When “I’ll Pray for You” Is An Insult

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Sometimes words said with good intention can be insulting. We live in a world where it’s easier than ever to comment on a friend or family member’s trials, triumphs, and everything in-between. But do we stop to think before we insert our like, love, or laughing face?

I will be the first to say I love emojis and use them often in texts and on social media, but I often wonder what all this instant, no-thought-required communication is really doing to our ability to communicate. Take, for example, the statement, “I’ll pray for you.” Or the comment I see more often, “Thoughts and prayers!”

Now, by no means am I saying we shouldn’t pray for others. Sometimes, as I stated in my previous post, it’s all we can do. And let them know you’re praying. It can encourage a person’s heart to know there are people rallying behind them in prayer.

But what if there is something else we can do? What about the times when someone desperately needs help, and we could be the ones God uses to provide it?

There are times when I see people on Facebook crying out for help. Sometimes, it’s a home that’s flooded and they need a place to stay. Or they’re sick and could really use a hot meal. The possibilities are endless.

If we have the resources and ability to help the person in need, are we really displaying the love of Christ by saying “I’ll pray for you,” and then carrying on with our lives? While I’m certain God is all-powerful and able to swoop down, make the person some soup and deliver it to their front door, do you think maybe that’s what he’s called us to do instead?

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When Jesus walked the earth during his earthly ministry, he prayed. A lot. He and the Father were in constant communion and he often removed himself from others completely so he could be alone in prayer.

But I don’t recall a single time when someone walked up to him, begging for help, food or shelter, and he said, “I’ll pray for you.” He knew there was a time to pray and a time to act, and he wasn’t going to mislead others by confusing the two.

John, who was with Jesus during most of his ministry, says it like this:

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

1 John 3:18 NIV

Friends, prayer was never intended to be used as an excuse for inaction. And I am convicted. I am guilty of turning the other way when I know God was asking me lend a helping hand, but he is showing me that if we are to be his hands and feet, we must act. We must move. We must do something other than say, “I’ll pray for you.”

I know there are seasons when we are stretched thin between little ones, jobs and other responsibilities. Prayer may truly be the best we have to offer. I know there are also times when we aren’t the best person to help.

But if we are constantly turning the other way, we need to reevaluate. We need to take a long hard look at ourselves and ask the question every person who attended VBS as a kid knows: What would Jesus do?

I can guarantee you, he would do more than sit. Let’s follow his example and do the same.

 

Linking up with these communities: #RaRaLinkup, #IntentionalTuesday

An Open Letter to the Woman Who Thinks She’s Disappointed God

an open letter to the woman who thinks she's disappointed God

The Google search phrase makes me catch my breath: Is God disappointed in me?

I feel a stabbing in my chest. I want to grab the person by the shoulders, look her in the eyes and say, “No. No, sweet sister. You can’t disappoint God. You are his daughter. Once you are in Christ he clothes you. He takes off your rags and exchanges them for his robes of righteousness.”

But I can’t. I don’t know who you are or what your day holds. I don’t know if you are knee deep in laundry or diapers, wondering if you’ll ever feel like yourself again. Perhaps you’re holding on to the last fragment of hope in a marriage or wondering if your son will come home after the fight you had this morning.

I write this letter to you in hopes that the truth of this message will sink in. I pray it will trickle into your subconscious and you will recollect these words when the lies of the enemy threaten to overtake your thoughts.

First, let me say I have been where you are. All too recently.

I have felt like God was looking down at me saying, “Seriously? You expect me to still listen to you after that?” I have carried the weight of guilt on my shoulders for a harsh word uttered at my children and a shopping indulgence I knew I should have avoided. I could go on. He knows the entire list.

And yet despite my guilt, he beckons me. He sees the work he’s doing in me, and how far he’s brought me.

He sees me for the child I’m yearning to become. That I am becoming.

He who began a good work in me is faithful. (Philippians 1:6)

woman who thinks she's disappointed God

Yes, there are sometimes consequences and yes there is discipline but he never shuns. He welcomes me with open arms, the same way he welcomes you.

I’m in the second trimester of my third pregnancy, and I am consumed with all things baby. I’d forgotten how much it changes your perspective, knowing there is life being created inside you.

Last week I went in for a prenatal checkup and for a brief moment, the doctor had trouble finding the baby’s heartbeat with the doppler. My heart sank. I silently pled with Jesus to bring that rapid, steady beat and after I changed my position on the table, there it was.

I could have cried. It gave my soul sweet rest and I wanted grasp the doctors hand, keeping the instrument on my belly a bit longer as I absorbed the rhythm.

His love is like that, you know. Like a steady heartbeat, beckoning us to come to him. 

For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.

Malachi 3:6 ESV

Even when we can’t feel it or think he’s far away, he’s right there loving us through our doubt. It is constant like my miracle’s tiny heart, giving us rest. Giving us faith to trust in what we can’t understand.

As crazy as it may sound, I heart it last week. The swooshing, rhythmic beat that eluded me for a slow moment of panic gave me confidence in his unchanging adoration.

It was as though he was saying, “Even when you can’t see me or feel my presence, I’m right here. The love I have for you doesn’t change.”

Once you come to him, he has the same adoration for you. Despite your flaws. Despite your shortcomings.

Stop striving to gain his love and rest in knowing it is yours. Stop striving to serve him and delight in knowing him.

 

GIVEAWAY:

Congrats to Lorraine Reep! You are the winner of a copy of Suzanne Eller’s new book, Come With Me. I will be contacting you regarding shipping. Congrats!

Don’t Settle for Safe

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“God, take the decision out of my hands.”

I didn’t say the prayer out loud, but I may as well have. For months, I had gone back and forth over a life-altering choice that would change our family forever: whether or not to have another baby.

And every time I thought I’d decided, the endless trail of what-ifs froze me in my tracks. What if we lost the baby? What if the baby was born with a birth defect? Of course, I’d have to have another surgery and what if it didn’t go well?

So instead of making a decision, I remained in a state of inertia. The unknowns loomed over me like an unpredictable storm, and I my feet were stationary.

One day in early spring, something shifted. My mama instincts kicked in and I knew the possibility of new life was real. I could taste it. Fear and excitement overwhelmed me in alternating waves, and I spent the morning waiting to buy the test confirming my suspicions were right.

Will you continue reading with me? Today I’m sharing the rest of my story over at Purposeful Faith. You can read the rest of my post here.

 

Note: We will continue our Rays in the Storm series on Tuesday, April 19th. I look forward to continuing our discussion!

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When Loss Invades {Rays in the Storm Series}

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To kick off our Rays in the Storm series, I am thrilled to welcome my friend Christine Duncan to the blog. One of the things I love about Christine’s writing is her bravery. She tackles tough topics and gives her readers the only hope that withstands the most turbulent storms of this life: Christ. She has been a source of continual encouragement to me over the past year, and I know her word will encourage you as well.

When Loss Invades

I had been robbed again.

It was the third time that week.

Invaded, and as usual, I never saw it coming.

And quite frankly, I needed it to stop.

The losses were stacking up and I was feeling it acutely.

Because the same thing had happened the week before, and the week before that, and well… I could go on.

When losses pile up around us, we tend to forget what we have gained.

Or maybe that we have gained anything at all.

I was not even up against an ordinary thief. And I know some of you might be wondering what I had done to encourage being robbed over and over.

My own body, my brain, takes it upon itself to rob me. I have lived with Dysthymic Disorder for nearly 30 years, or chronic depression as some would know it. And I can’t begin to list the things I lose to it, week by week.

Sometimes they’re small things. Robbed of the ability to recall a name. Sometimes sentences in front of me don’t make any sense. It’s pizza again for dinner because I’ve been robbed of the notion of how to cook or put separate ingredients together. A simple walk to the mailbox too big to accomplish, my reasoning, and energy, and strength sapped from me while I wasn’t looking.

It all gets stolen from my day in random, unknowing little slips.

But other days.

All too often my Dysthymia steals important things, and I’m down for the count.

A good friend’s wedding day taken from me, because of an unexplainable anxiety attack. A restful getaway much saved for by my sweet hubby, about to be sabotaged by my moods and my brain. Misfiring neurotransmitters taking over and stealing away joy, romance, rest, and even hope.

Often robbed of communication, left with stumbling, angry words for no reason. Big tasks that I can normally pull off no problem, suddenly wrenched from my brain, and the body retracts from itself, and energy is zapped, and despair put in the place where reason used to rule.

On a physical level, constant loss begins to wear you down. Insomnia flares. Phantom pain settles in. Limbs feel like they will always weigh a ton and a half. Common colds can feel life-threatening.

On an emotional level, you see the loss now every day, whether you’re having an episode or not. Emotions either run high, or disappear completely. Enter the zombie. You feel exhausted just trying to look normal to friends and colleagues. You don’t want pity or coddling. You just want to make it through.

But on the spiritual level. I want to give us hope and good news!

Maybe this would be where the loss would invade everything the most severely. But instead, this is where it stops. The loss can end here. Because we live within the One who ended loss on the Cross.

I can say with absolute certainty that we serve a gracious and loving God who cares about our loss.

Christine Duncan Guest Post Meme

A good God. I hope I can make this clear.

“You, O LORD, will not withhold Your compassion from me; Your loving-kindness and Your truth will continually preserve me!”
Psalm 40:11

We serve a God who understands loss, and knows that when we are filled up with all of His grace, and His mercies, and His goodness, loss cannot lodge itself inside us for good.

“For I am the LORD your God, Who upholds you, who says to you, ‘do not fear, I will help you.” Isaiah 41:13

The King of the eternal life supplies us with life support.

For the weary. For the downtrodden. For the suffering.

And His loving kindness lifts where loss wanted to put us down.

And His goodness and faithfulness restores where the rugs of life were yanked out from under us.

And His never-ending grace is our complete gain.

He becomes my life-force. Depression has to bow to Him. Hardship has to bow to Him. Mental health must bow to Him.

Loss must submit to the Giver.

His grace pulls at our loss and gives space for new health. In Him. His grace at every turn supplies space for holy joy that cannot be quenched. In Him. The Word says that He delights in us, because He rescues us. I say amen and hallelujah.

Be my Gracious Rescuer, Oh Lord.

And restore what was lost.

You don’t have to have what I have to understand these feelings. Your thief might be loss of another kind. A battle of another kind. A circumstance of another kind.

Whatever the loss, we give it to the Gracious Rescuer. The Grace-filled Restorer of our faith.

And when loss appears to invade everything, rest assured that our everything lives fully in Him.

And it’s there that every loss can become our blessed gain.

 

Christine Duncan Bio Pic

Christine Duncan is a mom, wife, and Canuck with a passion for blogging.

Precepts & Life Preservers is where she has tried to build a safe place for believers to find solace from their own oceans or battles with depression while celebrating the faithfulness of the one true Life Preserver.

You can also find her hanging with her family, her Nikon, and the ladies at WIMM Canada.

4 Truths to Hold Onto When You Think You’ve Let God Down

when you think you've let God down


One weekday morning several months ago, I woke up to a familiar tune. In my grogginess I realized my husband had personalized the alarm on my phone.

He can be sweet that way sometimes. He knew the words of Tenth Avenue North’s By Your Side held a reminder I desperately needed. A reminder that his grace covers me, that I don’t need to strive to attain his love.

I’d fallen into the old, familiar habit of running again and the lyrics of the song washed over me like raindrops on arid soil.

Why are you striving these days

Why are you trying to earn grace

To where will you go, child,

Tell me where will you run

Where will you run?

We have a tendency to run from what we don’t understand, don’t we? We can’t comprehend how God could love us despite all of the mistakes we’ve made and the times we’ve messed it all up, so we fight it.

We struggle against his grace when all He wants to do is wrap us in it. (Tweet that)

I tend to fight Him most when I feel as though I’ve let someone down. My people pleasing tendencies lead me to believe I have to be everything to everyone, and when I can’t, I assume God must be unhappy too.

Right? I mean, surely. It makes perfect sense. Um no, and therein lies the problem. Because God’s grace doesn’t make sense.

God doesn’t expect us to please every single person in our life. He simply wants us to abide in his love.

When we quit striving to understand his grace, we can finally accept it. (Tweet that)

We can lift our hands and simply say, “Thank you. Thank you for covering me even though I don’t deserve it.”

Today, let’s not forget that faith, by definition, means trusting what we don’t fully understand. It means putting our hope in what we don’t see, but will one day behold completely.

4 truths when you think you've let God down

Here are four truths to hold onto when you think you’ve let God down:

  1. God’s approval has nothing to do with the approval of others. (Tweet that)

Others may turn their backs on you, walk away, or gossip. Do you know who endured similar ridicule and abandonment? Jesus. Paul says it best in Galatians:

“If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10 NIV

  1. God’s approval has nothing to do with your good works.

He paid the price on Calvary. Do you think he would have endured the nails if there was something you could do to pay your own way? The good works we do are works He planned. (Ephesians 2:10) His Spirit empowers us, not our own strength.

  1. God’s not going to let you go. He’s placed his seal on you, and his seal is eternal.

Once you accepted Him, he placed his Spirit with in you. That’s his seal, friend. (2 Corinthians 1:21) It’s a deposit guaranteeing when Jesus Christ appears, he will look at you and say, “She’s mine.” You can grieve Him, but God will always go after his wandering sheep.

  1. God doesn’t look at your past sin.

Once we confess it, he remembers it no more. (Psalm 103:12) Not because he can’t, but he chooses not to. He gives you a fresh slate, made clean by the blood of his precious son. So why do we continue to dwell on sin he’s already forgiven?

Friends, when we soak in the truth of God’s love, it changes us. It strengthens us to stand firm against the lies we hear every day and the attacks of the one who wants to defeat us.

Let his grace permeate your defenses today. And when it does, thank Him for the victory we have in Him alone.

 

Linking up with these communities: #LiveFreeThursday, Grace & Truth 

Bringing the Lost Soul Home

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My first baby is a runner.

She doesn’t wear human skin or have opposing thumbs, but she’s a member of our family all the same. She’s a four-legged ball of mischief who looks like a cross between a Rottweiler and a Beagle. Her name is Zoe.

There are a hundreds of things which can beckon our mutt to the woods covering the mountaintop we call home, and most of them run on four legs too. She smells their scent, follows their trails, and despite the comfort of a warm house and a full bowl of food, she’s on the move before I can give my best whistle.

A couple of nights ago, I thought she was gone for good. Visions of coyotes and bears who call this mountain their home filled my head, and I was certain my runner had met her match.

When a watchful neighbor returned her to our doorstep, I collapsed onto her chilled, tail-wagging frame. I wanted to chide her and rebuke her for the worry and sleeplessness she’d caused, but all I could do was hug her and run my hands through her soft fur.

It wasn’t the rebuke that kept her here all these years. It was the kindness.

As I sat there, marveling at the sight of the dog I’d near given up as dead, I thought of certain family members and friends who, like my sweet Zoe, are runners. They run to escape hurt and pain that’s never healed. They run because they think God’s given up on them.

And deep down I know it’s not judgment which will bring them back, but love. Though we must speak the truth, we can do so without condemning those who are not ours to condemn.

I think about my own seasons of running and what brought me back to the feet of Jesus. It wasn’t finger pointing or raised eyebrows. It wasn’t a long list of rules or a tally of all the ones I’d broken.

It was grace. Undeserved, relentless grace.

God’s conviction may keep my path straight, but his grace keeps me in love.

Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

Romans 2:4 NIV

 Does God correct those he loves? Absolutely. But the often clichéd phrase, “It hurts me more than it hurts you,” didn’t become cliché overnight, and it’s sentiment needs to be at the heart of all correction.

It takes a Spirit in tune with the Most High to walk the fine line between grace and truth. And the only way to walk it is time spent with Him, moment by moment, day by day.

May all of the runners who keep us up nights be drawn to the grace and love which saved us from ourselves.

May we be living beacons of light beckoning even the most lost souls home.

 

Linking up with these communities: #RaRaLinkup, #IntentionalTuesday, #CoffeeForYourHeart

Even When We Doubt God’s Love

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It’s difficult for us to receive what we don’t understand, isn’t it? For years, I ran from God because I didn’t think he could accept me the way I was.

I had a lot of baggage I’d carried around with me for years, and bringing it before a holy God seemed not only unreasonable. It seemed dangerous.

Every year around Christmas my family and I would visit my grandmother’s house for a once-a-year reunion. Aunts, uncles, and cousins I hadn’t seen for months were there, and we’d squeeze as much conversation, hugs and memories as we could into the short time we had together.

One of my favorite things to do was marvel and my grandmother’s antique doll collection. Each year it grew, and I’d conjure up a story for each porcelain face to go with her dainty dress and pearls.

These dolls never left their perch in various rooms around the house, and they were all in pristine condition. I thought their value exceeded anything in my grandparents’ home, but decades later I discovered an important truth.

When my grandparents passed, my family was largely responsible for the estate, and one of the collections which came under question was the dolls. It turned out, antique dolls were only valuable to very specific buyers, and those buyers were extremely hard to find.

In other words, the value was in the collector’s eyes, not the eyes of the general public. And what I didn’t understand during all of those visits to my grandparents’ house was that I had more in common with these dolls than I thought. And so do you.

Our value comes from the One who chose us. Nothing more, nothing less.

There are no strings attached to his affection and no ulterior motives behind his extravagant love.

He loves us because he is love.

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

1 John 4:10 NIV

He made us, mindful each intricate detail, and his affection goes far beyond the care my grandmother took with her doll collection or the care I take with my own children.

When I lay down my need to earn what is already mine, I begin to understand a word more amazing than anything in the English lexicon: grace. And once I start extending grace to myself, I can extend it to others without expecting reciprocation, payback or IOU.

That’s the beauty of grace. There’s nothing we can do to deserve it, and nothing we can do to pay it back.

When I think back on those Christmases with my family all those years ago, I’m grateful that even though I didn’t see it yet, God was teaching me. He was using something as unlikely as a doll to show his affection toward me.

And if you’re willing, he’ll do the same for you.

 

Linking up with these communities: #LiveFreeThursday

When You Wonder How God Sees You

isaiah 61-10

Another dreary winter day swoops in and the sun can’t seem to break free from its shroud of clouds. My mood is a reflection of the weather. Before I even got out of bed, I feel defeat.

I make my way to the laundry room and fluff the clothes that have been in the dryer for the last two days. My six-year-old needs a clean pair of jeans to wear for school, and somehow they never wound up in his dresser.

Little one bursts into kitchen with a vengeance screaming, “Brakfa, brakfa” and after I list three different options for him to choose from, he finally decides on waffles. I find myself wishing for the quadrillionth time that I had his energy.

Insomnia shows under my eyes. The previous week’s round with strep and colds took its toll. The hubby gives me a quick kiss on his way out the door and I wrap my arms around him tight, drinking in his calm, his scent.

I want to stay there in the soft, lingering embrace, but he’s running late.

As I watch my kids wrestle each other to the ground while working feverishly to make my son’s lunch, I wonder if God’s disappointed in my shortcomings as a mom. I wonder why I always feel like I’m playing catch up. I wonder if he is disappointed that I haven’t met that writing deadline, that I can’t seem to balance it all.

I forget that disappointment negates the essence of who God is.

I forget that it is impossible for God to be disappointed because he already knows the beginning and the end of my story.

For a moment, I forget that God sees me through the perfect covering of his son, Jesus, and his love is far deeper and wider than anything I could imagine.

As I sit down to read that evening, these words from Isaiah penetrate deep into my soul:

He has clothed me with the garments of salvation;

he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,

as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress,

and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.  Isaiah 61:10 NIV

When God looks at me he sees beautiful, plain and simple. How I feel about myself or my performance on that particular day is irrelevant.

Using my feelings to dictate how I think God sees me negates the essence of his character.

As I sat there, letting his Word shatter my illusions, I became deeply aware of my need for him. I realized it was only by the power of his Spirit that I could grasp the truth.

And the truth is this: His love is unchanging and constant. It knows no limits or boundaries, height or depth.

My friend, as you’re sitting there on the other side of the screen, can you remember the way your spouse looked at you on your wedding day? Or if you’re single, do you remember a date where that special person looked at you with awe, decked from head to toe in your evening wear?

Those examples don’t compare to the way God looks at you once you’re in Christ. He sees his radiant, beautiful bride shining with the light of his Son inside her.

So no matter what kind of day you’ve had or how many items you got checked off your to-do list, remember that to your Creator, you are a shining star that gleams brightly in the universe. You are his chosen child, pure and blameless because of the perfect blood of Jesus.

Let that truth sink deep into your weary bones today. And remember that no matter how many clouds shroud the sun, God is still there.

He sees you through the fog.

 

Linking up with Suzie Eller’s #LiveFreeThursday. Come join us and be inspired.