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9 Reasons God Doesn’t God Hear Our Prayers

A doorbell that says "Press for Attention" to represent getting God's attention to hear our prayers.

The old hymn “Prayer Bells of Heaven” is a song about communicating with God. It uses the picture of a bell at the Lord’s right hand. When we are in need, we pray our prayers, and the little bell rings to get God’s attention to hear us. The other day when I was praying, I had a surprising thought about why prayers might go unanswered sometimes. I thought of prayers like a doorbell. If you have ever tried to get someone’s attention using a doorbell when the power is out, you know it doesn’t work. You can press the button until your finger is purple, but the people inside the house will still never know you are standing there (unless you call them or bang on the door).  Doorbells need power. They have to be connected. Some people have no connection to God and are ringing a dead bell.

1. God Doesn’t Hear Us When We Have Unconfessed Sin

Sin separates us from God. It’s that simple. It’s like slamming down a barrier in between us and God. The only thing that will open the gates again is repentance. This is why it is so very important to live a life characterized by self-examination and repentance for sins so that He can forgive us and cleanse us. Then He will hear our prayers.

  • Isaiah 59:2: “But your iniquities have separated you from your God;and your sins have hidden His face from you,so that He will not hear.”
  • Micah 3:4: “Then they will cry to the Lord, but He will not hear them; He will even hide His face from them at that time, because they have been evil in their deeds.”
  • Psalm 66:18-19: “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear but certainly God has heard me; He has attended to the voice of my prayer.”
  • Proverbs 28:9: “One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.”
  • 1 John 3:22: “And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.”

2. God Doesn’t Hear Us When We Worship Idols or Put Other Things Before God

The Old Testament is full of idolatry as a major sin. It can be hard to relate to people who melt earrings to make golden calves, but modern idols are “alive” and well. It’s just that today, those idols are all based on self: materialism, ego/pride, science/naturalism, self-indulgence, and works to name a few. When we put anything other than God on the throne of our hearts, it causes a barrier.

  • Ezekiel 14:7-8 “For anyone of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell in Israel, who separates himself from Me and sets up his idols in his heart and puts before him what causes him to stumble into iniquity, then comes to a prophet to inquire of him concerning Me, I the Lord will answer him by Myself. I will set My face against that man and make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the midst of My people. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.”
  • Galatians 5:4 “You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.

3. God Doesn’t Hear Us When There Is Unforgiveness

We must forgive to be forgiven. It is simply not okay for a Christian to have anything against anyone. We must choose to forgive and give those hard feelings to God for His disposal. We must live at peace with others in as much as it is within our power to do so. The parable of the unforgiving servant illustrates just how ridiculous it is when we don’t forgive others since God has forgiven us so much.

  • Mark 11:25 ““And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”
  • Matthew 5:23-24 “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”

4. God Does Not Hear Us When We Lack Charity

The Bible says, “Give to those who ask you,” and although there are certainly exceptions, if we know that someone has a need and we have the ability to meet that need, it is up to us to help. After all, we are but stewards. Everything we have has been given to us. We must do good and share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased (Hebrews 13:16).

  • Proverbs 21:13 “Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be heard.”

5. God Does Not Hear Us When We Don’t Ask Correctly

When we ask for things for our own selfish pleasures, or when we want things that are not in the will of God, He doesn’t hear us. When we make vain repetitions with words after words that never touch our hearts, He may not listen. But when we ask according to His will, with our hearts, and in His name, He will hear, and we will receive.

  • James 4:3: “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.”
  • Matthew 6:7:  “And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.”
  • 1 John 5:14 “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.”
  • John 16:23-24: “And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”

6. God Does Not Hear Us When We Ask in Unbelief

God won’t answer our prayers when we don’t believe He will do so. He hears us when we pray in belief that He is both listening and able to answer our prayers.

  • James 1:6-8: “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lordhe is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”
  • Matthew 21:22: “And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”

7. God Does Not Hear Us When We Are Disobedient

My pastor says “Do what you know God wants you to do. If you’re not sure, do what you think He wants you to do.” But when we know what God wants and deny giving it to Him for our own selfish motives, we are in rebellion to God, and that is sin.  Even when what He is asking is hard or puts us outside our comfort zone, we must submit to God always.

  • Zachariah 7:11-13: “But they refused to heed, shrugged their shoulders, and stopped their ears so that they could not hear. Yes, they made their hearts like flint, refusing to hear the law and the words which the Lord of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets. Thus great wrath came from the Lord of hosts. Therefore it happened, that just as He proclaimed and they would not hear, so they called out and I would not listen,’ says the Lord of hosts.”
  • Proverbs 10:24: “The fear of the wicked will come upon him, and the desire of the righteous will be granted.”

8. God Does Not Hear Us When There Is Family Discord

Problems in a marriage can affect God’s willingness to hear our prayers. We must honor our partners so that our prayers may, in turn, be honored by God.

  • 1 Peter 3:7: “Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.”
  • Ephesians 5:22-24 “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.”

9. God Doesn’t Hear Us When We Don’t Ring the Bell

Finally, a working doorbell is only helpful if someone pushes the button. When we try to use worldly means to get the things we think we need and want, we can cause ourselves more harm than good. Instead, we should humble ourselves and ask God for His help.

  • James 4:2 “You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask.”

God DOES Hear Us When We Are Right With Him

God does listen to prayers from His children who are right with Him. He knows us, and we have a relationship with Him that opens the lines of communication. We believe in Him, trust Him, and spend our lives trying to please Him. The Bible is full of promises that God will hear us when we are in a right relationship with Him. 

  • John 15:7: “f you abide in Me, and My words abide in youyou will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.”
  • John 9:31: “Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him.”
  • Psalm 91:14-15 “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him.”
  • Psalm 145:18-20 “The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He also will hear their cry and save them. The LORD preserves all who love Him, but all the wicked He will destroy.
  • Jeremiah 29:11-12 “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.”
  • Psalm 34:17: “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles.”
  • Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.

We Simply Must Be Connected to Be Heard

Like a doorbell that must have power, our prayers must have a connection to God in order to be heard. He doesn’t hear us when we are separated by things that displease Him, but when we are in good standing with God, He promises to hear us and grant those petitions that are in His will and good pleasure.

f you like analogies, try Message in the Moisturizer: We Can Choose Change . It is an object lesson about changing for the better. Or, try The Waves of God’s Judgement and the Child of God. In it, we can see that the closer we are to God, the more protected we will be in times of trouble.

Like to read more from Evangelical Christian sisters who “tell it messy, true, and wonderful because we are His”? Check out Telling Hearts.

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A Message of Hope in a Time of Great Trial

This week, like I often do, I was asking God to speak to me. He does that once in a while, and it thrills me every time. Sometimes I will get a word or phrase that will turn out to be what the pastor is preaching that Sunday morning. Sometimes, it’s a message that will show up in my Bible passage later that day. And sometimes it’s a dream that brings encouragement or correction. This time was different, though. I woke up Wednesday morning in the middle of night to use the bathroom, and I again asked God to speak to me. When I got back into bed, four words popped into my head. I immediately recognized them as the title and chorus to a rock song from the 1970’s. After looking at the lyrics, I believe that God was giving me a message of hope for His children during a time of great judgement and trial.

The words were “Ridin’ the Storm Out,” and the song was published by REO Speedwagon in 1973. Before I looked up the song, those were the only four words I actually knew. I hadn’t heard the song itself for probably well over twenty years. The story behind the song was that the band was touring in Colorado when they decided to play a trick on their manager by pretending to get lost. It started snowing really hard, and they ended up getting lost for real in the Rocky Mountains. It turned into a dangerous situation in which they had to ride out the storm.

When I looked at the lyrics, a few things jumped out at me right away as symbols. The rest came little by little and piece by piece as I prayed about it this week.

“Ridin’ the storm out, waitin’ for the thaw out On a full moon night in the Rocky Mountain winter”

The Rocky Mountains are at a higher altitude than the cities nearby. With deep snow and high winds, the weather can get dangerous very quickly. I thought of this as the Christian life. We are closer to God, but as such we not only fight the regular storms and trials of life in a fallen world, but we are battle our flesh and specific attacks of the enemy. We are all waiting for the day when Jesus will come back to fully vanquish the devil and all his storms. A full moon is just a reflection of the sun. As Christians, we reflect the Son of God. We are lights in a dark world.

“My wine bottle’s low, watching for the snow”

Wine symbolizes a few things in the Bible. The first thing that comes to mind is the “new wine” that is the symbol of the New Covenant with Jesus. But wine has another meaning as well. It is paired with judgement and God’s wrath in Jeremiah 25:15 where it says, “For thus says the Lord God of Israel to me: ‘Take this wine cup of fury from My hand, and cause all the nations, to whom I send you, to drink it.'” I believe this is speaking of a time in which will God pour out His judgement on nations. As Christians, we are already looking for it because the watchmen have been warning us for a long time that it is coming. Many countries, especially America, will be judged for turning their backs on God.

“Thinkin’ about what I’ve been missin’ in the city And I’m not missin’ a thing”

The city represents the world. The storms don’t hit the city as hard as in the mountains. For some people without Christ, they have easy lives and only have to think of themselves and their own needs. But as Christians, we constantly fight the flesh, bringing every thought into subjection. We are striving to be doers of the Word and not hearers only. We also fight the enemy who wants to wear us out and cause us to stumble.

Once we are saved out of the world, we are not to turn back. We are not to be envious of those who seem to “get away with” doing things the easy way. Also, during a time of judgement, some of the old comforts of life will be taken from us to achieve God’s purposes. We are not to spend our time wishing for those days to return but we are to be about our Father’s business.

“Watchin’ the full moon crossing the range Ridin’ the storm out Ridin’ the storm out”

God is our refuge and our fortress. When storms blow in, He is our shelter. He will be with us in times of trouble no matter where we go. But there will be an end to the storms, and those who endure to the end shall be saved. It’s just a matter of riding out the tough times until the end.

“My lady’s beside me, she’s there to guide me She says that alone we’ve finally found home”

These were the first lines to jump out at me as symbols. I immediately thought of the Holy Spirit who guides the children of God. This thought brings great comfort to me as I reflect on the idea that He is always with me, guiding me, even when I don’t realize it. While we are here on earth, we have a constant companion and Comforter, a little taste of what forever will be like when we get to our true home with Jesus.

“The wind outside is frightening”

Life can get tough, and when judgement does hit in is fullness, we could see some very frightening things. Wind can be noisy. It can knock things over and make the doors and windows rattle. But inside the comfort of a mountain cabin, the wind can do little more than make you shiver with gratitude that you are inside and warm. When we are under God’s feathers, we have the ultimate comfort in knowing that He is in control, and nothing happens without His permission. All things work toward the good of those who love the Lord and are the called according to His purpose. We might go through some terrible things, but God has a plan, and we will never be alone.

“But it’s kinder than the lightning life in the city”

Whatever we see and experience as children of God, it will always be better than living a life without Him. Here, that life is empty and characterized by vanity. In eternity, for the soul without Jesus, there is only eternal pain.

“It’s a hard life to live but it gives back what you give.”

This last line really stuck with me. The gate is narrow and the way is difficult that leads to life. During a time of judgement and maybe even persecution, we aren’t only going to be able to think of ourselves and our own needs – or even those of just our immediate family. We will need to be listening for God’s voice and doing His will during a time when people will be scared and looking for answers. We will all be held responsible for what we do with our time here on earth and rewarded for all the works that stand in eternity.

Putting It All Together

If you follow biblical precedent at all, you know that many countries, including America, are due for some very hard times as God pours out judgement on nations that have forgotten Him and His ways. But there is, here, a message of hope in that judgement. God will always be with His children, and He will guide us when we keep our eyes focused on Him. We must obey His voice even when things get tough, but with His help, we will all be able to ride out the storms until Jesus calls us home.

If you are in a storm right now, here is a gospel song that might help. It’s called “Ride Out Your Storm, Turn to Jesus.” It has a similar message of hope for better days with an assurance that Jesus is with you in hard times.

If you like analogies, try It’s Not the Machine That Makes Us Clean. It compares aspects of the Christian life to a dishwasher. Or, try Three Reasons We Can’t Stop Trying to Save the Lost. It’s an analogy of the Parable of the Starfish.

Like to read more from Evangelical Christian sisters who “tell it messy, true, and wonderful because we are His”? Check out Telling Hearts.

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Bumper Bowling and the Christian Walk

Bowling lane with the bumpers up and a clearly marked foul line to see the analogy between bumper bowling and our Christian walk.
Picture taken at Alley Cats. There were screens above, so lanes reflected the lights there.

If you have ever gone bowling with a child, chances are, you know about bumper bowling. It’s simply an adaptation to the lane for young children who are first learning to bowl. With the touch of a button, bumpers come out to cover the gutters so that bowling balls will stay on the lane. Nobody likes a gutter ball, and it’s a lot more fun for everybody when pins are hit. The other night in my prayer closet, a thought occurred to me about how the Christian walk is a lot like bumper bowling. What started as a random thought turned out to be a full-fledged analogy after seeking God in prayer. 

The Straight and Narrow

Matthew 7:14 says that it is the narrow way that leads to life (KJV). That is the exact path a bowling ball needs to travel to hit all ten of the pins. A little to the left or right, and you might only get a few or end up with a split. But for little ones just learning the game, aim can be lacking. With bumpers, balls that might be skewed too far to one side or the other are gently bumped back toward the center for a better chance at hitting something. Proverbs 3:6 tells us that when we trust in the Lord, He will make our paths straight (NIV). 

Bumpers Are Boundaries

So what are the boundaries that God has set up to keep His children moving safely down the narrow path? First and foremost is the Holy Spirit. He guides us into all truth and lets us know when our thoughts or actions are not pleasing to Him. God chastens those He loves. Listening to His correction and submitting to His will for our lives is like a gentle bump back to where we need to be on His lane. 

Second, like 2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us, we must “bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” This is actually where the thought for this analogy came from. I felt like I was continually catching myself out of bounds with my thoughts and having to reign them back in. At times, we can have the tendency to “overcorrect.” Having trouble with feeling worthless? Be careful, or you will overcorrect to pride. We go from one bumper to the other, ever trying to hit that perfect sweet spot in the center.

Third, we must be always trying to conform ourselves to what we see in the Bible. We must be doers of the Word and not hearers only. When we catch ourselves acting in a way that is contrary to what the scripture says, we need to stop what we are doing and repent. That just means we need to turn around and go the other way. In 1 John 5:17, we learn that “all unrighteousness is sin.” We must try to behave the way the Bible commands. We must stay away from the behaviors that grieve the Lord.

The Weight of the Ball

One ingredient in the bowling experience that can make a big difference is the weight of the ball. Young kids can’t lift very many pounds, so maybe a six or eight pound ball is all they can handle. Older kids and strong men can lift balls as heavy as 12 to 16 pounds. Lighter balls are easier to swing and release, but often the heavier balls can pack a bigger punch to the pins.

As believers, we are not all given the same advantages and disadvantages on our Christian walk. Some of us live easier lives and may only hit a few pins. Some have lived through terrible calamities and may end up with a perfect strike. God uses each of us for His purposes, but often those who have come from desperate situations can make a big impact for others going through the same trials. And people called to lives of hardship can often focus more on the Lord than those who live lives of ease.

Where Do the Balls Go?

Unless you make a wild swing, all the balls on the lane end up in the same place. They go back to the docking station next to the bowlers to be used on their next turns. The Bible is clear that believers can lose their salvation if they choose to leave the narrow path. Otherwise, all genuine, Holy Spirit-filled Christians will end up with Jesus no matter how many pins are hit in the process.

What Are The Pins?

The pins are rewards in heaven. Matthew 16:27 says, “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.” Now, we are not working for our salvation at all. All balls on the lane end up in the docking station with Jesus. But, everyone’s aim and success with the bumpers will not be the same. Some will knock down many pins, making a big difference for the kingdom of God and living a life characterized by sacrifice that will translate into big rewards in heaven.

In 1 Corinthians 3:14, we learn that “If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward.” Some, on the other hand, even with the bumpers will still hit the gutter. In 1 Corinthians 3:15, we hear that  “If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”

The Foul Line

Last but not least, the foul line is important in the game. Bowlers must stay behind the line when delivering their swing to keep the game safe and fair. Lanes are polished so that they are very slippery, so people can fall and get hurt. Also, the line acts as a neutral starting point so that no one player has an advantage. If someone does end up over the foul line, any points scored are forfeited. Satan is our adversary in this life. He is constantly trying to lure us over the foul line so that we can be hurt or deprived of our points. It is up to us to stay close to the Lord and well back from his line so that we may keep the rewards we have earned. Colossians 2:18 says, “Let no one cheat you of your reward…” 

A Final Thought About Judgement

Maybe, like me, you haven’t thought of bumper bowling in a very long time. It is kind of a weird comparison for the Christian walk, but it works. No matter what size ball we have been given, it’s up to us to use the bumpers to keep ourselves on the straight and narrow path and try to hit the pins that make a big difference for others and will reap rewards in heaven. Every single one of us will appear before the judgement seat of Christ. We must all give an account, and we all want to hear those words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” After all, pleasing Jesus is the very best prize we could win.

Do you like analogies? Try reading It’s Not the Machine That Makes Us Clean. It’s an article that compares a dishwasher to aspects of the Christian life. Or, try Born Again: All About That Butterfly Life. An article about being born again using the analogy of metamorphosis of caterpillar to butterfly. Or, Check out my YouTube Channel where I will read all my posts to you while you do something else.

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Standing on the Promises of God

This is the view from my desk in my classroom.
The view from my desk.

Just ask anybody: spiritual warfare is intensifying. The devil knows his time is short, and he is seeking to wear out the saints. Now, we know that greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world. We know that. But when an attack comes at us full force, it can help to have a plan of action ready to go. An incident I had this week in my classroom involving disappearing and moving objects taught me the very best way to combat the worry, stress, and confusion the devil tries to bring: standing on the promises of God.

I teach in a public high school. At the beginning of the school year, I consecrated my classroom to the Lord. I asked for His protection and peace. And, I took a stand against any enemy spirits that might have wandered in over the summer with the various cleaning crews that came and went. As a general practice, I pray over my classroom often. Any time there is any kind of incident or strife in my classroom, I anoint again with oil. 

Disappearing and Moving Papers

The incident happened on a regular Thursday during the last block of the day. I had two kids come in to make up a test for me while my regular eighth-period was having class. I have two versions of the test, one green and one blue. The girl finished her green test, and I grabbed the answer keys out of the drawer where I keep them. At first I started to use the blue one, but I realized her test was green, so I put the blue one back in my drawer. I graded her test and put it into the gradebook. I thought I put the green key in the drawer with the blue one. A few minutes later, the boy finished his blue test, so I went to grab the key out of the drawer. The drawer was empty. Neither key was inside.

I started looking everywhere. As a teacher with lots of papers and a lifestyle of constant multi-tasking, sometimes I stack papers and put them in places they shouldn’t be. I looked in all my drawers as well as the drawers for the graded work where I put the tests when I’m done grading them. No keys. Frustrated but still thinking there was a rational explanation, I contacted another teacher on my team and asked to use her keys to make new ones. She brought them over, and I hole punched a new set. All the while, I was alternating playing the audio book for the novel we are reading and discussing it with the kids in my eighth-period. 

I used my friend’s key to grade the boy’s blue test. Then I put her two keys in that same top drawer where I always keep my keys. I put my new ones on top (I still had to finish taping them.) Later, I went to get my friend’s keys out, and they were NOT in the drawer. I started my search of drawers once again. I found them in the drawer below along with another, smaller key that had been “floating” in my top drawer. Needless to say I was quite freaked out. Either I was losing track of my actions, or something or someone was messing with me. I was standing there the whole time. No kid could have snagged the keys from my desk, much less moved them from desk drawer to desk drawer. Something was going on.

Searching for Answers But Finding More Questions

I spent the whole drive home praying and asking God to show me what He wanted me to see. After all, nothing happens to His children without His say-so. Did I have an open door that needed to be addressed? Was He trying to teach me a lesson? Did my run-in with the mouthy girl during fifth-period allow permission for the enemy to attack me? Were her words of anger when she realized I called her parents somehow responsible, either directly or indirectly?

I didn’t get any answers on the drive. When I got home, I went to get into my pajamas like I always do, and I noticed that the two or three lights left in the chandelier in my bedroom were out. The room was completely dark. I didn’t think anything about it until I went to my bathroom and saw that two of the four lights in my bathroom were out as well. Now the darkness felt coordinated.

Requesting Prayer

So I put out some requests for advice and prayer. First, I talked to my pastor and his wife. They assured me that the missing keys problem was probably just a mistake in stacking that the enemy was using to cause confusion, self-doubt, and distress. They acknowledged the lights were probably a direct attack and prayed for me to have peace and protection. I also talked to several close Christian friends online who have had supernatural experiences involving objects being moved and removed. 

A brother in Christ told me about a mutual friend and sister in Christ who was having trouble with objects being taken out of other children’s backpacks and being placed into her daughter’s bag (to frame her for stealing). A sister told me about a time when she went to turn the light on in the basement, but it was out. On closer inspection, the bulbs were laying on the ground, fully intact, directly below the fixture. She had been alone in the house at the time. Another sister told me about a recent incident that involved brain fog and flickering lights. Both of them stopped after a warfare prayer.

The Solution Was to Stand

In any case, no matter if some entity had moved my papers or simply used mis-stacked papers to upset me, the burned bulbs and the feeling of confusion, stress, and worry pointed to a real attack. So, when I got to my prayer closet that night, I had a heartfelt talk with God. I told Him that I knew that I was His child and that I have authority over entities that would seek to torment me.

The Bible says that I don’t have to fear because He is with me, and I believe that He will strengthen me and uphold me with His righteous right hand. I trust Him to be my protection, and I was going to stand on those promises. I played the song “Standing on the Promises of God” and then read my passages in the Old and New Testaments right at my bookmarks like I always do. 

After I finished, I had the idea to read Psalm 37. There were the words from my prayer: “Trust in the Lord…does not forsake His saints…They are preserved forever, But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; He is their strength in the time of trouble. And the Lord shall help them and deliver them; He shall deliver them from the wicked, And save them, Because they trust in Him.” I fully believe that God uses His Word to speak to us just at the right time. I was encouraged and relieved. He had heard my prayer and confirmed my thoughts were from Him. Whatever had happened, He was in charge and on top of the whole situation.

He is With Us in Our Praise

Then a song popped into my mind to play before I left my closet. It’s my new favorite song and a song that praises and thanks God. “When I Think About the Lord” has the most amazing chorus: “Hallelujah, thank you Jesus. Lord You’re worthy of all the glory and all the honor, and all the praise. It makes me want to shout!” The Bible says that the Lord inhabits the praises of His people. When I worshipped the Lord, I could feel His presence with me. As I went to bed, I was not afraid, and I slept soundly until the next day. That next morning, I spent a few minutes re-sanctifying my classroom, and I had a super day.

Warfare is bound to happen, and as we get closer and closer to Jesus’ return, it will more than likely increase in scope and frequency. But when those attacks come, whether physical or mental, we must remember our position in Christ. The enemy is more powerful than we are, but he is nothing in the face of our God. So the next time you are under attack, remember to take authority in Jesus’ name, praise Him with your whole heart, and keep standing on the promises of God..

Check Out These Other Posts

If you like articles about spiritual warfare, try Spiritual Warfare: A Defeated Foe  in which God gives me a visual about the devil’s eventual demise. If you like more stories about school, try God Knows Even When You Don’t — So Pray in which prayers take care of a graffiti problem on campus.

Or, Check out my YouTube Channel where I will read all my posts to you while you do something else.

Articles for Encouragement

God Knows Even When You Don’t – So Pray!

Three public restroom stalls with green writing that says "Jesus Loves You" represents the place I prayed a prayer for a stranger only God knows.

As Christians, we pray every day. We just do. We pray for ourselves, our families, and our fellow Christians, as well as a variety of other people and situations that present themselves in our lives each day. God knows us and guides us, many times by those very prayers. So, when something happened at the school where I teach a couple of weeks ago that made me feel helpless in and of myself, I did the only thing I knew to do. I prayed. And that prayer made a difference for a stranger I may never know beyond the name I gave to her when I spoke to God: “Green Marker Girl.”

Disturbing Messages

I teach in a public high school in the DFW area. The school is well run, and the problems that come up on campus are dealt with swiftly in order to stop a snowball effect that can and does happen when discipline is ignored in schools. Restrooms are cleaned regularly, and stalls have always been kept pristine – until two weeks ago. It started with one stall in the girls’ restroom in my hall. The words were disgusting and written in green marker on the door of the stall I usually use. The next time I came in and used a different one, I noticed the same green writing. There was another dirty message about sexual activities done to a certain boy on campus. 

I called down to the office and left a message for the school secretary to have someone come upstairs and clean the walls. The four letter word used is pretty common to teens, but some of the other words this girl was writing might be “educating” some of the young freshmen who also use the facilities. The secretary was out, though, so nothing was done. By the next day, every stall I went into had green writing. After school, I talked to the night janitor myself. I specifically asked him to clean the stalls, and he did. 

No End in Sight

For a few hours the next day, the walls were clean and perfect once again. And then they weren’t. Green Marker Girl had struck again. This time, the writing came with smears of bodily fluids and messages of activities done there producing said mess. I was disgusted and distraught. Cleaning the stalls didn’t work. Cameras are not allowed inside the restrooms for good reason, and the cameras in the hall itself wouldn’t help catch someone who could come in with the marker hidden in a purse or backpack. There was really no way to stop this girl from writing on every stall, every day.

And then I thought a little more about Green Marker Girl herself. What must this girl’s life be like that she felt the need to do this? What demons must she have to prompt her to act out in a way that was so beyond normal behavior even for troubled teens? I had no idea who she was or even how to help, but God knows. So I prayed for her.

Prayers Make The Difference

I prayed for her to feel conviction, that God would impress upon her how wrong it was for her to be putting messages where other girls could be tainted by perversion. I also prayed that God would allow her to feel His love and peace, that she would know and understand that God loved her. Even if her situation was rough, I prayed she would think to turn to Him for comfort instead of acting out in such a way. Every time I came into the restroom, I would think of her and pray. The janitor cleaned the writing again that night. And then the writing stopped.

The stalls in my hall’s restroom have been graffiti-free this whole past week, but my prayers have continued. I keep praying for Green Marker Girl to know and feel the love of Jesus and for God to send people into her life to lead her closer to Him. I even pray that one day I might meet her as a sister in Christ in eternity.

We Are Never Helpless

Psalm 121 says that we should lift our eyes and look to the Lord for our help. He is the Maker of heaven and earth, and He is also actively involved in our lives. My personal prayer each and every day I walk into the school is for God to see me as one of His “guys on the ground” on my campus. Just like in Acts 18:10 when God told Paul that He had “many people in the city,” God knows where His people are, and I want Him to consider using me when He sees a need at my school. I want Him to send people and situations my way so I that can help others and bring glory to Him. 

We don’t have to know all the details in a given situation. Names are not important to a God who knows everything. We just have to pray to be in the right place at the right time for God to use us and to keep lifting people up to Him. We are never helpless. He is our help. And He can and does move on behalf of our prayers.

Interested in more articles about prayer? Check out Make God’s Will My Will: A New Way to Pray. It’s a “God wink” story that teaches a new way to pray to get what you want. Or, see God Answered the Prayer I Did Not Pray. In it, God teaches me a lesson about leaning on Him for strength.

Like to read more from Evangelical Christian sisters who “tell it messy, true, and wonderful because we are His”? Check out Telling Hearts.

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More of You, Less of Me: Let Me Be an NPC

Last week, I published a blog on The Mandela Effect and the Character of God. I got lots of comments on social media as well as on my YouTube channel where I read the blogs for people who like to listen while they do other things. One person on my video simply commented “NPC.” Unfamiliar with the acronym, I looked it up on the online urban dictionary. The definition hit me pretty hard. But what the man with the skull avatar meant as an insult to me has become my new fervent prayer: “More of you, less of me. Lord, let me be an NPC.”

What Is An “NPC”?

NPC is short for “non-player character.” It’s video game language for any character that is not controlled by an actual human player. Also called a “bot,” an NPC is like an “extra” in a movie. It responds to actions or dialogue from real players with a predetermined script. In the context of the Mandela Effect, in which some say that we are actually only participating in a simulated reality, NPCs are those people who cannot think objectively but simply repeat programmed “opinions.” It was a favorite insult on Twitter in 2018 when pro-Trump supporters put cartoon faces over the tops of news anchors who spouted liberal talking points.

The Implications

When I realized what the man was saying, I immediately understood two things. First, he was insulting me for not thinking for myself.  Second, in the context of who I am in Christ, I could take this as a great compliment. My article was about having faith that God is who the Bible says He is. Even more, it was about refusing to accept that He would act in a way contrary to that. I was repeating the truth of the Bible without deviating or stopping to entertain any possibilities apart from it.

In essence, I was refusing to think outside the biblical “box.” And I was encouraging others to do the same. It was an “aha” moment of sorts as I processed through the idea that my commitment to the Truth of the Bible meant that I didn’t want to think “for myself.” But no sooner had I patted myself on the back for being just an empty vessel, the Lord showed me that I’m not quite there just yet.

Not There Yet

That night was a Wednesday. As I drove to church for evening services, the song “Nobody” by Casting Crowns and Matthew West came on the radio. The lyrics go, “I’m just a nobody trying to tell everybody about somebody who saved my soul…I’m living for the world to see nobody but Jesus.” Yes! I thought. I’m a nobody, a nameless Christian just believing what the Bible says and living the way God commands us to do. But God loves to use both irony and foreshadowing, and 1 Corinthians 10:12 pretty much sums up what happened next: “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.”

It was about 20 minutes later during the service when an idea popped into my head to do something in worship that sounded incredibly embarrassing. The song leader was wrapping up the last song, and I knew I only had a couple of minutes to decide if I was going to do it or not. So the arguments started in my mind. Surely it can’t be God leading me to worship in a way that was outside my comfort zone. Maybe it’s just the devil trying to embarrass me. Maybe it’s simply a meaningless wild hair. If it is God, I want to submit, but why would God want me to do that? I was still arguing when the song ended and the pastor started his sermon.

Lesson Learned

The sermon was about Exodus 33:18 in which Moses, after receiving an answer to his prayer and a great compliment from God, didn’t just say “Thank you.” He asked to see God’s glory. He wanted more of God. But how many times do we just want what we want? We think God might be asking us to do something, but we misunderstand – or worse, refuse to submit to Him. Then another thought popped into my head: maybe I wasn’t such an empty vessel after all. I still had a ways to go before I was an NPC, simply speaking truth and responding without thought to the Master’s wishes. There were still way too many of my own thoughts, desires, and opinions rolling around up there. There was still way too much of me and not nearly enough of Him.

My New Prayer

So I prayed, “More of You, less of me. Lord, let me be an NPC.” I want to believe God and speak and act in a way that the Bible tells us to do. I want to die to self and live for God, responding without question when I believe it might be God doing the asking. Of course, we must always test the spirits. God will never suggest things that go against scripture. But sometimes He might want us to do things we don’t understand, things that might even cause us personal discomfort. But NPCs don’t get embarrassed or offended. They simply do what they are programmed to do without thought or argument. And that’s the way I want to be. 

Interested in more articles about prayer? Check out Make Mine Yours. It’s a “God wink” story that teaches a new way to pray to get what you want. Or, see Hope for Lost Loved Ones: God’s Mercy In Trials in which God teaches me a new way to pray for lost loved ones.

Articles for Edification

The Mandela Effect and the Character of God

A lion and lamb basking in the sun represents the argument that the Mandela Effect changed the Bible from "lion will lie down with the lamb" to "wolf will lie down with the lamb."

God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He doesn’t change. But there is a whole group of Christians out there right now who are convinced that the Bible does. They are calling it the Mandela Effect and are attributing the changes to a variety of possibilities. Some believe in multiple realities and a slide of consciousness from one to the next. Some say that it is the work of CERN, the great Hadron Collider, and a break through to a “mirror universe.” Others just believe the world is like a “holodeck” (to use a word from Star Trek) or a “matrix” (like the movie with the same name) with a glitch. Still others say it’s time travel or magic from the devil. Whatever the explanation, these Christians are sure that it is happening. And, they are slamming their Bibles shut in protest, claiming a “famine of the word of God.” But while these Christians will bring piece after piece of so-called “evidence” of the Bible’s “changes,” they are all ignoring one very important problem with any and all of these theories: the character of God.

What Is The Mandela Effect?

Fionna Broome coined the term “Mandela Effect” in 2009. It describes large groups of people all clearly remembering events that never happened. The name comes from a situation with political activist Nelson Mandela. While history records that he died in 2013, many people remember him dying in prison in the 1980’s. In fact, when comparing these false memories, Broome noticed there were similar details of the supposed funeral and a speech that his “widow” made.

But Mandela’s double funeral was just the beginning. As soon as people started hearing about the phenomenon, all of a sudden there were lots of examples. There were tons of tiny details that people were remembering very clearly one way but were finding out that they were not that way at all. The supposed changes involve characters and lines in movies, the spelling of names, and even the location of countries on the map. Whole groups of people remembered things that were simply not in historical evidence.

But the spelling of Berenstain Bears (versus Berenstein Bears) and the silver color of C-3PO’s leg (versus the all-gold version people remember) are minor compared to the “changes” people started to find in the Bible. The most famous one is Isaiah 11:6, “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb…” (versus the lion and the lamb people remember, probably from the fact that Jesus is both the Lion and the Lamb). But there are also questions with the words “bottles” (used in the KJV when people remembered “wineskins” which is used in the NKJV and other versions) and “stuff” (which people argued was not a word in use at the time the Bible was written but was actually in the Oxford Dictionary as early as the 1400s.) 

Malevolent Bible Changes

Worse than that, people started finding words that they claim point to a new perversion in the Bible. For example, a website proclaiming supposed Bible changes said that the Bible is now condoning homosexuality. They cite the following verse. “Two women will be grinding together: the one will be taken and the other left.” They say that it USED to say “Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left.” As you will know if you search for these scriptures, the first one is actually Luke 17:35 and the second one is Matthew 24:41. They are BOTH in the Bible (and always have been). The gospel writers just chose a little bit different words to describe the same scenario.

Ridiculously enough, I also found a site that claims that the Bible now promotes the transgender agenda. It cites verses such as Isaiah 49:23 in the KJV. “And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers…” Now, as we all know, basic Bible learning is known as “milk.” Mature, deeper learning is known as “meat.” Is it so amazing that the King James Bible would use a metaphor here? John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible interprets the verse just that way. It says that Christian kings and queens would come “who feed the church with the milk of the word, and the breasts of ordinances.”

A Spiritual “Pull”

If you start to research this, first of all, please cover yourself with prayers of protection against deception. There is a real spiritual “pull” there that tells me that this whole idea comes straight from the enemy. Secondly, you will see terms like “the newest changes” as if this is some kind of ongoing project to rearrange and replace words throughout the Bible. You will also see verses you know, love, and remember, and claims that they have always read a completely different way than you know they have. It’s a frenzy; it’s a blindness. Once people believe this lie, they stop trusting everything in the Word of God. It leads people to paranoia, distress, and lack of faith in the things of God.

The Character of God

Put aside for a moment that the theories of “quantum pollution” and parallel universes are farfetched and like something straight out of science fiction. Ignore that people’s memories are fallible and susceptible to suggestion. Never mind that internet search engines and available information can be tampered with and pounding people’s brains with false information from memes, t-shirts, and broadcasts can make a big difference in how they remember things. Forget how different Bible versions and slightly different wording in different chapters can cause confusion. Dismiss people’s tendency to paraphrase when they can’t remember the exact words to a verse and the even greater tendency to repeat what people say, handing down verses and prayers in an oral tradition, instead of checking what the Bible actually reads. Discount all of these great explanations for why people are misremembering what the Bible says, and you are still left with the greatest problem with this theory: the character of God simply would not allow for His Word to be changed.

Is God Weak?

2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.” 1 Peter 1:25 says that “the word of the Lord endures forever.” Hebrews 4:12 says that the “word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to the dividing of soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” John 10:35 says that “scripture cannot be set aside.” If the Bible is God-breathed, enduring forever, alive and active, and cannot be set aside, is God too weak to protect His Word and His own reputation for Truth? God forbid! The God who created the universe and calls the stars by name is well able to protect His own words. He is not at the mercy of quantum physics or the devil’s wiles. He is in control.

Is God Careless?

Ephesians 6:17 tells us that the sword of the spirit is the Word of God. We are in a battle. Most of the full armor of God is defensive, but the sword is the one offensive weapon that God gives us to fight the enemy. When Jesus was tempted by the devil in the wilderness, He fought using the Word. He used Deuteronomy 8:3, Deuteronomy 6:16, and Deuteronomy 6:13 to withstand the enemy, and the enemy had to leave. It is the same with us today.

As believers, we stand on the promises God made in His word. We resist the devil, and he has to flee. Does God care so little about His children that He would allow someone or something to sabotage our weapon? Would He allow the very words that will vanquish the enemy to be changed little by little? God forbid! 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 says, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strong holds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God…”  

A Great Deception

It is the strangest thing talking to people who believe this great deception. The people simply refuse to answer the question as to why God would allow His word to be corrupted. When talking to someone on YouTube about the phenomenon, I commented that people should be very careful what they lend their ears to because to “and to you who hear, more will be given.” The person’s comment was that I didn’t even know the Bible. The actual verse read “for whoever has, to him more will be given.” But he was correcting me to Matthew 13:12 while I was quoting Mark 4:24

Likewise, people comment that the Bible warns about the Mandela Effect when it says that in the last days, there will be a famine of the word of God. But that isn’t what Amos 8:11 actually says. It says there will be a famine for HEARING the words of the Lord. These people are so worried about the Bible being changed by nefarious sources that they have stopped reading their Bibles altogether and are relying solely on what they remember. This absolutely contradicts what the Bible tells us to do. Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding.”

Romans 10:17 says, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.”  Ephesians 5:26 talks about the “washing of water by the word.” Psalm 119:11 says, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” Besides being a sword to fight the enemy, faith, guidance, cleanliness, and protection from sin are just the start of the massive benefits to daily Bible reading. But when people start to question the Word of God, they are questioning the character of God as well. Those who say the Bible has been changed are falling into a trap of the enemy. They no longer trust God or His Word.

The Final Trilemma

CS Lewis popularized the “trilemma argument.” The argument goes that when you add up the things that Jesus Christ said and did when He was on earth, it was not possible that He was just a “nice man” or a “good teacher.” He either had to be a liar, deceiving others for His own gain, a lunatic, himself deceived into believing He was a deity, or Lord, God in the flesh. Given recorded history, there is no other alternative. I believe the same kind of trilemma exists with the so-called Mandela Effect and the character of God. Either God is weak, unable to protect His Word from the haphazard changes of the universe, He is careless, leaving His people vulnerable to fight the enemy with a defective weapon, or He is well able to protect both His people and His Word.

If you like articles heavy on scripture, try God’s Like Button: How to Know God Is Pleased. In it, we explore the scriptures that show what pleases God and the tangible evidence of His pleasure. Like to read more from Evangelical Christian sisters who “tell it messy, true, and wonderful because we are His”? Check out Telling Hearts.

Articles for Edification

Are You Offering Your Sacrifice of Praise?

A girl lifting her arms in the sacrifice of praise.

God’s Old Covenant with the Jewish people worked on a system of sacrifice. People would gather their goods, and the priests would offer them to God at certain times each day or on special occasions. The sin sacrifice was a type and shadow of the New Covenant when Jesus Christ would become our one-time sacrifice for all sin. But what about all the other types of sacrifices? And with no Levitical line, who is supposed to be offering them up to God each day? 1 Peter 2:9 says that the priests are you and me. As such, we have a very specific task each day: to offer the sacrifice of praise.

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

1 Peter 2:9

A Perfect Sacrifice

Old Testament offerings had to be spotless and without blemish. The Israelites couldn’t expect to please God by sacrificing lame animals or blighted grain. Everything had to be perfect and done with a heart that was devoted to God. In this way, it produced the “sweet aroma” that God was looking for. God could, and often did, reject offerings that were not perfect or that were given by hearts that were far from Him. That same concept is in action with believers today as we see that all the types of sacrifices have New Covenant counterparts.

Sin Offering

Without the shedding of blood, there will be no remission of sins. Jesus was and is forevermore our only offering for sins. He was sacrificed outside the camp on a tree just like the Israelites sacrificed animals and then took them outside the camp to burn the bodies on wood. Jesus paid the price of sin with His blood and sealed the New Covenant. Now, God can forgive you and me.

Burnt Offerings

Burnt offerings were meant to be totally burned up on the altar to God. They could be oxen, sheep, goats, or even turtledoves or pigeons. In every case, though, they were to be without blemish and burned completely.

As children of God, this represents our total dedication to God. Romans 12:1-2 says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”

Grain Offering

Since there was no blood involved, the grain offerings were always done along with the burnt offerings. These consisted of flour and oil, making a type of “bread.” When burned on the altar, it was to be mixed with Frankincense (an incense) that was burned with it. Finally, salt was to be present with every offering. Salt is a preservative and can endure very high heat.

The Word of God is our spiritual food, or bread. When read with the help of the Holy Spirit (symbolized by oil), this is an essential part of our worship every day. Another part of our worship is prayer. Revelation 5:8 says are our prayers are as incense to God. As believers, we are to be salt and light. We preserve the ways of God and withstand suffering that comes with naming the name of Jesus.

Peace Offering

Peace offerings were to be to be added on top of the burnt offering and grain offering. They were eaten by both the priests and the people presenting the offering to symbolize the unity of God’s people.

Romans 12:18 says “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” Hebrews 12:14 says, “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.” We are to strive for peace, especially with our brethren, and live in unity with them when it is possible.

Trespass Offering

Unlike the sin offering which covered the Adamic nature and sins done in ignorance, the trespass offering was to be made when there was a specific law broken. It came with restitution for any party harmed in the process. Not only would someone have to sacrifice an animal for stealing, for example, but the victim would be entitled to compensation for the crime.

Now as then, when we trespass against God, we must not only repent to God, but we must make things right with those we have harmed. Sin has consequences. Some of them are spiritual and can be forgiven with genuine repentance made possible by the blood sacrifice of Jesus. But some also need remedy in the natural. When we harm others, we must seek to restore the damage we have done.

The Sacrifice of Praise.

Jeremiah 17:26 speaks of bringing a sacrifice of praise, and Hebrews 13:15 seals the deal: 

Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.”

Hebrews 13:15

Sacrifice means there is a cost. The Israelites had to give up valuable animals and grains to be right with God. Today, God asks only for our time and attention. But in our busy society of work and family obligations, not to mention the constant draw of entertainment and social media, pulling ourselves away to spend time wholeheartedly praising God can feel very much like a sacrifice. 

But is reading the Bible and praying every day and going to church each week enough? Is God still pleased when we sit in church thinking about work or skim the Bible quickly to get to the sweet sleep that seemed to elude us the night before? Are our offerings without blemish, or are they the equivalent of a lame bull or a sick lamb? Does God get the best of us, or do we find ourselves giving God “what’s left”?

Likewise, do we always praise God even when things aren’t going well in our lives? While it might be easy to praise Him in the good times, are we so quick to praise when we are sick, tired, hurt, or broke?

God Deserves Our Best

God has been so good to His children. He sacrificed His own life to pay the penalty for our sin. He goes before us, He fights for us, He provides for us, and He loves us. Every day, He deserves our time and attention. Every day He deserves our praise. Not just when we feel like it. Not just when things are good. And, not just in our minds, but with our lips, we must praise him “continually.”

We can sing songs in the car or around the house or in our prayer closet or at church. We can speak of Him to others at work, with our families, or while we are out and about. And, of course, we can pray out loud in the wonder and joy that we are His children and He is our God. Praising God gets the focus off ourselves and onto Him. It leads us into more humility as we realize how small we are comparison to One so great. It also brings us peace in knowing that our great God holds us in the palm of His hand.

In Psalm 34:1, David said, “I will bless the Lord at all times: His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Praise is our sacrifice to God, and it is up to us to make sure it is “perfect” by praising Him from a heart and mind that are fully focused on Him. In every situation,we must thank and exalt Him, for He is worthy.

If you like analogies, try It’s Not the Machine That Makes Us Clean. In it, we see that neither dishes nor Christians get clean without the washing of the Water. Or, try Message in the Moisturizer: We Can Choose Change . It is an object lesson about changing for the better. Like to read more from Evangelical Christian sisters who “tell it messy, true, and wonderful because we are His”? Check out Telling Hearts.

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Suicide, a Teen, and a Priest on a Plane

Suicide is a rough topic. When it happens, it’s horrific. But even more often than people do it, they think about it. Some just toy with the idea, and some go as far as planning it out. Some really believe they want to die. Others just want people to pay attention to them long enough to make them want to live. When I was a teenager, the thought occurred to me more than once. When I confided in a stranger on a plane, he spoke the words that I have kept with me all these years. It’s a testimony and a message of hope for anyone struggling with the idea of suicide today.

My Situation as a Teen

From the time I was 12, I lived in Texas with my dad and step-mom.  Every summer and Christmas break, I would fly to Minnesota to spend time with my mom and step-dad and brother and sister. It was on one of those trips when I was about 16 that I found myself seated next to a priest. Well, he might have been a priest. He could have been a minister or a pastor. I just remember he wore a collar. Given the nearly three hour flight, we started talking, and for some reason, I opened up. I told him that I had recurring thoughts of suicide. 

I was an emotional kid who loved to write. For hours, I would sit in my bedroom and read or write poetry. Some of my poetry was pretty sad and dark. I was a believer, but I hadn’t given my whole life to Jesus yet, so I think that’s the way I processed my world. Anyway, as those sad thoughts were rolling around in my head and spilling out onto the page, the background music was 80’s hair band ballads. If you’re not familiar with the genre, they are basically slow songs done by heavy metal artists. Poison, Skid Row, Warrant, Tesla – songs of lost love and teen angst sung to a soulful, heavy guitar riff with pounding drum interludes. It was all very dramatic. So the thoughts came in.

Words I Won’t Forget

I don’t know why I shared those thoughts with my airplane seatmate, though. I certainly would never have told my own priest at the Greek Orthodox church I attended at the time. Maybe it is the same reason people put personal information online today. There is that little bit of anonymity that makes it okay to share your deepest secrets with a willing ear knowing that your family, your boss, and your friends in real life will never know. Anyway, after I finished talking, the man in the collar looked at me for a second, and then hit me with the words I will never forget.

You must be pretty important to God’s plan for Satan to work so hard to get rid of you.

Boom. Now, don’t take these words the wrong way. I don’t think I’m some big shot for God or anything. But the guy did have a point. Satan is a real adversary. He prowls about seeking whom he may devour. He was putting thoughts in my head that would take me off the path God had set for me and into the pits where he, himself, is headed. The enemy wanted me dead because I matter to God.

Comfort for Me and You

The words gave me comfort that I was important and hope that I had a future that was worth living for. To this day, I don’t really know if the guy on that plane was actually an angel, a good man of God, or just a guy who wanted me to shut up so he could sleep. What I do know, however, is that the message has stuck with me all these years. It’s something I held in my heart any time that the enemy tried those deadly whispers. And it’s something I now say to anyone who brings up the topic of suicide within my hearing today. 

If you are (or someone you know is) experiencing thoughts about suicide, you, too, are a target of the enemy. And you, too, are important to God and His plan. Satan has tipped his hand, and now you see all of his cards. He doesn’t win. He can’t win. So, fight knowing that Jesus has the victory, and rest knowing that you are loved.

Interested in another article about healing? Check out A Testimony of Healing After a Prayer in Faith. Or, try The Cure for Depression: Jesus is My Medicine, my testimony about how God healed me of depression and anxiety.

Like to read more from Evangelical Christian sisters who “tell it messy, true, and wonderful because we are His”? Check out Telling Hearts.

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God’s Chastening: Be a Martha, Not a Mary

Martha was upset when Mary wouldn't help her serve Jesus and His followers.

Most Christians are familiar with the scene in Luke 10:38-42 in which two sisters welcome Jesus into their home. Ever the hostess, Martha is busy cooking and cleaning for Jesus and His followers. She is working for her Master. Her sister Mary, on the other hand, chooses to spend her time sitting at Jesus’ feet. She is worshipping her Master. Most people read this as a story about priorities, and it is. But the events that happen next are often overlooked. It is there that we learn an even deeper lesson about God’s chastening and uncover which sister is really the better role model for believers today.

The Original Lesson

In that first scene in Luke 10, Martha is upset. She is working hard to accomplish the earthly tasks set before her. For years, I could relate a lot more to Martha than to Mary here. After all, day to day things have to be done; there is no getting around them. When more people help, it lessens the burden on the rest. But then as my own relationship with Jesus was strengthened, I realized that Mary was the smart one after all.

She had Jesus right there in her very own house. What other thing could possibly be more important than sitting at His feet and soaking up everything she possibly could? So, when Martha complains to Jesus that Mary isn’t helping her, Jesus chides her for her stress and lets her know that Mary is actually the one who is doing the right thing. She has “chosen the better part,” and He will not take that away from her.

The Next Scene

Fast forward to the next scene in John 11. Martha and Mary’s brother Lazarus has died.  As friends of the Messiah, they had sent for Him when their brother was ill, hoping that He could come to heal him. But Jesus had purposefully stayed away an extra two days in order to show the great miracle of resurrecting Lazarus from the dead. When He gets to their town of Bethany, Mary and Martha have a house full of people who were there to comfort them. It is the next verse that speaks volumes about the kind of servants the two sisters really were and gives a great lesson for us to learn.

Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house.”

John 11:20

The Sisters’ Reactions

God corrects His children. That’s how we know that we are His and He loves us. When Jesus chided Martha in that first scene, she probably felt embarrassed and remorseful. (I know that feeling all too well, don’t you?) After all, she was doing her best to serve her Master. She had missed the mark, and Jesus corrected her. The Bible doesn’t say what happened next, but I imagine her taking off her apron at that very moment and using it to dab a tear trickling out of one eye as she sat down on His other side. He had chastened her, and she had to repent. But, after her brother died, and she heard Jesus was coming to town, she ran to meet Him.

Mary, on the other hand, “sat still in the house.” When she heard Jesus was coming to town after her brother was already dead, she didn’t make a move to greet Him. Was she upset? Was she wondering how Jesus could have possibly let her down after she had been so devoted to Him? She had sat for hours listening, and later, she was the one who anointed His feet with ointment and wiped her tears with her hair. She was a great and devoted follower who prioritized time with Him over all other things, but when something happened in her life that she didn’t understand, she refused to run to Him. Maybe she even took offense. 

It’s The End That Matters

In the Bible, it is never the beginning of thing that matters; it is always the end. Someone who starts as a great servant can fall away. Someone who gets it wrong but repents at God’s chastening can be restored. Now, despite her momentary hurt, Mary still belonged to Jesus. She came when Martha told her that He was calling for her. And, I’m sure when realized that Jesus was there to resurrect her brother, she probably repented of her earlier actions and apologized for doubting Him. I have been there too.

In fact, I don’t know about you, but I feel like at different times in my life, I have been both sisters at all points in this story. There are times when I’m the devoted one, forsaking everything just to sit at His feet. And there are times when I’m too busy serving Him to spend time with Him. Sometimes, I’m the one who runs to Him. And there have been times, to my shame, that I’m the one who has to repent for wondering how He could “let me down” in a time of need.

The Takeaway

In John 11:5, the Bible says that Jesus loved both of the sisters, but it mentions Martha by name. She listened to His correction and ran to Him in love. As Christians, we will all endure God’s chastening. It is in those times that, like Martha, we must repent and run to Him with our whole hearts, never taking offense when we don’t understand His ways. After all, He has our best interest at heart.

If you to look closely at scripture, try Three Simple Instructions From God to Us. In it, we look at Hebrews 3-4. Or, try Twinkly Trash: A Closer Look at Job 28. Like to read more from Evangelical Christian sisters who “tell it messy, true, and wonderful because we are His”? Check out Telling Hearts.