What You Can Do When It Seems Like God Does Nothing

Join me on Periscope to discuss Wayne Stiles incredible new book, Waiting on God

I’ve been a fan of Wayne Stiles for a little over a year now. His writing is always engaging and his insights and illustrations make the Scriptures relevant and helpful to my real life. So I was THRILLED when he gave me the opportunity to preview his new book, Waiting on God. The book goes on sale today (August 18, 2015) and shared my favorite life-changing principles from the book along with my some of my favorite quotes from it today at 11:45 am Central Daylight Time on Periscope. I will give one lucky viewer a free copy of Waiting on God! But everyone is lucky today, because Wayne is offering $160.78 of FREE bonus content if you purchase a copy of his new book today! And, I’ve made a FREEBIE for you that captures “My 7 Favorite Life-Changing Principles from Waiting on God”. Everyone who downloads my freebie is entered in the drawing for the free book. I forgot to mention that on the scope!

Allow me to introduce you to Wayne Stiles

Wayne-pic-blogWayne, actually Dr. Stiles, has a Masters of Theology and a Doctorate in Ministry from Dallas Theological Seminary. He is an executive vice president at Insight for Living Ministries. A former pastor and veteran traveler to the Holy Land, Wayne has served in full-time ministry for more than twenty-five years. He is the author of Going Places with God and Walking in the Footsteps of Jesus. Wayne and his wife, Cathy, have two grown daughters and live in Texas. I encourage you to subscribe to his blog at www.waynestiles.com! It is fantastic!

Waiting On God

You might enjoy watching the book trailer for Wayne’s new book. It will give you a 1-minute overview of the mountain of benefits that await you within the pages.

As Wayne unpacks the Old Testament story of Joseph, he shows you how to find comfort and purpose in the waiting, revealing the startling truth that sometimes when you think you are waiting on God, he is actually waiting on you! If you find yourself waiting on God—or if you don’t know what God wants you to do next—this book offers a wise and practical guide to finding hope and peace in life’s difficult pauses.

Join Me Over on Periscope to Discuss the Book!

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Do You Settle for Off-the-Rack when God Offers You Custom-Made?

Maybe it's time to clean out your faith closet!

Have you ever admired one of your friend’s outfits, but then tried on something similar only to find you felt ridiculously self-conscious in that style? Well the same thing can happen in our faith if we aren’t intentional about developing a personal relationship with Christ rather than just a religious practice.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for learning from others, but we must avoid trying to be some cookie-cutter version of them. There are some essentials needed in every person’s “faith wardrobe.” But within the basic categories, God provides a multitude of styles and options that will allow us to connect authentically and intimately with Christ. Why settle for a one-size-fits-all style when Jesus offers us a custom-made bond.

Grab the FREE Checklist!

I’ve made you a handy little checklist to help you assess your current faith “wardrobe” so be sure and get the freebie!


Click Here to Get Your FREE Checklist

My Big Ah-ha Moment Resulted from a Big Flop!

I’ve written before about my early misconception about the need for a 5:00 am “quiet time.” When I flopped at that, I beat myself up as if I was a total failure as a Christian.  Finally, I realized  my Creator designed a variety of ways we can live out our faith and some work better for me than others. So, I let go of the compulsion to force myself into some one-size-fits-all style.

As a gal whose weight fluctuates all over but tends to hang out on the heavier side, I HATE labels that say “one-size-fits-all.” Guess what? They don’t usually fit me! So why in the world would we even consider a “one-size-fits-all” expression of faith?

The Faith Basics

We all need some basic pieces in our wardrobe. It would be pretty difficult to get dressed if all I had were pants in my closet. For our wardrobe to function, we need the right balance of tops, bottoms, accessories, and shoes. Well, the same goes for the means of nurturing our relationship with Jesus.

For the sake of simplicity, I’m going to break our faith essentials down into four categories:

  • Prayer
  • Worship
  • Study
  • Service

In all of these, we will have some more formal versions and some more casual ones. And just as the color, patterns, fabrics, and shapes of our clothing will vary according to our individual likes and needs, the way we pray, worship, study, and serve will also vary from person to person. My way of nurturing closeness with God will be unique to how he made me. And so will yours, hopefully. But we all need a balance of these essentials.

So let’s look at each of these basics as well as some other important factors we should consider when assessing what needs to be in (or out) of our faith wardrobe. And don’t forget to grab that free checklist.

If you read the article, How to Strengthen Your Relationship with Christ, some of this process will be familiar. These two posts support and build on each other but cover the topic from different perspectives.

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How to Strengthen Your Relationship with Christ

in Ways that Work with Who You Are and Your Season of Life

Recently I asked you to tell me what results you most wanted to achieve. By letting me know the topics you want help with I can create posts to support your progress toward those desired outcomes. The most requested topic was how to strengthen your relationship with Christ in ways that work with who you are and your season of life. So, if you can, grab a journal or note pad and let’s start working on that topic right now! And if you can’t stop now to make notes, just print out the cheat sheet I’ve provided and work on this when you have some quiet time to reflect.

God Didn’t Use a Cookie-Cutter to Make Us

I used to think I had to relate with God the same way my spiritual mentors did. Unfortunately, they had totally different personality traits, learning styles, and lifestyles than I did. So when I forced myself to pray, study, worship, and serve the way they did, I never quite got the same results. For example, I had one mentor who was very contemplative. He could draw intensely close to God through things like prayer walking. But when I tried it, my mind wandered and I ended up frustrated and feeling farther away from God.

Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life and no one can come to the Father except through him (see John 14:6). But Jesus is a person not a system. We come to our Heavenly Father through a personal relationship with Jesus not a religious style or set of rules or traditions. Finally, I realized if God made each of us with our own unique DNA and fingerprints, it seems like he probably designed us to relate uniquely with him as well.

Our relationships with our friends and family are unique. I don’t relate to my husband the same way I relate to my best friend. Yet there are still some fundamental aspects of all relationships that must be attended to if the bond is to be healthy and strong. For example, there must be:

  1. Communication
  2.  Respect
  3. A certain level of understanding, and
  4. Some tangible demonstration of our love and commitment to the relationship.

The same is true when it comes to our relationship be with Jesus. While my relationship with him won’t look exactly like your relationship with him, there are some basic ingredients required and they mirror those four components of our human-to-human relationships.

There are at least four aspects of a relationship with Christ that everyone needs to nurture:

  1. Prayer
  2. Worship (privately as well as corporately)
  3. God’s Word (the Bible)
  4. Obedience (living out the truth and grace you’ve been given)

Keeping this basic framework in mind, let’s look at a process you can use to strengthen your relationship with Christ in ways that work with who you are and your current season of life.

Download Your FREE Cheat Sheet

I made you a little cheat sheet to help you walk through the process. If you’re a visual learner, you will especially like it!

Yes, send me the guide!

Now for the steps to strengthening your relationship with Christ…

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Take a Moment to Delight in God and His Creation

3 Important Truths God Reminded Me Of While On Our Vacation

We just returned from Hawaii. And as I mentioned in a recent post, much of the trip tested my ability to push past my fears. But when I wasn’t trembling in terror, I found myself delighting in God and the beauty and diversity of his creation.

Matt snapped the picture below as he flew over the island of Kauai in a helicopter. These remote areas are inaccessible to humans. Yet, clearly they abound in the gorgeous flowers, trees, waterfalls, and rock formations found in the inhabited parts of the island.

That God created such detailed exquisiteness in places no human eye would ever behold fascinated me and reminded me of the truth articulated in Colossians 1:16, specifically that God created all things for himself.  I meditated on the truth and grace wrapped up in that concept and three lessons emerged.

Colossians 1:16, ESV

If you read (or at least skim) all the way through the rest of this post you will:

  • Slow down for a few minutes and revel in God’s presence and grandness.
  • Gain perspective on your own view of God and his ability to help you handle whatever comes your way.
  • Remember the unexhaustableness of his grace and mercy.
  • Receive the FREE GIFT I made for you.

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How to Triumph Over Trials

2015 Scripture Memory Verse 10

Why is it that some can experience extremely trying circumstances and still remain full of hope? You know the kind of people I mean? Those not in denial of reality, but rooted in a confidence that transcends the reality of the situation. I know several people who embody the exhortation in today’s memory verse: Romans 12:12. The situations are different for each one but the common theme I see in their lives is they have a rock solid faith that empowers them to be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer.

Romans 12:12, NIV

Two Examples

Today, I read the blog of a friend whose husband had a severe stroke five years ago. Every time I read her words I am humbled by her faith and attitude of joy. She authentically shares their challenges and doesn’t gloss over the grief and frustration involved. But even in the hardest of times, she ends each post with a prayer full of trust and submission to the Lord.

Another person who comes to mind is Michele Cushatt, author of Undone: A Story of Making Peace with an Unexpected Life. I’ve been following Michele’s blog and her podcast with Michael Hyatt for some time now. I love her writing and outlook on life. In her story, one finds a woman whose life is turned upside down by cancer and the decision to take in two children in need of a loving home. The brutal honesty of her emotions is matched only by the beauty of her faith.

If you want a peek inside a Romans 12:12 life, read Michele’s book. And just as her book was being released, Michele experienced a reoccurrence of her cancer. Instead of attending launch parties and celebrating the arrival of her book, she was recovering from major surgery and aggressive radiation and chemo treatments. But what do you see in her posts on her blog and social media? Stories of a believer moving forward in hope, bearing up under the affliction, and continually turning to God in prayer.

Both of these women live as Paul instructs in Romans 12:12. Theirs is an honest life of joy, hope, perseverance, and steadfast communion with God in the midst of the mess of real life.

The Joyful Hope

Our hope as Christians is not that the circumstances will change. They might, but they might not.

The world thinks of hope as wishful thinking. Hope for the best, expect the worst. But hope for the believer is different. Our hope, to quote an old hymn, is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

Our hope brings with it joy and peace because it is certain. We hope for the best in the expectation that God has already secured its outcome. Ours is a joy not tied to fickle circumstances, but a faithful God.

Believers are equipped to bear up under the trials, troubles, and tribulation of this world not because they are strong, but because the One in them is strong. They take to heart the words of Jesus in John 16:33 (our Memory Verse #6):

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

A Different Kind of Patience

In the movie the Princess Bride, the character Vizzini keeps using the word inconceivable. And his hired swordsman, Inigo, responds with “I do not think that word means what you think it means.”

Inigo_Montoya_with_margins
We might say the same thing to Paul when he says for us to be patient in affliction. But Paul knows what he is talking about. He was intimately acquainted with suffering. And he was able to endure it because he relied on the Holy Spirit’s power, not his own.

We tend to think of patience as “not minding” a delay, irritation, or hardship; to accept it and not struggle with it. But the word Paul used includes within its meaning the concept of suffering. It is more along the lines of our word persevere.

God calls to us to not give up. He will sustain us. I used to scratch my head in befuddlement whenever I heard someone say of someone exercising what we think of as patience, “They have the patience of Job.” I wanted to ask them, “Have you ever read the book of Job?”

Job doesn’t take his affliction in stride, never complaining or becoming angry, frustrated, or distraught. He has a strong emotional response. But he takes his response to God. He leans into God. And even though he doesn’t get the answer he wants from God, he gets the presence and self-revelation of God. And it is enough to sustain him (and humble him).

Paul isn’t saying we won’t or can’t struggle under the weight of our troubles. He is saying we can endure them when we are in Christ.

Continued Prayer

Those who are joyful in hope and patient in affliction are so because they tap into God’s strength through continual prayer. They put their burdens in the hands of the One capable of carrying it. They sit in his presence and receive the grace and mercy they need to persevere.

If you read Paul’s writings you will notice how vital prayer was to his endurance. And when you read the Gospels, you will notice how essential it was for Jesus. Why would we think we don’t need prayer to be infused in our daily lives?

Lean In

The response to last week’s post, How I Made Peace with the Mystery of Suffering, was eye-opening. It was shared more than any other post I’ve written. The struggle with suffering struck a chord.

So many people are going through painful circumstances and need the strength to not only endure, but to do so with hope.

If you are in the midst of a storm, I pray that you will meditate on today’s verse and allow God to pour into you his hope, strength, and faithful presence.

And if you aren’t, I encourage you to reach out to someone who is and put Memory Verse # 5, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, into practice.

Click to Get Your Printable Scripture Verses

How about you? What about Paul’s words challenge you or encourage you? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Will You Build on Solid Rock or Shifting Sand?

2015 Scripture Memory Verse 9

I sure wish it was as easy as hearing the words to make them effective in our lives. If it were I’d be rocking a beach-ready body right now given all the diet and exercise books I’ve read over the years. Unfortunately, I actually have to put into practice what those books tell me if I want the outcome they promise. And it is exactly the same when it comes to the words of Jesus. We can read and even memorize the Bible, but if we don’t put the words into effect in our lives, they won’t change us. However, unlike the diet books, I don’t have to depend on my willpower to put into practice the words of Jesus.

Matthew 7:24, NIV

When he talked about his followers producing results in keeping with his commands, Jesus usually tied fruitful obedience to being in relationship with him. I first noticed that connection when I studied John 15. There, he used the analogy of a grapevine and its branches to illustrate how the power to produce results (fruit) comes from the branch remaining in the vine. And I noticed it again in the context of today’s memory verse: Matthew 7:24.

The Wise and Foolish Builders

Jesus wrapped up his Sermon on the Mount with another great analogy. This time, he compared one who not only heard his words but put them into practice to a wise man who built his house on a foundation of solid rock. He contrasted this wise person with the foolish person who built upon the shifting sand instead.

If one looks only at these verses (Matthew 7:24-27), it may seem as though putting the words into action is all about outward obedience. But we know that can’t be Jesus’ point here because the entire sermon stressed that right actions without right relationship are powerless to transform and save us.

Outward Obedience Isn’t Enough

Throughout his sermon, he contrasted the lives of the scribes and Pharisees (religious leaders of his day) with the lives of true citizens of the kingdom of heaven. Those listening probably thought none were more fastidiously obedient than the Pharisees. They devoted their entire lives to the study and practice of the Law. And these leaders weren’t just grading their own papers; they were all up in everyone else’s business, too.

The Pharisees compared the actions of others with their own meticulous obedience. And these men assessed not only how well people put into practice God’s instructions in the Scripture, but also whether they complied with all the add-ons the religious leaders had piled on over the years.

Jesus’ words likely shocked those listening to him. He said, “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:20, NIV) How could anyone do better than those guys? Is there no hope?

But Jesus had in mind a different righteousness. Rather than self-righteousness that resulted from one’s outward compliance, Jesus called for a righteousness dependent on him.

Instead of willpower, we need Spirit power. Instead of pride and self-confidence, we need humility and a recognition we can not, on our own, be obedient. We must be in relationship with Christ if we are to live as his disciples.

Relationship Required

Our putting into effect his words is all about our being in relationship with him. Transformation happens in the relationship. And it happens from the inside out: first our hearts are changed, then our actions change.

Notice what Jesus said just before the analogy of the two builders; read Matthew 7:15-23. The fruit we produce matters, but not because it earns us a ticket to heaven. The actions matter because they reveal the state of our heart!

The relationship, not the actions, are of primary importance. We can do all kinds of religious and/or good actions and yet not know Jesus. Those actions are powerless to transform our hearts into the hearts of citizens of his kingdom. On the other hand, knowing Jesus can’t help but result in changes in our actions.

Knowing Jesus is different than knowing about him. Knowing Jesus means we depend on his righteousness not ours to save us, and it involves fellowshipping with and learning from him how to be his disciples.

When we build our house on the rock, we build a faith on the rock solid foundation of knowing Jesus. We are on secure ground when we recognize our inability to be righteous apart from his righteousness. When the rains come, the streams rise, and the wind blows against us, we will stand, not in our strength but in his!

However, if we place our hope on the shifting sands of our own righteousness a great and tragic crash is the only possible outcome. Our strength of will is no match for the storm of sin.

A heart changed by the grace and mercy of God produces a will surrendered to Jesus’ will. And when our will is surrendered to his, we live as he calls us to live—not in our power but in his.

How about you? What Scripture verses are you working on and what helps you with your memory work? I would love to hear your ideas! You can leave a comment by clicking here.

A Freebie Download

 


I’ve been using a little 3×5 index card spiral to work on my memory verses. As I’ve said before, I struggle with memorizing Scriptures. So, I’m trying lots of different things to help me get the words fixed in my brain. I’ve found visual cues help jog my memory. So I’ve pasted the graphics I made for the memory verse blog posts into my little spiral. Picturing the various graphics with their bolded words or banners and such, helps me when I get stuck.

You may or may not be working on the same verses, but I thought I’d share my memory verse cards with you in case you find it helpful.

Click Here to Get Your Printable Verses

Then print the two pages out and cut into the individual cards. I’ve sized them to fit on a 3×5 index card. And I’ve also included the image of Psalm 119:11 which I used on the cover of my spiral.

Do These Factors Prevent You From Believing Who God Says You Are?

Have you ever sat and contemplated your identity? I mean, really thought about who you are and the implications of the answer. If you are a believer, John 1:12 explicitly defines your identity. And who you are determines how you live and relate with others.

If we let the reality of who we are sink in, transformation in how we live our lives naturally occurs.

As his child, I am held secure by the everlasting love, faithfulness, and protection of my Heavenly Father. I look to him to know how to live and relate with others.

So my reality is I am a child of God. This is who I am as a believer.

So why is it so easy to lose sight of this reality and fall back into old patterns of thinking and behaving?

What stops me from being who I am?

At least three factors conspire against my believing that reality:

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Is This the Abundance Jesus was Talking About?

2015 Scripture Memory Verse 7

One of my most popular posts, Don’t Hide Your Crazy, is grounded in my experience of John 10:10. I know this verse’s content but I don’t yet have it memorized so that it rolls off easily, word for word. Since this verse is the foundation for an upcoming retreat, I decided it was high time to get it down pat so I’ve chosen it for my seventh memory team verse. I’ve been reflecting and meditating on this verse quite a bit lately. What exactly does Jesus mean by having life more abundantly?

John 10:10 ESV

Our culture today is absolutely obsessed with the concept of more. We want more stuff, more time, more money, more attention, more likes, followers, and friends. More, more, more.

Our schedules are jam-packed, and our closets and garages are so crammed many rent storage units just to hold all the more we have amassed. Whereas the typical soft drink used to be 12 ounces, now at many places, a small is 24 ounces. And the larger portions have led to more inches on our waistlines.

I don’t think this is what Jesus meant by having life abundantly.  More for the sake of more is not abundance, it is just excess.

A Different Kind of Abundance

The key to understanding this statement is understanding what Jesus came to give us more and more of: life. Apart from Christ we have life in the sense of existence; in the Greek the word is bios.  We have physical life. But that isn’t the life Jesus speaks of in John 10:10. So what kind of life does Jesus offer us?

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How to Discern God’s Will When Faced With Choices

Download the FREE Summary of 5 Practices That Help You Discern God's Will

Have you ever stopped to think about how many decisions we have to make? There are countless little daily choices, and over the course of a year (or sometimes a month) several significant ones. When we come to a substantial fork in the road, how do we decide which path to take?

Romans 12:2

CC BY-NC 4.0 Alex Brown Two roads diverged

When the decision involves something that is clearly addressed in Scripture, it is much easier. We can get out our concordance and/or topical Bible and look up the situation and read God’s clearly revealed will. If one of the paths obviously goes against his commands, we know which path to avoid.

Those decisions are  no-brainers as far as deciding what to do. (The follow through and obeying God’s will becomes the tough part in many cases, but the decision itself is clear.)

But what do we do when the issue is not so clear cut? What about those times when we are choosing between two good things? How do we know which way is the right way for us in this particular time of our life?

In the rest of the post, I share with you the process I’ve used to help me make a difficult decision. And, I’ve made you a summary of the five practices I use in these types of situations.

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Make a Difference in Your World by Living Out 10 Eternal Truths

Do you ever wish you could make more of a difference in your world? I do, often. God has blessed me with much and in turn I want to impact the world around me in a way that brings God glory and others the peace, comfort, and joy he has given me. I bet you do too. So what might help us make more of a difference?

One way is to mine the lives of those who have used their gifts, talents, and resources to change their worlds. And as we do, we can extract principles we can put into effect in our lives that equip us to change our worlds. Since today is Martin Luther King Day, I thought his life would be the perfect place to start.

An Excellent Example

Martin Luther King, Jr. is one of the best examples I know of someone who lived out the love of God, experience of grace, and knowledge of divine truth. And as he lived his life, he changed the world around him for the better.

MLK photo and quote

Image Source: Library of Congress; quote is from the book, King Rules by Alveda King.

His life was so grounded in God’s Word that he was able to stand firm against evil, injustice, and oppression, even when doing so meant risking his life and the lives of his family. He embodied Paul’s exhortation in Ephesians 6:13.

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.—Ephesians 6:13, NIV

I recently read his niece’s book, King Rules: Ten Truths for You, Your Family, and Our Nation to Prosper. I found it to be quite compelling and insightful. Alveda King tells the story of seven generations of her family through the lens of ten biblical principles that have guided and directed each generation. It was these ten truths that gave them courage to work for change in an unjust society, strength to overcome immense tragedies, and joy through the good and bad.

It is noted in the book that while the title “King Rules” conveys the fact that the King family was guided by these principles, these are really the rules of the King, Jesus Christ. These values endure and empower because they are eternal.
I’ve made you a cheat sheet of these ten principles. If you’d like a copy, just click the image or button below and I’ll email you a copy right away.

I’d like the FREE Cheat Sheet!

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