The Good News Isn’t Good Without the Bad News (A Brief Look at Gospel Implications)

Sometimes, you cannot comprehend how wonderful something is until you are aware of or experience the opposite, to glean an appreciation.

“You don’t know what you’ve got until its gone.”

“The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.”

“There are unknown unknowns, things we don’t know that we don’t know.”
Courtesy of Donald Rumsfeld

“I didn’t realize how much I cared about my ex, until I saw her with someone else.”
– A paraphrase of 50% of country songs

I think we can all relate to that idea.

I want to talk about how it pertains to the Gospel, the greatest story in the history of mankind.

Dictionary.com defines the Gospel as:

“the story of Christ’s life and teachings, especially as contained in the first four books of the New Testament, namely Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.”

If I may be so bold to write about the Gospel, I’ll start by using the famous verse(s):

 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” – John 3:16-17

The Gospel is the miraculous account of how God offered up a plan to redeem the world from its fallen state, through the sacrifice of the Son of God incarnate, Jesus Christ.

Rather than go into detail about what the Gospel is, I will list a few resources for further study.

  • Ligioner Ministries has a good article here.
  • Grace to You (John MacArthur) goes into detail here.
  • Here is a four-minute video with Ravi Zacharias explaining it.

I want to briefly touch on what preceeds the Gospel: our need for salvation, one and all.

The noise and confusion of our current time, as well as abundant erroneous messages found in pop culture, serve to distract and mislead the searching soul from the truth found in God’s Word.

The truth of God’s law isn’t pretty. It tells us in no uncertain terms, that God is holy and perfect, and that nothing that falls short of perfection can be in His presence.
(Romans 3:23)

Furthermore, it spells out in terrifying detail that everyone, and I mean EVERYONE is born into sin as a result of the curse brought on by Adam and Eve. (Genesis 3)

We are all sinners by nature, and are slaves to sin.

“Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin.‘” – John 8:34

Lest you hesitate to believe that, consider the law itself, in its original form, the ten commandments.

Ever done something disrespectful to your mom or dad?

Ever stolen anything?

Ever taken the Lord’s name in vain (yes, saying “OMG,” but the whole phrase, counts)?

Ever considered everything in life as more important than God?

Ever told a lie?

Even doing one of those things, one time makes you a sinner, guilty before God and unable to redeem yourself. Yet all of us commit sins, constantly. Often as second nature. Because sinning is our nature.

Because God loves us so, so very much, He longed to redeem us from our sins to restore our fellowship with Him, as he intended for humans.  That is why He offered a divine, miraculous intervention through the incarnation, life, death and resurrection of the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

God, in His great mercy, made a way for us to avoid the damning justice we all deserve for our sins. There are no words fit to adequately describe what God freely offers to all who receive Him.

The problem is, so many are deluded into thinking that they don’t need God or the salvation He offers through Jesus. Or they think they can appease God and earn their way to heaven through being good.  Fortunately, God was gracious enough to give us the law so we’d know the depth of our depravity and our desperate moral bankruptcy apart from Him.

“…On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, ‘You shall not covet.’
– Romans 7:7b

“as it is written,
There is none righteous, not even one;
There is none who understands,
There is none who seeks for God;
All have turned aside, together they have become useless;
There is none who does good,
There is not even one.’ – Romans 3:10-12

The unspeakably glorious truth of God’s plan of redemption is there for anyone to find. We just need to be made aware of our helplessness (the bad news), before we can truly appreciate the Good News, that new life comes from God through Jesus Christ.

Jesus said to him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” – John 14:6

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Waste Fewer Veggies, Save Money & Make Your Fridge Look Amazing

This is my tale of how I made the subject of this blog a reality in our home.

For years, I bemoaned the fact that I couldn’t get to many my fresh veggies before they spoiled. This was disappointing to me not only because I was wasting food, but because it was not cheap in the first place. The pain of wasted food becomes much acuter once you enter into adulthood and have to start paying for your own.

Part of the problem, admittedly, was that I didn’t plan my meals. I didn’t have a strategy for how to incorporate my produce into my daily eating.

Another part was that they just don’t last that long in the first place.

Thirdly, I relegated them to the crisper drawer at the bottom of the fridge. They were bought, deposited and promptly forgotten.

This was a three-point formula of inevitable waste.

Here is an example of what not to do:

IMG_E4830[1]

Messy crisper = forgotten veggies

I am pleased to report that my discontent at the status quo chipped away at me persistently enough to activate my search for a solution.

Concurrently, my husband Mike had, on more than one occasion, mentioned how amazing the veggie fridge at Panda Express looked, with bin after bin of fresh veggies chopped and ready for action.

Like this:

veggie fridge

It all came together for me when I heard a podcast that suggested that putting veggies in glass or plastic bins not only extended their life but also, placing them on the high shelves of the fridge keeps them top of mind. If they are top of mind, they are less likely to get lost in the mess of the crisper drawer until they are brown and mushy.

I eased into it by starting with cilantro — the one that seems to go downhill the quickest. Placing it in a glass bin remarkably extended its shelf life. That made me extremely happy because wilted cilantro is a real shame.

Gradually I eased into doing other veggies too. I haven’t transferred ALL of them to the top, but it is getting mighty close.

Overcoming the challenges

I’ll be the first to admit that reorganizing was difficult.

First of all, using the bin system meant washing the veggies before putting them in containers. That created a wrinkle in my “system” of cramming in a trip to the grocery store either late at night or with barely enough time to put things away before I had to head out the door for something else. In either case, I was too tired or too rushed to wash and dry the veggies in the same block of time in which I unloaded my groceries.

So they were often doomed to obscurity in the crisper drawer.

A few things that helped

To minimize problem one above, I made a determination to start planning meals a week or two out. That way I had a much better idea of what I would need, and could buy accordingly to minimize waste.

Secondly, I had a realization. If I didn’t have time to wash and dry the veggies for storage immediately after shopping, I could always do it later. For some reason, I had a mental block that suggested I had to do it all at once or not at all. Giving myself the permission to do it later, even sometimes the next day, was a breakthrough for me, small though it might seem.

Sometimes examining the voices in your head that tell you why you “can’t” do something need to be critically analyzed to see if they are actually true.

I took this breakthrough and applied it.

fresh veggies

Look at those beauties!

My fridge won’t ever be quite like Panda Express, obviously. But it is satisfying to open it and see this:

IMG_E4831[1]

Vegetables for days.

That sure is pretty if you ask me.

Even better, however, is our veggie waste has plummetted dramatically, and our actual consumption of them has increased. Win-win-win. Not to mention that this method does indeed keep them fresh longer. At least double the lifetime of hanging out in the bag in a drawer.

If that wasn’t enough, the psychology of it, that I learned from the podcast, is that your eyes (or your kid’s eyes) are most likely to gravitate toward whatever is on the top shelf. So if less healthy snacks get demoted lower, the theory goes, they won’t get eaten as much. And if you’re hardcore enough to pre-chop all your produce, they are even easier to grab for a healthy snack. If you’re into that.

Since this habit has made a positive impact on how we rock the vegetables in our house and is saving us money, I wanted to pass it along to you, the reader. Do with it what you will.

Does this seem crazy? Do you do something similar or aspire to? Your thoughts are welcome, as always.

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The Struggle Between Time with God & Working Out

I’ll admit, I prefer a story with a neat and clear-cut resolution. A little bow on it, with all the details wrapped up. For that reason, I would be a terrible movie critic, because I am too easily pleased with the neatly packaged endings in the majority of films. We’re not here to talk about movies though.

I want to talk about a scenario for which I don’t have a tidy little ending. It is an ongoing narrative, with a new chapter every day. The subject is the way I spend my precious morning hours before work. Specifically, the division of time between two things that are very near to my heart: spending time with God in His Word and in prayer (a.k.a. devotions), and exercising.

The scriptural context for this challenge is 1 Timothy 4:8-9:

“for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance.

I’ve thought about this verse often over the years, as I have continually wrestled with how to prioritize these two things.

Both things are necessary, and non-negotiable elements of my life. Both bring joy, life balance and health (spiritual and physical) that I desperately need in my life.

I’ve come to realize that I prefer to do both things in the morning, as it is easier to accomplish them before the busyness of the day and a non-stop stream of distractions enter into the picture.

The assertion of Paul in the passage above makes it clear what the priority ought to be, but the nitty-gritty of how that plays out on a day-to-day basis is where things can get tricky.

The Past

The frequency and priority with which I have put these things into practice varies with each season of life. Historically, when life gets hectic and stressful, both those items have been shuffled to the back burner, which is ironic, because those are the times when I need more of both the most!

Being a natural night owl, I have also historically struggled to get up with any, let alone plenty, of time to spare before work to engage my heavenly Father and lace up my sneakers. Intermittently, I hit strides where I could get up early enough to accomplish one of those, but time often ran out for the other. Usually, I would work out, then find that I had to rush through my devotional time if I got to it at all.

Fast forward to now.

A Change and a Challenge

An unexpected period of unemployment in the fall of 2017 and an eventual job transition to a part-time position for the time being gave me an opportunity to slow down and re-think my priorities. I had recently gotten back on track with exercising before work, but I knew shortchanging my time with God was a poor choice.  I had been given the surprise gift of more unscheduled time, and I willed to use it to reshape my habits.

With my laid-back, type B or C personality, I’ll admit that I’m a pro at starting my days off work at a snail-like pace and letting the day escape without enough getting accomplished. Through an unexpected series of events, I ended up taking a challenge to get up at 5:30 am for 30 days in a row.  Turned out to be just the impetus I needed to jumpstart my new habits.

That challenge started about two weeks into my three-week period of unemployment. I began getting up early, resolved to spend some quality time in the Word and in prayer before working out. Only after doing both would I step into the tasks for the day. I’m pleased to say, the results were delightful. Not only did I pre-empt my natural bent towards sleeping in and laziness, but I also began to reap rich benefits from pursuing the Lord and my fitness.

As anyone who walks with the Lord knows, investing the time to seek Him first (Matthew 6:33) is not only a command, but it is in our best interest to do so. It has been plain to me that cultivating this habit has heaped immense joy and peace into my life of late. It is hard to describe, but it is fabulous to bask in the presence of God.

Furthermore, taking the time to invest in my physical fitness through regular exercise has also been highly beneficial to my mood, energy level, and self-confidence. Endorphins are neat. 🙂

The 30 day 5:30 am wake up challenge is now long over. I’ve found that a new habit is underway, however. No, I don’t get up at 5:30 every single day. (Yes, I know you are supposed to cement the habit.) I do on many, many more days than I used to. I’m slowly turning into more of a morning person. I never woulda thought!

I’ve recently noticed that on days when I get up too late for devotions and a workout, my mood is a lot more volatile and I get irritated with startling speed. I don’t like it.

On the other hand, when I continue these new found habits, my spirit is almost as buoyant as a life jacket – pretty hard to keep down.

Going Forward

Here is where we lack the neatly packaged ending. It would be misleading for me to insinuate that life is now perfect, I check off all the items on my to-do list every day, and I am now in shape for a marathon. None of those things are remotely true.

I am well aware that right now is a season just like any previous time. I was given what turned out to be a gift of more time when I was faced with a job transition due to a layoff.  I currently work part-time and have a more flexible schedule than ever. This situation is temporary, however. I know before long things will get busy again, and I may once again struggle to make the time for these crucial habits. My prayer is that this path I’ve started down will be sustainable when that time comes.

How about you? How do you balance spiritual and physical discipline? Your thoughts and reactions are welcomed, as always.

 

 

 

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Portion Control: A Key to Weight Loss

As time has marched on, a sad truth has sunk into my brain: how much I eat makes a huge difference in weight loss or gain.

“Um, duh, Summer,” you might say.

More specifically, watching the portions of what I eat often makes or breaks my food intake success. I am carefully avoiding the word “diet.” Diet is a bad word.

I was in denial about this reality for several years beyond when my aging metabolism suggested I should face the facts. I skated by actively thinking I was “eating pretty healthy,” when in fact I was cutting a lot of corners. The scale wasn’t fooled by the deception that I told myself.

After enough time and creeping pounds had occurred, I was finally ready to admit something had to change. I hired a fitness coach to create an eating plan for me that would help shed pounds. At long last, I resigned myself to using a food tracker app to log every little thing I ate and drank – something I had actively resisted for years.

Logging my food and beverage intake was incredibly eye-opening. Horrifying might be an accurate descriptor. Doing so removed any wiggle room or pretense about my nutrition. Aiming to accurately log what I ate showed clearly just how easy it was to overeat.

As an example, here is a picture of a serving of mixed nuts:

IMG_4745[1]

Look at that tiny little thing! It’s so cute. And 170 calories with a whopping 15 grams of fat.

Even closer to my heart, Juanita’s tortilla chips:

IMG_4763[1]

THAT IS A SERVING. Are you kidding me? (My hand is there for comparison sake.)

Let’s be honest, when I have a batch of homemade salsa, I’m barely getting warmed up once I’ve eaten that amount of chips.

I show you these potentially startling images to drive home the point that willful ignorance of portion size usually = vast overeating. No wonder the scale kept working harder, all while I thought I was “eating pretty healthy.”

The last year and a half has been a massive shift for me as I attempt to adjust to the reality of an approaching middle age metabolism. Now that I’m alert to how easy it is to overeat, the battle rages on, one bite at a time.

If you, dearest reader, share my challenges with weight gain and have not yet started measuring what you eat, this post is for you. Do with it what you will. I wish you all the best in fighting the good fight of healthy eating!

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My 2018 Running Goal: 500 miles. Action Plan Included. (Anyone want to join me?)

I’ve been on a journey of running for fitness off and on since high school.

While I haven’t always been consistent, it is the one form of cardio that I always go back to. Partly because there aren’t many exercises that are more efficient concerning aerobic activity and calories burned by time spent. Also the way I feel when I’m running regularly just can’t be beaten. The post-run endorphins last for hours and boost my mood like crazy.

Until recently, my peak running years were from 2005-2009. Then I hit a slump, and my frequency plummeted. Oddly, the numbers on the scale spiked in the opposite direction. 😉

Last year I jumpstarted the quest to re-commit to running regularly. During my off years, I ran so infrequently that I could never remember when I needed to replace my running shoes (every 300-500 miles is a common figure I’ve read.)

Turning over a new leaf

With the purchase of a new fancy pair in September 2017, I decided to start a mileage log, for the primary purpose of keeping an eye on shoe replacement time. What emerged as a secondary, unintended purpose was logging miles as a means to set and track mileage goals for myself.

Thus, my personal challenge for 2018. 500 miles.

Some might look at that and think, “Girl, you’re ca-razy!!”

Serious runners would look at 500 miles and say, “OK, so, what are you going to do after May when you’re done with that?”

I fall squarely between those two camps, fortunately.

500 miles is ambitious but achievable. Like all industrious goals, breaking them down into bite-size chunks is the key. Works out to:

42 miles per month
9.6ish miles per week

Running three miles three times per week, and adding an additional 3/4 mile weekly would do it.

Running four miles, three times per week would put me well over my goal.

Since I got started again last year, I happen to know that the latter scenario and more is already well within my reach.  It’s just going to take consistency. Which is precisely what I need.

Anyone want to join me?

If you’ve read this far, first of all, thank you. You are a friend and a trooper. Secondly, I suspect it may mean that you aspire to some fitness goals that would push you out of your comfort zone.

Maybe you haven’t started running; perhaps you have deep-seated reasons why. Maybe you know running isn’t your thing, but you’re interested in walking more, cycling more, or doing some other sort of activity more.

I challenge you to set a goal, break it up into manageable chunks, and start chipping away at it. You’ll be amazed how great it feels to start knocking down milestones on your fitness journey.

If you have a plan for fitness in 2018, I would love to hear it so we can celebrate together when we both hit our goals!

 

 

Posted in Health, Lifehacks, Opinion, Running | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

PrayerMate: An App That Vastly Improved My Prayer Life

As a Christian, I know that prayer is essential. I realize it is key to a vital, growing relationship with God. Yet, my prayer life has gone through many seasons of dryness. I’ve struggled to pray with the passion and consistency I know I ought to, that the Bible calls Christ’s followers to do. Part of my challenge was not finding a system that worked well for me.

That all changed a little over a year ago when I found an article from one of my favorite bloggers, Tim Challies, on PrayerMate.

PrayerMate is an app that helps you create prayer lists by category, as well as organize them and schedule how many items on each you wish to pray for each time you pray. It even suggests topics to get you started. I found that it was just the tool I needed to organize my prayers.

I struggled historically with being overwhelmed by the number of things and people for whom I wished to pray.

 

Praying

When I would create a massive list, I felt obligated to pray through it each time, and it was so large that I quickly gave up. PrayerMate solves that dilemma via the scheduling function I mentioned. The idea of breaking things into categories and praying for only a specified amount of items each time seems straightforward, but it was a concept that had alluded me.

The freedom to spread all my prayer items out over multiple sessions not only eased the self-imposed pressure I felt, but it also gave me the freedom to add more categories to my prayers.

As a result, I am praying for a lot more things and people, and with much higher frequency than I was before.

Here is a sample of the prayer lists I have:

  1. Biblical prayers – prayers directly from passages of Scripture that I pray for others or myself, as well as biblical prayers written by others (PrayerMate has a feed of different prayers you can subscribe to)
  2. My Walk with God – specific prayers for areas of spiritual growth for me personally, including sin areas to conquer
  3. Family and Friends – where I bring before the Lord requests from loved ones, as well as additional items for which I pray for them.
  4. My Church – prayers for church staff and members of my life group
  5. Non-believers – prayers for those who do not yet have a personal relationship with Christ
  6. World Mission – prayers for missionaries and mission organizations that we support or are familiar with
  7. Personal – this category is where I pray for my own requests

I update each category as needed. As I get updates from friends, I edit the details of the request. If prayer is answered, I praise God for it and sometimes choose to delete it. Although, *epiphany* I should and will add an additional category for answered prayers, so I can look back on those and praise God for the ways He has worked.

I can say with confidence that this app has revolutionized my prayer life.

I was hesitant to use it at first because praying from an app somehow seemed too informal or irreverent.  However, I realized that a) my prayer life desperately needed help, and b) this seemed to be what I required; c) whatever gets the job done should not be lightly esteemed. I am so, so glad I decided to give it a try.

In the past year or so since I have been using PrayerMate, I’ve found my times of prayer to be deeper and richer.

It has been a wonderful blessing to be able to expand the frequency and amount of prayer items I cover, beyond just praying for myself. I’ve also found that increased time in prayer has deepened my relationship with God.

A prayer app might not be the thing for you. But maybe it is. I share this with you because I want to pass on the blessing, as it was passed on to me from the article I read. I will prayerfully trust God to use it as He wills to accomplish His purposes.

p.s. my prayer life is currently under further construction as a result of a few books I am reading. It is some exciting stuff that I will likely be sharing here in the weeks and months to come.

Thanks for reading! Here’s to a prayer-fueled 2018!

Please feel free to let me know your thoughts and comments on this topic.

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What My Blog is About

When I tell people that I write a blog, the most common question I get asked is, “What is your blog about?” I often struggle to answer that concisely. The short answer is, “Whatever I want.”

While that is both concise and accurate, it is not sexy or compelling. There’s so much more to it, but the proper brief description has alluded me thus far. So, here is a quick outline of the high points that I cover, with my attempt at a summary statement at the end.

By and large…

I blog about things I’ve learned

In my many times around the sun, I’ve picked up knowledge that has been worthwhile and helpful to me. So much that, I think it some of it might be helpful to others. So I share it, with the hopes that maybe it will shed light on someone’s path.

That includes advice, etiquette, and various observations. It may also include takeaways from things I have read and learned from sources I trust.

I blog about things I care about

That is admittedly a pretty wide net.

If it is something that I have contemplated deeply, or for a long time, I might just write about it.

I love to laugh, and I am constantly thinking about scenarios that make me chuckle. Comedy routine fragments run around in my brain on a daily basis. When I sit down to write, however, I find that the comedy bits are not only harder to write, but they are not what flows out. I would love to write a humor blog, and I may write humorous posts from time to time, but that is not my focus.

The things that flow from my mind to my keyboard are more often things of a more serious, sometimes eternal, nature.

  • Psychology, personality and behavior issues
  • Spiritual matters – Bible application & analysis, my walk with God, my passion for discipleship and service
  • Moods and attitudes concerning significant holidays
  • Goals and plans for the future
  • Victories regarding goals (working on some of those for 2018 and beyond!)
  • Satire (not everything is serious!)
  • Exploring ways to be a better human
  • I’m not above sharing recipes, though I am more of a consumer of those than a creator
  • Anything else that comes to mind

See? As I said, I blog about “whatever I want.” I guess I’d say if I were forced to boil it down to a single sentence: my blog is about personal and spiritual development. I’m too random, and my desire for variety is far too high, to focus on one particular area.

Thank you for taking the time to read this! If you have any ideas about things you’d like me to blog about, please drop a comment. I’d love to hear what is on your mind.

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What is the Christmas Spirit Anyway?

It’s almost Christmas again! My reflections from last year still hold true, about getting into the “Christmas spirit.”

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I’m Sorry, You Apologized for WHAT?? A Brief Look at Our Over-Apologizing Culture

I can’t tell you how it started. I can tell you that once I noticed it, it was everywhere, and impossible to ignore. Not to mention, a little upsetting.

The overuse of “I’m sorry.”

I was formerly a power-user of the phrase, and I read an article a few years back exploring the folly of its overuse, and it opened my eyes to my own bad habit, which I shared with SO MANY people around me.

Far as I can tell, in my little corner of Western civilization, people apologize way more often than is necessary.  I wish I were a cultural psychologist, to dissect why it is people in this millennium are so quick to apologize for unnecessary reasons.

Save Your Apologies For When You Did Something Wrong

Growing up, I was taught to apologize when I was in error. Treating someone poorly, lying to my parents, cheating on a test, or otherwise breaking known rules – those were justified occasions to apologize.

These days, I hear people utter “I’m sorry” for the silliest reasons.

When someone asks them a question, as though they should have anticipated it and answered it before it was asked.

“Hey Martha, what did you mean when you said ….”

Martha: “Oh, I’m sorry, I ….

Martha, what are you apologizing for? Because someone needed clarification? Why are you apologizing for that, exactly?

When someone enters a conversation after it’s started and didn’t catch all the details.

Late arrival: “Hey guys, how’s it going?”

Person 1: “I was just telling Jim here about how my interview went…”

Late arrival: Oh, I’m sorry!

Why are you apologizing, exactly?

When a boss or co-worker gives you a suggestion.

Boss: You know, Steve, how about you use this format for your TPS reports instead of that one. It makes it easier to present to the client.

Steve: Oh, I’m sorry! I’ll do that in the future.

STEVE!! Getting a suggestion for something someone wants you to do differently doesn’t necessarily mean you were doing it wrong. Please, don’t apologize unless you did something wrong.

I could list more examples, but you get the idea, right?

Apologizing when you are not in the wrong is unnecessary. It makes you come across as weak and lacking confidence. If your goal is to make people lack faith in you and what you can do, by all means, wear out those words.

If you’ve been insensitive, or a downright jerk, broken the law, made a mistake that puts others at a disadvantage or done something wrong that affects someone else, those are the times to utter a sincere apology at the very least.

After I became aware of the over-apologizing trend, I noticed myself doing it way too often. It also began to bother me when I heard others do it. I had to re-train my brain to stop and think of other things to say when my knee-jerk reaction was to apologize.

Things like:

“Oh, I see what you mean.”

“I didn’t realize that.”

“That is good to know for future reference.”

“Thank you for that suggestion. I will work on that.”

Again, there are more examples I could list. The point of the exercise is to examine the use of unnecessary apologies and modify your behavior as needed.

I would love to get your comments on this issue!

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An Open Letter to Critics of #ThoughtsAndPrayers

Right after the tragic church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas in early November, social media was flooded with the usual chorus of people posting “sending thoughts and prayers” to the victims and their families. This is an entirely normal reaction to a tragedy, to acknowledge a sense of helplessness and beseech the Almighty to intervene where we cannot (unless the it happens close to where you live, the ability to take physical action is limited).

What startled me was the instant, sharp-tongued mockery of such statements from liberals, progressives, and otherwise godless individuals. People from A to Q list celebrities as well as average Joes and Janes hurled insults on Twitter to those sending thoughts and prayers for the situation. Most were mean-spirited, a few were clever or even funny. The tenor of the sentiment was essentially that thoughts and prayers are meaningless, and not enough, or not even worthwhile.

I take serious issue with that view, or at least part of it. Calling prayers useless is the part that I wish to side against with vigor. In this post, I’ll make a case for the power of prayer.

I’ll agree with the critics that “sending thoughts” or “positive thoughts” is of utterly zero value. Saying that may make one appear pious, but that is all. It does nothing to help victims practically or enlist the help of the only One who can.

Here are my rebuttals to the anti #thoughtsandprayers crowd.

Prayer is not only worthwhile, but it is also usually the best  response

When tragedy strikes, whether a national crisis or within our own lives, that is when most people feel compelled to pray. Why is that? Because it often takes a crisis to realize how helpless we are, how little we actually have in our control, and how great and unspeakable the fallout from sin and resulting evil in the world.

I wouldn’t wish tragedy or hard times on myself or anyone. Having said that, if tragedy is what it takes to make someone do business with God, they will be better for it. Certainly from an eternal perspective, and most assuredly in this life as well.

As I said, when we can see no other option, we pray. Because somewhere deep inside, we know that it is the Almighty God and Him alone who can intervene. In the case of Sutherland Springs, and so many other tragedies in recent times, it is horrifying to see coverage and know there is not much I can do to help.

If I lived in the same town, I could bring meals to victims’ families. I could offer a listening ear to those who are fighting with grief. If I really wanted to go the extra mile, I could provide temporary lodging in my home for out-of-town family members who come in to sort things out in the aftermath.

In some cases, such as natural disasters, I could donate money to relief efforts. That is a tangible way I often choose to help. But in the absence of that…

It is God who can move mountains, inspire locals to act with compassion, grant effectiveness and wisdom to local officials, and most of all, to bring comfort to those suffering.

My passion and belief in the power of prayer comes from my knowledge of and love for God

I’ve spent my whole life reading God’s Word, the Bible. I’ve read the accounts of the amazing things He does through prayer:

  • Prophet Elijah prayed for rain, and God ended a drought in Israel (1 Kings 18)
  • Elijah also made a fool of prophets from false religions, with fire from heaven (also 1 Kings 18)
  • Joshua prayed for a longer day to defeat Israel’s enemies before the sun went down, and God answered (Joshua 10:12-14)
  • King Hezekiah prayed for life in spite of his mortal illness, and the Lord granted it (2 Kings 20:1-6)

This only scratches the surface of the truly amazing things God does when His people pray. In my own life, I’ve witnessed God work mightily through prayer:

  • Healing a dear friend and more than one family member from cancer
  • Giving me comfort and strength through every tough season of life
  • Providing for my physical needs 100% of the time, even when circumstances looked grim
  • Giving me boldness to do things I normally wouldn’t do, like share my faith with someone else
  • Creating, and providentially leading me to, my husband, a man who is more soul-matey for me than I ever could have imagined
  • Changing hardened hearts of people I know to be softened and opened to God

I realize that someone who mocks prayer as ineffective does so because his or her outlook on God is one that is completely removed from what God says about Himself in the Bible. There are many different nuances to that, which I won’t get into here. In short, those people don’t believe God.

Those of us who do, who have seen God work and love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19), know that praying in the midst of tragedy is not only practical, it is likely the most effective thing we can do.

“The Lord works in mysterious ways.” That phrase is thrown around a lot, almost to the point of being diluted of its significance. But it is still so true.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts.

~ Isaiah 55:8-9

It is God alone who can:

  • Change hearts and minds (Ezekiel 36:26)
  • Give wisdom (James 1:5)
  • Direct the steps of a man (Psalm 37:23)
  • Inspire His followers to act with compassion (Philippians 2:13)
  • Make the miraculous happen in the lives of the afflicted and grieving (John 11, Psalm 34:18-19, Luke 8:40-56, cf. the whole Bible).

So to those who mock the sincere prayers of others, I say without irony that I will be praying for you. May God open your eyes to His goodness and power, and the salvation He offers through Jesus (John 3:16).

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