… The original crisis may have been a physical, emotional, social, or economic crisis. But two things are clear. First, the psalmist definitely understands the crisis as a spiritual and theological crisis — the relationship with God. Second, the psalm is now available to any believer for reuse in a variety of life situations.[6]

Craig Broyles further demonstrates, “This psalm allows believers to voice the mixed emotions often felt toward God while in the midst of hardship, namely complaint and trust.”[7] In Psalm 79, the lament depicts a community crying out for help and most likely refers to the Babylonian exile in 586 B.C. Everything the nation of Israel had believed and trusted in was gone and the people had no hope. However, in every lament, there is a wonderful transformation that occurs, where heartache, pain, and misery turn into joy, thanksgiving, and praise.

Laments are cries for help and Yates makes a valid point that “Part of dealing with pain is being able to express it.”[8] As Roland Murphy demonstrates, “The psalms are about honest dialogue where nothing is held back. The words of the psalms speak to the very core of human experience in ways other language cannot begin to approach. In this way, the psalms teach us how to pray, how to stand faithfully before God, asking and even demanding response, action, and answers.”[9] The psalms also teach us to bring our hopes, praise, and joy to God and they call us to bring our fear, pain, and sorrow before God. In desperate times, Jones illustrates “the psalmist gives voice to the anguished part of our human experience, [where] questions are asked that have no answers: How long will God forget? How long will God be hidden? How long must pain be born? How long will the enemy be exalted?”[10] These are valid questions, which every believer has wrestled with. Jones suggests some of the greatest reasons for the laments are to help believers make it through seasons where there is no hope and a cry for deliverance, for healing, for life, for mercy, for forgiveness, for help, for vengeance, for relief, for hope, for attention, for presence, and for strength.[11]

Jones then explains, “bad things happen, circumstances change, loss occurs, and grief and sorrow break the heart, [which] leads to the first movement [as] the cry of lament speaks of the terrible truth of disorientation.”[12] However, when the pleas and petitions reach God, Jones illustrates disorientation does not last forever. Instead, the laments petition God to be true to His character and as a new orientation emerges, blessings and breakthroughs in life are witnessed and praise and worship are given for all God has done. However, spiritual growth does not happen over night; it is a life-long pursuit of trusting and praising God, despite the circumstances.

By praying the laments, individuals will be able to face any hurt, betrayal, or anxiety, by looking to God and embracing the covenant relationship he or she has with Him. Jones explains, “The movement from orientation to disorientation to new orientation… is a way to move deeper into a faith which is transformative, where God indeed makes a difference.”[13] Laments illustrate why it is important to lift one’s petitions before God because as Jones explains, “Our pain can be spoken and named, our hurt can be lifted up and heard, our cries can come from our heart, and we can rest assured nothing, nothing at all can separate us from the love of God.”[14] The believer must simply understand and trust that God hears every prayer and He is continually working in the lives of His children, according to His perfect plan.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Broyles, Craig C. Understanding the Bible Commentary Series: Psalms. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group, 1999.

deClaissé-Walford, Nancy, Rolf Jacobson, and Beth Tanner, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament – The Book of Psalms. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2014.

Jones, Logan C. “The psalms of lament and the transformation of sorrow.” The Journal Of Pastoral Care & Counseling 61, no. 1-2 (2007): 47-58. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed November 3, 2016).

Murphy, Roland. “The Faith of the Psalmist,” Interpretation 34, (1980): 235-238.

Yates, Gary. “The Lament Psalms: Part 1.” Filmed [2011], Liberty University Website, OBST 660 Course Content, Week Two Video Presentation, 17:54. https://learn.liberty.edu/webapps/blackboard/content/listContent.jsp?course_id=_328279_1&content_id=_14949919_1 (accessed November 1, 2016).

________. “The Lament Psalms: Part 2.” Filmed [2011], Liberty University Website, OBST 660 Course Content, Week Two Video Presentation, 14:18. https://learn.liberty.edu/webapps/blackboard/content/listContent.jsp?course_id=_328279_1&content_id=_14949919_1 (accessed November 1, 2016).

 


[1] Gary Yates, “The Lament Psalms: Part 1,” Filmed [2011], Liberty University Website, OBST 660 Course Content, Week Two Video Presentation, 17:54. https://learn.liberty.edu/webapps/blackboard/content/listContent.jsp?course_id=_328279_1&content_id=_14949919_1 (accessed November 1, 2016).

[2] Logan C. Jones, “The psalms of lament and the transformation of sorrow,” The Journal Of Pastoral Care & Counseling 61, no. 1-2 (2007): 47. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed November 3, 2016).

[3] Jones, “The psalms of lament and the transformation of sorrow,” 48-49.

[4] Yates, “The Lament Psalms: Part 1.”

[5] Jones, “The psalms of lament and the transformation of sorrow,” 49.

[6] Nancy deClaissé-Walford, Rolf Jacobson, and Beth Tanner, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament – The Book of Psalms (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2014), 158.

[7] Craig C. Broyles, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series: Psalms (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group, 1999), 87.

[8] Gary Yates, “The Lament Psalms: Part 2,” Filmed [2011], Liberty University Website, OBST 660 Course Content, Week Two Video Presentation, 14:18. https://learn.liberty.edu/webapps/blackboard/content/listContent.jsp?course_id=_328279_1&content_id=_14949919_1 (accessed November 1, 2016).

[9] Roland Murphy, “The Faith of the Psalmist,” Interpretation 34, (1980): 235.

[10] Jones, “The psalms of lament and the transformation of sorrow,” 52.

[11] Ibid., 52.

[12] Ibid., 51.

[13] Jones, “The psalms of lament and the transformation of sorrow,” 50.

[14] Jones, “The psalms of lament and the transformation of sorrow,” 54.

Centrality of Christ in Discipleship

i-am-title-bright

IMPORTANCE OF THE CENTRALITY OF CHRIST IN CHRISTIAN DISCIPLESHIP

To properly understand our role as disciples, we must first understand Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost, but in order to save, He first had to be willing to serve. In a like manner, Dave Earley illustrates what is necessary when we join Christ on His mission, “The growth and development of the believer is both internal: becoming like Christ in word, thought, and attitude and external: becoming like Christ in action.” Because Christians are called to be Christ-like in our words and actions, this writer finds it especially interesting when you look at the group dynamics of Jesus’ disciples. He had His twelve, but within that sphere were the three in His inner circle and the one whom He beloved. Greg Ogden cites two reasons for His model. The first is “Internalization: by focusing on a few Jesus was able to ensure the lasting nature of his mission. The second was by Multiplication: just because Jesus focused much of his attention on a few does not mean that He did not want to reach the multitudes.” We see Paul continue the same approach by investing in the lives of a few to reach the many.

HOW OBEDIENCE & SUBMISSION REFLECTS THE DISCIPLESHIP OF CHRIST

Our hunger for significance has turned the Great Commission into the Great Suggestion by putting one’s needs ahead of God. Christ told His disciples, “If you love Me, you will keep my commandments.” As Earley states, “Discipleship is not merely a matter of information remembered. It is about a lifestyle that is practiced. It is a lifestyle of absolute abandonment to loving God and obeying His commands.” If one truly believes the word of God to be real, they should do what He commands, but as Soren Kierkegaard writes, “We pretend to be unable to understand [God’s word] because we know that the moment we understand, we are obligated to act accordingly.” This is profound! If the words of Christ were to be taken seriously, only complete obedience and submission would be the result. Ogden summarizes the struggle that takes place in each believer as: “Coming to Christ is therefore a battle of our wills. No one makes a decision to follow Jesus without wrestling. Jesus will only have one place— first. Even once we are “in Christ,” there is a constant need to align our will with His desire. To love God with all of our heart is to seek to obey all of His commands and live under His authority.”

To obey every command of Jesus is a tall order by any stretch of the imagination, but to even come close to obeying them is only possible by depending on God to give us the grace needed to live a life, which brings glory and honor to His name. When we are obedient and submissive to the word of God, following the Great Commission , the Great Commandment , and the New Commandment are possible because of the trust we put in God’s word to be true.

3 STAGES OF DISCIPLSHIP

The three stages of discipleship involve a declaration, development, and deployment. In the first stage one is asked, “Will you believe in Jesus”? In the second stage one is asked, “Will you follow Jesus?” Finally in the third stage, one is asked, “Will you obey God’s commands and go and make disciples?” Just as Jesus made disciples, we are called to do the same. The first stage of declaration leads to a believer, the second stage of development shows one how to follow Jesus, and the third stage of deployment puts into practice all you have learned by multiplying new disciples. David Walker poses the question, “If the chief role of the church is a mission to the world, surely that form of discipleship that primarily exercises it must be seen as significant in itself, alongside other discrete expressions of Christian discipleship.” This writer believes each stage of the discipleship mission plays a crucial role in fulfilling the Great Commission effectively and the goal in the entire process is sharing in the life of Christ. Gareth Robinson illustrates, “The faith we have received is the faith we are to pass on: through the Church [by making it] clear that anyone may come and find acceptance, no matter their lifestyle. But coming to Christ and becoming his disciple requires a life change.”

How Stages Work Together

Each stage builds on the skills and lessons learned previously. In our walk with God, there is no such thing as standing still. We are either moving ahead with Jesus in our daily walk or we are losing ground. We see this model played out as a new believer moves from being regenerated to being transformed and ultimately turning into a disciple who reproduces and multiplies other disciples and teaches them to observe everything God has commanded. In an ideal model, a new believer should turn into a disciple through an apprenticeship process and by studying God’s word so that disciple can learn to do the same thing for others. As Earley concludes, many people just follow the first part of the Great Commission without the teaching and mentoring aspect, which only leads to immature followers.

Earley demonstrates, “Each level called for greater faith, obedience, and commitment; each level yielded greater intimacy with Jesus, and each level produced greater impact on others.” As the disciple becomes convinced and moves through each stage what began as curiosity leads to conviction and ultimately a committed conversion and desire to multiply. Anthony Gittins proposes the purpose of discipleship is mission oriented and says, “Discipleship requires the recruitment and formation of believers who will continue the work of Jesus wherever they may be and wherever they are led.”

How Disciples Take the Steps of Obedience

One of the first things a disciple must do is lay aside their doubts and trust in God completely. Miriam Seyler poses the question, “What might our lives look like if we graciously accepted this grace of God, of which Paul speaks, as the terribly expensive gift that it is? If God could give to all humanity this extravagant gift of salvation, can we offer anything less than unfettered obedience in return?” Where He calls you, He will provide a means of transportation and what He calls you to do, He will equip you with the necessary giftings. God does not build staircases that go nowhere and He is intentional in what He has called each of us to do. As a disciple begins to trust and believe in God we see Jesus move from being a Savior to a Master and finally as being a Commissioning Officer. Earley in his obedience model equates it to, “Coming to Jesus, Being with Jesus, and Going for Jesus.” In obedience, a disciple of Christ is always looking to take the next step with total disregard of self, out of complete faith, and commitment.

During the second stage of commitment, the disciple moves into a deeper relationship with Jesus as they learn to pray, love one another, and live a life centered around community. Faith should lead to obedience as James Thomson illustrates: “The Christian faith, like all things that enter upon the mind of man is never free from the dangers of a one-sided emphasis. The Gospel is a ‘Divine-Human Encounter,’ having its origin in God, but intended to be realized in the lives of men.” All of our desires come from God and our most basic desire is to love and be loved by. This is why the story from Genesis to Revelation is about relationships. Humanity is created in the image of the Triune God and as believers we are invited into the Godhead by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in our lives. As a disciple learns to devote themselves to one another the next step is learning to love one another. If we love the Lord we will obey His commands. This powerful declaration is rooted out of love. Just as Christ loves us, He commands us to love one another.

The more we immerse ourselves in the word of God, the more we discover not only the nature of God, but also who we are in Christ. It is here where the believer must count the cost of what it now means to move from being a believer to being a follower. One of the best examples is the story of the rich young ruler. Canon McAdams illustrates, “His desire for eternal life is strong, but misguided. He can’t bet everything on Jesus. He needs a back-up plan in case Jesus and His God don’t or won’t deliver.” This story has a very sad ending, but no one should follow Christ without first understanding the cost. When we surrender completely, we catch a glimpse of the unending love God has for us. Ogden conveys, “We love God with our minds by absorbing the truth about who God is as revealed in Scripture and aligning our lives accordingly; in other words, it is through the absorption of Scripture into our way of thinking that we take on the mind of Christ.”

The final stage of obedience occurs when everything we do and everything we are is about advancing the kingdom of God and bringing glory to His name. Charles Spurgeon said it best, “Every Christian is either a missionary or an impostor.” Everywhere we go is a mission field and we are commanded by Jesus to be missionaries; the question remains if we will be obedient? Before attaining this final stage you must be able to answer yes to that question. As Robert Garrett concludes, “The greatest missionary in history was Jesus Christ.” Jesus was not only sent into the world to save us; He was also a Rabbi and disciple maker. Jesus sacrificed everything for humanity as Earley conveys, “Jesus willingly left His Father, home, possessions, position, culture, comfort, convenience, safety, and security in order to come to earth and carry out His assignment.”

CONCLUSION

In summary, Jesus sent His disciples into the world to make disciples. That mission has been passed to Christians today. Jesus emphasizes the urgency when He said, “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few.” The fact that only two percent of believers regularly share their faith with others, that only five percent have ever led someone to Christ and barely half of born again believers know what the Great Commission is does not look well for the future of Christianity. It should compel us when we contemplate that over one hundred people die every minute because death is only the beginning. Whether one wants to admit it or not, we all have everlasting life; where we spend it is determined solely on whether you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. As disciples, we are being called and sent out into the world so that through our love, all would know we are His disciples and through deep personal relationships we are able to open the door to evangelize and lead others to the same loving Savior who rescued us. Jason Dukes eloquently summarizes our mission as, “The Sender has sent you and me to be His letter of love unto humanity. May we live sent daily and may we begin now.”

Bibliography

McCord Adams, Canon Marilyn. “Diagnostic Discipleship Mark 10:17-31 Proper 23 [28].” Expository Times 117, no. 12 (September 2006): 509-510. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed November 6, 2015).
Dukes, Jason. Live Sent: You Are a Letter. Birmingham, AL: New Hope, 2011.
Earley, Dave and Rod Dempsey. Disciple Making Is…How to Live the Great Commission with Passion and Confidence. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2013.
Earley, Dave and David Wheeler. Evangelism Is… How to Share Jesus with Passion and Confidence. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2010.
Garrett, Robert. The Gospels and Acts: Jesus the Missionary and His Missionary Followers in Missiology. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 1998.
Gittins, Anthony. Called to Be Sent. Liguori, MO: Liguori Press, 2008.
Ogden, Greg. Discipleship Essentials: A Guide to Building Your Life in Christ, (Expanded Edition). Westmont, IL, USA: InterVarsity Press, 2009. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 5 November 2015.Copyright © 2009. InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved. http://site.ebrary.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu:2048/lib/liberty/detail.action?docID=10734189 (accessed 11-5-15).
Ogden, Greg. Essential Commandment: A Disciple’s Guide to Loving God and Others. Westmont, IL, USA: InterVarsity Press, 2011. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 5 November 2015. Copyright © 2011. InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved. http://site.ebrary.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu:2048/lib/liberty/detail.action?docID=10768107 (accessed 11-5-15).
Robinson, Gareth. “Three keys to mission: Kingdom, incarnation and discipleship,” Theology March/April 2015 118: 107-114, doi:10.1177/0040571X14559158. http://tjx.sagepub.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu:2048/content/118/2/107.full.pdf+html (accessed 11-6-15): 110.
Seyler, Miriam. Guest editorial: “Obedience to Jesus Christ.” Sewanee Theological Review. 48(3), 267-269. (2005). Retrieved from http://ezproxy.liberty.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/214715328?accountid=12085 (accessed 11-6-15).
Spurgeon, Charles. The Soul Winner: Or, How to Lead Sinners to the Savior. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1965.
Thomson, James Sutherland. 1951. “Gospel of life.” Theology Today 8, no. 3: 302-312. ATLASerials, Religion Collection, EBSCOhost. http://rx9vh3hy4r.search.serialssolutions.com/?ctx_ver=Z39.88-2004&ctx_enc=info%3Aofi%2Fenc%3AUTF-8&rfr_id=info:sid/summon.serialssolutions.com&rft_val_fmt=info:ofi/fmt:kev:mtx:journal&rft.genre=article&rft.atitle=The+Centrality+of+Christ&rft.jtitle=Theology+Today&rft.date=1951-10-01&rft.issn=0040-5736&rft.eissn=2044-2556&rft.volume=8&rft.issue=3&rft.spage=294&paramdict=en-US (accessed November 6, 2015).
Walker, David. (2015). Christian discipleship and consecrated life. The Australasian Catholic Record, 92(2), 131-140. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.liberty.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/1700064508?accountid=12085 (accessed 11-6-15).

Living Above Your Circumstances

God vs. Satan

When things seem to continually go wrong in life, we must continue to trust God. When the reins of life slip from our fingers and we are no longer in control, we must still continue to trust God.Live a positive lifeYou see our response to adversity has the potential to lift us up above any challenge we may come across. Unfortunately, the natural human response is to turn to negativity and start complaining. This mindset only leads deeper down the rabbit hole to depression by darkening our perspective.

Instead of complaining, we should be crying out to God and we should be thanking Him in all things. I realize this can be hard to do, especially during times of great loss and suffering, but if you are already in the habit of looking to God in the good and the bad, it will be much easier for you to lean on and trust in God’s plan when disaster strikes.start next chapter in lifeRemember that Satan is waiting for the opportunity to inflict the most damage in your life to take you out and that can easily happen the longer life is grand and God gradually takes a back row seat in our priorities. However, with an attitude of praise during times of turmoil, you will experience an unfathomable peace regardless of what is going on in your life.

Many times in life, we have not because we ask not, so what we must never forget is the Spirit of God dwells inside every believer and His power is infinite. As we pray, praise, and trust God, we channel that power to move mountains and do miraculous things.lion-and-lambThe problem arises when we try to do things on our own with our own strength, which is finite, because Jesus tells us the main reason He ascended to heaven was so He could send the Holy Spirit to be our helper and ever-present help in time of need. In life, it is not by might or by power, but by the power of the His Spirit says the Lord Almighty.
CaddyshackOur joy in trials and tribulations is something we must also guard especially in seasons and chapters of life that seem to have no end. Our joy is not dependent on our circumstances; true joy is the by-product of dwelling in God’s presence. The joy of the Lord is our strength, so any adversity we face should not negate joyous living, in fact, we should consider it pure joy! When God is first in our lives, we can find joy even during the most difficult trials and circumstances. Even though we don’t know what tomorrow may bring, God does and our breakthrough or miracle may be right around the corner.

We must walk by faith and not by sight and in II Corinthians; Paul actually says we are to live by faith and not by sight. When we worry about whatever we are walking through or what may happen, we deafen the voice of God in our lives. Where does our help come from? It comes from the Lord and He is waiting for His children to call out to Him and to trust Him in all things. We must entrust God in every area of our lives because His ways are so much higher than our own.
Don't let things bring you downIn all things we should rejoice, for this is the day the Lord has made and we are to be glad in it. If you can wake up and start the day with that as your first thought, I promise your days ahead will be far better than your latter. It does not mean you will no longer face adversity, but it ensures that God is with you in whatever and whenever something or someone may attempt to steal your joy, so always remember to give thanks in all circumstances and God will never forsake you.

Stress

images

The very word causes us to tense up and lately there seems to be an overwhelming amount of stress in our daily lives. If stress itself does not kill us, how we react to it might very well! It may be the fact that Easter is right around the corner, but that should give us more cause to rejoice than exhibit stress!

Understanding God will never give us more than we can handle is fundamental to dealing with daily demands and believing we can make it through anything. It’s become a joke now, but for those who truly know me, it is safe to say that I have lived through some STUFF meant to rob, kill, and destroy me.

In the midst of each trial I faced, it was crucial I kept a positive perspective and attitude because when you are standing in the eye of the storm, it is real easy to allow adversity and despair to finish you off. As one trial comes on the heel of the next, it’s real easy to give up, but every obstacle has only strengthened my resolve because I know I am living in the center of God’s will and if He is allowing these trials to take place then they serve a divine purpose.
imagesAny setback has the potential to be a setup for something greater if we maintain the right attitude, thus positioning us to be in the right place to capitalize on an otherwise seeming less disaster.

The mess of our lives can easily turn into stories of God’s redemptive love, faithfulness, grace, and mercy when we slow down long enough to listen to God. This can be difficult to do as the storms of life with deafening tornados attempt to rip our very homes off their foundation, so we must be intentional about making time for God and listening to His Spirit.

When God is your foundation, the wind can blow as hard as it might, the rain can pour until you have to swim, but one thing remains constant: God will never leave nor forsake you. We get so caught up in the moment, which causes panic, which leads to worry and fear, but God is not limited by time or space. God is here, He’s there, and He’s everywhere and our future is in His hands.
stressed-outStress, worry, and fear about tomorrow or regrets are wasted emotions. We need not be concerned with these thoughts because the Lord came that we may have abundant life and as long as we keep God first, it doesn’t matter what the world throws your way. Many of us limp through each day as if we were on life support or extras in the Walking Dead, which is so sad. Instead of living victoriously, we live defeated which is an oxymoron! God is omnipotent and when He is first in our lives, nothing will hold you back from accomplishing your destiny because nothing is too difficult for the Lord.

Cast Your Burdens on the Lord

never-be-afraid-to-trust-an-unknown-future-to-a-known-god-corrie-ten-boom

Whatever we are going through, God knows. That statement itself should give us peace and strength to endure anything, yet we often find ourselves fighting to survive the daily circumstances and conflicts that surround us.

While we are gasping and choking for air, we should be resting at the Master’s feet breathing in His daily peace and calmness. While we are treading water with no sight of land, we should be sheltered and safe under the Lord’s outstretched arms of protection – so why aren’t we?

God promises each of us a supernatural peace in the midst of turmoil, if we seek Him first. In turn, despite what is going on, we will know He is in complete control. To cast your cares upon the Lord also means to give God control in your circumstance. You can’t have one without the other! Carrying life’s burdens leads to anxiety, which causes us to worry, and which ultimately takes our eyes off God and focuses them on our problems and ourselves.

Worry is fundamentally a willful form of self-centeredness. Instead of praying and seeking God, we can become consumed with trivial circumstances. If you could picture heaven and earth colliding, our minds would be in the epicenter. There is a daily struggle being waged and if we lose the battle over our minds, we lose the war. Staying grounded in the Word and keeping in close communion to God is how we overcome and prevail over the siege warfare being used to wear us down. In the end, God gives beauty for ashes, like a phoenix rising from its own demise. God will do the same for us when we allow Him to use our circumstances for His glory and when we view our trials through His eyes and perspective.

We expend countless energy and resources on problems which are either unimportant or are completely out of our control. However, when we look to God and allow Him to carry our burdens, we allow Him to shine light in the dark areas of our life and we trust Him to do what only He can. In 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 Paul said, “all our troubles are light and momentary, compared with the eternal glory being accomplished by them.” These profound words mean we have no idea what or how our trials and circumstances are accomplishing. Some trials may be for us: to strengthen us, to better ourselves, or perhaps to even correct an area of our life; while other times, the trials we walk through may be for the people in our lives. We may be the epitome of a disciple of Christ, but one trial comes on the heel of the next and it’s the people in our lives who are watching how we handle ourselves when there seems to be no hope. True faith is always measured where there seems to be no hope.
TrustGodGod’s Word tells us to lay our requests before Him and to wait in expectation. This is impossible to do if we don’t keep our eyes fixated on God. As we draw near to Him; He draws closer to us and when we are in communion with God, we can hear His still, small voice speaking words of wisdom, love, joy, peace, and life. Worrying accomplishes nothing just as maybe leads us in circles that go nowhere. Jesus answers yes and amen and He empowers us for whatever life may throw our way and He is our song allowing us to have joy despite our circumstances. Today is the day the Lord has made, so let us rejoice and be glad in it. Don’t worry about tomorrow for it will worry about itself. Like manna from heaven, God will give you exactly what you need to make it through this day and tomorrow He will do the same when you seek Him with all your mind, soul, and strength.

The way of the Lord can be narrow and often steep, even perilous at times. That is why we must constantly cast our cares, our anxieties, and our burdens on Him so we are less likely to fall as we traverse the path set before each of us. The less we have to carry the less likely we are to fall. As we give God everything that attempts to hold us back, He takes them and buries them at the cross where the blood of Jesus was poured out so we never have to live in condemnation of our sin and so we can experience closeness with God. When Jesus cried out, “It is finished,” the veil in the temple was torn from top to bottom making a way for each one of us to know and experience God on a deep and personal level. God knows what you need and when you need it, so trust Him and you will never regret it. I’ll end with two of my favorite quotes: “We must cease striving and trust God to provide what He thinks is best and in whatever time He chooses to make it available. But this kind of trusting doesn’t come naturally. It’s a spiritual crisis of the will in which we must choose to exercise faith.” Charles R. Swindoll & “Fear is the glue that keeps you stuck. Faith is the solvent that sets you free.” Shannon L. Alder

Praise Before the Prize

“The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to Him in song.” Psalm 28:7 (NIV)Psalm_28-7

Last night, I awoke in excruciating pain with barely enough strength to merely sit-up in bed. It was in this moment, I could hear the Lord speaking to me. All I could was praise the Lord, so that’s what I did.Jesus - Just praise Him
The longer I praised Him, the more my faith began to increase as I knew He was answering my specific prayer in that very instant. God delights when we call out to Him and He is even more pleased when we rely on Him entirely.

Going through this spinal fusion surgery and now recovery has enabled me to see so many new sides of God I knew existed, but had never experienced first-hand. I know my road ahead is going to be tough, but I also know that nothing is impossible for my God!god-of-wonders_t

One area I am a little apprehensive about is coming off of all the narcotics I have needed to give me some sort of normalcy in my life over the last two years. This scares me and I am just being honest. To depend upon something to just make it through every day and then just stop is terrifying to me! I am already praising God for what He is going to do in this because I know that He is all I need, He will sustain me, He will strengthen me and He will give me rest.

At any given moment, our greatest weakness is God’s greatest strength!

If we can get in the habit of believing this and praising God before we can even see our victory, He will sustain us until all of His promises are fulfilled. Knowing this is such an encouragement to me and I hope after reading this, you would look to areas in your own life where despite what your finite minds can fathom and what your limited eyesight can see, you would begin to trust God with everything in your life. Ultimately, it’s our praise that will illuminate God’s presence over all of our circumstances!keep-calm-god-will-make-a-way-2

Be Still and Know I am God

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34 (NIV)
Living Happy on a day to day basis
Never in my life have I had to really upon God so much than I have this last month. I have pleaded for him to intercede in my daughter’s life as we walked through a painful chapter called the NICU and I have pleaded with God to heal my wife’s diabetes and to keep her cancer in remission, but trusting God to act in your own life is different; it feels more intimate.

3 weeks ago, I underwent a spinal fusion procedure meant to correct the damage inflicted during a severe vehicular accident while I was riding my road bicycle. Up until 10 days ago I would have told you I felt things were finally starting to improve and that I had turned the corner from the major surgical pain I was experiencing. That night, I went to sleep and upon waking up, I could not feel my left leg and my right hip felt like someone was repeatedly stabbing me with an ice pick while the sciatica shooting pain straight from the pit of hell had intensified exponentially down my right leg.Pain
I was totally bed-ridden by this new onset of pain. What really terrified me was all the pain in my extremities had vanished after the surgery leading me to believe despite the surgical pain I was feeling, the surgery itself was a complete success.

Now you can probably imagine my horror and the thoughts that raced through my head: “I wondered if I did something wrong, or if something had broken off or come loose, or if they would have to operate again?”

After these thoughts began to race through my mind, I can remember the very instant because I could hear the enemy begin to whisper, “The surgery was unsuccessful and you will always be a prisoner to your pain.”TRUTH & lies
Immediately, I rebuked those lies in the name of Jesus, but I couldn’t deny my concern with the sudden onset of new symptoms.

Praise God, after viewing my scans and speaking with the doctor, he confirmed the promise God had already made to me: “My healing is real & God is true to His word.”

The doctor went on to say the symptoms I was experiencing were normal due to the sensitive nature of nerves and since my impingement had lasted for such a long time, there was quite a bit of uncertainty and unpredictability as to how long I would experience these new symptoms, but praise God we are not limited by man’s understanding of medicine.

I praise Jehovah Rophe for the work He has begun in me and will complete and I bind any lies or hindrances the enemy is trying to put in my path in the name of Jesus!

I can sense the enemy trying to do everything in his power to waiver my faith regarding the promise God made regarding my complete healing.cloud_serpent
God knows me and He knows exactly what I need. If this journey has taught me anything it is to take one day at a time and to rely solely upon the Lord.

When we spend our time worrying about everything going on around us, we miss everything God is doing in our life, whether it is seen or unseen.
Beth Moore said something that has always stuck with me regarding fear. She said, “FEAR is nothing more that False Evidence Appearing Real.” When we allow our fear to overshadow the power of God, we limit His power which is unlimited! The more we begin to trust God and praise Him for what He is doing, the more we will see Him make ways where there are none. The more we begin to sing praises to the King of kings while our world is crashing in around us, the more we will see miracles happen right before our eyes!

I pray as you read these words you would begin to look at areas in your life where you need to trust God more and for areas you need to praise God more. When the light of God shines upon us, there is no limit to what He can accomplish in and through us!
praise-god