Thursday, August 31, 2017

All Good Things ...


I would like to end this blog on these posts, some of my favorites (along with the “How I Broke” post and the series on predestination in April). 
 

But since I still have more posts from my other blog to break up into smaller pieces for this one, I will be adding new posts in random places throughout the past 8 months.  Just slipping them in anywhere I can.    
 

In general, it doesn’t matter when they are dated or where they are placed.  (But if it does, I will note the date that they were actually written.) 
 

I know this might make it a little inconvenient because it means sifting through the past 8 months for new posts BUT … it doesn’t really matter since no one is reading anyway.  So I am going to do this for me, to have the “ending” that I want yet still being able to add new stuff when I feel like it.
 

Take care and God bless!
 

                                      - Heather K (Joshua 24:15, Psalm 46:10)  

Atheism and World Religions (repost)


[This is also taken from the Bible study I wrote.  FYI – like the other reposts, it’s very long.]

            In this lesson, I combined parts of several posts from myimpressionisticlife.blogspot.com.  This lesson in not really an academic “study” of atheism and world religions, but it’s a very personal account of why I could never give up my faith in Jesus, why those other options are not for me, and how I would explain salvation and faith in Jesus to a non-believer. 

            Christianity isn’t a squeaky clean, “everything goes smoothly and life is always what I want it to be” kind of faith.  It can be messy and painful and difficult. 

            Due to many trials which have caused me to struggle deeply with my faith, I’ve become a little less polished and a lot more real over the years.  This is why I included this lesson and the depression one.  Because I really wanted to show the very real, human side of being a believer in Jesus, how we can struggle enormously with heartache and pain and doubt and fear . . . and yet still cling to Him.

            This will be a long lesson (I tried to cut it down as much as I could) because I will be looking at several different things which all relate to what we choose to believe and why: atheism, world religions, evidence to support the Bible and Jesus, and how I would describe salvation and faith in Jesus to someone.  

 

Why I Could Never be an Atheist

            “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’”  (Psalm 14:1)
 

             “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”  (Romans 1:20)

The End Times (repost)


            (Reposted directly from a post about the End Times in the Bible Study I wrote.  I don’t know, but something about all the hurricanes and earthquakes and solar flares and society going more “cash-less” and the terrorism and the martyring of Christians and the disease epidemics and the technology to put little radio transmitters into people’s hands containing their information and the various celestial events and a fast-approaching “one-world system” and a brewing civil war and a brewing world war, etc. … I don’t know, but something about all that makes it seems worthwhile to repost this post at this time.
            And to all those scoffers who say "None of this has anything to do with the end of the world" or "There is no 'end of the world' and Jesus isn't coming back again," I would like to ask you ... "Are you so sure!?!  Are you so sure that there isn't a supernatural world out there?  That there isn't a God who will someday do exactly what He said He'd do in His Word?  That He isn't moving and working in this world and about to bring this time to an end?  Are you so sure!?!  Even if the end doesn't come in our lifetime, it will come someday - in our own lives and for the world as we know it.  Are you prepared to face the truth?  Will you find the truth before it's too late?"     
            FYI, I didn’t repost all the questions at the end of Bible study here, just the main content.  Warning:  Don’t read this unless you are ready for a headache, ‘cuz your head will be spinning.)

 

            No study on the “less clear” things of Scripture would be complete without a look into the End Times.  There are many different ideas about how the world will end.  Of course, most Christians believe that it will end when Christ returns and God makes all things new.  But what isn’t clear is the timing of everything.  And the biggest “unclear” thing: Will there be a rapture?  Will it come before, during, or after the tribulation?

            I have studied this really intensely at different times over the years.  Reading every book on the topic that I could find, studying the Bible, checking the original Greek meaning of the words, etc.   To me, it is a huge, complex, wonderfully-frustrating puzzle.  And I could never really understand it . . . until this last time that I studied it.  And I was finally able to settle this issue in my mind once and for all. 

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Six Dollars and Thirty-Three Cents



            Six dollars and thirty-three cents.


            It’s all the money that my 8-year old and 11-year-old have right now … and they have asked me to donate it to those affected by Harvey.
 

            We were watching some coverage of the aftermath of the storm, and we saw the story of “Mattress Mack,” the man who opened up his high-end furniture store as a shelter.  And my 11-year-old turned to me, almost with tears in his eyes, and said, “It’s so incredible that someone would risk their business like that to help other people.”  He immediately went to his room and scraped up all the coins he could find (getting his 8-year-old brother to do the same) and they gave it to me to give to the Harvey victims.
 

            Six dollars and thirty-three cents. 
 

            “But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. 
            Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, ‘I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.  They gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything – all she had to live on.’”  (Mark 12:42-44)         
 

            Six dollars and thirty-three cents.  It might not be much in the world’s eyes, but it’s an incredible sacrifice in God’s eyes.  Because it comes from a heart that wants to love and help … a heart that sees the hurt and needs of other people and refuses to do nothing … a heart that knows it doesn’t have much to give but that gives it anyway.
 

            ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’”  (Matthew 25:40)

 

            What if we all gave at least a mere six dollars and thirty-three cents to help those in need? 
 

            What if we all gave with our whole heart, with a desire to help, to heal, to not sit there and do nothing while others are hurting? 
 

            What if we all lived with the knowledge that it could be our family in extreme need someday, that we could be the ones who lose everything, the ones who are broken and lost and afraid, the “least of these”? 
 

            What if we all saw the “least of these” as brothers and sisters, as friends, as family, as ourselves? 
 

            What if we realized that when we give to them, we give to the Lord, that even our smallest sacrifices matter when they're given out of a heart overflowing with love? 
 

            What if?
 

 

            I put the boys’ money in a baggie with a note to donate to the relief efforts. 
 
 
            And then we went out and bought $140 worth of necessary items to donate along with the money.  And we are bringing it to the donation drop-off tomorrow.  I want my boys to be a part of this, to feel what it feels like to physically, financially, and emotionally reach out and be a part of the helping efforts, to understand that we all have to do our parts to help those who need it because we are all in need in one way or another.  I want them to remember that $6.33, even though it might seem small, is nothing short of huge, of beautiful, of “worth it.” 
 

            I know that the little bit we donate won’t make much difference in the grand scheme of things and that none of the victims will really see that $6.33.  But – if anything – I am writing this post so that the victims of Harvey know that they are not alone, that they are in our hearts and prayers, that we are standing alongside them in this time of tragedy, and that even two small children care enough about them to give them all that they have, . 
 

            God bless you all!  God keep you in His comforting hands and may He help you find healing – physical, spiritual, financial, relational.  And may a tragedy like bring us together as a nation, helping us rise above the differences that are tearing our country apart.    
 

            “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ … ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no commandment greater than these.”  (Mark 12:30-31)
 

            “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”  (Hebrews 13:16)
 

            “Do to others as you would  have them do to you … Give, and it will be given to you.  A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.  For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”  (Matthew 6:31, 38)

 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

When faith hurts!


            If there’s one thing I’ve learned over these past depressing years, it’s that faith is messy sometimes.  Faith hurts sometimes.  And we might get upset with “faith” because it’s not doing what we want it to do.

            But the thing is … we don’t have faith in God because it’s fun or because it gives us an emotional high or because it makes life the way we want it to be.  We have faith in God because He is real.  Because He is good and faithful, even when life is messy and it hurts and when prayers don’t work. 

            And I think our faith becomes more real and strong as we face the hard times and trials. 

            It’s easy to “have faith” when life is going like we want it to.  But that’s not really faith, now is it?  It’s gratitude that life is good.  It’s happiness because we are getting what we want.  (And many times, it’s idolatry in disguise.) 

            But when the trials come, we have to struggle with our views of God and ourselves and life and faith.  Heartbreaking trials gradually, painfully move us from a na├»ve, untested, “gimme” faith in a version of God that we created in our minds … to a genuine, hard-won faith in God as He is - a God who is mysterious, who can’t be manipulated by us, who is far above us, who has His own plans and timing, and who is sovereign over all, knowing when to say “Yes” and when to say “No.”  Through the trials, we learn who we really are and we learn to have faith in Him for the God that He really is.  And that is a faith that helps us cling through the hard times.

            If we can’t say “Blessed be Your name” during the hardest trials then we don’t really mean it during the easier times either. 

            If we won’t follow Him when the road gets rough - if we turn our backs on Him when we get hurt or things don't go our way - then we were never really following Him to begin with.  

            (An excerpt from other posts - something I need to be reminded of often.)

 

                                      - Heather K (Joshua 24:15, Psalm 46:10)  

 

Monday, August 28, 2017

26 Tips for Dealing with Depression and Anxiety (Short Version)

            Some people want the short version (13 pages instead of 33, the long version is posted right before this one).  Just the headlines.  The main points.  Well, here they are:

            In no particular order (well, kind of), here are some of the things I have tried and learned when dealing with depression and anxiety:

 

1.  Clearly identify what’s bothering you.  And pray about it all honestly.  Get real with yourself and with the Lord.  And let your pain draw you closer to the Lord, purify your trust in Him, and mature your faith.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

26 Tips For Dealing with Depression and Anxiety (Long Version)

            This is a revision of a section I had in the “How I Broke” post.  (It's a LONG post, just to warn you.)  It’s about the things I have found helpful when dealing with anxiety and/or depression.  It’s been a long year or so of dealing with it pretty regularly and intensely, and I have tried many things to get through it all, some really helpful and some just temporarily helpful.  But if anything I have learned can help someone else … well, that’s why I keep writing about it.  So in no particular order (well, kind of), here are some of the things I have tried and learned (there will be some overlap but that’s okay, I need to be reminded of this stuff as much as possible anyway):

 

1.  Clearly identify what's bothering you.  And pray about it all honestly.  Get real with yourself and with the Lord.  And let your pain draw you closer to the Lord, purify your trust in Him, and mature your faith.

            Doubts and fear and pain don’t have to destroy our faith in God.  They can actually make it stronger and more real.  But only if we are willing to be honest about it all with Him (and with ourselves).  Write out exactly what's bugging you as thoroughly as possible.  And then bring it all to Him – all the ugly, displeasing thoughts, all the doubts and fears, the brokenness and weakness and failures.  Cry out to Him.  Tell Him that you need help, that you can’t do it anymore.  Be honest with Him about everything inside of you.  He knows it all already. 

          You don’t have to fix it all.  You don’t have to know what to do.  You don’t have to do it all on your own.  You are not alone in your trials and your pain.  He is always waiting for us to cry out to Him, to include Him in our trials, in our need, in our pain, to let Him into the broken parts of our heart so that He can heal them.  But you have to be honest.  To open up the doors that you have closed off in your heart.