To love is a costly call, for love can have no strings
it steals time and breaks your heart and wrinkles everything
To love is to gamble if it were not for the Christ
Who swallowed death to save my heart because He knows my fight
The one I lose so hopelessly each morning when I wake
Because my heart is human and it hungers more to blame
To lust and twist and use this life for what I want instead
I merely open up my mouth and I can smell the dead (Matt.15:17-19)
To love is impossible without my anguished prayer
Please help me God to love so much I cannot help but care
Even when no not one of them desires my love at all
When I am trampled under foot, mocked and scorned and mauled
To love is a costly call for you were bled bone dry
No earthly guaranteed result, love clearly means to die
So as I die each of these days you've granted me O Lord
I'm watching for the many seeds You spoke of in Your Word (John 12:24)
©Cindy Palin May 2019
I know the information inundation is over the top when I can’t even put my bare feet on the floor in the morning without asking God to order my day. I use to be able to wait until I got to the breakfast table to ask him such things, but not anymore. I now have to strategically place all my electronic devices from my morning reach to prevent myself from getting sucked into the vortex of the virtual world. I want to receive my marching orders first. I want to live in reality.
Information is crucial, and I am so thankful I can open up my laptop and google for an answer to a question without having to run down to my local library, or rummage through a box of dusty books. But there is so many readily available info bites at our finger tips that our brain is finding it harder and harder to know what to do with them. If you see smoke coming from your ears beware of an impending short circuit.
I was scrolling through my instagram feed last night and my concern about our obsessive information stimulation took a turn. Not only am I overwhelmed with what is available, I am questioning its validity? Every little scripted meme with its correlating photograph is meant to roll off the tongue, and change our lives, but is it truth? How much power does each little quote actually have? And I know live video on instagram is the shazam, but too much of it is like listening to a stranger in the airport talk out loud to someone on their phone. Do we really want all these people taking up space in our heads? I could say the remedy is to be selective, but I believe human wisdom isn’t capable of selectivity without God’s help.
I came across a portion of scripture the other day, while reading “40 Days of Decrease” by author Alicia Britt Chole. While on this earth, Jesus never spoke from his own authority, but the Father’s (John 12:49). This tells me that we need to consider our words carefully. Where are they coming from and for what purpose? By whose authority are we speaking?
In John 14 we hear Jesus asking us to obey His words, the Father’s words (vs 23-24). These verses underline the truth that God’s words are life and not confusion. He is asking us to obey them that we might live. I know for certain this technology age is not what God had in mind when He said he wanted us to have life to the ‘full’ (John 10:10).
Then Jesus tells us the Holy Spirit is coming to teach us (John 14:26). I am reminded I can depend on what the Holy Spirit is telling me. When I ask my Lord to order my day, I can trust the Holy Spirit to help me sift through the ocean of information crashing up against my head, and help me determine healthy priorities, His priorities.
The chapter continues to reveal that God’s words bring peace, and ‘not as the world gives’ (vs 27). I am reminded most of what I read on a day to day basis in social media, and the worldwide web can bring discord. Information doesn’t always enlighten. Too much information can cause confusion. Even empty words can weigh you down.
And finally, verse 27b reminds me God knows all the information in our world today is toying with our sanity, and Jesus answers us by saying “Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid.”
All of this to say, don’t accept everything at face value (1 Thess. 5:21). Don’t talk for talking sake, walk the talk. And if you want to do that – consider your sources.
We’ve all heard so many memes about not living in our past, but instead looking towards the future. I like to look back and remember just enough to see how far God has brought me. When self doubt starts to crowd in my thoughts I am careful not to waste any energy thinking about how I started in my faith journey, but instead I focus every thought on how I plan to finish – faithful.
“I can do all this through Him who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:13 NIV).
“The one who calls you is faithful and He will do it” (1 Thess. 5:24 NIV).
When you spend most of your time listening to those who are in major inner turmoil, that turmoil can manifest in your own mind. For those who believe in God’s Word, we understand we can sin in our thoughts (Mark 7:20-23).
It is important not to be afraid or despair. If we confess our sin he will forgive and heal, and transform us (1 John 1:9). Part of this transformation is choosing to think on Him instead, and meditate on His Word (Psalm 19:14, Eph. 4:17-24).
Sometimes we believe that our confessing needs to be accompanied with some other sort of action. I have often struggled with asking for forgiveness for the same thing over and over, and wondered “what else should I do?” I have questioned my sincerity. Do I have a penitent heart (Psalm 51:17)?
This morning I confessed to God out loud for my sinful thinking. For a moment I considered my confession to be insincere, because it was not accompanied with tears. However, I realized my lack of tears was not a sign of insincerity, but faith, and maturity. I had sinned in my thoughts. I obeyed God by confessing and I believe in His forgiveness. Confessional faith is a choice to move on in praise and service to my King as a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17).
It is very important to recognize we are in a battle (Eph. 6:12).
We are going to sin (Romans 7:21 and 22).
We need to confess out loud to God and establish an accountability system (James 5:16a).
We need to ask for prayer (James 5:16b).
No show of grovelling or whining or anything else of our own strength is necessary (Eph. 2:8). What Christ accomplished on the cross for us is complete (Heb. 10:10-12).
We must press on (Phil. 3:13 – 14) – WITH JOY!
And remember if we are not able to see ourselves for who we really are, how can we help others?
Driving home from the U of C last Friday afternoon I caught a broadcast on the increasing mental health dilemma in our youth.
For sometime I have been quietly listening and observing our current daily practices in our culture. I believe our ability or inability to balance our lives is directly connected to our mental health. Recognizing or not recognizing the need for downtime should not be hinged on our age and generational background only, our personality traits must also be considered, as well as our spiritual beliefs and traditions.
For example for someone born at the very end of the Baby Boomer generation, one might conclude I don’t embrace technology therefore I am not plugged in 24/7, not cool, not hip, and live in slow motion. However I embrace technology and my addictive personality finds me fighting for mental balance among the fray – all of the time.
I attribute my mental health to cultivating my spiritual health. My ability to recognize when I am over stimulated or driven, or anxious comes from actively meditating on my relationship with Christ, and His Word. Might I suggest reading the Psalms, both the laments and the praises? It is a great way to contemplate injustice, sorrow, poverty, creation, beauty and nature, and realize humankind has faced similar problems and celebrations since the dawn of time. This truth reveals we are not alone, God can hear us, and He wants to comfort us and restore our minds.
If we are to navigate the overwhelming waters of our culture’s technology frenzy, we must make sure to schedule downtime for reflection and meditation, and genuine relationship.
The inability to go for a walk without a phone is a red flag. The inability to sit by the fire on a cold winter’s night without your computer is troublesome. Have you been watching a movie with your phone or i-pad in hand and feeling rather accomplished at your capacity for multitasking? Have you studied the advertising practices on television and recognized the same patterns? It isn’t enough to watch a movie anymore, you must have advertisements, and pop ups with even more information.
How often do you allow your conversation over coffee to be interrupted by your cell’s ringtone? Do you take all of your devices with you on a holiday? Are you one of those travelers who has to watch multiple movies? Do you take work home with you? Do you shut off unnecessary interruptions when you are studying? Ultimately we are overstimulating our brain. There is no longer an even flow of any one thought. Multiple chores and tasks are taken on at one time, with many left unfinished. We are stopping and starting like a beginner driver, or living from pop up to pop up.
Contrary to popular belief, we do not need to be plugged in 24/7. There have been studies done on teen stress due to having phones on all night. There are signs of loss of vocabulary, the inability to speak in full sentences. The emoji craze was fun for a fleeting second, but for some the world of texting and emojis have replaced reality, which can lead to an unrealistic craving for over sharing and drama. This drama can inadvertently change the atmosphere and attitude of your entire day, if it succeeds to pull you in.
Ever since the beginning of time we have been creating with the brains God has given us. However, when we leave God out of the picture our brains begin to hurt. We create, overstimulate and crash. Then we have to expend a ton of energy creating something else to fix the mess. Right now we are in that mess, and back paddling frantically to figure out how to help our brains heal.
God is the key to balancing our lives. God’s love, purpose and plan is the key to our mental health.
Today, if we are to take a real honest look at our nation, we have cause to mourn. By taking God out of our culture, our schools, our lives, our hearts and minds – we will continue to short out at breakneck speed. White noise here we come.
In reading further on leadership in the book Spiritual Leadership by Henry and Richard Blackaby, my thoughts turned to our family life and our spouses. (This is more for those of us who are in a working and communicative marriage)
This may not be a popular message but it is one I believe in. Not only should we include our spouses in our decisions, we should be asking for their help as we make them, even if they disagree. We should be big enough to take their advice, and trust that there will be other opportunities down the road. In turn they will want to know what we think about their ideas, and welcome help with their decisions.
One of the most honoring and productive actions we can make for a healthy and fruitful future is to listen to our spouse and honor them by placing their ideas and needs before our own. I know, it sounds ‘old fashioned’, but life does run smoother. I believe in what God’s Word teaches us about our husband’s leadership role. Check out this link for a more extensive study on the role of a husband. https://www.allaboutgod.com/role-of-husband-in-the-bible.htm.
This leadership role is not only to guide us and assist us but to protect us from charging head on into something that will drag the family down, or pull the family apart.
I find it interesting how as little girls we dream of finding our Prince Charming, as young women we meet our Prince Charming, and then we marry and discard our Prince Charming in a inadvertent way, or literally.
Part of the reason for this abandonment is because we come to learn that Prince Charming isn’t always charming anymore. Well guess what? Neither is Cinderella that sweet. Another reason for this behavior is an unrealistic idea of what marriage is meant to be in the first place. Marriage is not a step-up to a solo career, it is signing up for a team sport.
So to recap on balancing our lives or collapsing them, how can we honor our husbands before we go running after the next best distraction?
People observing people… trying desperately to balance their lives. I wonder how many ‘balancing act’ courses exist? How many of these courses are able to teach us how to harmonize our chaotic schedules?
In seeking answers today, I came across a few articles that spoke about ‘plates being too full’. One author’s solution was to insist our vision was too small. “Get a bigger plate” he said. “O dear” is my rebuttal.
The trend today is to brag about how busy we are, but chaos should never be something we aspire to. Paul certainly had something to say about busybodies (1 Tim. 5:13). Don’t sign up to do more stuff simply because there are a plethora of choices.
I asked a colleague yesterday what her secret to balancing life was. She answered, “Ask Him”. Two very powerful words that we Christians can put into practice. Before signing our entire family up for our ‘culture craze’ way of living, let’s see what God wants. Jesus certainly was accountable to the Father. Christ’s short life on earth was purposeful and focused. He could have accomplished more, but instead He gloriously fulfilled his purpose. I have often reflected on how hard it must have been for him to restrain himself from healing everyone he met, just because he could.
While reading “Spiritual Leadership” by Henry and Richard Blackaby, I came across a paragraph that struck a chord. In brief they talk about a man who decided to climb Mount Everest simply because ‘IT WAS THERE’. Years later his body was discovered. He lost his life trying to achieve an unessential objective.
Isn’t that what we all experience at one time or another over the course of our lifetime? We embark upon the unnecessary, just because the opportunity is there, AND ‘balance’ continues to evade us. This is where the enemy of our soul wants us – running around in circles like a chicken with its head cut off.
The Blackaby’s write, “why are you taking a particular action?” “What are the long term ramifications?” The authors conclude, “Those who impulsively charge forward will eventually collapse on their mountain, their efforts misspent.”
So let us revisit the “Ask Him”, and let us challenge one another to read God’s Word, and find out what He has to say in regards to balance.
Blackaby, Henry and Richard, Spiritual Leadership, B&H Publishing Group, 2011, pg 86, 87.
The next time you mess up, remember we serve a God who runs after our heart!
“Forever is Ours”
I get stuck in the ‘here and now’, although free of my past.
I forget forever is ours.
I can fret all I want to, but you pray for me.
I’m never too far from your arms.
than a friend who runs after my heart?
Because it’s in my stinkin’ nature to propagate the lie,
that your forgiveness only goes so far.
So I’m struck by your patience and freed by your truth.
Reminded forever is ours.
You purchased my soul, you’re not trading me in,
and you died to hold me in your arms.
Why is it easier to picture a King who reigns on high,
than a friend who runs after my heart?
Because it’s in my stinkin’ nature to propagate the lie,
that your forgiveness only goes so far…
written in May of 2012 ©Cindy Palin
Psalm 103:12, Hebrews 10:17, Isaiah 1:18, Proverbs 18:24
…specifically when you are suffering for taking a stand for Christ.
- Get on your knees “…pray for those who hurt you” (Luke 6:28).
- Identify who or what has hurt you (what does it look like spiritually?)
- Ask God for help on how to pray
- Sit quietly and reflect on someone who may have been in a similar situation (someone written about in God’s Word).
- How did they respond?
- Look up the related scripture that comes to mind through the Holy Spirit’s leading.
- Continue to wait on God, and listen for His response
2 Corinthians 10:4 talks about the ‘weapons of our warfare’. Followers of Christ have effective tools to use in spiritual warfare, tools that are not of this world.
I wondered to myself, the other night as I knelt in the dark, “what are those weapons?”.
The verse goes on to inform us our weapons have “divine power to demolish strongholds”. Verse 5 continues “We tear down arguments, and every presumption set up against the knowledge of God; and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.…”.
2 Corinthians 6:7 opens the window of clarity a bit further, “in truthful speech and in the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left.”
But again what are those weapons of righteousness? Ephesians 6:10-18 gives us more insight. Verse 12 (in context) reminds us insults may be hurled from human lips but “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against….” (Eph 6:12).
Find a Bible, a Bible app, or use www.biblegateway.com and read on for yourself. A study guide Bible is the best because you are provided with extra explanatory notes below, and other verse references.
The remaining verses in Ephesians 6:10 – 18 continue to describe our weapons, (the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shield of faith, feet fitted with readiness that comes from the gospel of peace, sword of truth…)
As I waited in the dark I asked God to show me how these weapons demolish strongholds and tear down arguments? I lifted my arms and pulled down an invisible wall in front of me, trying to see if further understanding would come. It did.
I recognized my accuser as someone I loved. Suddenly I understood as we pray God’s power transforms us. We begin to see the situation through His eyes. Just as God forgives, we forgive. In love and forgiveness we are able to see through the circumstances. We are able to take our thoughts captive and submit to God’s purposes (2 Cor. 10:5).
I recognized I had a choice to wear the false accusations and allow the curse to linger, or to pray and clothe myself in Christ (Romans 13:14).
The choice to focus my thoughts on Christ is very personal, and an effective way to live with purpose and meaning, within the relationship we enjoy together. I get very disheartened when friends, and family abandon their faith for some new teaching, introduced by the latest, and greatest guru. It is perfectly normal to keep our ears open, to listen and learn – but watch out if the teacher’s motivations and messages do not measure up with scripture.
“For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear” (2 Tim. 4:3, 2 Tim. 3:7, Eph. 4:14).
The Gospel is still the message I choose to believe in, and the person of Christ has made himself known to me in many ways throughout my life thus far. My new worship song is entitled: I Love You Jesus. The lyrics are very simple, but the message means more than meets the eye (discussed below).
You’re so good to me, Jesus (Jesus)
So good to me, Jesus (Jesus)
I give you my whole heart, mind and soul. I love you Jesus.
You’re truthful to me, Jesus (Jesus)
So truthful to me, Jesus (Jesus)
I hide your Word within, You’re life to these limbs. I love you Jesus.
I lift your name on high before all men.
Never to turn away from our covenant.
You’re faithful to me, Jesus (Jesus)
So faithful to me, Jesus (Jesus)
And I have a faithful heart, because of who YOU are. I love you Jesus. ©CindyPalin/May 2018
The first stanza “You’re so good to me Jesus” are words of honour and gratitude, acknowledgement of God’s goodness regardless of my circumstance. My choice to worship Jesus for His goodness is not based on material wealth and health, but on who He is, what He has done for me, and how He continues to grow me.
“I give you my whole heart, mind and soul” are words of obedience to Christ’s command in Matthew 22:37.
The second stanza declares “You’re truthful to me Jesus, I’ll hide your Word within, you’re life to these limbs, I love you Jesus.” Check out what Randy Alcorn writes about Jesus and the truth… He begins by quoting “Jesus is the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6), and continues to say “Jesus is the reference point for evaluating all truth claims.” http://www.jesus.org/is-jesus-god/names-of-jesus/how-is-jesus-the-truth.html
The third stanza shouts “You’re faithful to me Jesus, and I have a faithful heart because of who you are, I love you Jesus”. Our faith does not depend on us, but on God’s faithfulness to us. “So that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.” (1 Cor. 2:5).
The words “I love you Jesus” are significant. Even believers can struggle saying these words, but they are not based on feelings, or whether we’ve had a faithful day or not. Again these words are a choice. The more we say them, the more we are shaped by them, and the more we reflect Him.
The chorus is a declaration of unwavering commitment.. “I lift your name on high before all men, never to turn away from our covenant.” I am tired of all the psycho-babble out there. To quote another songwriter – “Just Give me Jesus” – Jeremy Camp.
We need to speak our faith in Jesus out loud (and sing it). This is not something I do to convince myself of what my heart already knows, I do it to LIVE the TRUTH, and combat all UNTRUTH.
Song Sample to be posted shortly – Cindy Palin