How to Handle God’s Silence in Your Life

Do you remember the time you called your friend and got no response? Calls were unanswered, emails ignored, and missed calls were not returned. Maybe they are just busy – you know their schedule. Then you wonder if this “silence” is intentional or unintentional. Maybe they are upset with you regarding something. Maybe its nothing to worry about at all. Everything is fine. Whatever the case, it troubles you considerably.

6157643879_f35aaf16fc

 

That Eerie Feeling

There are times when our prayers seem to go nowhere. The lack of response from God troubles our hearts more than anything else. We wonder if God has forgotten us. We consider the possibility that God is angry with us. Surely there must be a reason for this divine silence.

What’s the purpose of His silence?

Sometimes, God’s silence allows us time to think and to learn. That divine silence allows us to experience – for a brief time – what it is to live without God’s guidance. It can be an eerie feeling, like the “calm before the storm.” But quickly we realize that God’s voice is truly essential.

God also waits in silence for our response, for our obedience. In essence, “the ball is in our court.” He has done a tremendous work in our hearts, and now it is up to us to obey. God waits in silence since it is “our move” now. Certainly it is a divine silence of expectation.

Here is the scary part of God’s silence

The most dangerous form of God’s silence is when he allows us to have our own way. He has spoken to us on numerous occasions, but we have failed to obey. We’ve had our own agenda, and we wonder why God is disturbing us. So God steps back and allows us to live and experience life without his guidance. Although this may seem like a favorable option for a time, we soon run into danger. We continue in our own way until we realize that what we needed all along was his voice.

God is not angry with us

In his silence, he simply waits for our return. God is not angry with us. Many fail to return to God thinking that he is angry with them because of their lack of obedience. They wonder if God will accept them back. Rather than being angry, he is like a hopeful parent waiting for the children to return home where they belong. No matter how late it is, he is waiting, ready to open the door.

God’s silence – for any reason – is his choice. Job experienced that in his own life and he responded: “When he is quiet who can condemn? When he hides his face, who can behold him, whether it be a nation or a man? (Job 34:29)

Our obligation

Although we don’t have the option to question God regarding his silence, we have the obligation to return. We return not for his benefit, but for our sustenance and future. That eerie divine silence may mean several things, but certainly we are to learn the lessons of life and quickly return to him.

How have you responded to God’s silence?

Leave your response in the comments section of this blog post by clicking here.

Ever Wonder if God Knows What He is Doing With Your Life?

We were all students struggling to work and pay our own way through our Masters program. The pressures mounted even more as our final exams were just a week away.

2358995244_f6f385d0cf

A few of us gathered to pray and we shared our struggles. One person, as he shared his troublesome predicament, blurted out loud “I just hope God knows what he is doing.” Then there was silence. We all looked at each other wondering what we just heard. One person said to him “What did you just say?” Then he realized what he said and corrected himself “Well…I suppose God does know what he is doing.”

I’ve looked back to that incident many times over the years and realized that I’m no different. It’s so difficult to trust, and so easy to complain. Although our situation may not be so severe, we have much in common with Job who said “Today also my complaint is bitter; my hand is heavy on account of my groaning. Oh, that I knew where I might find him, that I might come even to his seat! I would lay my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments.” (Job 23:1-4)

As we increase our words of complaint and gather with others who do, we get sucked into an irresistible current that pulls us down. As Job sat with his friends, they did not help his situation at all. They simply confused the whole situation. Job complained, and his friends condemned! What a combination to get tangled up in.

I’m grateful for the few who are willing to call us into account for our complaining attitude. They stop us in our tracks and ask “What did you just say?” Then, the silence obviously proves the point.

Yes, God is our heavenly father and we have the option to come before him and complain. But we need to move away from that complaining mode as quickly as possible and move into the place of trust in our Father who is truly in control.

Have you had an amusing experience of complaining?

Share it in the comments section of this blog post by clicking here.

Painful Reality and Positive Results

The opposition was severe. The stones continued to smash against their bodies until every drop of blood drained out. They held on and waited in horror – waited for death.

 2059825918_247cc7f898

Others were sawed in two. Every nerve in their bodies reacted as their flesh was torn apart by the saw. The ghastliness of this severe torture was the price they paid for their faith in the one who loved them.

 Some experienced the sword in such an uncommon way. As the metal blade ripped their bodies open the pain shot through their entire being. This gruesome act was more than what any of them could bear. Finally their bodies fell, never to rise again.

 For the more unfortunate ones their only wish was for death to come a little quicker. These were people who endured a slow, agonizing death. They were tightly wrapped in animal skins and left in the hot sun. As the sun grew hotter the animal skin would get tighter as it shrinks. This gradual shrinking would squeeze their bodies tighter and eventually cause dislocation of bones and multiple fractures throughout their bodies. Finally they would be crushed to death in a long, agonizing torture; simply unimaginable.

 A list of such gruesome atrocities against followers of Jesus are mentioned in Hebrews 11 and makes the conclusive statement: “of whom the world was not worthy” (Hebrews 11:38).

 These stories may have been a reflection of the events in Acts 8 where followers of Jesus were severely persecuted. This is the situation where Stephen was stoned to death. “And Saul approved of his execution. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the Apostles. Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison” (Acts 8:1-3).

 Reading such accounts may cause us to think that the end had come for the ministry of the church. With severe persecution and the scattering of the believers, it would be difficult to see how the gospel could proceed any further. But the following verse gives us a clear picture of what actually happened: “Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word” (Acts 8:4). Along with preaching the word, we see that many signs and wonders were performed by these scattered believers. The impact of the persecution was not to stop the work of the church, but to expand it much further to the “ends” of the known world. God took that disastrous situation and turned it around for good. The scattered believers simply remained faithful to their calling.

What are you facing today? No matter how difficult it is, just hang in there; trust God and remain faithful.

How do you respond when you hear of such acts against the church?  

Give your response in the comments section of this blog post by clicking here.

Dirt Level Commonality

I’ve had great opportunities to sit with my grandmother and hear amazing stories from the past. In one of those accounts, I was intrigued by how field workers where paid during her younger years. The land owner would place the money on the ground, and after he walks away, the workers were to come get it. The purpose was that there should be no chance for their hands to touch. If money is handed to them, that “danger” would be a possibility. The concept of untouchability was so strong that their conscience was not at all impacted.

3245015364_968c3cfa55

Although this may seem surprising to us, it was normal practice in their day many years ago. I am sure there were people who disagreed, and thought differently, but they may have kept the disagreement to themselves. They went with the flow and did as everyone else.

When one is confused about reality, they see others as inferior, and unclean, and unworthy. From the outset, this perception impacts how we deal with others.

The popular society may have certain views on particular groups of people. For example, when a crime is reported, many respond and say, “that figures; these people are such a menace to society.” Blanket statements such as these are quite common.

The commonly proposed suggestion is for us to understand and accept the differences of others. Once we accept the obvious differences, we will be able to accept the person as well, since the differences are the things that separate people.

But more than just acceptance, there needs to be relationship leading to community. Then that relationship can be mutually beneficial. Relationship is best developed when there is commonality with others. But with some, its difficult to find anything in common. In such a situation, Job’s friend Elihu found the most peculiar commonality: “Behold I am toward God as you are; I too was pinched off from a piece of clay. Behold no fear of me need to terrify you; my pressure will not be heavy on you.” (Job 33:6-7)

I suppose you can’t get more basic than that to find commonality: “I too was pinched off from a piece of clay.” Those people who paid the workers by placing the money on the ground could find no way to relate. Just like Elihu, they could have looked back to creation and they would have found commonality there.

Do you struggle to find commonality with some people?

Leave your response in the comments section of this blog.

Exploring Options

This week we have a guest post by Dr. Bob Logan. He focuses on incarnational missional ministry and multiplication. He is a church planter, coach, consultant, trainer, writer, and mountain biker. He lives in Los Angeles, California USA, and blogs at loganleadership.com. You can follow him on Twitter @drboblogan

 IMG_1158-300x290

My best friend in college loved to go backpacking. That was not something I loved, but he bugged me enough that I decided to go on a short wilderness backpacking trip in the mountains with him. The first day we hiked up and reached our first campsite before nightfall. However, we saw no water.

Now my friend was an eagle scout. He excitedly pulled out his shovel, portable pump, and water purification tablets. I stood there thinking, “No water? I didn’t sign up for this.” I wandered over the next knoll and discovered a water faucet. So I came back and watched my friend dig for another ten minutes because he was having so much fun. Also, I wasn’t as nice back then as I am now. But eventually I couldn’t stand it anymore and I told him it might be a little easier if we just walked the 150 feet and used the faucet.

Before you go digging in with only one option, go explore a bit and see if there might be any other options out there. There might be a better one.

Please leave your response in the comments section of this blog by clicking here.

 

The Problem With Obedience

A rage of anger and resentment welled up within him as he heard the the music and laughter from the party. He stood far enough at a distance where most of the guests wouldn’t see him. He was sure that his father was wrong this time. All these years he gave in to his father’s wish. He gave in to all the demands and arguments. Never once did he disobey. He was compliant and good.

4780956033_c08a9271cf

Some more of the happy guests arrived and asked him “aren’t you coming in?” “Just a minute” he lied. Now he stepped away even further, angered by the silly smiles on the faces of the guests walking in to the party.

Then his father stepped out and began looking around. When the father finally spotted him, he quickly walked up to him and asked him to come in. But that request just escalated the resentment he felt. It was so wrong that he was faithful and obedient all these years, but now his younger brother, a disobedient, unruly rebel returns home and he is celebrated.

He firmly stood his ground and refused to go inside. His goodness and obedience kept him away from the father’s delight. He could have gone inside and enjoyed the party, but how could he? He was too good to go celebrate with such tainted rebells and those who reward them.

That story in Luke 15 ends with the older son still standing outside refusing to go in. He still held to his rightful demand that he was indeed better than his brother.

But for the father, it wasn’t a question of who is good or bad. He simply loved all his children. And when one is struggling a bit too much, his heart goes out to that one even more.

So the older brother remains outside unable to go in because he was obedient and good. His younger brother had left the house earlier because of his rebellion against his father and the family. Finally he ended up outside the home.

The obedience of the older brother coupled with the condition of his heart fueled arrogance. His arrogance was directed against his father and the family. And he also ended up “outside” the home, unable to come inside.

Obedience is good and necessary. But watch out for the condition of your heart that may use it to breed arrogance. This unfortunate condition will cause you to despise the love that the Father wants to shower on his children. That arrogance will pull you toward legalism and away from grace, away from the Father. And it is grace that is fundamental to our salvation by faith in Jesus.

So be obedient, but watch it! Don’t let it get to your heart.

What do you think about the problem with obedience?

Share your thoughts in the comments section of this blog by clicking here.

A Misplaced Trust: An Unfortunate Illusion

I remember the collapse of a prominent government Mutual Fund savings plan several years ago. Throughout the country, there was outrage and protest against the government. As journalists interviewed the protesters, they vented their frustrations and complaints.

Graph With Stacks Of Coins

One person said, “All my savings was put into this plan hoping for a good future.” others said, “Since this is a government plan, I thought it would be reliable and safe.” The loss was too much for so many. Their trust was firm, but unfortunately it turned out to be an unfortunate illusion.

For the people who experienced this disaster, the severity of their loss was too much. But there are a few things to learn from this. First, This disaster is a great example of a government run and government regulated disaster. I guess when the government regulates itself, you cannot expect much more.

Second, we see a host of people who invested in only one savings plan. But at that time, there were no other options to invest in mutual funds, so those interested were limited to just one method.

Third, we learn a lesson on trust. Job said “If I have made gold my trust or called fine gold my confidence, if I have rejoiced because my wealth was abundant or because my hand had found much, if I have looked at the sun when it shone, or the moon moving in splendor, and my heart has been secretly enticed, and my mouth has kissed my hand, this also would be an iniquity to be punished by the judges, for I would have been false to God above” (Job 31:24-28).

Precious things, wealth, work, and nature are all mentioned in the above passage as pulling for our hearts. But placing undue trust in any of these would be mistrust of God above. God and him alone is to be trusted without limit.

But the struggle is obvious as our hearts are pulled in all directions by those things which are popular. Our society values each of these as worthy of trust and exemplary. Now, as we look back on our lives, each one of those “popular” trusts have failed us.

Those investors were genuine in their intentions. They wanted the best for their families and for their future. But their trust was directed in the wrong place. God alone is worthy of all our trust.

Do you have a story of “misplaced trust” to share?

Share it in the comments section of this blog by clicking here.

Sitting in the Silence: The Inner Monologue

This week we have a guest post by Zaida Warner. Zaida is a Christian Life Coach, Writer & Speaker and has been a ministry leader at Miami Vineyard Community Church for the past 5 years. Visit her blog at leadershipchristiancoaching.com

sitting-in-the-clouds

Have you ever just sat and listen to the silence? It’s never silent. It’s like a rush of thought waves that crash against your brain, at least for me it is. I jump from thought to thought as they enter and they begin to drive me crazy. With that said, I will share that those that know me can agree, I do not like to be by myself. I still find it difficult sometimes to go anywhere alone even as simple as getting a cup of coffee at your local coffee shop but God has pushed and probed me to overcome that. I have come to learn over time how to control my thoughts, categorize those thoughts and instead begin an inner monologue with Christ when I find myself sitting in silence. I start to speak with Him about those thoughts, fears and emotions that begin to overwhelm me. The great thing is that God always has a solution and a response. There are so many things He wants to share with us that if only we took a moment to listen in the silence, the world around us would become a little bit easier to cope with.

Time with Him can take place anywhere: In the car, on your porch or backyard and YES even at your desk at work. It’s learning to tune out the world, control your thoughts and tune in to what God has to say to you at that moment. God has shown me that I am never alone and has taught me to enjoy that silence and alone time because it is so needed. I now look forward to those moments any time I can get them especially when you are a busy mommy of 3 like me!

Read: Lamentations 3:26, Proverbs 17:28, Romans 10:17

Prayer: Father God, thank you for always being by my side and never leaving me alone. Thank you for reminding me that even though I may see the chaos that surrounds me, you continue to bring peace inside of me. Help me to continue to cherish my moments of silence with you and speak to me words of wisdom, knowledge and strength. My hope is in you Lord all the days of my life.

Meditate: Now breathe in and out slowly while you count to 30 and let Him speak to your heart. BE IN HIS PRESENCE.

Reflection Questions: What thoughts rush into your mind when you sit in silence? Now begin your inner monologue with Christ and tell Him about those thoughts. How do you feel when you spend that time with Him?

*Remember God does not expect a specific amount of time spent with Him because once we accept Jesus as our Christ and Savior, every moment is a moment with Him. There is power in His name…Jesus!

You may leave your comments by clicking here.

Give Till It Hurts? Ouch!

An Eye for the Needy

Every time the bus stopped for meals, I noticed a young man who stayed in the bus without eating. After a few stops I asked him and found out that he had no money for food. We were traveling on a bus from California to New York (one of several while I was a college student). I was just eighteen years old, and having seen lots of suffering all around me while growing up in the Bronx, I had to help.

5068926419_c492a27cfd

Give Till It Hurts? Ouch!

Limited Supply

So, for the entire three days, I bought food for someone I had never known before. My own funds were limited since my only income was the part-time job I had while attending college. With that I could not even pay my fees for college.

After the three-day journey, I arrived at the bus station on 42nd street in Manhattan. That is when I realized that in my generosity I had spent every penny in my possession. I checked every pocket and every corner of each of my bags without any hope. With no money for the subway ride home to the Bronx, I simply walked around wondering what to do next.

When Helping Drives You to Beg

It was just 75 cents (3/4 of a dollar) that I needed, and I began thinking of my options. I also did not have enough money for a phone call home. Walking home was out of the question since it was just too far. The only other option I could think of was to stand on the street corner and ask strangers for some change. That option seemed a bit too much like begging, so put that option as the last resort. Then I remembered the few times in the past when I found change lying around on the ground — but nothing there. Some say “give till it hurts.” But this was too painful.

Then everything changed. I began complaining to God for getting me into this mess. After all, I was simply helping a needy person in his hunger. Maybe my generosity went too far, but my intentions were clear. I could have put aside just a few coins for my trip home, but I never thought of it. I was only thinking of the immediate need and responding to it. But God could have helped me — I thought he should have.

Miraculous Encounter

That’s when I bumped into a young man I worked with during the summer while in High School. After the greeting and the common chit chat, I told him my predicament. He immediately reached into his pocket and gave me money for the fare. Never in my life had 75 cents felt so valuable than at that time. All the way home I wrestled with the question: “Why did I end up in this predicament while trying to help someone in need?”

Job struggled with a similar situation when he said “Did I not weep for him whose day was hard? Was not my soul grieved for the needy? But when I hoped for good, evil came, and when I waited for the light, darkness came (Job 30:25-26 ESV).

A Greater Reason

But Proverbs says “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed (Proverbs 19:17 ESV). Knowing these texts was a greater problem for me.

I still don’t have a clear resolution of this dilema, but when people ask for help, I don’t think twice.

Do you have a similar experience? Share it in the comments section of this blog post by clicking here.

Photo

Back From The Past

“Do you remember when…?” “If I could just go back to those days when we had so little, yet were so happy.” It seems that the “good old days” syndrome transcends language, culture, and time. Whichever part of the world you travel to, the view of the past is just the same.

Back From The Past

Back From The Past

 Job’s story is among the oldest ones in the Bible, and he looks to his past and remembers the “good old days.” But for Job, no one would fault him for his perspective. Everyone would agree that he was at the lowest point of his life. Anything in his past must be better. But focusing on the past has several negatives.

 First, we tend to glorify the past. Somehow, events and people from the past become simply bigger than life. Job reflects on his past in chapter 29, and it’s certainly awesome. Past events take on a new significance much further than its former reality. People in the past increase in their significance and become bigger than life.

 Second, we fail to “live” the present. We are meant to experience the present as it is. Because of this focus on the past, Job filled his days with questions and confusion. He allowed the words of his friends to take him on an emotional spiral that proved to be meaningless. Then God comes and cancels all of their arguments and Job’s complaints. Then beginning with chapter 38, God simply describes his might and splendor. He seems to be saying that instead of looking at the present and reasoning everything out, just look to Him and His greatness. He alone is the answer to your confusion and turmoil.

 Third, we may sabotage the future by not living the present. No matter how bad the situation is, the present is meant for us to experience and to learn from. These lessons are essential for building us up and getting us ready for the future. So, does a difficult present situation imply that you can assume a great future? Though we may not be aware that we are headed there, the present is what leads to the future.

 How should we handle the present? Can it be any different? Since Job was busy comparing with his past, his present became a time of greater turmoil. Sure, his predicament was severe and unimaginable, but the focus on the past made it exponentially worse. Ultimately, God in his mercy intervened and helped to bring stillness to his confused and trembling heart.

 So, do you remember when…? Forget it. Just live the present. Live it in all of its glory, its ugliness, its brokenness and its confusion. Whether you enjoy it or not, live it. While you’re at it, listen for God’s still small voice. He is speaking to you. Just Listen…do you hear him?

 Just how are you doing with living the present? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section of this blog by clicking here.

Photo credit