How to Respond When Everything is Going Wrong

When everything in life seems to be going wrong.

When as soon as you finish one trial, another one starts.

When even good things in your life fill you with fear because of past events.

How do you proceed?

It’s okay to be real. 

In this world of picture perfect Instagram accounts.

Or those over sharers who make you feel as if you should have nothing to complain about.

There is a real you. You don’t have to share it with everyone. You don’t have to shout your troubles from a rooftop. You do need to share with someone.

“I was terrified that if I let my struggles and true emotions show, God would be disappointed in me. Fear held me back and held up the corners of my smile, like strings on a puppet.” – Holley Gerth via You’re Loved No Matter What

Something’s got to give.

For most of my life, I put on the external facade. I was like a puppet on a string. I was strong and didn’t show my emotions because I thought I shouldn’t. I was a junior in college and under a ton of pressure with my upcoming marriage and finals, my step-father Bud warned, “Something has to give. It might be you.”

I didn’t fully understand it at the time. And years later when my doctor told me that stress was a factor in worsening physical symptoms, it was another warning. When we internalize all of our worries, our thoughts, our fears (and those of others if we have a burden bearing personality) without any release, it will come one way or another.

For some of us, our stresses come out in anger. Others it’s tears. Some bury themselves in work so they don’t have to be alone with their thoughts. Many turn to entertainment, Some of us have physical symptoms – migraines, joint pain, digestive problems or fill in the blank. Others turn to drugs or alcohol to numb the pain. One way or another, something’s got to give. Don’t let it be you.

 What’s the solution?

When my kids were little, I helped them all memorize Psalm 100. It is such a beautiful word picture.I will enter His gates with Thanksgiving in my heart.png

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
    Serve the Lord with gladness!
    Come into his presence with singing!

Know that the Lord, he is God!
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
    and his courts with praise!
    Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good;

    his steadfast love endures forever,
    and his faithfulness to all generations. -Psalm 100

 

You may be wondering why I am bringing up thanksgiving and praise when we were talking about disappointments, fears, trials, burden bearing, and stresses.

If you want to enter into God’s presence, complaining and negative words won’t do.

You can’t be grateful and negative at the same time.

Thanksgiving is the key to entering God’s yard.

Praise opens the inner courts into God’s presence.

 Search for Truth.

Find scriptures that apply to what you are going through. Write them down. Study them.

Journal your thoughts and prayers so you can move from emotional to logical thinking.

 God does not waste pain or suffering.

This is both my favorite point and least favorite. Is that possible? When the cup of suffering comes my way, I’d like to say “pass.” But, that’s not realistic. We all have pain and suffering. Being a Christian doesn’t make us immune to suffering. It’s what we do with our suffering that should be different.

Who comforts (consoles and encourages) us in every trouble (calamity and affliction), so that we may also be able to comfort (console and encourage) those who are in any kind of trouble or distress, with the comfort (consolation and encouragement) with which we ourselves are comforted (consoled and encouraged) by God. – 2 Corinthians 1:4

God comforts us so we in turn comfort others.  We are like a toddler who rocks a baby doll because she was rocked when she got a boo-boo.

When trials come our way, we are told to rejoice (James 1). We may not be able to rejoice and be grateful for the distress, pain, or suffering. We can rejoice in the midst of the suffering. We can enter the gates of God’s house with thanksgiving. We can enter His inner courts with praise. Praise His attributes. He never changes. While everything in our lives constantly changes, He is constant.

 

 

Three Things The Church Needs to do to Prepare for the Lost Coming Home Part 3

*You can find the first in the series here.

A few weeks ago in church, a prophecy was given about an influx of people coming in from “the hollows” (this is WV, people). We were instructed to “get ready” multiple times. When I left the service, the phrase was echoing in my head, get ready, get ready, get ready. Why aren’t we ready? More importantly, why don’t we stay ready? Or why do people come and check out church and promptly turn away.

These are some hefty, thought provoking questions that I don’t know all the answers to. After some thought, prayer and conversations with God and whoever else would listen, I came up with three simple things we regular folk could do. Here’s the third:

  1. Lower your expectations and put the bar higher for grace and mercy.

When newbies come into the church, we often expect them to grow up too soon. They come into the church without a foundation, needing the milk of the Word and we want to feed them steak. It’s a new culture out there. Many people grow up never hearing all the basic Bible stories. Hubby is the restaurant business and many of his employees are college age. In simple, everyday conversations, sometimes basic Bible stories come up: David and Goliath, Daniel and the Lions Den, Sampson, Noah and Moses are often foreign to them.

During my growing up years (totally dating myself here), Bible stories were common knowledge, not only did we hear them at church, we heard them at home and school (especially if you went to Catholic school like I did). Bible stories were woven into the fabric of my childhood. Not true anymore.

Most kids are being raised in homes where church is not a priority..png

Most kids are being raised in homes where church is not a priority. Sad, but true. The Supreme Court banned prayer in public school in 1962, which means several generations have grown up without this important building block of faith. So, if kids aren’t getting schooled in a faith at home or school, they grow up Biblically illiterate. That doesn’t make them stupid, or any less important in the eyes of God. They are just as important, loved and cherished. It simply means they don’t speak Christianese. They may not know the church’s doctrine or have the same theology. What do we do with this information? We let the Holy Spirit do the work. We don’t apply hefty burdens on converts. We answer questions as best we can. Most important of all, we pour out the mercy that we receive when we came to Christ with a healthy helping of grace. All of us must remember where we came from.

This righteousness of God comes through faith in Jesus Christ for all those [Jew or Gentile] who believe [and trust in Him and acknowledge Him as God’s Son]. There is no distinction, 23 since all have sinned and continually fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are being justified [declared free of the guilt of sin, made acceptable to God, and granted eternal life] as a gift by His [precious, undeserved] [c]grace, through the redemption [the payment for our sin] which is [provided] in Christ Jesus,- Romans 3:22-24

THREE THINGS THE CHURCH NEEDS TO DO TO PREPARE FOR THE LOST COMING HOME PART 2

A few weeks ago in church, a prophecy was given about an influx of people coming in from “the hollows” (this is WV, people). We were instructed to “get ready” multiple times. When I left the service, the phrase was echoing in my head, get ready, get ready, get ready. Why aren’t we ready? More importantly, why don’t we stay ready? Or why do people come and check out church and promptly turn away?

These are some hefty, thought provoking questions that I don’t know all the answers to. After some thought, prayer and conversations with God and whoever else would listen, I came up with three simple things we regular folk could do.  You can find the first here. Here’s the second:

  1. Become relationally oriented, not rules driven.

Before you think, I don’t have that problem, stop and think for a minute. How do you respond to people behaving in ways you don’t think are appropriate? Do you have an unwritten set of rules in your arsenal that shoot out when people don’t adhere to them? Confession- I do! If you do, you’re not alone.

We all have expectations and perceptions that are based on our nurture and our nature.

In our homes we were nurtured to behave in certain ways: don’t burp at the dinner table, do enter in conversation, brush your teeth before bed, we will have a bedtime story, we don’t scream at one another to get our point across and the list goes on. Our nature puts in its two cents.  Introverts may not appreciate lengthy parties full of noise and surface conversations. The point is, we all have our isms.

The problem is when we extend the expectations of these unwritten rules or isms to new visitors in our home or the church- relationships are risked. This takes some forethought and self examination.

Is this rule fulfilling an eternal objective or just contributing to my comfort right now?

When a newbie comes into our church smelling of weed, speaking loudly with expletives or standing when we sit, what is our response? To build the relationship or the rules? What if a child comes into our kids church who can’t regulate, not won’t but can’t? What sort of accommodations do we make for him? Do we favor sitting in a seat over a child receiving unconditional love and planting the seed of an eternal relationship?

Build relationshipsnot rules.png

We aren’t the first generation to struggle with this issue.The early church had the same struggle. In Acts 15 we find some history of the early church. Some were being recited:

Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.”

The modern version of the directive may be different:

You can only be saved if….

  • You don’t drink
  • Don’t smoke
  • Don’t cuss
  • Don’t follow my rules of behaving in church

The early church struggled with the adoption of a new culture and melding the old converts with the new Gentile converts. What kind of rules must be instituted?  What sort of language should they speak? Should they memorize the Torah? Should they abstain from unclean meats? Be circumcised? How far did grace go and how much of the law should be observed?

It was decided that a letter should be sent with a few instructions. Don’t eat things that have been sacrificed to idols and keep yourself from sexual impurity. Simple and to the point.  

It seemed good to the apostles not to overload the newly adopted Gentile brothers and sisters with too many rules (Acts 15:28-29).

By the same token, church newbies are learning to be part of a family and the instruction has to be limited and meted out with grace.

God sent His Son to die for each of us. God wants us to be in relationship with Him. We can’t behave our way to Christ, it’s because of our sacrifice that we are part of the family of God. If someone crosses the threshold of your home  or home church, welcome them! Work on relationship. Pray. Let the Holy Spirit draw him. Rules won’t. Unrealistic expectations won’t.

 

Meetings, Pamphlets and Policies are not the Gospel

Provided that meetings, pamphlets, policies, movements, causes, and crusades, matter more to him than prayers and sacraments and charity, he is ours—and the more “religious” (on those terms) the more securely ours. I could show you a pretty cageful down here,

Your affectionate uncle    

SCREWTAPE (Screwtape Letters– Letters from a Demon Uncle to his nephew)
I (Kathleen) have had several people come up to me in public and say you Whole House ladies do so much, like you are everywhere! We’re really not, that’s just technology and social media. The Whole House isn’t all about meetings, pamphlets or policies. If we were, we would be falling into Screwtape’s trap. By that I mean, we would be serving the cause and crusade instead of Christ. It’s important not to confuse those.

Divine Demands

“Those Divine demands which sound to our natural ears most like those of a despot and least like those of a lover, in fact marshal us where we should want to go if we knew what we wanted. He demands our worship, our obedience, our prostration. Do we suppose that they can do Him any good, or fear, like the chorus in Milton, that human irreverence can bring about ‘His glory’s diminution’? A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell. But God wills our good, and our good is to love Him (with that responsive love proper to creatures) and to love Him we must know Him: and if we know Him, we shall in fact fall on our faces. If we do not, that only shows that what we are trying to love is not yet God—though it may be the nearest approximation to God which our thought and fantasy can attain. Yet the call is not only to prostration and awe; it is to a reflection of the Divine life, a creaturely participation in the Divine attributes which is far beyond our present desires. We are bidden to ‘put on Christ’, to become like God. That is, whether we like it or not, God intends to give us what we need, not what we now think we want. Once more, we are embarrassed by the intolerable compliment, by too much love, not too little.”

How can we pray for you today_.png

 

As Lewis suggests, God loves us far too much to leave us where we are. He has a great plan for us—greater than we can possibly imagine—and is persistently working for our good, even when we cannot see or understand it. Our part is to respond to God’s purifying love by opening our hearts to him in praise and worship, in the study of his word, and in obedience to his will. As we do these things, we will discover over time that we are growing to know God better; and as we know him better, we shall realize that we are coming to love him more; and as we love him more, we will find ourselves desiring to please and obey him in all things. By earnestly seeking God’s face in this way, we will find him progressively revealing himself to us, intensifying our hunger, and making us more like Jesus. – CSLewisinstitue.org

This is our goal here at The Whole House to respond to God’s purifying love by opening up our hearts. We share our stories, our time and our journey because Christ first loved us, not because we need another cause or meeting.

The Rescue

All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too.- 2 Corinthians 1:4

We here at The Whole House want to come alongside you. We’ve had plenty of hard times in our journey. We get it. We’re here. We have had good times of healing too and we want that for all. Do you have a prayer request today?

 

Christmas- What about Joseph?

I’m stuck on the story of Joseph this weekend. He doesn’t get many accolades. Truth is, we can learn a lot from the earthly father of Jesus. Joseph chose not divorce Mary, which he had every right to do in his culture. He also chose not to abort Jesus, which was a common practice in the Roman Empire.

Adoption means advocating for the unborn, just as Joseph did.

Adoptive families must trust God to build their families His way. Joseph could have divorced Mary, denied the child and  walked away. Orphans come in all sorts of packages. The culture often dictates who should be ‘saved’ and who should not be. Many infants never leave the womb alive, in the name of a woman’s reproductive rights, their right to life is terminated before they breathe.

Adoption means advocating for the unborn, just as Joseph did. His actions matched His theology. We adopted parents walk in the footsteps of Jesus’ earthly father, when we respond to an “unwanted pregnancy” with the offer of family.

We parents respond to tragedy and social orphans with the offer of a home. We adoptive parents walk in God’s vision of family when we adopt. Adoption is not a second rate alternative to biological children. It’s kingdom building work. When we build the kingdom through adoption, we follow in Joseph’s footsteps. Adoption is a holy work.