Confused?


DSC_0059With so many contradicting messages blasting through our world right now, it’s easy to be confused about what to think. Who’s sharing truth and who’s manipulating people’s emotions?

As someone who loves Jesus, the saddest aspect to me is when I see or hear about proclaimed followers of Jesus arguing about politics, doctrine, and their own opinions. Are we adding to the confusion or showing a hurting and broken world faith, hope, and most importantly, love?

Accusing various believers or specific organizations of not being righteous or godly because they worship differently, pray silently or openly, baptize in various ways, support a political party, or wear masks (or not) divides us and drives us into confusion rather than the unity that Jesus desires for us.

The first and most important issue is whether we acknowledge Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. When we receive his gracious gift of laying his life down for our sinfulness, we are part of a family. That’s good news no matter how we receive it—whether in a church service, at a beach worship time, or in our bedroom, car, or shower. We might be homeless in an alley or looking at a sunset when we realize the love of God for us and choose to follow him.

After that, Jesus gave us some pretty clear and simple instructions for the rest of life.

  • Love him. He loved us first. He gave his life and longs for us to respond to his love.
  • Love ourselves. We are created and loved by God. He has a great plan for us. Treat ourselves kindly.
  • Love others. We’re all created and loved by God. When we realize we’re loved, we can extend that love.
  • Seek God first. Everything else falls into place when we do.
  • Live humbly. While we have our own thoughts and opinions, so do others. God is God. We’re not.
  • Speak the truth in love. Be honest with ourselves and others always.
  • Mercy over judgement. God forgave us. Forgive others, and let God be the only judge.
  • Grace, not deeds. God’s showed us grace when we were a mess not because we did something right. Be gracious to others in the same way.

I’ve been guilty of seeking my way, thinking my way is the only way, judging others, and not wanting to show grace or forgive.

We all have.

But when we get caught up in whether others are doing it our way, or sharing our opinions, or applying God’s word differently than we think it should be interpreted, we divide rather than unite.

God says a house divided can’t stand. So naturally that’s the enemy’s plan. If he can use us in the church to divide the church, then it’s a win, win for him.

And a loss for us and for those who don’t know Jesus yet and are turned off by our portrayal of him.

We have to let go of ourselves. Our agendas. The way we think things should be done.

Die to self is what Jesus calls it.

Not because he doesn’t want us to be the thinking, creating, unique individuals that he designed us to be, but because he wants us to be free to live fully in those ways. And his plans give us so much more than we can secure for ourselves.

When he increases in our lives, and our broken, self-focused, my-way-is-best decreases, we can walk in love. Loving him, loving us, loving others. Loving life.

And the world will know that Jesus is Lord, and he SO loves them.

When God Speaks


Hello? Who is this? Do I know you?

Have you ever had one of those calls when the person on the other end starts speaking, assuming you know who’s calling, but you aren’t clear who it is? You think you recognize the voice, and you feel a little embarrassed that you can’t attach a name right away? What do you say?

Awkward, isn’t it?

I think sometimes that’s how we feel about God. He expects we will know his voice, but we aren’t always certain we do. How is God supposed to sound? How do I know I’m not just talking to myself?

How do I know if it’s God speaking?

It can be challenging to decipher. We do have an enemy who is out to mess us up. The Bible says that Satan masquerades as an angel of light (2Cor. 11:14). And, he used scripture to tempt Jesus (Matt. 4:3-11).

No wonder we can be confused!

But I think God wants to make it easier for us. He tells us in John 10 that we are his sheep, and his sheep know his voice. I find that reassuring when I’m feeling a bit confused about whether I’m hearing God or not. If I’m his sheep, then I will know his voice. Phew!

These are some of the ways I know I am hearing from God:102

  1. Jesus came to forgive, not condemn. Satan is the accuser and “father of lies.” If what I hear condemns, accuses or is untruthful (even if there is a thread of truth), it is not from God. If what I hear convicts with hope and forgiveness and settles my heart, even if I feel sorrowful about it, it is God.
  2. Satan’s goal is to devour, kill, steal and destroy. Jesus came to give us abundant life. If what I hear is destructive to me or someone else and leaves me feeling hopeless, devastated and stuck, it is not God. When God speaks, I feel a sense of promise, restoration and life. Like a breath of fresh air.
  3. When God speaks, what he says matches his character and what his word says. His character is loving, patient, kind and forgiving. He is mighty and just and merciful. Sometimes it may seem that even the Bible is contradictory, but if we dig deeper into the context, we often find the answers to each seeming conundrum. God is consistent.
  4. God’s words bring peace not turmoil. Even if I don’t like what I hear from God, I still know it is right and my heart feels settled. Even in the craziest situations. Like when I moved here with no job, hardly any money and only a temporary place to live. Single with three teenagers. Or when I met my husband online and traveled to Australia to meet him. And he moved here with his three young children to marry me and live in America. As crazy as it seemed, I knew it was the right thing to do. I knew God spoke and in a place of faith, I (we) followed his lead.

Sometimes it seems scary to listen for God.

I mean, what if I didn’t really hear him or heard him wrong? What if I don’t like what he’s telling me or asking me to do because I can’t really see the bigger picture and can’t imagine things working out? What about when I need to humble myself and forgive someone or pray for someone or in love tell someone something difficult they need to hear?

All very good points.

I’ve found that God is faithful to meet me in every one of those situations. He forgives me and has a good plan even if I miss what he said, or didn’t hear him completely accurately. Even when I don’t like what he has to say, he can handle it and help me follow through. And if he asks me to do something difficult, he’s right there to make me able to do it if I trust him.

The good news is he loves us, speaks to us and wants us to be able to hear him. And the more we get to know him, the more confident we’ll be when he speaks.

When has God spoken to you, but you weren’t sure about it? When has he spoken and you knew it confidently?