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It’s all about control

Rosie the RiviterBy Heather Walton

We need to protect the most vulnerable.

We must protect our Constitutional rights.

Where is my unemployment?

I will not wear a mask!

It’s my body, and my choice.

Everyone needs to take the vaccine before we can get back to normal.

I will not take a vaccine.

Answer the phone when the health department calls, and cooperate with the contact tracers.

I will not answer the phone. In fact, I’m not doing any updates on my phone and I’ll leave it at home when I go out. 

You don’t value my life!

You don’t value my livelihood!

Since the beginning of the human race, it’s been about control. Did God really say you should not eat of any tree in the garden? … He knows that when you eat of it, you’ll be like God, knowing good and evil (Genesis 3). In other words, He is in control, but if you eat this fruit, you can be in control.

Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but the enemy of old, Satan, sure wants us to think it is (Ephesians 6:12). We get angry because we want to be in control. We fear because we want to be in control.

Guess what: we are NOT in control! We never have been. It’s an illusion. God is in control, but He has temporarily allowed Satan to be in control of certain aspects of the world (Matthew 4:8-9; Luke 4:5-6; John 14:30; John 12:31-33; Ephesians 2:1-3). I believe that the “spirit of the antichrist” which has been in the world since the beginning, is largely a spirit of control (1 John 2:18; 1 John 4:3). Satan himself, as Lucifer, fell from heaven because he wanted to be in control, rather than trusting God to be in control (Isaiah 14:12-15; Luke 10:18).

When we allow God to be in control of our lives (Romans 10:9-11) by accepting Jesus as Lord (master, one in charge), we gain a peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7). The very things we desire to have control for — peace, provision, victory over death — we gain by giving up control. It seems like a paradox, doesn’t it? However, it is true.

The spirit of the antichrist may soon be revealed as world leaders navigate this global crisis (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12; 1 John 2:18). They have a global answer: They believe we need to seek world peace through a concept called globalism. They believe all people need to unite to end world hunger, poverty, inequality, illiteracy, “overpopulation,” and so on; however, God called us to scatter, to fill the earth and subdue it. Granted, our greed has tempted us to become bad stewards of the earth and to oppress people. That doesn’t change the fact that God wills us to populate, to work, and to be diverse. At the tower of Babel, the people wanted to stick together. They defied God by building a tower, not so they could reach heaven, but so they could keep from wandering too far. God had told them to scatter, but they reasoned that if they could build a tall enough tower, they could make sure that they could all see it, and that way they wouldn’t go too far. They would stay one global community, in defiance of God’s clear command to spread out. He confounded their language so that they would not remain together (Genesis 11).

Today, some of the world’s most powerful people want to control the world once again by uniting us all in a global community. This global crisis calls for a global solution, they say. They want control, pure and simple. Their motives may look noble and pure, but in reality, they don’t trust God. Did God really say? Is there really even a God? Don’t you know that we can do anything we set our minds to? 

Many people believe would agree with Bill Gates:

“I’ve been very lucky, and therefore I owe it to try and reduce the inequity in the world. And that’s kind of a religious belief. I mean, it’s at least a moral belief,” said Gates. “I agree with people like Richard Dawkins that mankind felt the need for creation myths. Before we really began to understand disease and the weather and things like that, we sought false explanations for them. Now science has filled in some of the realm – not all – that religion used to fill.” (Rolling Stone, March 13, 2014)

You see, if science is the answer, we can control that. We can’t control God, but we can, at least in some ways, control science. We can control what we understand, but we cannot understand God because His ways are so far above our ways that they are beyond comprehension (Isaiah 55:8-9). We don’t like that. We want to understand. We want to know. We want to control.

We cannot control, but we can put our lives in the hands of the One who is in control, the One who can give us the abundant life now and eternal life when we die (Deuteronomy 30:19; Joshua 24:15; John 3:16-17; John 10:9-10).

It seems to me that so many of us are addressing the things we can’t control and are angry at those who seem to hinder our control. In the end, though, we are all going to die and our fortunes will be given to another (Psalm 39:6; Psalm 49:10; Proverbs 27:1; Luke 12). We aren’t guaranteed our next breath or our next paycheck, no matter how hard we try. We should take good care of our bodies, we should work hard to earn a living, and we should try to keep our country free from tyranny. However, we also must recognize that our days are numbered and the world can change in a moment’s notice. We could literally be ushered into the presence of our Creator at any moment. We need to be ready.

The one thing we can do to control our future is to put our lives and our eternity into the hands of the One who possesses ultimate control.

If you have never accepted Jesus as Lord, you can do that right now. This takes an honest and genuine acknowledgement that you are a sinner, that you can’t do enough good deeds to be right with God because He is holy and we are unholy, that you need Him to save you, and that you are willing to follow Him and allow Him to govern your life. Baptism is the outward expression of this inward decision and should be done publicly and by immersion, in an act of obedience, submission, and testimonial to others. You also should read the Bible, pray, gather with other believers, and obey God’s commands, not to be saved, but out of gratitude for salvation, a desire to grow in your relationship with God, and in hopes of winning others to the Lord. If you have any questions about that, reach out to a believer you know, begin fellowship with a local church, and/or reach out by filling out the contact form below.  

We Have Sinned

Dear Lord,

You have said, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14).”

Father, we, your children, have sinned. We, the church, have abdicated our responsibility to speak into the culture, preferring to blend in instead. We have allowed the religion of secular humanism to infiltrate our culture. We have allowed our children to be carried off to “Babylon,” a culture that says, “I am, and there is no other (Isaiah 47:8).” We have allowed ourselves to become complacent and entitled, believing that the world exists to serve us. We have devalued human life of many kinds, allowing the unborn to be slaughtered, the immigrant to be mistreated, those of other races to be abused, and the disabled to be devalued.

We have voted for people according to economics, rather than character. We have taken your Word and prayer out of our schools and the public square. We have given lip service to prayer. We have neglected to disciple our children according to your Word.

We have forgotten our first love, and have grown cold and self-absorbed. We have bowed down to many idols, including money, power, ease, comfort, and pleasure. We spend more time on our phones and computers than on in-person relationships. We have allowed our society to become sexualized and violent. We see people as objects. We play games, watch movies, and listen to music full of sex and gratuitous violence. We waste much of our time on mindless entertainment. We have allowed our children to absorb it all.

We lie to one another, cheat each other, steal from each other, and talk badly about each other. Instead of going directly to each other in loving confrontation of sin, we gossip and slander. We justify ourselves under the guise of venting or making prayer requests.

We no longer value marriage and family. Instead, we stand by and watch as others trample these institutions that were entrusted to us by God. We worry that if we speak up we will seem intolerant or culturally irrelevant.

We shrink back from boldly declaring your Word, and blindly believe that we must not speak up because of the supposed “separation of church and state.” We prefer to offend You, our creator and just judge, rather than risk offending our fellow man. We turn a blind eye to others who claim to be Christian while living like the world.

We have allowed ourselves to be lulled to sleep by the design of secular humanists, and have given the sleeping potion to our children by allowing them to attend schools that teach them that You don’t exist, or that if you do, You are irrelevant. We have allowed them to be given atheistic sex education and taught that they descended from primordial goo. We have allowed them to be programmed to follow their hearts and to do whatever makes them happy, “as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone.” What about You, Lord? Sin hurts You. You gave us Your Son, who lived perfectly and died a horrific death for these very sins. His death and resurrection alone save us, yet we flippantly allow His Name to be used as a common curse word. We don’t even flinch anymore when Your Name is taken in vain.

We have forsaken Your design for marriage. We have created unstable families for our children. We have preferred to make a name for ourselves than to invest personally in our children. We have not corrected our children’s disobedience.

We have created idols of athletes, actors, musicians, and philanthropists. We have enthroned people who have money, power, and influence, regardless of their faith, values, or actions. We have dismissed scandals in our leaders, because we idolize the economy and pragmatically vote for Supreme Court nominations. We overlook character defects in favor of policies. We have created false messiahs in our government officials. We have not called those into account who claim to follow You, minimizing their sin, because we believe they are benefitting us.

We sit by, fattening ourselves up on our riches, while much of the world lives in unfit conditions, and many are marginalized, mutilated, and slaughtered. We believe we are entitled to live long and prosper, neglecting to consider that much of the world truly must pray for their daily bread. We believe we deserve honor and abundance while others languish in life and die without Christ.

We have bought into the lie that government can solve our problems. We have tried to treat this worldwide crisis as something we can solve with the right brain power, techniques, policies, and vaccines. But we cannot! We need you to heal our land. We need you to heal the coronavirus, but more than that, we need you to heal our pride, our obstinacy, our apathy, our faithlessness, and our selfishness. We need you to heal our families, our government, our schools and our churches.

I need You to heal me. We all need You to heal us. We are so independent, self-sufficient, and content in our sin that have a form of godliness but we deny your power (2 Timothy 3:5).

You have said, “You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure (James 4:2-3).

Lord, where our motives are tainted, purify us. I pray for a revival, the likes of which the world has never seen. I pray that we would wake up from our slumber so that the “new normal” we keep hearing about is Your new normal. I pray You defeat the enemy and his purposes, that many more may come to know You and to glorify Your Name. I pray you have mercy on us for our great sins, for the sake of those who don’t yet know you, and for the sake of Your glorious Name.

You are the Great I Am, the First and the Last, the Living God. We are your people. We humble ourselves. We ask you to heal our land.

On behalf of the church in America, I ask this in Jesus Precious and Holy Name, Amen!

If you would like to add to this prayer, you may post it in the comments. Any other comments will not be posted, as this is a prayer addressed to the Lord. This post is not for airing opinions or arguments. If you do not know the Lord and would like to turn your life over to Him, and have questions about that, or want to leave a comment for me, please fill out the contact form below.  

 

Judge not … ?

By Heather Walton

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:1-3 ESV)

This is probably the most well-known verse in all of scripture. Why? Because people inherently like to justify themselves and their behavior. If a Christian confronts sin, this Bible verse inevitably glides smoothly off someone’s tongue in hasty rebuke, in an attempt to shame the messenger into silence. How dare you? is the implication. Don’t you know Jesus told us not to judge one another? We all sin; you just prefer your own brand of sin. 

Here’s the problem with that logic: Most people know the first part of Matthew 7:1, and some know all the way through the end of verse 3, but many neglect what comes next:

Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:4-5 ESV)

Notice here that Jesus said to remove your own log, meaning do everything you can to be right with God and free from sin (albeit not perfect), and then yes, remove the speck from your brother’s eye. So if you have some glaring sin problem in your life (log) then get that straight before criticizing your brother for a smaller infraction (speck). So Jesus wasn’t, in fact, telling us we are not to judge at all, but that we’re not to be hypocritical, which in the Greek carried the idea of acting. In essence, I’m not to live a phony life, acting the part of a Christian, while I have this glaring area of sin in my life, and then call a believer out for some small behavior that pales in comparison with my own issues.

In Matthew 18, we’re told to confront our brother or sister who is caught in sin. We should do so first between the two of us, next with a witness, and lastly we should bring our concern to the church. (This doesn’t apply to every situation, by the way, but it does to most.) This passage is for dealing with a brother caught in sin, which could mean they wronged us personally or that they simply were, as the text states, caught in sin.

In 1 Corinthians 5:9-13, believers are specifically told to judge those inside the church who are sexually immoral, greedy, swindlers, idolaters, revilers, drunkards or swindlers. Paul stated that God would judge those outside the church, but commanded Christians to hold one another accountable. He went so far to say, “Purge the evil person from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5:13b ESV). Believers were not even to eat with someone who called himself a Christian, yet had blatant sin in his life.

It is a lie from the pit of hell that we are not ever to judge anyone for anything. As Christians, we should not be shocked when an unbeliever lives a sinful lifestyle. We should instead lovingly show him the truth and share the Gospel (Matthew 28:18-20), challenging him to accept Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:9-11), and discipling him toward a Biblical lifestyle (Matthew 28:18-20). However, when someone claims to be a Christ-follower, we are commanded to lovingly and truthfully call him out, not out of self-satisfaction, but out of love, out of a desire for his benefit, that He may repent for his good and God’s glory.

This is not comfortable. I have found myself needing to confront brothers and sisters on multiple occasions, and I never enjoy it. I generally feel some anxiety over it. I do it because I must. On a handful of occasions, I’ve spoken out about public officials’ behavior. (I’ve written about officials on both sides of the aisle.) I know these people already have been confronted about their sin, yet they continue. I do not expect these types of posts to go over well with everyone, yet I share them, believing God wants me to speak up about injustice, rather than to stay silent.

“Rescue those who are being taken away to death;
hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.
If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,”
does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it,
and will he not repay man according to his work?” 
(Proverbs 24:11-12)

In Ezekiel 3, the prophet was told to be a watchman for Israel, delivering messages to those whom God directed. He was to warn the wicked and the righteous if they were not in God’s will, to change their ways. If he did, and they didn’t listen, he would be blameless, but if he shied away from sharing the truth that God told him to share, he would have their blood on his hands.

Therefore, when God lays it on my heart that I’m to address someone about sin, I know I shouldn’t shy away. I don’t like doing it, but there’s nothing in Scripture that says I’m only to do what I feel like doing. Knowing others will judge me, as they tell me not to judge, I do it anyway, in obedience to the Judge who is above all judges, and with whom I will spend eternity.

“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10 ESV)

COVID-19: Has it changed the world?

By Heather Walton

A week ago at this time I honestly wondered what all the hype was about. I questioned whether people were overreacting. Later that evening, after hearing from the president and the local school superintendent, and learning that our local megachurch was closing, I began to reconsider my perspective.

I think most of us have been impacted in some way by this crisis. At minimum, most of us have had some change to our routines and give up our freedom to go where we want. It seems a bit surreal for many. Depending on your perspective, you could be stir crazy, frustrated, skeptical, anxious, relieved, refreshed, or maybe all of these things in the same day! And if you have children, they may be struggling too, especially if their routines have been majorly disrupted.

As a homeschooler and as one who works from home, my family’s life has not been as disrupted as many people’s have. We have had changes though: My husband is a pastor, so a family whose lives are intertwined with church, that aspect has looked very different. He also works for the school system, so he’s been home this week, which I have found refreshing. I also have moved my regular students and my tutoring clients to an online platform, rather than having them come into my home.

The biggest issue for me has been that I personally have been sick for the past few days. Today I developed a fever, so my doctor sent me for COVID-19 testing. They say it will be a week or so before I get the results. A week ago, getting sick with this virus was the furthest thing from my mind.

While all of this is unexpected and somewhat unsettling, I don’t think the world has actually changed. Yes, it feels different, but I think that’s largely because, a week ago, it felt like we were in control, and today not so much. The truth is, though, that control is an illusion, at least as far as we’re concerned. However, God is always on His throne and in control of the universe — always. Nothing occurs that He doesn’t allow. And nothing catches Him by surprise.

No, I don’t think the world has changed. I think it has been exposed for what it is: a temporary, unpredictable home. It hasn’t changed, but perhaps we can change as a result of this revelation. Perhaps we can change for the better. Maybe we can value relationships more fully, worship God more fervently, serve our neighbors more intentionally, worry less, and simply live the life God has graciously allowed us to live, for however long that will be. Most importantly, maybe we will consider the fact that this home truly is temporary, and therefore prepare for our eternal home by accepting Christ as Lord and following Him, who has control of everything, rather than the crowd, which truly has control of nothing.

Solutions for Shattered Times

We live in shattered times. Our nation argues over politics and policies. Our churches are segregated by race, music style, and secondary theological issues. Our families are strangers in their own homes as they live in their personal worlds of social media, pornography, and virtual reality. Addiction, self-harm, depression, and suicide are rampant. We debate over statues when we should examine our stone-cold hearts. Our first-world problems are killing our souls, and we passively partner in our own demise.

What can we do about this? I’ve been pondering this for years. Second Chronicles 7:14 (NLT) says, “Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.”

Notice it doesn’t say that we are to straighten everyone else out. We don’t have to convince the unbeliever to change his wayward habits. We don’t even need to convict our spouse or our Christian friend, because that’s the Holy Spirit’s job. We must start with ourselves. Looking at 2 Chronicles 7:14 again, it says, “if my people … will humble themselves … and turn from their wicked ways … ”

As Christians, we are called first to get the planks out of our own eyes (Matthew 7:4), to check our own habits, to be in tune with the Holy Spirit, to be living according the Scriptures ourselves. If I’m living a sinful lifestyle, I have no right to pick at you about your lifestyle, let alone that of the unbeliever.

Once I’ve checked myself, though, I’m not free to stop there. Jesus said I’m to remove the plank from my own eye before removing the speck of dust from my brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:4-5). Like Paul, I must be qualified to boldly say, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1). I must be willing to disciple other believers and to encourage and admonish them to good works. (Hebrews 10:24).

Second Chronicles 7:14 not only calls us to humble ourselves, but also to pray, and seek God’s face. We need to get to know God, to have a relationship with Him. Knowing God, loving Him, turning from our own ways and following His—those are the things that will change our hearts and will heal our land. Notice there is nothing mentioned in 2 Chronicles 7:14 about what the church should be expecting unbelievers to do.

Christians have a place in the culture at large. Our duty is to be the church. I’m not advocating that we abdicate our responsibility to be the moral conscience of our society. Scripturally, we will not be held guiltless if we allow oppression in our midst, if we allow the innocent to be slaughtered, if we fail to speak up for the marginalized, or if we refuse to care for the orphan and the widow. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “Christianity stands or falls with its revolutionary protest against violence, arbitrariness, and pride of power, and with its plea for the weak. Christians are doing too little to make these points clear … Christendom adjusts itself far too easily to the worship of power. Christians should give more offense, shock the world far more, than they are doing now.” We must be the voice for the voiceless, and act on behalf of the weak and marginalized, and brothers and sisters, we must start by serving our fellow man, not by criticizing him or ridiculing him. We must reject the urge to be greedy or self-protective. We must follow in the footsteps of our Savior, just as 1 John 2:6 states.

Can you imagine our community, our state, our country, and our world, if the true believers followed these principles? We would be so changed that we wouldn’t even recognize ourselves. And the revival that would take place would solve so many of the problems that plague us, because the world would see the true meaning of service, of worship, of Christianity, of discipleship, and of love. The world would see who Christ really is, and we all would be transformed.

 

 

 

Empty Places

This is a very different first day of school.

That’s because there are a couple empty places in my heart. Big empty places.

For the first time in 18 years, I woke up without my second-born daughter under my roof. Of course she has spent the night away from home before. But for the first time, this is not a sleepover. We said our goodbyes yesterday as she began her college career. What a bittersweet time. There is sadness of knowing there will be an empty place at the table, but an even greater joy at knowing that she has a foundation in Christ and that she is working toward her dreams.

And then there’s another empty place.

For the first time in eight years, I’m not decorating a classroom, planning first-week-of-school activities, outlining classroom expectations, working and reworking seating charts and floor plans, and preparing for open house. For the first time in four years, I’m not in charge of the school I founded. I’m not coordinating opening programs and answering last minute emails.

These are wide-open empty places. Give-me-a-home-where-the-buffalo-roam kind of empty places.

Places where God is preparing to write new stories, to draw new pictures, to create new masterpieces, to compose new melodies. But right now, those places seem a little stark, a little bare, a little bland, a little … well … a little empty.

In the next few weeks, I’ll begin the homeschool journey with my boys, and I’ll get baby Emma into a routine (hopefully), and I’ll find my place God’s place for me, and those empty places will become beautiful, abundant, joyful places in His time and in His way. You see, empty places aren’t void of life and goodness, and if you look hard enough, you’ll see that they aren’t actually empty. They’re full of possibilities and grace, just waiting to blossom, if we’re still enough to wait.

The Sifting

We don’t know how much time we have, but if we relax and listen to God, if we are still enough and if we acknowledge that He is in control (Psalm 46:10), then we can trust that there truly is enough time for His plan to unfold in His timing. We don’t have to be stressed, to overanalyze, to force things, or to make things happen. We can listen to His voice and follow His plan, and if we do mess up, we can trust Him with that too. He is able, more than able, to handle anything that comes our way.

This is a lesson I have had to learn over time. God has graciously been teaching me in many ways. He has sent wise people into my life to gently attempt to steer me the right way. He has given me His Word and His Spirit. He has allowed me to see the positive and negative outcomes of others’ decisions and lifestyles. Yet, like most people, I’m a hands-on learner. The most powerful way I’ve learned the hard lessons has been through my circumstances. And like many other people, I’m also a slow learner, so I haven’t learned through the first hard thing, or the second, or the third. No, it’s taken several serious difficulties to get my attention.

A little more than two years ago, I was watching a Beth Moore Bible study, in which she discussed a period of “sifting” that took place right before her public ministry took off. As soon as she finished relating her sifting journey, I heard the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit say, “You’re about to be sifted.” Honestly, I didn’t think too much about it at the time, but I did take it seriously.

Within two weeks, I discovered I had a life-threatening and heart-breaking ectopic pregnancy and had to have emergency surgery. During the following year, I had many struggles in my full-time ministry. It seemed we were relentlessly attacked by the enemy. The next year I became pregnant again, and we now have a healthy, sweet baby girl, but I developed a postpartum condition called PRES, which involved a blood pressure spike, a brain hemorrhage, a Grand Mal seizure, and many after effects, and which also kept me away from my ministry for longer than anticipated. When I returned to work, I fell and broke my ankle within a week and had to sit out for another couple of weeks. Since then, I’ve had simple partial seizures on a regular basis.

Through all of this, I kept hearing God say, “Be still and know that I am God.” And I kept saying, “Yes, God, I will.” And I kept returning to the hamster wheel of being busy and thinking I had to do it all myself.

At the end of the school year, circumstances made it clear to me that it was time to move on from the ministry that I had founded four years earlier. This was not what I had planned, but I knew it was the right thing. The timing seemed bad,  but in retrospect, I can see God at work.

Again, I could hear God say, “Be still and know that I am God.” And I said, “Yes, God, I’m going to take the summer to be still. Just let me put in my resumes and I’ll be still right after that.” OK, so I didn’t exactly say that, but that’s what I did. I put in resumes the day after I resigned. I had four interviews and had three offers within a week. I accepted a position at a wonderful school and was so excited, and then I proceeded to be still–relatively at least. And it was a good thing, because God really did have an opportunity to speak to me over the summer, because I could finally hear Him. I was going at a more reasonable pace, and it felt good. I had time for relationships–both with God and others.

But there was something nagging at my soul. I kept hearing, “Be still and know that I am God.”

And then last Thursday happened. I suddenly ended up in the ER, wondering once again if I would live to see another day. And then it clicked. It’s time to “be still and know that (He is) God.” He wants me to slow down, take care of myself, pay attention to the people closest to me, and listen to His voice before making major decisions. He wants me to have enough time to be in His Word regularly so I can learn from Him. He wants me to let go of my pride and impulsivity and self-sufficiency, because He is my all in all and He can take care of every detail of my life. There is nothing He can’t handle, so He doesn’t need me to take over His position. He simply wants me to accept His provision and direction.

He wants me to stop doing, and start being, so He can stop sifting.

What Does it Mean to Be Like Christ?

By Heather Walton

Have you ever prayed to be like Christ? Have you ever prayed to know Christ? Then what have you prayed for? Can you relate to any of these? (According to Isaiah 53 and many other Scriptures)
 To be unattractive
 To be despised and rejected
 To suffer
 To endure pain
 To have others hide their faces
 To be despised
 To be looked down on
 To be betrayed by those closest to you
 To have those close to you think you’re crazy
 To have those who know you lose heart and abandon you in your hour of need
 To bear great responsibility
 To teach people who won’t listen to you
 To have one of your closest friends betray you, then refuse to accept forgiveness
 To not receive the glory due you in this life
 To completely trust the Father when it doesn’t look good
 To have Satan gloat over your “defeat”
 To be alone
 To not indulge in things you have a right to
 To not claim your rights
 To go up against the religious authorities
 To hang out with people the church looks down on
 To be considered radical
 To have even your family think you’re crazy and abandon you
 To have no place to lay your head
 To have to put up with people who think they’re great, when they’re so clueless
 To be so afraid and grieved that your body has intense physical symptoms
 To not make a move without praying and listening to the Father’s voice
 To have to fight off the greatest temptation, which is to do something you’d be completely justified to do and are completely entitled to
 To have those who should be singing your praises actually mocking you and calling for your death
 To be humiliated and embarrassed publicly
 To be falsely accused
 To be punished for doing the right thing or being right
 To be beaten within an inch of your life
 To be poor
 To be hungry and thirsty
 To be misunderstood
 To be without honor
Think of the opposite of each of these points. Isn’t that what we normally pray for? For example, don’t we normally pray for things like being loved, not suffering, being understood by those close to us, and having our needs met? There is nothing wrong with praying that way, because God tells us to bring our needs to Him. However, how many of us have prayed to be like Christ, but then we protest when God allows difficulties to come into our lives? I know I have. Instead, we need to appreciate the opportunities we have to be be conformed into our Savior’s image. So the next time we go through something tough, let’s try to remember to thank God for giving us an opportunity to be more like Christ. It will likely change our perspective, and help us to grow more in our Christian walk than we would have otherwise. I know this is counter-intuitive, but it is the truth.

Finding Freedom from a Frazzled Fate

By Heather Walton

Author’s Note: I wrote this originally in June, just before resigning from a ministry I founded. Since then, I have continued a quest to learn how to live authentically and passionately to fulfill God’s purposes, and His alone.

God does not call us to live frazzled lives. He calls us to peace, to quietness, to prayerfulness. It has often been said that if the devil can’t make us bad, he’ll make us busy. Why? When we’re too busy, we can’t even hear God guiding us, and we make decisions, big and small, in our own strength and intelligence, rather than in the wisdom and foreknowledge of God.

We think we are making decisions in God’s will, because they seem to be Godly decisions. And even if they’re not, we can justify those decisions as Godly because we do not know the Scriptures or the power of God (Matthew 22:29). When we are spiritually anemic, it’s pretty easy to think we are doing God’s will when we are not.

I have been in full-time Christian ministry for four years. During that time, I have gone from running a ministry in the power of the Spirit to the ministry running me, draining me of power I don’t even possess. The result—there is some fruit because God’s Word will not come back void; however, the main result is that I am burned out, I have no joy from this ministry anymore, and this ministry isn’t as effective as it once was or as it could be. Not only that, but I regularly neglect my family. So, can I really call it ministry?

Why are so many Christians and churches virtually ineffective? Because there is little to no time for relationships. We go to church like it’s a club—we get to see some of the same people week after week, but do we KNOW those people? For the most part, no we do not. People don’t let us into their lives because our relationships are inauthentic. We don’t have TIME for real relationships. We are too busy!

It’s time to change the tide. I can’t do it all and do any of it well, much less all of it well. I’m exhausted physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. And I’m teaching my children to imitate me. That may be the biggest reason to slow down the pace: I am to live in such a way that I can say to my children, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1). But I can’t possibly say that. I don’t want my kids to live the way I do. I don’t want them frazzled and ineffective. I want them to have time for daily Bible study and prayer time. I want them to have some down time. When they have families of their own, I want them to spend both quality and quantity time with their spouses and children. I want them to be able to sleep at night. I want them to be able to be “all there” for their relationships.

One of my life verses is Psalm 46:10, which says, “Be still and know that I am God.” Some translations replace “Be still,” with “Cease striving,” or “Relax.” For much of my life, the past two years included, I have felt the need to go at a frenetic pace. I have worked so hard to do a good job for God. But that’s not what God requires. He wants us to be still, to cease striving, to relax—not to slack off—but to rely on Him to do the work through us. Yes, He wants us to work with all of our hearts, but certainly He doesn’t expect us to make bricks with no straw.

“My yoke is easy and my burden is light,” Jesus said. (Matthew 11:30). These days my yoke feels cumbersome and my burden feels like a ton of bricks. The Lord calls us to work with all of our hearts, as working for the Lord, not for men. Part of my problem is that, in many ways, I have been working for men. I have been trying to keep people happy, and in doing so, I have lost the time and energy to seek the face of God regarding the ministry with which He has entrusted me.

I’m ready for an easy yoke, a light burden, a passion for ministry, a renewed enthusiasm for my relationship with the Lord, and more time and energy for my family. I’m exhausted. It’s time to rest. I’m suffocating. It’s time to breathe. I’m parched. It’s time to drink from the well of living water, the well that never runs dry.

Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, I find myself thinking, “He was with me all along and I didn’t recognize Him!”