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Why can't all followers of Jesus just come together around scripture?

Even IKEA knows humans like comfort. How creative are you at avoiding discomfort?


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Do You See Red When Your Comfort is Compromised?

I have been thinking a lot lately about the spiritual aspect of discomfort, especially when I find myself dripping with sweat in the Cambodian heat, or when I am running low on money,  or maybe even when I can’t find something decent to watch on Netflix.  It’s funny (and wonderful) when I run across a scripture that puts an exclamation mark on my thoughts.

Even IKEA knows humans like comfort. How creative are you at avoiding discomfort?

I believe the majority of each person’s day on earth  is spent in pursuit of comfort…the avoidance of discomfort.   Do you agree?  Babies come into the world howling for comfort.  “I’m wet, I’m hungry, I’m cold, I’m in pain.”  Adults are just as bad.  We like to vocalize our discomfort too.   Did you know that IKEA takes a yearly survey to ask people around the world this question, “What makes a better life at home?” (you can find this information here) In 2018 these were the five results that appeared over and over again:

  • PRIVACY
  • SECURITY
  • COMFORT
  • OWNERSHIP
  • BELONGING

In scripture there is a famous story that illustrates the fact that Jesus requires His followers to step away from comfort in order to prove faith.  Jesus asked the rich young ruler to, “Follow me.”

What He really meant was…

Follow me everyday, every hour, every minute, every second.

Follow me and leave everyone you love behind you, even if they don’t understand.

Follow me with no house, no bed, no pillow.

Follow me and be hungry, hot, cold, and wet.

Follow me with one set of clothing, no soap, and lots of bugs.

Follow me and be cursed, beaten, and tempted constantly.

Oh, and sell everything you own and give it to the poor.

The scripture says that the young man sadly walked away.  (read the story here) It wasn’t just money that Jesus commanded him to leave behind.  His mind saw the reality of discipleship, and he was overcome with fear of a future with Jesus.

But there was a different reaction by the apostles when they were given the same invitation by Jesus to, “Follow me.”  Unlike the rich young ruler, these apostles didn’t care about the deficits they might be facing.  They joyfully stepped out of life as they knew it, into an adventure of a lifetime,  Jesus.

Can you apply a modern day example for your life here?  What is He asking you to do that makes you uncomfortable?  I know there is something, because scripture says Jesus continually asks His followers to deny themselves.

He’s standing at your door and knocking.  Not pounding.  Not yelling.   He’s just knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking…for as long as it takes for you to open the door.  Then the most exciting thing will happen y’all.  Scripture says He will come into your house and eat with you as a friends.  Meals are where we linger, where bonds are made.  Meals are sharing of nourishment, soul and body.  Will you be uncomfortable?  Probably.  Will you cry?  Most likely.  Will He require much?  Yes, He always does.   Will He abandon you when you take a beating?  Never.  Will His love make all the difference?  For sure.

Even IKEA knows humans like comfort.  How creative are you at avoiding discomfort?

This life of following Jesus is hard.  To me though, every bump along the way has seemed like a paper cut compared to the deep, spiritual mentoring I have received from Him. But beware!  The enemy will do everything in  his power to keep your hand off of the doorknob.  If fear presses you to bolt the door, then you will stay comfortable, but sadness will overtake you.  Just like the rich young ruler in this story.  It won’t matter though, Jesus will keep knocking. I love that about Him.

Lord, I pray over the person who reads this post and knows in her heart that Jesus is asking her to step up or step out.  Fill her with courage to move forward with You.

These have been comments on the Words of Jesus in Matthew 19:16-22

Blessings, Alice

The picture used is our Cambodia front doors with flowers from the garden in the foreground.

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There are two ways to bear a burden:  with God and without God...and I hate to say it but I am experienced in both ways.


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Two Ways to Bear a Burden

There are two ways to bear a burden:  with God and without God...and I hate to say it but I am experienced in both ways.

Without God

Bearing burdens without God includes lots of fear, stress, anxiety, and plenty of self-pity.  Burdens are heavy y’all.  It’s like the earth’s  gravity has increased and each movement is cumbersome and toiling.  My heart is heavy, my soul is heavy, and I get so tired.  Tired.  Wondering if the heaviness of what I am carrying will squish me right into the earth.  When my youngest son was hit by a Mack type Truck while riding a motorcycle in Cambodia, I was beside myself with fear.  God spared his life.  He survived with a broken pelvis and dented up arm.  But then the fever came.  Sitting in a developing 3rd world hospital was scary enough, but waiting for the fever to break caused me to just about come undone.

It doesn’t have to be a dramatic accident that causes us to lose it.  It could be the day to day living in an oppressive situation or the unending absence of an unanswered prayer.  It’s times like these when the enemy loves to lie to God’s children.   I can’t begin to understand God’s will, and why some things happen, but I do know that in life,  God requires us to go through hard times.  It may be for a  moment, or it may be for a season, but some things are just required.

There are two ways to bear a burden:  with God and without God...and I hate to say it but I am experienced in both ways.

With God

My advice for bearing burdens with God, comes from the direct experience of failure.  Wallowing in my fear, I couldn’t figure out how I had gotten so far from God.  I took these measures to reset my faith.  First, I decided to admit my need for help to people who could remind me of scripture and pray over me.  I also found comfort in the promises found in the Word and in the declarations of God’s character…a sure way to fight the lies from the devil.    Sometimes I would fall asleep quoting particularly relevant verses over and over.   I also took deep spiritual comfort in the idea of sharing in Christ’s suffering.  Another way I fought my way to peace was to be grateful.  I made a list and used it when I prayed.  Finally, I admitted to myself that I had a problem with trust.  I begged Jesus to show me how to say “Not my will but Yours.”  (links to scriptures are included)

I love what Oswald Chambers said about burdens:

“Roll thy burden upon the Lord”– you have been bearing it all; deliberately put one end on the shoulders of God…Commit to God “that which He hath given thee”; not fling it off, but put it over onto Him and yourself with it, and the burden is lightened by the sense of companionship.

There have been time when I have been so distraught that words can’t be formed.  Those final days when my mother lay suffering with ALS were a nightmare….a perfect moment to turn to the Comforter.  Pray to the Holy Spirit ya’ll.  Tell Him to take your groans before the Lord…and He will.

Blessings, Alice

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We traveled a lot this summer and in one of the hotels, I was surprised to open the nightstand and discover a strange book along side the Gideon Bible. My initial response, as a follower of Jesus, was extreme sadness for the one who placed it there


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Look at the Other Book I Found in my Hotel Nightstand

We traveled a lot this summer and in one of the hotels, I was surprised to open the nightstand and discover a strange book along side the Gideon Bible.   My initial response, as a follower of Jesus, was extreme sadness for the one who placed it there

We traveled a lot last summer and in one of the hotels, I was surprised to open the nightstand and discover a strange book along side the Gideon Bible.  I had never seen a Bhagavad Gita before and when Googled, discovered it is one of the Hindu books of scripture.  My initial response, as a follower of Jesus, was extreme sadness for the one who placed it there.  Living in Cambodia where the people predominately follow Buddha and Hindu practices, I’ve discovered that Buddhism as well as Hinduism, are not only predominate religions of southern Asia, but are part of the cultural fabric in which they live…a way of life that has been passed down for centuries.   So I grieved the soul who placed a book of man’s words next to a book of God’s words.

We traveled a lot this summer and in one of the hotels, I was surprised to open the nightstand and discover a strange book along side the Gideon Bible.   My initial response, as a follower of Jesus, was extreme sadness for the one who placed it there

Upon reflection, my grief upon seeing these two books side by side has surprisingly been replaced with something else…hope.  Because in America, where zeal for one’s different beliefs promotes discussion, a chance for the name of Jesus to be spoken out loud just might present itself.  A seed just might be planted.  An example just might be set.  Someone just might seek God and if she does, she WILL find.  (a promise from Jesus)  These opportunities are not always available in Asia.  There are no Bibles in hotel nightstands there.

So,  may the one who placed the Bhagavad Gita next to the Bible become curious.  May she pick it up and wonder if there is more to life than endless reincarnations.  May curiosity overcome fear.   May a stiff, unused Bible from a hotel room drawer become her best friend as the living words lead her to Jesus.

When there is a Bible, there’s always hope.  I’m betting that is why the Gideon Society place a Bible in every hotel room to begin with.

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Does God seem mean to you sometimes? Accusing God is a lie the enemy has been perfecting since his garden days. This is what I do when faced with confusing feelings about God...


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God’s not Mean

During times like these, where tragedy  is falling consistently upon humanity with floods, earthquakes, shootings, and other violence, Internet trolls love to make fun of God by posting demeaning statements about Him.     Beth Moore, in her recent simulcast, said that when bad things happen, people tend to fill in the blanks with one of two things:  God is mean, or my life is meaningless.

 

Does God seem mean to you sometimes?  Accusing God is a lie the enemy has been perfecting since his garden days.   This is what I do when faced with confusing feelings about God...

With all the negative noise, sometimes it is hard for a follower of Jesus to not get a bit distracted.  I will never forget the funeral of a beloved husband, where his wife was A-N-G-R-Y at God.  In her grief she blamed God for not answering her prayer of healing for her one-and-only love.   She was bold in her fist shaking, unlike those who tuck disgruntlement toward God into the heart in order to appear strong, but silently holding a grudge.    Sorrow catches all of us off guard.  It rarely gives warning, and if it does, we are never ready for it….EVER.   We just have to be careful that the unanswered WHY that sorrow brings doesn’t create a barrier between us and God.   Pssst…that’s just what the enemy is counting on.

The key to passing through the fire with purity of heart, is found in the example of Job in the old testament.  Job lost a lot.  He lost all of his children.  He lost all of his wealth.  He lost his health.  And Job lost the support of his wife.  She advocated suicide.  And what did Job do when news of sorrow reached his ears?  He fell down on the ground and worshiped.  Job 1:20-22  He worshiped because he knew the God He served.   He knew.  In contrast, my prayers of sorrow begin with me.  Me, me, me.  But Job celebrated the fact that God is worth his worship, even while in extreme pain.

This is where scripture comes in.  What does scripture say about God as opposed to the lies of the enemy?  How can I know  my God, just as Job did?

I have prepared my Bible for the day when I am faced with emotions of confusion…for the day when the enemy accuses God of misdeeds.  This helps me take captive every false thought. 2 Corinthians 10:5   This helps me know who I believe in.

Here are a few pictures of scriptures from my bible.   I have made these easy for me to find, even through tears.

Does God seem mean to you sometimes?  Accusing God is a lie the enemy has been perfecting since his garden days.   This is what I do when faced with confusing feelings about God...

God’s own words describing Himself.  Exodus 34:6-7

Does God seem mean to you sometimes? Accusing God is a lie the enemy has been perfecting since his garden days. This is what I do when faced with confusing feelings about God...

Exodus 34:6-7

Does God seem mean to you sometimes?  Accusing God is a lie the enemy has been perfecting since his garden days.   This is what I do when faced with confusing feelings about God...

2 Timothy 6:15-16

Does God seem mean to you sometimes?  Accusing God is a lie the enemy has been perfecting since his garden days.   This is what I do when faced with confusing feelings about God...

Yellow representing unapproachable light.  2 Timothy 6:15-16

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SOMEONE IS...A series about facing trouble with eyes and Bible wide open. SOMEONE IS FROZEN: Everyone loves someone who is spiritually frozen...a statue among the pulse of humanity. For all outward appearances, this one you love has given up on God. So how exactly should we pray for this someone?


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Someone is Frozen

Someone is…  A series about facing trouble with eyes and Bible wide open.

SOMEONE IS...A series about facing trouble with eyes and Bible wide open. SOMEONE IS FROZEN: Everyone loves someone who is spiritually frozen...a statue among the pulse of humanity. For all outward appearances, this one you love has given up on God. So how exactly should we pray for this someone?

Do you love someone who is spiritually frozen…a statue among the pulse of humanity?  Unable to move, life zips around their frozen feet, barely stirring a hair on their head.   Fear, depression, illness, or loss can be a culprit.   The speeding of time and the management of it,  can often cause a person’s spark to dim.  Watching one you love slowly melt into the wallpaper is heart wrenching.

For all outward appearances, this one you love has given up on God.   They have no confidence that they can be anything other than paralyzed, so they sit. We pray and plead for this one we love, perhaps for years upon years.

So how exactly should we pray for this someone?

I recently found a scripture in a book that many don’t commonly read…Nehemiah.  As I dug into the Word,  interested in this man who traveled from captivity in Babylon to coordinate the re-building of the wall in Jerusalem, I discovered a phrase that explained what made him move.  Move.  That’s the word that is missing from our frozen friends y’all, M*O*V*E.  What moved Nehemiah can move the ones you love too.  He says it twice, listen to  this…

“…I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem...”  2:12 NIV

and

”   So my God put it into my heart to…”  7:5 NIV

I have heard Christians say, “God put it into my heart…,” for years but had no idea it started with Nehemiah.  I think it is important to note that this verse does NOT say, “She nagged me so often that I finally gave in.”  The miraculous moving of the Spirit within someone’s heart can only come from God.  I imagine the frozen heart like the hard earth, unable to hold a seed.  So the sower beats, rakes, and subdues the earth until the soil is ready to receive what the sower has to give, just as the heart receives the Spirit’s plan.  Once planted the roots shoot down to the feet and GLORY to GOD… someone is moving.

So how exactly should we pray for this someone?

That God speak into the heart of stone.

That He speak plainly and with force.

That His voice gives the frozen heart courage to move.

And that those who pray trust in the coming miracle.

Trust the sower y’all.

SOMEONE IS...A series about facing trouble with eyes and Bible wide open. SOMEONE IS FROZEN: Everyone loves someone who is spiritually frozen...a statue among the pulse of humanity. For all outward appearances, this one you love has given up on God. So how exactly should we pray for this someone?

 

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