Our Savior Knows our Pains

I belong to a special Facebook group for mothers of adopted and foster children. The children of these mothers come from traumatized backgrounds. As a result, these mothers experience more than their fair share of pain and agony – it very difficult to raise angry, traumatized children. On an almost daily basis, they seek to deliberately hurt (both physically and emotionally) their mothers or primary caregivers. One of these mother’s, in an attempt to help those in our group, shared this recently. It is a quote by Chieko N. Okazaki and it is profound! We all have our burdens to bear and our difficulties to endure. I hope it will provide you with comfort as it has me!:

“It’s our faith that He experienced everything- absolutely everything. Sometimes we don’t think through the implications of that belief. We talk in great generalities about the sins of all humankind, about the suffering of the entire human family. But we don’t experience pain in generalities. We experience it individually.

That means He knows what it felt like when your mother died of cancer — how it was for your mother, how it still is for you. He knows what it felt like to lose the student body election. He knows that moment when the brakes locked and the car started to skid. He experienced the slave ship sailing from Ghana toward Virginia. He experienced the gas chambers at Dachau. He experienced Napalm in Vietnam. He knows about drug addiction and alcoholism.

Let me go further. There is nothing you have experienced … that He does not also know and recognize. He understands about rape and infertility and abortion. His last recorded words to his disciples were, “And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” He understands your mother-pain when your five-year-old leaves for kindergarten when a bully picks on your fifth-grader when your daughter calls to say that the new baby has Down Syndrome. He knows your mother-rage when a trusted babysitter sexually abuses your two-year-old when someone gives your thirteen-year-old drugs when someone seduces your seventeen-year-old. He knows the pain you live with when you come home to a quiet apartment where the only children are visitors when you hear that your former husband and his new wife were sealed in the temple last week when your fiftieth wedding anniversary rolls around and your husband has been dead for two years. He knows all that. He’s been there. He’s been lower than all that. He’s not waiting for us to be perfect. Perfect people don’t need a Savior. He came to save his people in their imperfections. He is the Lord of the living, and the living make mistakes. He’s not embarrassed by us, angry at us, or shocked. He wants us in our brokenness, in our unhappiness, in our guilt and our grief.” Chieko N. Okazaki

Today’s image was shared from the gospel library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. (lds.org)

No widget added yet.

The Gift of Prayer…

I believe that prayer is a critical and irreplaceable tool in our "life toolbox". The more I have utilized prayer in my life, the more amazed I have become by its profound power. I am truly humbled to be a recipient of such an amazing gift from God.

I believe that prayer is a critical and irreplaceable tool in our “life toolbox”. The more I have utilized prayer in my life, the more amazed I have become by its profound power. I am truly humbled to be a recipient of such an amazing gift from God.

In my life, prayer has turned into a personal conversation with my father. I know the Father of my soul – I have seen him. I think it is because of my near-death experience that prayer has become so personal to me.

I know of no mortal that is as loving and merciful as the God of my soul. However, I also know my creator to be a being of law.

I understand that in order for my prayers to be heard – I must make my pleas. In order for my prayers to be answered – I must do my part. Nothing will be done for me that I can (and should) do for myself.

I have experienced more miracles, as a result of prayer, than I can count.

Truly, the Lord has given us a priceless gift! No high-tech device, no mortal, and no earthly means can be devised that provides the comfort, instruction, or blessings of prayer!

 

No widget added yet.

Islands of Faith: A Story of Diligence

Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase Martin Luther King, Jr.

Only by regularly adding to their island can the Coila family keep from sinking.

Nelson and Dora Coila live on an island—not a typical island made of solid rock jutting up from an ocean or lake—but a tiny island they made themselves of nothing more than floating reeds on Lake Titicaca in Peru.

Building an island and making it your home takes faith. Only about four feet (1.2 m) of layered reeds suspends their family and the dozen or so huts on their island above the 50-degree (10°C) water, and the elements continually threaten to literally disintegrate their island home.

But for Nelson and Dora, their island represents physically what they are trying to build spiritually for their family: an island of faith that will hold together against the world.

What they have learned in the process is that the faith to build must always be followed by the diligence to maintain.

The Reason for Consistency

For the Uros people, who have built and lived on these islands for generations, the totora reed is an essential part of daily living. The reed, which grows in the shallows of Lake Titicaca, can be used as fuel for cooking fires. Its root can be eaten. Its husk can be used for medicinal purposes. And, of course, almost everything is made with the reed: their dwellings, their traditional boats, their watchtowers, the islands themselves, even their trash baskets.

The Uros build the islands by laying down layer upon layer of reeds. But as building materials go, totora reeds don’t last long. The sun dries them out during the dry season. Moisture during the rainy season hastens their decay. And the submersed bottom layers gradually decompose. The continual erosion of the Coilas’ island means that Nelson has to put down a new layer of reeds every 10 to 15 days.

“Building the island was just the start,” he says. “If I stop adding reeds, the island will slowly fall apart. But the more layers I put on, the stronger the island gets over time.”

The Danger of Procrastination

Adding a layer of reeds is not complex or difficult, but it is work. Delaying it would be easy.

Procrastination, however, increases the risk of a family member putting a foot through a weak spot and ending up in cold water. That can be little more than a nuisance for adults, but it’s potentially deadly for little children such as the Coilas’ two-year-old son, Emerson.

So Nelson adds a layer of reeds today, knowing that the safety of each family member depends on it tomorrow.

It’s a lesson about diligence that has made a difference in the Coilas’ lives.

The Effects of Diligence

Diligence is persisting in doing something in spite of opposition.1 Dora first learned how important—and how difficult—diligence can be after she was baptized in 1998.

When Dora was 17, she and her younger sister Alicia were baptized—helping lead to the growth of the Church in the islands of the Uros. About a month later, however, their father forbade them from having anything to do with the Church.

But something odd happened to the girls. They were suddenly less pleasant to be around and more likely to argue. Their father realized that during the time they were participating in Church activities, they had changed for the better.

“It changed his mind,” Dora says. “He began waking us up early to make sure we got to church on time.”

Dora attributes the change the gospel made in their lives to small things she and Alicia did regularly, like paying tithing, praying, studying the scriptures, keeping the Sabbath day holy, and renewing their covenants weekly by taking the sacrament.

Later, having seen for himself the changes that come from faith and diligence,2 Dora’s father joined the Church along with the rest of the family.

The Rewards of Diligence

Persisting in doing what is right—in spite of opposition—is required of the Lord’s covenant people. However, the Lord promises great blessings to those who are diligent in prayer,3 in keeping the commandments,4 in heeding revelation,5 in searching the scriptures,6 and in laboring in His work.7

Through the Coilas’ experiences in maintaining their island of faith both literally and figuratively, they have found the rewards of diligence to be real. “Sometimes we get suffocated by the daily routine of working, cooking, and so forth,” says Nelson. “When we forget God, things get complicated. There are more problems, and things begin to fall apart.”

Nelson pauses to gesture toward a new layer of reeds he put down that morning. “If we are constant,” he says, “if we pray, study, fast, and hold family home evening regularly, we are going to become stronger.”

This articles was written by Adam C. Olson and is shared from the following website: https://www.lds.org/liahona/2011/07/islands-of-faith-a-story-of-diligence?lang=eng

No widget added yet.

Your Life, God’s Way

God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supplies Hudson Taylor

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

Years ago, my church – Celebration Church in Jacksonville, Florida – rented a billboard near a busy highway. We were looking to attract people to what God was doing in our world. The ad featured an image of me (which made sense because the invitation was coming from the church, and well, I’m the pastor) with these words emblazoned across the ad:

Your Life, God’s Way

Despite the blinding vibrancy of my lime green golf shirt, we got a great response to that billboard. Lots of people visited Celebration for the first time and made it their home. Why? I seriously doubt it was due to my friendly-yet-penetrating gaze as drivers made their daily commute to work each day. No.

What drew people in was that the ad offered a different approach to the one thing everyone is concerned about and probably mulling over on their way to work: my life. Imagine the thoughts of those drivers. It’s not hard because we’ve all had them at one time or another, maybe at this very moment:

  • My life is a mess.
  • My life is going great.
  • My life doesn’t matter.
  • My life is about to change.
  • My life is falling apart.
  • My life has no purpose.
  • My life is too busy.
  • My life is depressing.
  • My life is over-the-top amazing.

The billboard reached all these people behind the wheel – all with different plans, experiences, hopes, disappointments, and so on – and offered them one more lens through which to view their life: God’s way.

Adding these two words has a way of changing our perspective. It forces us to pause and consider that there may be a completely different way of doing life than we are currently doing it, one we may never have considered. I’m sure more than one person drove by that billboard and thought, “God’s way,” huh? What does that look like? It’s gotta be better than the way I’m doing it.

When I first started thinking about my life in terms of God’s way, three life-altering, game-changing realizations came to mind. And speaking now as a pastor, let me add that these apply to anyone.

God has a “way” for our lives. Most people think God is not at all interested in the details of our lives. But he is.

He doesn’t sit in heaven simply watching our lives from the nosebleeds. God wants to be fully involved in your life, and He has a game plan, a path, a way for your life that is designed specifically for you (Psalm 37:23). As you make Him the first priority in your life, you’ll witness firsthand just how much God wants to be present and active in your life. You will experience His presence on a whole new level.

We don’t have to carry the weight of our life alone. Life is challenging, and the cares of life are heavy, but God doesn’t want you to carry the burden alone. Jesus invites you to keep step with Him while He does the heavy lifting (Matthew 11:28). When you put God first, you begin to live in response to Him as He shapes your life. Rather than striving to manipulate and control every outcome under your own strength, you will find that God is standing close, ready to help lighten the load.

God’s way is better than ours.

The Bible says that God’s way is perfect, refreshing, trustworthy, right, and enlightening (Psalm 19:7-8). I don’t know about you, but my way usually isn’t any of those things. Amazingly, God’s way is not only all those things, but it also meets us wherever we are.

When you feel like your life…

  • is a mess, God works all things out for your good (Romans 8:28).
  • is going great, God has greater things in store for you (1 Corinthians 2:9).
  • doesn’t matter, God ascribes incredible value to you (1 Peter 1:18-19).
  • is about to change, he will be with you every step of the way (Hebrews 13:5).
  • is falling apart, God is your strength and deliverer (Psalm 18:1-2).
  • has no purpose, God’s purpose for you will prevail (Jeremiah 29:11).
  • is too busy, God’s peace guards your heart and mind (Philippians 4:7).
  • is depressing, he is the giver of joy (Romans 15:13).
  • is over-the-top amazing, there is a place to direct your gratitude (James 5:13).

God’s way for your life is the best possible way you can live. This is the God-first life. It’s the life God intends you to live.

Today’s article was written by Stovall Weems and is shared from the following website: https://www.faithgateway.com/your-life-gods-way/#.W3Q_gy-ZNmA

No widget added yet.

The Joy of Having Faith in a Perfectly Faithful God

Faith is the vision of the heart; it sees God in the dark as well as in the day Unknown

The account given in Luke 7 of Jesus healing the Centurion’s servant is a rather short and easily overlooked story. However, in this passage, God reveals some supremely significant truths. This section of Luke proves that there truly is no section of Scripture that is irrelevant. In fact, these ten verses tell us a lot more than simply a story of one of Jesus’s miracles; they show us that God has infinite power and that true God-given faith stands out and can move mountains. We also are given an example of how humility and a recognition of our lowly state leads to the ability to see Christ as He is: the Lord of Lords and King of Kings who was brought low for our sake. The Centurion was a man who was highly esteemed in his community. He had power and wealth. Yet, in verse six, he says he is not worthy to have Jesus even enter his household. There is an important lesson of both trust and humility to be seen in the Centurion.

Not only did the man not think himself worthy of being in the presence of Jesus, but he also trusted the power of Jesus enough to ask the Lord to heal his servant from where they stood. How often do we, in a trial or struggle, pray to God with doubt and concern and hesitation? It is against our human nature to give up control and truly trust God. However, this Centurion does just that, and he is not disappointed. His servant is healed, and he is praised for his act of faith. We, too, must remember that we serve a loving and a powerful God.

What a wonderful combination.

God shows us love in sending his Son, in upholding us in this life, and in bringing us closer to himself, even in the midst of this sinful world. However, we also serve a powerful God who has the ability to heal us, to help us, to calm us, to deliver us, and to grow us.

Since he is a faithful God, we are called to be faithful servants to him. May we have the kind of faith that the Centurion showed in Luke 7. May we call out to God with the confidence that what we ask will surely be granted. May that same faith be used to show the love of Christ to those around us. If the Centurion cared so much for the earthly state of his servant, how much more should we care for the eternal wellbeing of those around us? It is easy to think about people like Daniel, Joseph, and David for examples of saving, trusting faith. However, we do not need to walk into a fiery furnace, be sold into slavery, or stand against a giant in order to find or exemplify mountain-moving faith. Instead, we must simply look to God with a trusting heart: “Here is my life, guide me, sanctify me, and lead me in your ways.” We must do so with a confidence that the loving, almighty God whom we serve will fulfill all those things in our lives in unimaginable ways. For we have in his word a plethora of promises, to be held through any situation we might face in this life.

The same God-given faith that allowed Daniel to walk through fire unharmed, that allowed Joseph to thrive and witness even after being sold into slavery, that allowed David to stand against a giant and prevail, lives in us. How can we ever fear things in this life? How can we ever doubt a God who has never failed? When we face a trial or unsure situation in this life, may we stand firm in the confidence that the God who rules over us is faithful and loving. Even when we fail, when we falter, when we doubt, he stands firm for us. He will never leave us or forsake us. What a joy we have to rest in that promise.

Today’s article was written by Stephanie Kuiper and is shared from the following website: https://inallthings.org/the-joy-of-having-faith-in-a-perfectly-faithful-god/

No widget added yet.