In A World of Noise, Who Are You Listening To?

Photo by Alireza-Attari

Photo by Alireza-Attari

Do you hear it? There’s so much noise. In this world of technology, we are inundated with noise from every direction: television, radio, social media, YouTube, podcasts and so much more.

We are accessible all the time with the hand held devices that we just can’t live without. Our phones are glued to our hands or stuck in our pockets at all times so we can reach and be reached twenty-four seven.

So in the midst of all this noise, let me ask you, “Who are you listening to?”

Do you get worked up seeing the news and hearing of all the world trouble and devastation? Are you scared to be out on your own after hearing of crime being on the rise? Do you wring your hands over things that you can’t control?

Or do you try to live by the old adage, “Don’t worry, be happy.” Unfortunately, that’s not a switch most of us can just “turn” on. But we DO have Someone that we can and should be listening to in the midst of all this noise. This Someone brings peace in the chaos, calm in the storm and assurance amidst all doubting. This Someone is Jesus Christ.

He wasn’t a prophet or a good teacher. He was and He is the Son of The Living God. He is God Incarnate. God in the flesh. And He promises those who are His a peace that surpasses all understanding.

How can I possible know that? Well, I’m glad you asked. I know those things because I belong to Him. I was raised in Church. One evening during a revival service, the Holy Spirit called to me as loud and clear as anyone ever had. I realized then and there that I was a sinner and destined for hell. I fell on my face before the loving God and received His free gift of salvation.

Nope. Stars didn’t fall from heaven. Bells didn’t sound all around me. But I stood up a new creation. I have never been the same! Praise the Lord! The day, Jesus saved me from sin and to Himself. Every single day now I know I am not alone. Jesus is always with me. I have experienced more than once that peace that surpasses understanding.

While I have lived a very blessed life; one that may be considered without tragedy and sorrow, which is true in a sense - I have experienced some blows of life that are common to us all. Just so you have a picture of the peace that Jesus extends when we are His, here are a few of the losses and uncertainties that He has carried me through:

1.. The loss of both parents (one before I turned 30 and the other just into my 30’s)

2. The loss of 3 siblings (one in between my parents

3. The dreaded call from my physician - something looks like “c” and more tests are needed

4. Giving depositions for an upcoming trial

5. An ‘adopted’ child walking away from our family

6. Job struggles and financial struggles

These are all normal struggles in life. Sometimes they are devastating and people never really recover. But when you have Jesus and are listening to Him, He brings PEACE in the storm. There’s a Christian song that has a line that says “sometimes He calms the storm and sometimes He calms His child”.

And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
— Mark 4:39 ESV

I love that line in the song because it so poetically reminds us that Jesus doesn’t promise us a life of “smooth sailing”, but He does promise to never leave us or forsake us. However, as in the verse above, sometimes He does calm the storm that rages around us.

So, again, in this world of noise that we live in, I ask, “Who are you listening to?” I hope it’s Jesus Christ. He has all the answers! He loves you. He wants to save you and give you a purpose for your life. He is peace.

What Are You Afraid Of?

Photo by Emma Shappley

Photo by Emma Shappley

Last year I read a book titled Think It Not Strange by Piper and Mathis. It reminds me of the perspective we have as American Christians. We can hardly fathom persecution the way the Bible talks about persecution. Yet, when you truly think of the cost of Christianity, it’s strange that we are not persecuted - yet.

I know there have been Christians that have been persecuted for their faith here in the great USA. But we don’t often hear of that. For most of us, our persecution may include:

  • being made fun of

  • being ostracized

  • losing a promotion

  • losing a job

  • maybe even a divorce or

  • being somewhat cut off from family

But what do we gain with our relationship with Jesus Christ?

  • peace with God

  • the peace of God

  • freedom from sin

  • a calling and purpose for life

  • eternal life

  • grace

  • mercy

  • love

  • abundant life (now)

  • family all over the world (other Christians)

  • and so much more

So what are we afraid of when it comes to sharing our faith or standing up for what Jesus says is right? I’m Southern Baptist by denomination. Unfortunately, we are more known for what we are against than for what we are for. Here are a few things I am for:

  • loving people because Jesus loves people

  • serving people because Jesus showed me how

  • offering grace before judgement because Jesus gives grace to all who come to Him

  • extending mercy because Jesus has pardoned me from what I deserve

  • sharing the gospel of salvation because Jesus died and rose again so we can be saved

We are not all called to be martyrs - to die for our faith in Jesus, but we are ALL called to LIVE for Him.

We are not all called to be martyrs, but we are all called to live for Him.

Jesus made the cost of discipleship very plain.

26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
— Luke 14:26-27 ESV

But the rewards… oh the greatness of following Jesus…

“Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
— Jesus - Luke 23:43 ESV

To think Jesus stepped down from heaven out of glory to live among us. He knew that to redeem us He would have to be separated from His Father for the first time in eternity. He did that willingly because He loves you and me.

As mere human beings we cannot understand how He could take the beatings and the cross for us. But as the Holy God, He became sin - S.I.N - so we might have salvation in Him. How can that be? That, my friend, is love. Amazing love.

When I remind myself of Jesus’ amazing love for me and for you, I have to ask myself - “What am I afraid of?” Because -Jesus is worth EVERYTHING you are afraid of losing!

Transforming in a Time of Conforming

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez

The pressure! Do you feel it? It’s like a vise. Coming at us from every side. Pressing. Squeezing.

There’s only one way out! The “world” wants us as believers to conform to it’s standard. Melt us into it’s world-view. Blend in and be like everyone else.

Thankfully, Jesus teaches us to be transformed, not to conform. How do we do that?

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.
— Romans 12:2 ESV

We are transformed by the renewing of our mind. So how do you renew your mind? Through the Word of God. The Word of God is Jesus (the Living Word) and Scripture (the written Word).

First, we must be saved, born again. Being a believer in Jesus is so much more than to “believe” He exists. It’s confessing you’re a sinner, asking Him to forgive your sin and trusting that He will save you. Then you wholeheartedly follow Him. That means not following your own wants and desires, but obediently doing His will.

In today’s society, there are self-help books everywhere! In secular reading and in the Christian realm. To be better, just do this or that. God didn’t save us to be better, He saved us to be a new creation! Hallelujah! And the greatest news about that is that we don’t do that on our own - He does it! Whew! My only responsibility in the process is to surrender to Him and be obedient. He does all the transforming! The results of our transformation are up to Him. Isn’t that great news!?

That leads us to the second step. Surrender. To surrender is to submit to another’s authority. Jesus teaches that we are to die to ourselves and take up our cross - that’s surrender. Putting our own wants and desires aside and obediently following Him. Jesus lived a suffering life on this earth. So when you follow Him, you should expect some suffering.

Think of it this way, if you were to find a precious metal or stone in the earth you would have to heat that metal until all the dross was burned away or chip off all the parts attached to the stone that were not pure. If we think about that in relation to our lives, it is a painful process; often accomplished by suffering.

Part of surrender is obedience. When we submit to authority, we obey the rules, guidelines and laws set before us. The time for kicking and screaming is over. We surrendered so now we are to obey willingly.

God, not your self-effort, is the source of transformation. www.bsfinternational.org

The above quote really spoke to me in my Bible study this week. We have been studying Solomon and his proverbs. The beginning of wisdom is fear of the Lord. It is Jesus Christ who changes, transforms us. Not self-help books, not sheer will and determination, but Jesus.

If you’ve known me throughout my lifetime, you can easily see the transformation that Jesus has done in my life. Every day He is changing me even more. Sometimes the process is slow and difficult, but as I surrender and am obedient, He proves true in His transformation power!

Will you be transformed today through Jesus? He is always ready to forgive when you confess and ask. He will happily make you a new creation. Just trust Him!

Am I Coming or Going?

Photo by Guillaume Jaillet

Photo by Guillaume Jaillet

My heart’s racing and I’m so behind! I’m hurrying as fast as I can and still can’t get it all done. The house is chaotic, work is overwhelming and there’s no time for family; let alone for myself or God…

Do you ever feel that way? Do you ever feel like you don’t know if you’re coming or going?

It’s so easy to get caught on the hamster wheel, so to speak. Running and running but always staying in the same place. Feeling worn out and, yet, not getting things done. I think sometimes we find ourselves there and have no idea how we got there. Don’t you?

So what’s a girl (or guy) to do when we find ourselves in such a rush that we don’t know if we’re coming or going? I’m glad you asked!

First, stop. Let me say that again, stop... STOP… S. T. O. P.

You have to stop right where you are. It may take a while for you to mentally stop, but do that. Stop both physically and mentally.

Just rest a while. That’s right, rest. Sometimes the feeling of overwhelm comes because we are exhausted. I know that I have been pushing too hard too long when I start to have that feeling of desperation.

Next, shift your focus. Take your focus OFF of the things that are chaotic and overwhelming and put your focus on the ONE who is in control. Jesus has this (whatever “this” is). I have found that when I am focused on my problems, they seem larger than life…larger than God, even. But when I am focuses on Jesus, He is larger than life, certainly larger than any problem I have. And He is, by the way!

Spend time with Jesus. I believe the Bible has about 365 verses that tell us not to fear. That’s one a day. Start spending time EVERY day with Jesus. Read the Bible and listen for Him to speak to you through the Holy Spirit. Pray. Not the just the “gimmie” prayers, but talk with Him. Praise Him for who He is and that He cares for you. Tell Him what’s been on your heart and give those cares to Him. He’s strong enough to take them for you!

Lastly, think on things that are pure, lovely and good. As you stop, rest, shift your focus and spend time with Jesus your thoughts will change; your heart will feel peace (even in a chaotic and overwhelming world).

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Phil. 4:8 ESV

So the next time your don’t know if you are coming or going, just go to Jesus and rest at His feet for a while. He’ll lift your burdens and calm your soul.