Tag Archives: God

Finding Center in Life’s Turbulence

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I’m so pleased to share with you the following story from guest-blogger Kristen Hogrefe. I’ve done a lot of traveling lately, and I can certainly relate to her message! Be sure to check out Kristen’s site for more faith-filled encouragement.


In my recent travel adventures, I noticed the flight crew now refers to “turbulence” as “rough air.” I’m not sure why. “Rough air” sounds no less pleasant. Regardless of how we spin it, turbulence remains a reality for air travel and, honestly, for life in general.

Sometimes, we don’t even have to be in the air to experience it. My last travel experience involved being grounded in a plane for two hours before the airline allowed us to disembark (due to weather).

As I waited in the crowded plane, just ready to be home, I felt a rising frustration at my helplessness. I closed my eyes and tried to pray, but my emotions were less than Psalm 23 worthy.

I typically can find the positive in the negative. This is a first-world problem. At least the AC is working, and you’re sitting next to your best friend. But despite all these happy thoughts, an unrest clung to my spirit like gum to a shoe. Have you ever felt that way?

In the grand scheme, this was just an inconvenience that taxed my tired travel nerves. However, God used this low moment in my life to remind me that circumstances shouldn’t control my emotions but that He should be my unshakable center.

Real-life rough patches

Compared to the Apostle Paul’s life, my little travel drama was like dust on a sleeve. In 2 Corinthians 11, he recorded his sufferings for Christ that range from stoning, shipwreck, beatings, imprisonments, and worse.

At first, I’m tempted to think, Yes, but Paul was a super Christian. I’ll never be at his level.

Yet he himself told us the very opposite. “Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation?” (2 Corinthians 11:29 NKJV)

In other words, he had his times of weakness. He became tired and frustrated, just like we do, but here’s the difference: He didn’t let those emotions control him.

In another letter, he gave this testimony:

“Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11-13)

The solution isn’t to deny the emotions we feel, whether mere frustration or genuine pain from heart-breaking circumstances. The solution is to cling to the unmovable Rock of our faith, Jesus Christ, during them.

Calm in turbulence

We know that our center can’t be ourselves, but there’s a real difference between knowing and applying.

Back to my travel confession. I was trying to distract myself with prayer instead of actually praying. I attempted to pray for other people when I myself needed the Holy Spirit’s work in my own life first. No wonder I felt ineffective and gave up.

Instead, I should have confessed the words of that old song: It’s me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer. Next time, I need to try this biblical approach:

  1. Bring my thoughts captive to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). I shouldn’t sugar-coat my feelings and thoughts but be honest with Jesus. He already knows anyway, so why pretend?
  2. Ask for his will to be at work in my circumstance and for his peace to calm my heart (Philippians 4:6-7).
  3. Focus my mind on what is good and lovely (Philippians 4:8-9).

I don’t know what challenges you’re facing today, but God does. Whether big or small, God cares and wants you to bring them to him.

Maybe next time life gets turbulent, we can pray something like this: Dear Lord, I feel _____________, and I want to give this emotion to you. Please replace it with your peace and calm. You know the circumstance I’m facing: _________________. Please bring your Word to my mind so that I focus on what’s good and true. Help me trust you to work even this out for good.

When have you struggled to find center, and have you experienced God’s peace when you’ve been honest with Him?

Sing Like the Stars

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This year, Robby’s grandmother turned 97 years old. I really wanted to give her a meaningful gift to help celebrate the big occasion, but what do you get someone who’s lived for nearly a century? All the usual gifts were either too techy or duplicates of what she already had (and how many blankets can one woman really use?).

That’s when I remembered that her first name, Esther, means “star”—and I knew instantly what to give her!

 

A Surprise Symphony

Several years ago, David Hull, my professor at the Bible college, played some CDs for us before class. Several sounded modern, with unique beats and rhythms. Others sounded like choirs or angels singing. Then David told us what we were listening to: space!

He was playing Symphonies of the Planets, a compilation of audio recordings from NASA’s Voyagers I and II. As these automated space probes made their journeys through our solar system, they recorded vibrations around Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus. The recordings included:

  • The interaction of solar wind on the planets’ magnetospheres, which releases ionic particles with an audible vibration frequency
  • Waves from the magnetosphere
  • Trapped audio waves bouncing between the planets and their atmospheres
  • Electromagnetic field noise in space
  • Charged particle interactions between each planet, its moons, and solar wind
  • Waves from charged particle emissions from the rings of some planets

These recordings were later translated into sound waves that were included in the Symphonies of the Planets. Although the CDs don’t contain the full raw data, they are compilations of what the Voyagers recorded, arranged in a musical form. Unfortunately, these CDs are no longer being produced, but you can listen to them on YouTube.

And that’s what we did for Grandma King’s birthday. I found a YouTube channel on my phone and turned the sound up, and Grandma King heard something she had never heard before: the sound of the planets singing.

 

An Unexpected Praise

The word for “star” in the Old Testament is kokab (Strong’s 3556). It gives the sense of something round, blazing, and shining. Since planets reflect the sun’s light and can often be seen in the night sky, they are usually included in biblical references to “stars.”

And what exactly what does the Bible say about stars?

  • They praise God: “Praise Him, sun and moon; Praise Him, all stars of light!” (Psalm 148:3 NAS).
  • They sing: “Where were you when…the morning stars sang together…” (God speaking, Job 38:4-7 NAS).
  • They have names: “[God] counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them” (Psalm 147:4 NAS).
  • They’re unique: “There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory” (1 Corinthians 15:41 NAS).

Isn’t it amazing to think that celestial bodies worship God?

A Higher Praise

We often think that worship is something we do in church before the pastor delivers his weekly sermon. But the praise music of stars reminds us that worship is more innate than that.

If we love God and live for Him, everything we do can be considered worship, from cooking dinner to doing the dishes, and from working in an office to raising the kids. Simply doing what we’re supposed to be doing—being obedient to God—is worship.

As human beings, we have the capacity to decide whether to live for God or not. For that reason, our worship is considered the sweetest and most precious out of all of God’s creation…even the celestial bodies! This week, I encourage you to remember the value of daily worship, of living each day for God’s glory. Then your life will sing like the stars!

[Click to Tweet: Worship isn’t just for Sunday mornings. As believers, being obedient to God in our daily lives is worship.]

 


I wrote the following poem many years ago. Though I don’t consider myself a poet, it seemed fitting to share this with you here. May it bless you this week!

 

Merely Mirrors

How can one make the sun more luminous
Or lend beauty to a plucked wildflower?
Can one add joy to a child’s laughter
Or make the lion more regal?

No, we cannot add to a mountain’s breadth
Or to the calm in the eye of the storm.
The earth is already adorned;
Its daedal posts hold fast.

What good are we, then,
The not-so-innocent bystanders?
Indeed, we find ourselves interlopers,
Bombarding onto an open set.

Still, He says we are formed in His image,
But not to add to His glory.
Our part is to continue the scene—His story—
As merely mirrors, reflecting His beauty and grace.

God doesn’t give you more than you can handle…or does He?

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This week’s post was first published on KristenHogrefe.com. Take a look at her site for more encouraging posts, award-winning Christian fiction, and more!


“God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” I’ve heard this saying all my life, always from well-meaning Christians.

But there have been plenty of times when I just couldn’t “handle.” After my grandmother passed away, I couldn’t handle the grief, and depression set in for two years. Later on, my body couldn’t handle what I was eating and the stress I was under, and I suffered with physical pain for several years. During those periods, hearing that God hadn’t actually given me more than I could handle felt disingenuous. What’s more, it added to my frustration and self-condemnation.

So let me give it to you straight: yes, God may give you more than you can handle.

You are human, after all, and human beings are fallible creatures. You will make mistakes. You may suffer from illness or grief. You may be called into a family role or ministry that is far more than you can do on your own. At some point, you’ll feel like you’re drowning.

But that doesn’t mean your “failing” at being a Christian.

In fact, that over-your-head feeling is all part of God’s plan to make you understand and accept your reliance on Him…

Like the Jews had to do in the wilderness

Like Noah had to do when he built a boat unlike any other

Like Jonah when he was sent somewhere he didn’t want to go

Like Paul when he shared the Gospel to the Gentiles for the first time.

The good news—no, the great news—is that you don’t walk through life alone. As a follower of Jesus, you have His ultimate protection over your life, and the Holy Spirit as your inner guide. Whenever you’re feeling lost or overwhelmed, remember that God is in control. The journey may not be comfortable, and you may not end up where you wanted to go, but God is with you, and He has good plans for you. (See Jeremiah 29:11.)

I’m speaking from experience here. During my times of grief and illness, I relied on God completely. He was my Comforter, Protector, and Guide. And in the end, it was He who healed me and made me whole.

When you’re going through a rough patch, don’t rely on platitudes. Instead, claim powerful verses like these as your own, reading them out loud to encourage your spirit:

“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Jesus speaking, Matthew 11:29 NAS).

 “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4 NAS).

“We would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope” (2 Corinthians 1:8-10 NAS). 

“The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23 NAS) 

Platitudes may sound nice, but the Word of God is powerful. Let His Truth give you comfort and guidance in every season of life.

Have you ever needed a word of truth, only to receive an empty platitude? How did it make you feel? Does that experience encourage you to speak truth into the lives of your loved ones?

[Click to Tweet: Feeling overwhelmed? It may be God calling you to accept your reliance on Him. #bigsisterknows #faithlife #godisincontrol]