Faith and Feelings

Do you remember the story of the Centurion Soldier as written in Luke 7:1-10.?   That’s the one about the Soldier who was really generous to the Israelites—he helped build their synagogue—and he had a servant who was dying, so the Jewish leaders came to Jesus, and asked Him to come and heal this man’s servant.  When Jesus got close to the house, the Centurion sent others to Jesus to tell him, that he didn’t need to come to heal his servant, that he, (the Centurion), was not worthy of Jesus entering his home.  The Centurion said, “only say the word, and my servant will be healed.”

The Centurion said, “I also am a man placed under authority, and I have soldiers under me.  And I say to this one, “Go!” and he goes, and to another, “Come!” and he comes…..”

Jesus said, “Not even in all of Israel have I seen such great faith.”

This Centurion Soldier was under authority, and others were under his authority.  I imagine as a soldier there are very few feelings involved in obeying your commanding officer.  This ability to obey—to act out what someone over you tells you to do—this is what Jesus calls ‘faith’.   Faith is the ability to take God at His Word.

Our first step of faith—is to believe that Jesus is the Christ, that He died to save us and give us a relationship with God.   This step of faith brings us into a relationship with God, and then God reveals His will to us, as we read His word, spend time with Him in prayer and spend time with other believers.

My husband reminds me a great deal of the centurion soldier in the Bible.  He also is a “soldier” type of person.  He obeys God—not because he “feels” it is the right thing to do, but because he “thinks” it is the right thing to do.  There is a big difference.  

When we were young parents, (with one child), we were both working.  I had read a book about the importance of mothers- mothering.   I went to my husband and said, “I want to stay home with our children.  I think this is what God would have us do—and I shared with him why I thought that was the path for us.”

My husband thought and prayed about what I shared.   Then—we had a bump in the road—suddenly—my husband no longer had his job.   Now, he could have said, “well you’re the only one who has a job—you need to keep working.”   Instead, he said, “why don’t you quit your job.”

We went back to his parents’ home.  We went to a career counselor—which is where he realized he really wanted to have his own construction company.  (This dream would not be realized for quite a few years after this—but it was realized.)

He was offered another job—which he took—and for the past 30 years he has been the main provider of our family—because this is what we both believed God had called him to do.  It has been a walk of faith—not sight—as there were many, many times– circumstances “looked” very, very bad—times we faced bankruptcy.    You can read more about this story in,  “The Gift of Hindsight.

Faith Is Not a Feeling.  That actually is a name of a book written by Ney Bailey.  You can listen to it for free on Open Library—you have to sign up for an account to do so.  Here is the link for that:

The concepts of faith not being a feeling have helped me tremendously in my relationship with God. 

When you read through the 11th chapter of Hebrews—it is helpful to have this concept in mind—many of these people, “believed” God and obeyed Him, despite their feelings.

In other words—feelings are not necessary for obedience—but obedience is necessary to live a life of faith.

May we be encouraged!!

Lies or Life

Suicide—the desire to end one’s life.   There are a few times in my life, I have thought about it.  The first time was when a relationship ended, with someone I thought I would marry– I was heartbroken– I thought I would never love again.

 The second time I came close was during a time of transition.  I had moved to a new place and had a new job.  I didn’t have friends at first—that took some time.  I was very, very lonely. 

I had gone back to my hometown and had made plans to see my college friend and former roommate.  I waited at her apartment building for her to show up, and she did not.  I could hear this lie—“No one loves you.  You don’t have any friends.  Even your best friend has forgotten you.”

I left to drive back to my new town, and I was engulfed in tears.  I thought about driving my car off the road, and banging into some trees, and ending it all.

I could hear another voice through the lies, a voice telling me not to listen, to have hope. A voice telling me that if I ended my journey now—I’d never see all that was in store for me, …a voice telling me not to despair, that I was loved with an everlasting love.

I realized then that what we choose to listen to—can bring life or death.  There is the voice of lies and death, that constantly vies for our attention—and if we pay attention to that voice—it will seek to destroy us.   Jesus tells us that the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy, but He comes to bring us life and bring it in abundance.  Then He goes on to tell us that He is the Good Shepherd, and He lays down His life for the sheep.  John 10: 10-11

He is the Good Shepherd, and He laid down His life for us to give us life—life in abundance.  I love that!!  But there is also the thief—and the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy.  We have an enemy of our souls.  He will lie to us—He will try to steal from us, He will try to destroy us.

So what can we do?   We do what sheep do—they listen to the Shepherd, they follow the Shepherd; the Shepherd finds green pastures for them, the Shepherd protects them with His life.

Jesus says that if we listen to Him and do what He says— we will be like people building their houses on the rock—and when the storms of life come—their house will stand.  Luke 6: 46-49

In other words—listening to Jesus and doing what He says—is an act of faith—it is saying to Jesus—I trust You enough with my life—I am going to look to You—You are going to be the rock that I build my life on.  You are my firm foundation!

So let us be encouraged!!

The Fixer

One of the hardest things about living on this earth is seeing the ones I love in pain, and suffering.

I want to fix it and make it all better for them.

When my children were young, it seemed that I could “fix” things for them. I could, “kiss” the boo-boo, I could nurse them back to health, I could plan an excursion for them, to cheer them up.

Not only can I not “fix” things for others, but I also cannot “fix” things for myself.

The following song has been speaking greatly to me these days, and I thought I would share the lyrics with you all.  These are the words that are really resonating with me:  There’s freedom in surrender.  Lay it down and let it go.

I love that contrast of words—freedom and surrender.  I want freedom—freedom from the trials and tribulations of life—from the problems of life—-I think most people want freedom.   However, the path to freedom is surrender.  It involves surrendering myself to God—I’m fine with giving Him, my problems—and surrendering those to Him—I’m not so good with surrendering myself to Him.  That is a spiritual battle—and involves fighting several lies.

These are the two biggest lies I fight:  God doesn’t really love me—-(I look at all the bad things that have happened in my life to confirm this lie.)  Therefore—I can’t really trust Him with my life.

The lyrics-–If your eyes are on the storm, you’ll wonder if I love you still, but if your eyes are on the cross, you’ll know I always have and I always will—–mean so much to me—because they help me to focus on the proof of God’s love for me.

“For God demonstrated His own love for us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

  God is perfectly just, and perfectly loving—all these things are found in the cross of Jesus.

He satisfied His justice– by Jesus dying to pay the penalty for each of our sins.   He satisfied the love He has for us—by Jesus dying to pay the penalty for each of our sins.  

When I start doubting God’s love for me, because of the storms of my life—I can fight those doubts by remembering the cross—God’s proof of His love for me.

So, enjoy this song—and be encouraged—for God loves us—He always has, and He always will!!

Just Be Held

Lyrics: Hold it all together

 Everybody needs you strong

 But life hits you out of nowhere

 And barely leaves you holding on

 And when you’re tired of fighting

Chained by your control

There’s freedom in surrender

 Lay it down and let it go

So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away

 You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held

 Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place

 I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held

 Just be held, just be held

 If your eyes are on the storm You’ll wonder if I love you still

 But if your eyes are on the cross You’ll know I always have and I always will

And not a tear is wasted

 In time, you’ll understand

 I’m painting beauty with the ashes

Your life is in My hands

 Lift your hands, lift your eyes

 In the storm is where you’ll find Me

 And where you are, I’ll hold your heart

 I’ll hold your heart

 Come to Me, find your rest In the arms of the God who won’t let go.

My Perfect Day

When I was in High School, I ran track.  I ran the 400, which is a long-distance sprint.   In the first few races I ran, I would start out running as fast as I could, and quickly run out of steam.  It felt like my heart was going to pump out of my chest, and I was all out of breath.  In fact, sometimes, I was tempted to not finish the race at all.

Scripture tells us that living this life is like running a race.  I think that is a great visual picture.   Quite frankly, right now, I feel the same way I felt when I was in High School, like this race has taken everything I have and more, and I want to quit.

But, today—today I remembered my perfect day.  When I remembered it—I felt hope, and I thought—no—I am not going to quit.   I thought I would tell you all about my perfect day—so perhaps if you need encouragement in running your race, it might help you too.

My perfect day, was the day of my son’s wedding.   Let me tell you about this day.   My oldest son got married a little more than 2 months before my third son was killed.

The day of my son’s wedding arrived.  It was a beautiful day—it was warm and breezy, there were a few fluffy clouds in the sky.   The venue was breathtaking, with a view of water, and green, green flowing lawns.  The bridesmaids were dressed in aqua.  Our daughter-in-law was one of the most gorgeous brides, I have ever seen.  The music was so lovely, and meaningful and added to the emotions of the day.

This song was played during the wedding ceremony!!

There were candles and flowers, and exquisite food, and fairy-tale cakes.   All our children participated in the day as groomsmen, a bridesmaid and a flower girl. 

But the thing that made the day so, so amazing, was an answer to a prayer, I prayed.  I asked Jesus to be a guest at the wedding.   Jesus so clearly answered this prayer.

How do I know?  First, I experienced Jesus’ presence at the wedding.   There was this joy and laughter at the wedding—like I have never experienced before or since.  I was not the only person to sense this joy and laughter.  In fact, many, many of my friends and family told me at the wedding and after the wedding, that they had never enjoyed themselves at any wedding, quite as much as they did at this wedding.

I had only ½ glass of wine to toast the newly married couple at the wedding, and yet, many asked me if I might have had a bit too much bubbly to drink, as my behavior was overflowing with laughter and joy.

Yes—Jesus came to this wedding, and His presence was felt by so many—even though they did know why they were so unexplainably delighted.

When I think about how Jesus answered that prayer—I wonder if He wanted me to know how happy my child would be with Him—because He was giving me a taste of that happiness.  Perhaps, He wanted me to know, that although I am now waiting for Him to answer many, many prayers—that He does hear my prayers, and He has answered my prayers, and He will answer my prayers, someday—even if someday is a long, long time away.

Perhaps, you too, are waiting for your prayers to be answered, and you want to give up on your race in life.  May I encourage you with these words from scripture—

Hebrews 12: 1 and 2

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us

We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.

Have you ever wondered what was the joy awaiting Jesus? I think I know.  We—the bride of Christ—are the joy awaiting Him.  He died to save us and make us His Own.

I think weddings are so special to Him, because they represent the wedding that is to come for us all.    And I must tell you—the joy we will all experience at that wedding will surpass all the joy that we all have ever experienced here on this earth.

He will wipe every tear from our eyes, and there will be no more pain, and we will have His presence and His love and His JOY!!

So, please, please, be encouraged with me!!!