Posts Tagged ‘grief’

Sometimes God Speaks in a Still Small Voice – Are You Listening?

Friday, March 15th, 2013

I’ve said one of the enjoyable things about the bike tours is visiting new churches. I like dropping into the middle of a sermon series. I’m forced to listen carefully for a theme or key idea I can take away.

Last Sunday our friends Matt and Amy Switzer invited us to speak to two groups at their church. In worship the series was Relationships and the topic was The Still, Small Voice of God.

The pastor talked about 1 Kings 19:10-19. Basically, Elijah is running for his life and hiding in a cave. God comes to him and asks, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

After Elijah explains his plight, God says (verses 11-12), “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.

There’s a lot to this story. Here’s what I’d like to share.

God spoke in a still, small voice. We want big, momentous, proclamations, but God wasn’t in the wind, the earthquake, or the fire.

Will I stop talking long enough to hear what God is saying when He speaks in a quiet whisper?

God spoke. I spend a lot of time wondering what God wants of me in this or that particular situation. More and more I think this is a smokescreen.

There are plenty of times when I absolutely know what God wants. Love my neighbor; feed the poor; help those who are lost and hurting.

When I hear God’s voice, will I respond?

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article ! Dixon
Copyright 2008-2013 by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.

Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:

Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

Tough Questions Do Not Have Easy Answers

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

We met Sunday evening with the youth group at Alsbury Baptist Church in suburban Fort Worth. Kids are my favorite audience, and I enjoyed their questions. Then, just as we were about to wrap up the evening, a hand appeared.

“How do you get there? How do you get from that place of hopeless and nothing matters to the hope you’re talking about?”

It wasn’t an academic question. The inquiry clearly came from a place of deep pain and authentic desperation.

Wow. Anyone got a quick answer for that one?

You don’t, of course, because there’s no “easy button” for that kind of hurt. You don’t dismiss that one with “just trust God and it’ll all be okay.”

The answer is Jesus—in blue jeans and a t-shirt. The answer is people willing to come along, join the journey, share the struggle.

That means, of course, the answer is us. You. Me.

Jesus said, “Take courage. It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Matthew 14:27

He was telling us we didn’t have to live in fear because He’s with us. He asks us to be His hands and feet when people need someone to reach out and touch.

He’s still asking.

Do we tend to offer the easy answer, the quick fix, instead of taking the longer view and walking with someone who’s hurting?

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article ! Dixon
Copyright 2008-2013 by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:

Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

He Restores Our Broken Hearts

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

“While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brotherâ’s house: And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshiped. And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.”  Job 1: 8-22 KJV

One of the most tragic and heartbreaking things in life and one of the most difficult burdens we have to bear is when we lose a child. There is more than one way to lose a child. We can lose our children by death, by distance of miles and by their disobedience and rejection of God. For some parents, they have been grieving over their children for many years because their children have strayed away from God.

Then there are parents like myself, who due to circumstances beyond their control, had to place a child for adoption. That is a very painful and heartbreaking decision to make but sometimes it is necessary for the welfare of the child. When someone has to place a child for adoption, please don’t judge them and criticize them; pray for them because only Jesus knows the depths of the pain they have to bear. Only Jesus knows the tears of grief that they shed during the long and lonely nights.

I’m reminded of a pastor friend who said in one of his sermons “If there is a problem, don’t bring it up for discussion unless you are willing to be part of the solution.” I think we do that a lot of times with difficult situations and problems. Instead of being part of the solution, we try to pass the responsibility to someone else. Sometimes it is because there is nothing that we can do about it, but other times it is simply because we don’t want to get involved. Thank God that Jesus didn’t pass our salvation to someone else because nobody else could have satisfied our Heavenly Father’s requirement for our salvation.

I remember like it happened today, the pain and heartache I felt the day I signed the adoption papers for my beloved daughter, April Dawn. It took four people to get her out of my arms after I signed those papers. They were supposed to have placed her in another room so that I would not see her when I left the agency. However, when I started to open the door to leave, somebody had put her stroller right by the door. I walked out that door backwards looking at her precious face. I went to a department store and stood there for two hours in the infant department holding a beautiful red dress. It’s a wonder that they didn’t have me locked up because I’m sure that I looked suspicious.

There has not been one day go by that I haven’t missed my precious daughter and prayed that she will come to know Jesus and to accept Him as her personal Saviour. I pray that her adoptive parents raised her to love Jesus. That is what keeps me going; to know that if she has accepted Jesus as her personal Saviour, then we will be reunited in Heaven and will be together for all eternity.

It is very painful for me to write about this, but I do it so others will know that Jesus does understand when it feels like we can’t take another step or give another smile. He does care when our hearts are breaking. When we are sad and hurting, His heart is also sad and He hurts with us because He not only is our Saviour; He is our compassionate friend, a friend who never leaves us, not even for one minute. He gently and tenderly wipes the tears from our eyes and from our hearts with His kisses of understanding, unconditional love and compassion.

If you will read the book of Job, you will see that Job lost his children but he didn’t blame God. How often do we hear about marriages breaking up because of the death of a child? Instead of encouraging each other, the husband and wife accuse each other. If ever we needed to hold on to one another like glue, it is when we lose a child. We should take hold of our husband or wife’s hand and pray for each other. Above everything, we should never blame God because our children belong to Him. He gives them to us in trust to raise for Him, but they are His and He misses them when they go astray a lot more than we miss them.

Thank God for the restorer of broken hearts, our precious Saviour, Jesus! Not only does Jesus restore our broken hearts, He can restore our broken marriages, our broken families and our broken lives. If we will put our trust in Him and ask Him to help us, He will be faithful to put the pieces of our broken lives back together again. However, we have to go to Him in faith believing that He will restore them.

There is nothing too hard for Jesus! He will bring us through every heartache and trial victoriously if we will keep our hearts in right standing with Him. We can’t expect Him to, and indeed it is very arrogant of us to ask Him to help us if we have something in our hearts that displeases Him. We must confess anything that we have in our heart that brings disgrace and shame to Him.

If your heart is broken today, run into the outstretched arms of Jesus. He is eagerly waiting for you because He longs to take away the sadness and hurt from your heart and replace it with His understanding, tenderness and compassion. There is no one like Jesus! No one loves us like Jesus loves us. He is a friend beyond compare!

Thank You, Jesus, for loving us and for dying for us. Thank You that You cared enough to walk that long and lonely road to Calvary and there allow them to crucify You. He took your place on the cross. He suffered and bled and died so that you may be forgiven, saved, redeemed and cleansed in His precious atoning blood. Have you said “yes” to Jesus? If so, have you given Him all of your heart, all of your time and everything that you have?

~ Joanne Lowe

You are Never Alone

Monday, February 4th, 2013

“Where shall I go from Your Spirit? Where shall I flee from Your presence?” Psalm 139:7

The omnipresence of God!How baffling to any finite comprehension! To think that above us, and around us, and within us–there is Deity–the invisible footprints of an Omniscient, Omnipresent One! “His Eyes are in every place!” On rolling planets–and tiny atoms; on the bright seraph–and the lowly worm; roaming in searching scrutiny through the tracks of immensity–and reading the dark and hidden page of my heart! “All things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do!”

O God! shall this Your Omnipresence appall me? No! In my seasons of sadness and sorrow and loneliness–when other comforts and comforters have failed–when, it may be, in the darkness and silence of some midnight hour, in vain I have sought repose–how sweet to think, “My God is here! I am not alone. The Omniscient One, to whom the darkness and the light are both alike–is hovering over my sleepless pillow!” O my Unsetting Sun, it cannot be darkness or loneliness or sadness–where You are. There can be no night to the soul which has been cheered with Your glorious radiance!

“Surely, I am with you always!” How precious, blessed Jesus, is this, Your legacy of parting love! Present with each of Your people until the end of time–ever present, omnipresent. The true “Pillar of cloud” by day–and “Pillar of fire” by night, preceding and encamping by us in every step of our wilderness journey. My soul! think of Him at this moment–as present with every member of the family that He has redeemed with His blood! Yes, and as much present with every individual soul, as if He had none other to care for–but as if that one engrossed all His affection and love!

The Great Builder–surveying every stone and pillar of His spiritual temple;
the Great Shepherd–with His eye on every sheep of His fold;
the Great High Priest–marking every tear-drop; noting every sorrow; listening to every prayer; knowing the peculiarities of every case: no number perplexing Him–no variety bewildering Him; able to attend to all, and satisfy all, and answer all–myriads drawing hourly from His Treasury–and yet no diminution of that Treasury–ever emptying, and yet ever filling, and always full!

Jesus! Your perpetual and all-pervading presence turns darkness into day! I am not left un-befriended to weather the storms of life–Your hand is from hour to hour piloting my frail vessel. The omnipresence of God–gracious antidote to every earthly sorrow!

“I have set the Lord always before me! “Even now, as night is drawing its curtains around me, be this my closing prayer, ‘Blessed Savior! abide with me, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent!’ Under the shadowing wings of Your presence and love, “I will both lie down and sleep in peace,  for You alone, O Lord, make me live in safety!” Psalm 4:8

~ John MacDuff, “The Night Watches”

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Is There Still a Thorn Left in Your Side?

Monday, January 14th, 2013

“My grace is sufficient for you: for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

The apostle’s thoughts were desponding ones–when his God whispered in his ear this precious thought of comfort. A thorn in the flesh–a messenger from Satan–had been sent to buffet him! We know not what this thorn may have been. God purposely leaves it unidentified, that each may make an individual application to his own particular case and circumstances.

But who, in their diversified and chequered experience, has not to tell of some similar trial? Some dead fly in life’s otherwise fragrant ointment–some sorrow which casts a softened shadow over perhaps an otherwise sunny path:
infirm health;
worldly loss;
domestic problems;
family bereavement;
the discharge of arduous and painful duty;
the treachery of tried and trusted friends;
the sting of wounded pride or disappointed ambition;
the fierce struggle with inward corruption and un-mortified sin;
the scorpion-dart of a violated and accusing conscience!

As the apostle earnestly entreated that his thorn might be taken away–so may you, reader, also have prayed fervently and long–that your trial might be averted, your sorrow mitigated, if not removed! You doubtless imagine that it would be far better–were this messenger of Satan, this spirit of evil, exorcized and cast out! But here again, God’s thoughts are often not our thoughts!

What was the answer to the apostle’s earnest petition, when he pleaded with the Lord three times to take it away? It was not granting the removal of the trial–but it was better! It was the promise of grace to bear it. “And He said unto me: My grace is sufficient for you!”

It was enough; he asked no more. He may have demurred at first to the strange answer–so unlike what he expected, so unlike what he wished. But he was led before long, not only joyfully to acquiesce–but heartily to own and acknowledge the higher and better wisdom of the Divine procedure, “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me!”

This, too, may be God’s dealings with you. Often and again, it may be–you have taken your hidden sorrow–the burdening secret of your heart–laid it on the mercy-seat, and with importunate tears implored that it might be taken away! Yet the sorrow still remains! But, nevertheless, remember: the prayer is not unanswered. It has been answered–not perhaps according to your thoughts or desires–but according to the better thoughts and purposes of your heavenly Father!

The thorn is still left to pierce and lacerate–but strength has been given to bear it! The trial, be what it may, has taught you, as it did Paul–the lesson of your own weakness, and your dependence on Divine aid. It has been a needful drag on your chariot wheels–a needful clipping of your wings–lest, like the great apostle, “you should be exalted above measure.” Who can complain of the heaviest of sorrows–if they have thus been the means alike of revealing to us our own weakness–and of endearing to us the all-sufficient grace of a Savior God?

Blessed, comforting assurance: that God will deal out the requisite grace–in all time of our need. Seated by us like a kind physician, with His hand on our pulse–He will watch our weakness, and accommodate the divine supply–to our several needs and circumstances. He will not allow the thorn to pierce too far! “As your day–so shall your strength be.” “Grace sufficient” will be given–sufficient for every emergency. His everlasting arms are ever lower than our troubles!

“Do not be afraid–for I am with you. Do not be dismayed–for I am your God! I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with My victorious right hand!”

John MacDuff, “The Thoughts of God”)

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Freed from My Chains

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

Psalm 116:16: “O LORD . . . you have freed me from my chains.”

I’ve never been imprisoned physically, but I was in prison spiritually and emotionally. Before I became a Christian, I was in chains to sin and separated from God. Through faith in Jesus Christ, I was set free. I know when I die I will go straight to heaven. Praise God.

Before I became a Christian and for many years afterward, I was in chains to fear and perfectionism. I was a slave to people pleasing. I thank God for his grace and strength to be freed from my chains of fear and perfectionism.

Freedom from my chains helps me to focus on God and to please him instead of anyone else.

Perhaps you are in chains to the appearance of your home and need to have a spotless home every day of the week. I remember those days in my life.

Perhaps you are in chains to what people think of your Christmas decorations and spend too much time and money on them.

Maybe you are a slave to people pleasing and will buy Christmas gifts beyond what you can afford.

Perhaps you will take time you don’t have to bake Christmas cookies like I did one year because you think “everyone” will take homemade cookies to the party.
Maybe you will write and mail several hundred Christmas cards although you would prefer to donate the money to your favorite charity.

Whatever the chains, allow God to set you free.

Dear God, please free me from my chains. Amen.

Application: In what area of your life will you ask God to free you this week?

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog here
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !
Copyright 2010-2012, Yvonne Ortega, LPC, LSATP, CCDVCAll Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.
Yvonne is a Speaker, Author, Counselor, Cancer Survivor and
serves on the Board of Directors of Christians in Recovery.
She is the author of Finding Hope for Your Journey through Breast Cancer.
If you would like to have her speak for your organization or church, please contact her through
her website: http://YvonneOrtega.com

Is God Always Good?

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

Recently it seems like a disproportionate number of folks in my extended circle have encountered various kinds of adversity—illness, financial setbacks, relationship struggles, and personal challenges.

I don’t want to seem uncaring or matter-of-fact about my friends’ pain. Actually, that’s not what I want to write about.

What strikes me is our tendency to celebrate a desirable outcome by highlighting God’s goodness.

Cancer disappears? God is great! Found a job? Praise God! Kids are healthy? Isn’t God good?

Of course God is good in each of those wonderful situations. But what about those times when things aren’t all roses and sunshine? Where’s God’s goodness when Mom’s cancer spreads? What happened to this good God when a little girl is kidnapped and, despite the collective prayers of an entire community, her abused body is discovered several days later?

When something like that happens, did God stop being good?

As my good friend Clark Osborn correctly observes, “The goodness of God isn’t measured by our circumstances.”

A year ago, Rich’s Ride reached New Orleans. That finish line represented more than the completion of a 1500-mile journey. It represented the culmination of a twenty-five year story of God’s faithfulness. If there was ever a day to proclaim, “God is good!” that was such a day.

But my mind goes back to the December morning in 1987 when I fell from a roof and shattered three vertebrae in my neck. I got out of bed as a relatively healthy mid-thirties guy who planned to referee a high school basketball game that evening. I fell asleep—sort of—paralyzed below my chest.

And God was good on that day as well. God was good as Jesus stood beside me and wept with me. God was, is, and always will be good.

Of course we ought to proclaim God’s incredible goodness in times of blessing and celebration.

But let’s be careful not to perceive God’s eternal, unchanging goodness through the lens of our limited worldly circumstances.

God IS good. Period.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog here
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article ! Dixon
Copyright 2008-2012 by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.

Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:

Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

Surviving Adversity

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012

“You have known my soul in adversities!” Psalm 31:7

Prosperity makes friends–but adversity tries them.
Many will visit and smile upon us–when the sun shines.
Few will venture out to do us good–in the wintry or stormy day!


David had been in adversity; he had been forsaken and neglected by his friends–but not by his God! His God . . .
knew him,
and visited him,
and cared for him,
and sympathized with him,
and supplied him,
and at length delivered him.

This honor have all His saints! We have been in adversity, we have passed through a wilderness; but our God has . . .
led us,
and fed us,
and preserved us,
and brought us out into a wealthy place.

We can witness for Him in reference to the past; and we ought calmly, quietly, and confidently to trust Him for the future. He has pledged His Word that He will deliver us in six troubles, and that in seven no evil shall touch us; and He who has promised is faithful.

He is emphatically, the Friend of His people in distress!

In our greatest trials–He will manifest His richest grace!

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Are You Angry with God?

Friday, July 13th, 2012

“The Lord asked: Have you any right to be angry?” Jonah 4:4

Jonah quarreled with his God. And who has not? We may not speak as plainly as he did–but we have been in the same sullen temper, and manifested the same morose spirit.

Very few are well satisfied with the Lord’s plans.

Fewer still are always pleased with the Lord’s works.

How many quarrel with His sovereignty!
What hard things have been spoken against it!

How many complain of His providence–and think it
unwise, unkind, and almost unjust!

Beloved, we are often angry with God!
This temper shows itself . . .
in fretfulness,
in complaining,
in sullen gloom.

“Have you any right to be angry?”

Angry with your Father . . .
whose wisdom is infinite,
whose love is as constant as the day, and
who constantly showers His blessings upon you!

Angry with your God, who has . . .
pardoned all your heinous sins,
provided for your innumerable needs,
blessed you with countless spiritual blessings!

Surely it is a sin, a grievous sin, not to be pleased . . .
with all that He does,
with all that He has provided,
and with all that He requires.

“Have you any right to be angry?”

~ James Smith

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Strong, Firm and Steadfast

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

I Peter 5:10: “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”

Sometimes I feel as if I suffer a long time, not “a little while.” I long for God’s promised restoration and wonder when he’ll make me “strong, firm and steadfast” again.

The anniversary of my son’s homegoing, his birthday, and Mother’s Day all occur in May. I told God I wanted to sense his presence, power, and love this month. I didn’t want to feel abandoned or depressed.

God used his “neighborhood angels” to power wash my driveway and sidewalk, to wash the “tiger striping” off my gutters, and to paint a rusty spot at the top of my chimney. A neighbor’s daughter and granddaughter brought me big hugs and dinner on Mother’s Day.

The day after Mother’s Day, a former co-worker and I went out to lunch.

Perhaps you also face painful anniversaries or suffer in other ways. God promises to restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. As you suffer, remind God of his promise and hang onto it.

Dear God, help me remember you will restore me. Amen.

Application: What suffering will you endure “a little while” this week?

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog here

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

Copyright 2010-2012, Yvonne Ortega, LPC, LSATP, CCDVC

All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.
Yvonne is a Speaker, Author, Counselor, Cancer Survivor and
serves on the Board of Directors of Christians in Recovery.
She is the author of Finding Hope for Your Journey through Breast Cancer.
If you would like to have her speak for your organization or church, please contact her through her website: http://YvonneOrtega.com