I Didn’t See This Coming!

I’m back! I’m sure that many of you who are used to receiving my Monday Morning Blog wondered what happened to me the month of April. I’m sorry that I didn’t have time to explain, but I was completely unprepared for the events that knocked me down so fast and hard. I didn’t have any warning myself.

Let me explain. If you’ve followed me for a while, you will remember that on Christmas Day I tripped on a rug and landed head first on a wooden chest. So I started 2017 with 5 staples in my head, a concussion, and a constant ringing in my ears. I wrote about that experience on January 9 in the blog post 8 Reasons to Make 2017 the Year of New Connections, when one of the opening sentences was, “You know how we make our plans but the Lord directs our steps.” And the next week in, What If You Didn’t Get to Say Goodbye I wrote, “I don’t remember ever having an accident like that before.”

I did not see that accident coming or the length of time it would take to recover from the concussion. By February, I had come to terms with the fact that I would probably live the rest of my life with the ringing in my ears as an array of doctors told me there was probably no hope it would ever go away. Many people told me their stories of living with this distraction and all the many cures, but I am an easily distracted person so I knew it wouldn’t be easy for me to overcome, but with the Lord’s help, I will not be shaken.

Then I started feeling bad the beginning of March in a part of my body unrelated to the concussion—my lower stomach, from my navel down. After several weeks, it got worse so I started the round of doctors, ending up at an urologist who did a CT scan revealing I had kidney stones and gallbladder stones, but he was sure my pain was coming from one kidney stone that looked to be lodged in the top of my bladder. He sent me home for the weekend to drink gallons of water and lemonade, but nothing had changed by the time his office called to check with me on Monday, the last Monday in March and the day of my last blog post to you.

Two days later, on Wednesday at 6:30 AM I was being prepped for surgery to remove what we all thought was one stuck kidney stone. I told everyone I would be back in my office Thursday, including my publisher as we were working on the cover for my new book Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness. Everyone I knew who had ever had kidney stones assured me by Wednesday night I would be feeling great!

Well I wasn’t feeling great. I opened my eyes after surgery and felt twenty times worse! What?! I cried I was so disappointed and one of the nurses said, “Who told you that you were going to feel better?” All my Facebook friends, and I just assumed it would be an easy surgery. Wrong!!!

It turns out I had “dozens” of small stones stuck in both ureters—the tubes that come out of your kidneys. Yes you read right, I had been walking around with dozens of stones!!! So that meant cameras, wires, surgical tools all had invaded both ureters to scrape out the dozens of stones, as well as removing any left in my kidneys. I came home with stints in both ureters, excruciating cramps and pain, and was knocked flat on my back for weeks.

As many of you know I’ve had breast cancer surgery three times, so I am not a wimp and I have a very high threshold for pain, which is how I went so long with all these stones; but I was in agony after this surgery. The recovery has been so much slower than I could have ever expected. There were times when I couldn’t even pray except to groan, which the Bible tells me the Holy Spirit interpreted those groans to God for me.

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” Romans 8:26

Analysis of the stones showed the cause was a medication I was taking for a neurological condition, so in the midst of all this, I had to transition off those meds and onto a different one that made me nauseated, dizzy, and knocked me back down again.

So that’s where I’ve been this past month. But I made it back to church today and once we get these medications figured out, I pray the rest of the year will be better.

Points to Ponder

One Sunday morning, I was sobbing in pain and my husband asked what could he ask the church to pray for during their time of “Praise, Prayer, and Share.” The only thing I could say was, “Hope.” But I told him don’t say that or people will think my faith if faltering, but what I meant was hope that I was going to wake up one morning and feel better. I think he asked for prayer that there would be a turn for the better in my recovery.

He came home from church that morning with a gift bag from a sweet woman who serves our church by sending get well cards and gifts when a parishioner is ill. She had no idea of my plea for hope. In the bag was this cup!

Interestingly, the day before surgery I had turned into Crosswalk.com, who I write for regularly, a blog 10 Ways Not to Help a Suffer. Crosswalk posted that blog exactly one week after surgery. The blog talks about things not to do when someone you know is suffering, with the corresponding ten ways to help someone suffering. My church family, small group, and small mountain community were the example of everything to do to help someone. They showed up at the door with meals, sent cards, called faithfully, and prayed continually. As I walked into church today, I was greeted over and over by “It’s so good to see you back and I was praying for you!”

My next article assigned by Crosswalk is “How to Remain Hopeful When the Pain Won’t Stop.” I’ll let you know when that posts because I will share more of what kept me going and hopeful this past month.

Two days after surgery, the copy edits from my publisher arrived for me to review. It would be my last chance to make any changes or corrections and to review the changes their editors had made. When I let the product manager for Mentoring for All Seasons know about the surgery and it would probably be a few weeks before I could look at these, she quickly extended the April 21 deadline to today May 1. During the month, she checked in to see how I was doing, and often I was miserable. She continually sent me prayers along with this sweet graphic.

So while the health issues this year caught me completely by surprise, I know that God is never caught off guard and He sustains me. The word He gave me in both the concussion and the recovery from this surgery is: I will not be shaken.

God willing, I will be back next week. Thank you for those who prayed for me that knew about this, and the many Facebook friends who let me know their prayers and thoughts were with me. I was so blessed to see all of your comments when I felt up to checking in on Facebook. I pray if any of you are suffering, you also know that our hope is in the Lord who never leaves our side.

If you received this post by email, please comment here.

Hope-We All Need It by Karen Whiting

Today’s blog post is from author friend Karen Whiting and she shares a little about her book 365 Devotions for Hope. Hope is central to our faith, but sometimes we can lose our hope during difficult circumstances. Karen’s devotional will help restore your hope, the center of our faith. Enjoy

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Sometimes, when life is rough or we feel that God is not answering our prayers, we feel like we need it more than other times.

Whether we are leaders or followers, we need hope. There’s good news. Signs and words of hope are all around us. That’s good because we need hope to move forward, especially during struggles and loss. Hope is the expectation of something good.

What are some of the signs of hope around us?

  • Nature provides many signs, such as a daffodil blooming in the snow, a blue sky, twinkling stars at night, and a beautiful sunset.
  • Loved ones bring hope with encouraging words, hugs, smiles, and gifts.
  • God’s Word brings the ultimate hope with the promise of God’s presence and eternity.

What can we do when we feel hopeless?

We all have times we need a little CPR for hope. Start with counting your blessings, including God’s love. Take things one step and one moment at a time when you feel overwhelmed. Cling to a verse or two. Be patient. Since the time of Job and other Bible characters, people have faced catastrophes and loss.

It’s easy to wallow in self-pity. Some things to try:

  • Choose to look for the positive and count your blessings.
  • Forgive anyone who caused problems or let you down.
  • Believe there will be blessings in the future.
  • If you have a recent loss allow yourself time to grieve. It’s a natural process.
  • If your hopelessness is long lasting or serious do seek professional help.
  • Acknowledge your strengths and gifts. Find ways to use them.
  • Eat healthy, get enough sleep, and drink plenty of water.
  • Let go of what you cannot control.
  • Reframe a problem into a challenge. It will strengthen you and give you new hope.
  • Spend time in nature appreciating God’s creation.
  • Pray for God’s comfort and joy.
  • Surround yourself with supportive people.

What’s your new book and what’s it about?

365 Devotions for Hope is daily meditations that focus on various aspects and signs of hope. Word pictures of images, uplifting quotes, and glimpses into God’s love will inspire readers to embrace life.

For example, in examining the Scripture of Christ as our anchor, devotions explore various anchors (plow, mushroom, claw, and fluke) as well as moorings and other nautical analogies to discover more about hope in God.

Everyday signs of hope are found in encouraging words, laughter, and smiles to natural wonders like the sun peeking through the clouds. The daily reflections will bring seeds of hope to face struggles, renew minds, and refresh spirits.

What helps you when you feel hopeless?

KarenWhiting

If you received this blog by email, you can leave a comment here.

Take Hold of the Faith You Long For By Sharon Jaynes

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Sharon Jaynes is an author/speaker friend of mine with an awesome new book Take Hold of the Faith You Long For: Let Go. Move Forward. Live Bold. Sharon shares my passion to mentor women in living faith-filled lives and living boldly for Christ. I know you will enjoy her blog post below where she shares vulnerably that she once was stuck between wanting to live for Christ authentically and not superficially. Isn’t that what we all want? I know I do.

Take Hold of the Faith You Long For

Sharon Jaynes

I was alone, or at least I felt that way. Women huddled in happy clusters chatting about first one thing and then another. Some propped babies on their hips. Others clutched Bibles in their hands.

Most wore smiles on their faces. I wore one too. But it wasn’t a reflection of what was in my heart. The upturned lips were simply the camouflage I wore to blend in—to avoid being found out.

That I wasn’t really all that I was cracked up to be.

What I really wanted to do was run and hide. On the outside I was a well-put-together church mom with cute shoes and snappy jeans, but on the inside I was a little girl cowering in the far recesses of the playground hoping no one would notice me.

What’s wrong with me? I wondered. Why don’t I feel the joy these other women feel? What holds me back from experiencing the confidence and assurance they seem to experience?

Why do I continue to act like the same old me, struggle with the same negative emotions, and wrestle with the same old sins?

I wonder if you’ve ever felt that way?

The problem was I was stuck. Yes, I had professed Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I knew I was going to heaven when I left this earth.

But I had a niggling feeling He meant something more than heaven when He said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).

Have you ever watched a circus performer on a flying trapeze? The aerialist swings out, swings back, and then usually on the peak of the third swing he takes hold of another bar or performer.

That’s when the fun begins as backflips, somersaults, and triples twists wow the crowd.

But what if, when the trapeze artist took hold of the second bar, he refused to let go of the first?

He would be left hanging in the middle. Stuck. That would not be the greatest show on earth.

And that’s where many of us spend our lives…stuck…dangling over “life to the full” but never quite letting go of what holds us hostage to a mediocre “less than” faith.

I know it’s where I spent many years…until God challenged me to take hold of the truth and make it mine. Her name was Mary Marshall Young–and older, wiser woman in my church. One day she challenged me to learn about my true identity in Christ.

Then she did something even harder…she challenged me to believe it…to take hold of it and make it mine. And that made all the difference.

The apostle Paul wrote, “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (Philippians 3:12).

And in order to take hold and make our own everything that Christ has taken hold of for us and placed in us, we need to let go of everything that keeps us from doing so.

If we would grasp and make our own what Jesus has already done for us, and what He had deposited in us, our lives would look very different than the tepid faith of the average churchgoer.

God’s power, provision, and purposes are for “who so ever will” (Mark 8:34 KJV).

Will what? Will let go of all that holds you back from experiencing the abundant life of the adventurous faith and take hold of truth that makes it so.

So here’s what I’m challenging you to do:

  • Let go of insecurity and take hold of your true identity as a child of God.
  • Let go of the scarcity mentality that says that you’re not enough and take hold of God’s abundant promises that say you have everything you need.
  • Let go of crippling bitterness and take hold of radical forgiveness.
  • Let go of shame-filled condemnation and take hold of grace-filled acceptance.
  • Let go of weak-kneed worry and take hold of sure-footed confidence.
  • Let go of comparison to others and take hold of your God-fashioned uniqueness.
  • Let go of debilitating discouragement and take hold of your next assignment
  • Let go of timid reluctance and take hold of bold believing.

I know that’s a tall order, but I know you can do it. I’m here to help you get there.

It’s what God wants for all of us.

So today, let’s ask ourselves if we’re hanging on to something that God is calling us to let go of. Shame? Resentment? Condemnation? Unbelief? Ingratitude? Bitterness? Unforgiveness? A false sense of who we are?

If He brings something to mind, let it go, move forward, and live bold.

The faith you’ve always longed for is just a decision away.

If you received this blog by email, leave a comment here.

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Sharon Jaynes is a conference speaker and author of 20 books, including her latest, Take Hold of the Faith You Long For: Let Go. Move Forward. Live Bold. Her passion is to mentor women from all walks of life by equipping them to live fully and free in Christ. To learn more visit www.sharonjaynes.com or www.takeholdthebook.com.

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Left for College a Christian, Returned an Atheist

 

First RC College Pre Group of High Schoolers

First RC College Prep Group of High Schoolers

My new book Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten, releases February 9. I have a section on Generation to Generation where I discuss the tragedy of losing the next generation for God, especially college age kids, and what we can do to keep them sold out for Jesus. I also share in Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter how I ignored the warning signs when my daughter was taught about Darwinism and evolution in High School.

Then right before Christmas, I received this email from Sheryl Young asking if I would consider mentioning her ministry Ratio Christi. Sheryl didn’t know about my new book and I didn’t know about RC, but after I read her note, I knew why God had put us together. Sheryl wrote:

Ratio Christi has 150 chapters on college campuses teaching Christian apologetics – the history, philosophy and science which supports the Bible and the life, death & resurrection of Christ. This strengthens the students’ faith, helps to stem the tide of “youth flight” from church due to the secularization of our colleges, and makes our young people stronger witnesses. We have also now started doing high school apologetics and have a goal of being on all college campuses.

I knew I needed to hear more and I asked Sheryl to write a post for us to discuss. Sadly, what Sheryl talks about here doesn’t just happen in high school and on college campuses. My granddaughter was only in third grade when she was disciplined by a teacher for defending her Christian faith to two girls who were bullying her at school. My granddaughter was the one  called out, not the other two girls.

Her teacher told her not to talk about Jesus again at school, and I told my granddaughter that teacher was out of line and together we looked at the Scriptures:

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.” Romans 1:16

“So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.” 2 Timothy 1:8

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” 1 Peter 3:15

As we focus on January as National Mentoring Month, are your children, grandchildren, and mentees ready to defend their faith or will they succumb to teachers or other kids’ taunts? I pray my book encourages parents, grandparents, and mentors to equip their children to stand for their faith when under attack. Are your kids, grandkids, mentees ready? Are you ready?

What a Difference a College Class Makes in a Christian Kid’s Life

By Sheryl Young

“So how was your first semester of college?”

“Mom, dad, I’m an atheist now.”

This dreaded conversation took place in the home of a friend of mine, but it’s happening throughout the United States today. It’s no wonder, with kids from Christian homes hearing the following statements almost as soon as they reach the college campus:

“There is no good reason to believe in Christ.”

“There is no logic or reason to Christianity.”

“You will not mention God in my classroom.”

It should be no secret to any Christian family today that colleges and universities have become a bastion of secularism and atheism. The atheist movement in academia is trying at every turn to move students away from a firm faith in Christ.

God’s Not Dead may be a movie with fictional characters such as a bitter atheist professor and few students with the courage to stand against him, but it is based on real-life events.

Make no mistake. Christian parents and grandparents are doing their children a great disservice by telling them that Christianity is just “because the Bible says so” or “because the pastor says so” or “because I say so.” It’s like sending them straight from grade school to college. It simply doesn’t hold any water in today’s culture.

1 Peter 3:15 says: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” (NIV). We don’t show respect for nonbelievers, or ourselves, when we haven’t researched the reasons for our faith. Having “blind faith” may be good inside churched walls, but it won’t be understood by outsiders: it’s foolishness to them (1 Corinthians 2:14).

Josh McDowell, a foremost expert comparing Christian with secular youth, says in The Last Christian Generation: “The majority of our churched young people do not believe Christ is the Son of God, do not believe the Holy Spirit is a real entity, and think ‘doing good’ earns them a place in Heaven.”

What do we expect when they get one hour of Sunday school or youth group, and eight hours in school where they’re taught “there’s no absolute truth” and the Bible isn’t acceptable?

Are We Exaggerating the “youth exodus” from Church?

No. Statistics in various studies show that 50 to 70 percent of American youth drop out of church and leave their Christian beliefs between the ages of 18 and 22. For example, in David Kinnaman’s 2011 book You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church . . . and Rethinking Faith, he cites research showing nearly three out of every five young Christians disconnect from their churches after the age of 15. That’s nearly 70 percent.

The increasing number of atheist professors on college campuses is a direct connection to students losing faith. A study at George Mason University revealed that the percentage of professing atheists and agnostics among college professors is 26 percent higher than the general U.S. population. In addition, 51 percent of professors describe the Bible as “an ancient book of fables, legends, history and moral precepts,” while only 6 percent of college professors say the Bible is “the actual word of God.”

We’ve all heard the stories of Christmas song censorship, valedictorians forbidden to mention God, and football teams not allowed to have student-led prayer. Many school districts do not understand – or choose to ignore – the freedom of religion guaranteed by the First Amendment on school property, especially when it comes to Christianity. Christian students and faculty are having their rights and viewpoints trampled.

“Political correctness” isn’t limited to public education. Many private schools, even some in Christian denominations, now support the “valuing diversity” theme that makes allowances for those who do not hold to biblical principles.

Let’s hear it from the young people – how do they feel?

I [Sheryl Young] work with a ministry called Ratio Christi, and I thank Janet Thompson for letting me write here about this issue. Ratio Christi (“Reason of Christ” in Latin) is a nonprofit international campus ministry with over 150 chapters, which exist to encourage and strengthen the faith of Christian students through the use of intellectual investigation called “Christian apologetics” – learning the historical, scientific and philosophical evidence that gives logic, reason and credibility to our Christian faith when presenting it to others.

Curtis Hrischuk, the chapter director for Ratio Christi at North Carolina State University, says: “Most of the students we get are confused when they arrive at college. They’re realizing that they don’t have a strong basis for their faith, and they’re looking for help.”

Ratio Christi’s chapter leaders often hear from their Christian students that even throughout high school they didn’t receive a strong basis of theology to prepare them to face the secular pressure once they got to college. Many felt their church youth groups were all fun and games to keep them occupied, or automatically supposed that kids who came to church were already grounded in the faith and didn’t need much help. Some felt they could speak about deep Christian issues with their parents, and others didn’t.

Grant, a student from the University of Alabama says, “My youth group studied the Bible but (the teachers) pre-supposed that we accepted it as truth.”

Or Bentley from the University of Mississippi: “I was missing the historical, foundation principles and background of Christianity.  I felt it was extremely important to understand who God is, why I believe what I believe, and understand how to defend my faith against those who might try to disrupt it.”

Going back to McDowell’s The Last Christian Generation, he writes of his surveys:

  • Only 33 percent of churched youth said church would be part of their lives when they leave home.
  • 63 percent of them don’t believe Jesus is the only true way to God.
  • Only 6 percent of publicly schooled children now come away with a true belief in the Bible.

It cannot continue to be a church mantra, or a mantra in Christian homes, that our blind faith is enough. Not if we want our kids to keep their faith intact and be persuasive witnesses for Christianity later in life.

 Ratio Christi Can Help

RC Large Logo.jpg Ratio Christi (RC) students learn to present factual and philosophical evidence for God in classrooms led by atheist professors or to other groups of nonbelievers – and they often end up getting that opportunity. RC students and leaders invite atheists, agnostics, skeptics, and adherents to any religion to attend sessions and investigate the claims of Christianity in friendly discussions.

The nonprofit ministry’s president, Corey Miller, says, “Students who identify themselves as Christians at the beginning of college, with the rest of their lives and careers ahead of them, are under fierce attack and are leaving the Christian faith in alarming numbers.”

A Ratio Christi club member from the University of Virginia, Caitlin says, “If it weren’t for Ratio Christi, I’m not sure I would still be a Christian.” CaitlinBentley adds, “Ratio Christi has taught me how to converse with others about Christianity. It has helped me become more comfortable about being an evangelist of Christ to others.”

Here’s a student named Blake from a Ratio Christi high school-aged group preparing for college:

“Apologetics has given me compelling evidence for the existence of God, the reliability of the Bible, and so much more! I strongly believe that if it wasn’t for apologetics, I would not be as effective a witness for Christ.”

Home school groups, school teachers, clergy, church members, parents, grandparents, and concerned citizens are welcome to get involved with RC at all levels, from prayer to becoming RC mentors. Individuals and churches can “adopt a college” to help start a RC chapter if there  isn’t one at their nearest college. Parents might want to learn apologetics along with their kids so that there are no blank stares across the dinner table if a teen comes home excited about what they are discovering.

Learn more about how you can get involved with Ratio Christi, or find a college chapter. If a student can’t find an existing chapter at a college of their choice, or wants to find out how to get involved at the high school level, Contact Us. Young people are our future. Helping them know their Lord is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.

Sheryl Young is the Media Outreach Coordinator for Ratio Christi, and interviews many chapter students and leaders for RC’s national newsletter.

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How Can I Stand in Life’s Storms

Today we are blessed to have my friend and fellow author, Poppy Smith, as a guest on Monday Morning Blog. Poppy is funny, warm, and passionate about helping women grow spiritually and personally through her books and speaking ministry so they experience the love and power of Christ in life’s ups and downs. A former teaching leader with Bible Study Fellowship, Poppy has a Masters in Spiritual Formation and ministers extensively as a retreat and conference speaker both in the US and around the world. I know Poppy would enjoy hearing your comments about today’s post.

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“I don’t know how my cousin and his family will survive,” said Linda. “He lost his job with benefits and can’t find any work. They’ve skipped payments on their house, don’t have enough food, and are in despair about what to do.”

What flashes through your mind when you watch a friend or family member struggle with the fall-out of a poor economy, unemployment, or ill health? Or when you find yourself in the middle of storms, trials, tears, and confusion? Often, haunting words from a poem written by missionary to India, Amy Carmichael, flash into my mind, “Can he have followed far who has no wound nor scar?” I also think of Jesus’ words, “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16: 33 NIV).

Much as we all want to float through life without encountering hard times, the fact is, most of us will face them. So is there a pathway that will help us grow in our dark times? Can we find a perspective that strengthens our faith and stabilizes our emotions?

Several years ago during a painful time in my life, I came across four questions that helped me stop asking “Why?” Instead, I learned to ask, “What? What is it God wants to bring out of this for my good and the good of others?”

These questions continue to help me when life brings unexpected challenges: Discovering I had inherited my mother’s diabetes. Undergoing open-heart surgery. Seeing family move to another state. I also apply them when struggling with hard and confusing choices—how should I use my time and talents, where is God at work and where does He want me to join in? By turning these questions into prayers and asking for wisdom and insight, I open myself to not only listen and learn from the Holy Spirit, but also to receive the comfort, courage, hope, or fresh commitment to following Him that I so desperately need.

Proverbs 3:13 states, “Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding.” Wisdom is what we need whenever we wonder what is happening to us, and why.

Rather than wasting your tough experiences, prayerfully probe for God’s purpose and how He wants you to grow. These questions will help you discover this:

  • What does God want to do in this situation?

Think of something you’re facing right now, or have faced. Now begin prayerfully asking God, “What do you want to do in this situation? Do you want to change my direction? To deepen my faith? To mold me for something you are planning at a future time? Have you allowed this situation to come crashing into my life because You have a greater design than I can see right now?”

  • What does God want to produce in me through this?

As you look at your own stormy experiences, prayerfully ask God, “What do You want to produce in me through the experience I’m facing now? Could it be a yieldedness to Your will

rather than my own? Sensitivity to others? Trust in You? Courage to act and not hold back from what You are asking me to do? Do you want me to draw closer, to move from my stagnant faith to one that is alive and growing?”

  • What does God want to reveal about Himself to me and through me?

Could He want to show you that He is faithful and will supply the strength you need? That He is wise and all-knowing—the One you can rely on? Does He want to reveal Himself as your Healer—from hurt, pain, abuse, a loss in your life? Could He be allowing a situation so you will turn to Him and deal with an area that needs attention?

  • How does God want to use my trial to benefit others?

In the right place, at the right time, and in an appropriate way, sharing the storms in your life might be God’s lifeline to another hurting person. Ask God, “How do you want to use my trial to benefit others?” Then watch for His direction. As you make yourself available to encourage others, you can help them stand in life’s storms.

 

Wringing good out of evil and growth out of pain is God’s specialty. How have you seen this in your life?

 

This guest post is adapted from I’m Too Human to Be Like Jesus—Spiritual Growth for the Not-So-Perfect Woman by Poppy Smith. For more information about Poppy’s heart, her books and ministry, please visit her website at www.poppysmith.com.

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Guest Post by Kathy Howard “10 SIGNS of FLAT FAITH”

I told her things I had always been too afraid to tell anyone before. My faith felt dead. I doubted my salvation. God seemed so distant. I saw something in Susan’s life I longed to have in mine. Her faith was vibrant and real. Even the way she talked about God demonstrated a dynamic in her relationship with Him that I lacked. I had been a Christian since childhood and actively served in church, but my face never lit up when Jesus was the topic of conversation.

While our toddlers played on the floor together nearby, I tearfully shared with Susan the doubts that had plagued me for nearly two decades. She listened with compassion, but she also challenged me to not be content with my condition.

Desperation gave way to vulnerability that day. Fed up and tired of trying to ignite my faith through my own works and activity, I humbly admitted I could not do it. Honesty with myself, Susan, and ultimately God opened the way for His activity. I could not make myself into what God wanted me to be. I could not find the abundant life Jesus promised. But God could do it all.

The encounter with Susan jump-started my journey toward a fiery faith. Along the way, God shifted a few of my attitudes and changed some of my actions to fire up my faith. God can use these same attitudes and actions to start a flame in your life.

What is Flat Faith?

The word flat can be defined as “without vitality or animation; lifeless; dull.”Many Christians with flat faith love Jesus and continue to serve Him, but they often feel as though they’re simply going through the motions of Christianity. Their love for Christ is short on passion. They serve largely out of a sense of duty or because that’s what they’ve always done. The routine of the Christian life may even feel superficial and directionless.

Although not an exhaustive list, here ten signs that may indicate your faith needs some pumping up:

  1. Relationship with Christ is not deepening and growing.
  2. Religious activities overshadow your relationship with Christ.
  3. Life of faith feels boring, tired, or overwhelming.
  4. Feeling of disconnect from God; no real sense of His presence or voice.
  5. Little excitement over or awareness of God’s activity.
  6. Little or no anticipation that God will work.
  7. Praise and worship feels dry and forced.
  8. Nagging sense you should be experiencing more.
  9. Notice fiery faith in others’ lives that you desire.
  10. Efforts and activity produce few results of eternal value.

Countless Christians experience flat faith. Some have never experienced a vibrant faith characterized by real intimacy with Christ. Flat faith is all they’ve known. Others have lost the passion for Christ they once had and desperately long to find it again.

Are You Fed Up? Let God Pump You Up!

What about you? Do you see yourself in the description above? Are you fed up? Pumped up, fiery faith is not only possible, God wants it to be yours. God never intended for our life of faith to be boring and cold. You can connect with God in real ways. You can experience His activity in and around you. Your life can bear fruit that lasts.

While we cannot grow our own faith, God expects our cooperation. He calls for our active and obedient participation in His work in our lives (1 Corinthians 9:24–27; 1 Timothy 4:7; Philippians 3:12–14). We can learn to position ourselves before God so He can accomplish in our lives the things that only He can accomplish.

The Bible is not silent about flat faith. Life examples and practical help for spiritual dryness pack the pages of Scripture. When you apply these truths to your life, you can follow God out of flat faith to a place where He can set your faith on fire!

My book, Fed Up with Flat Faith, highlights ten key attitudes and actions found in Scripture that help God’s people position themselves for Him to work in their lives. These ten practical, biblical steps of faith will shift your attitude and change your behavior to put you in the center of God’s activity.

Are you ready to let God pump up your flat faith? You don’t have to give up or pretend. You don’t have to settle. Instead, get fed up with flat faith and embrace the full life of faith Jesus offers.

This article is excerpted from the first chapter of Fed Up with Flat Faith: 10 Attitudes and Actions to Pump Up Your Faith by Kathy Howard.  Find out more about the book at http://www.kathyhoward.org/fed-up-with-flat-faith/  Fed Up with Flat Faith is available from your local Christian bookstore and all online stores.  Find out more about Kathy, her ministry, and her other books at www.kathyhoward.org.

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