Asking the “Whys” of God

Asking the “Whys” of God

By Emma Reaney

A version of this article was first posted on Start Your Day with Emma Clae.

I really struggle with asking God why. Big time.

I’ve had moments when I get really angry at God because oftentimes, I don’t understand Him. For a long time I didn’t understand why he gave me an eating disorder. I didn’t understand why I was having such a difficult first semester of college during freshmen year. I didn’t understand why I had to see my family hurting at times, especially when there was nothing I could do. Sometimes I just don’t know why God does the things He does. 

It makes me mad. So unbelievably mad. And I’m writing this during one of those “mad” times. Right now, I find myself asking “Why God?” and “Why the heck is this part of your plan?” and “What good is going to come out of this?” ***Disclaimer: I wrote this post about a month ago and am just now posting it so I’m no longer “unbelievably mad.”***

I don’t like His timing, I don’t like His plan, and I don’t like the way He is supposedly working in our lives. But you know what? Sometimes we aren’t supposed to like His plan. It may take months or even years before we finally understand why God did what He did…Click here to continue reading.

Celebration

Celebration

Celebrating the Christmas Season means excitement and enjoyment. It involves spending time with the special people we love and enjoying delicious food. In your holiday festivities, remember to take care of your health too. Overindulgence can leave you feeling sick and regretful. Remember to enjoy yourself without sabotaging your health.

Many people aren’t aware of the effects that sugar can have on the body and mind. If you’d like to learn more, click here to read Brain MD’s article ‘What Do Sugar and Cocaine Have in Common?’

Image by Karolina Grabowska from Pixabay.

What’s in a Name?

What’s in a Name?

By Pastor Ben Hill

“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

By what name are you called? What’s in a name? The one indispensable name in all of eternity is the Name of Jesus! Of this we are certain. But beyond that, what is in a name?

Juliet (of Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare) is said to have opined: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

What’s in a name? I am Benjamin, Son of Reginal and Mary Ellen, Father of Brittany and Daniel, Husband of Debbie. But my name means more than that as well; I am Benjamin, Pastor, Counselor, and Teacher.

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.”

So collectively, what name have we been given? And how important is it? We are called Christian, “little Christ”, “Christ-follower”. What’s in THAT name? Well, a whole lot! It defines us, it separates us, it should motivate and direct us! To live as “Christian” is to love as Christ loved, to serve as Christ served, to warn the lost as Christ did. To “live as Christ” is to care deeply and passionately about the souls of man.

So embrace the Name… live the Name… wear the Name with humble purpose… Christian! No matter “who” you are, remember “whose” you are, and BE like Christ!

Where Are You?

Where Are You?

By Jane Horvath

“But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?’” Genesis 3:9

My love of cop shows started when I was 10 years old. The television program name was Car 54, Where Are You? It was a comedy that ran on NBC from 1961 to 1963. The story was about two NYC police officers based in the 53rd precinct of the Bronx. Car 54 was their patrol car. As a child, it was funny to me that no one ever seemed to know where the officers were located. The radio was constantly heard broadcasting, “Car 54, where are you?”

In Genesis 3:9, God calls out to Adam and Eve. He asks them, “Where are you?” Unfortunately, it is not funny in this instance. It is tragic, but also full of grace. God knew exactly where Adam & Eve were when He asked. They were hiding from God as a result of deception and disobedience. That is the tragic part. God was calling out to them. He was offering them a chance to confess. The confession of their sin would re-establish the relationship with Him and remove their shame. That is grace.

When we are in the middle of challenging circumstances, God wants to know where we are in our heads and our hearts. He wants to know if we are being deceived by the enemy or trusting in His plan for our lives. We need to be sure we are not hiding in shame and blame. Call out to Him and let Him know exactly where you are. He will meet you where you are. Learn to hide in His shelter, safe from the enemy (Psalm 27:5-6).

Today, God is asking, “Where are you?” He is not asking for a physical address, He wants to know where we are in relationship to Him. He is giving us the opportunity, seasoned with grace, to confess our sins without condemnation (Romans 8:1). He’s providing a chance at forgiveness and cleansing (1 John 1:9). God’s mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). Give Him the answer to this question every moment of every day.

Staying Connected to God

Staying Connected to God

By Anonymous Contributor

“Life happens.” It’s a very familiar phrase and yet, so true. Our lives in this day and time are so busy with family, friends, school, work, hobbies, sports, social media… the list could go on forever. With all of this on our plates, it can be difficult to take the time necessary to nurture our walk with the Lord. So how do we stay connected to God and keep our eyes on Christ when life is constantly changing and challenging us?

For a moment, consider how storms on Earth can affect nature: they can be devastating, and at times, they can consume everything in their paths, with no exceptions. They present challenges for all that face them. But ultimately, they bring change to the landscape of the Earth. It is from that devastation that nature perseveres and becomes stronger in order to survive future storms. Isn’t this why God allows storms to happen in our lives? He uses the challenges of life to change the landscape of our sinful nature. Through this process, He purifies our hearts, minds, and souls.

I recently heard someone say that our lives are like chapters, with Jesus Christ as the author. This really shook me. It changed my perspective of how we are to react to challenging circumstances. Our knee-jerk reaction as humans is to stress over the least little thing that doesn’t go as planned. We get upset when our expectations aren’t met. I’m certainly guilty of this, as I have looked at past storms in my life as a hindrance. But, everything changed when I realized that those storms were part of the chapters that Jesus wrote. If Jesus is the author, and all that He allows in our lives is for our good, then we should embrace the storms as His way of doing a work in us. His work in us can ultimately bring glory to His name.

At times, staying connected to God can seem especially difficult when facing the “storms” of life. Let’s look at three ways we can stay connected with God and keep our eyes focused on Christ in spite of the situations we may face.

1. Daily crucify our flesh. We can start by crucifying our flesh daily. We have to put God’s will above our own, especially when facing challenges. When we do this, we are submitting to the work that He is doing in and through us and accepting the change that He is bringing into our lives. This can be extremely difficult when our will conflicts with His. But remember, He only wants what’s best for us and He knows the path before us because He is writing that next chapter.

2. Constant communication with God. Staying in constant communication with God is key to surviving the storm. We have to hold every thought captive before God and ask this simple question: Does this bring glory to His name? If the answer is no, then that thought has to be discarded. We can’t hold on to our own thoughts and ideals; we have to make room in our hearts and minds for Him to work through us for His glory. God longs for us to spend time with Him. By holding our thoughts captive before Him, we are allowing Him to speak to every aspect of our lives. Then, even in the simplest things, we can hear His voice directing us.

3. Praying and reading God’s Word. Need I say more? When I say prayer, I’m not talking about the little prayers we say in the moment or blessing the food on our tables. I’m talking about deep meditation and time spent pleading with God, laying the concerns of our hearts before Him, and listening for His voice. Remember, He cares deeply about the things that concern us and wants only what is best for us. (Can you see the recurring theme here?) And when it comes to the Bible, I’m talking about really consuming God’s Word, not just getting a daily verse notification from your favorite Bible app. God’s Word is alive and well and when we spend time reading His Word with the intent of applying what we learn to our daily lives, we will see Him working through us and all around us!

When the storms of life bring challenges and change, we have a choice to make. We can try to run from it and not accept what God has planned for our lives, or we can run directly into the eye of the storm, knowing God is about to do something great in our lives. Yes, the storm may cause us distress, uncertainty, and even pain, but God has a plan for our lives that is meant only for our good!

And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose. Romans 8:28 AMP

A Story of Hope

A Story of Hope

Written by: Anonymous Client

I very much wanted to share some of my personal story of receiving help from this ministry, Life In Abundance. It is dear to me. Please know these words are from my heart.

Life In Abundance. From His words in John 10:10, we know that abundant life is the life Jesus came for us to have. For me, I was not living this abundant life. Much to the contrary, I was at a very low point. I came to Life In Abundance to counsel with Stephanie in November of 2014. I was 34 years old. What I didn’t or couldn’t see then was the timeline of events that shaped my life up to that moment. My first visit with Stephanie I will always remember. She asked me a question, to rate myself on a scale of 0-5 with 0 being a piece of gum stuck to the floor and 5 being the best I’ve ever been in my life, can’t get any better. I honestly gave myself less than a 1 that day. In just the relatively short season of life leading up to that day, I experienced a chronic health crisis altering my everyday life and career, a failing effort to blend a family, and the sudden and unexpected death of my mom. Despite knowing Jesus, I was over my head, almost drowning from the physical and emotional circumstances. These things impacted my spiritual life and while I’d had a relationship with Jesus for years, I couldn’t find my way or connect to pull myself out on my own.

I sought out lay counseling at my church and participated weekly in that for 4-6 weeks. I was making no improvement and life seemed only more confusing. At the advice of a friend, I promptly made an appointment with Stephanie. This began a journey for me that would last 2 years and 8 months. Circumstances got worse before they got better. Much worse. My life was turned upside down. Praise God for placing me in this ministry for this time in my life. Financially, things changed for me also and only because of donations to the ministry was I able to continue my sessions. Also, please understand that throughout my life prior to seeing Stephanie at Life In Abundance, I’d seen a couple of different counselors. There is something very different that sets Life In Abundance apart from anything I experienced in those counseling sessions, and that is God. Each of my sessions always began with Spirit led prayer. Stephanie boldly invited the Holy Spirit into our sessions and submitted our sessions to Him for His work. Work He did over each of my sessions and I am beyond grateful. Another important aspect of my counseling was that I was always given “homework”. There was work that needed to be done. Years and years of layers that God needed to peel back and get to the root of with my cooperation. The effort while difficult most of the time was so, incredibly worth it. Over the years, I have referred many of my friends or others that God places along my path to the counseling services at Life In Abundance. As an active part of Women’s Ministry in my church, we also refer individual women here as well. I pray you will support Life In Abundance. It is an opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus in a world that desperately needs Him. Through this ministry and the work of God in it, I found hope and healing to live abundantly.