Posts Tagged: god

God I Did Not Form

A God I Did Not Form

Turning the Page On Suicide: A God I Did Not Form

A God I Did Not Form
My energy is all spent up
on belief in a God Invisible.
I die in this furnace of pride, while
Pagans laugh at you. All because I did not
shape you into what is acceptable.  This
God who claims to be the sole
provider of all things good in
my life. A slave who should
bow down to idols rather than
kneel in prayer—alone— in awe of you,
while the whole world pushes there
shiny gods on me.

Look up, child.

While flames lick around this
fragile form, you take my hand
in your callused carpenter hands
and hold me in the head-turning unexpected.
I sing, Holy, Holy, Holy when my faith should be singed
in the smoke of my humanness,
because you are not a God
I forged with my own hands.

 

If the God whom we serve exists, then He is able to deliver us from the blazing fiery furnace and from your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden statue you have set up.” (Daniel 3:17-18 BSB).

Turning Your Page:

The book of Daniel has always been one of my greatest fascinations. How do children, taken captive by a cruel king, cultivate faith willing to stand in a fiery furnace, face a den of lions, and eighty years as a captive? I want that kind of faith! Knowing the character of God takes reading scriptures, putting it into practice, confessing sin, and a willingness to be open to God’s will come what may. I encourage you this week to:

  • Pray on your knees.
  • Ask God to help you to maintain integrity when others ask you to bow down to other gods.
  • Express yourself in journaling, art, poetry. We learn from one another. Record God’s faithfulness.

Lord, I did not form you with my own hands, you formed me. Keep me in the flames so that I may never forget my dependency upon your will alone. Amen

For Further Reading: When God Hits the Pause Button in Our Faith

A Counselor Familiar with Dust

A Counselor Familiar with Dust

A Counselor Familiar with Dust

You didn’t impatiently check your watch like
you had someplace more important to be.
A God who listens.
You didn’t stare down my vulnerability
in disgust. As I poured out my broken heart,
you grabbed a tissue and sobbed with me.
A God who cries.

Your counsel didn’t come down from a distant marble throne.
You stepped into the crowd, looking for me.
A God who draws near.
ME—A single lost sheep.
You took my hand
into your callused carpenter’s hand,
and walked the journey of hope with me.
A God who touches humanity.

Turning My Page

I have had counselors of all sorts through my healing process and God used every single one of them to grow me. There remains only one counselor, the Holy Spirit, who has changed me from the inside out, while all the world’s counselors have the power to do is to change me from the outside in.

Just today I was tempted to bitterness and hardness, but God softened my heart with the following words, “I know it hurts. I see you.” We live in a messed-up fallen world and we are all prone to hurt one another. It was comforting to know that He knows my pain and gives a way for me to live differently than my sinful nature. The Holy Spirit has helped me to keep a short account of the wounds I have caused and the ones received. It has taken practice, oh so much practice, to listen and discern the crowed voices of self-help advice versus the genuine voice of the Holy Spirit in me.

I have learned that the Holy Spirit will never contradict scripture. His goal is to reveal truth and testify about Jesus.

“But I will send you the Advocate—the Spirit of truth. He will come to you from the Father and will testify all about me.

John 15:26 NLT

What a comfort to know I have an advocate who walks this journey with me.

Turning Your Page

  • List some of the voices that currently direct your path. Anyone or anything that steers you in a direction away from the voice of truth. They may come in the form of critics, well-meaning friends, religion, or enemies.
  • The world will always tell you that there is always peace in following the Holy Counselor. This is a false direction. The Holy Spirit has led men and women throughout history to stand against enemies, lay down a life for a friend, and took Jesus to the cross. Test spiritual direction against scripture and if you mishear, as all the original disciples did, pick yourself up again and try again.
  • Romans 8 lists what the Holy Spirit Does and Does Not Do on our behalf:

Not only that, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved; but hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he can already see? But if we hope for what we do not yet see, we wait for it patiently.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know how we ought to pray, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans too deep for words. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Romans 8:23-27

Lord, tune my heart to your voice.  I have so many negative and destructive voices vying for my attention. Your love and direction come in a still small voice. Amen

 

Sparrow Falls

Not Even Sparrows Fall: Suicide

Sparrows Fall: Suicide

Not even a sparrow falls without God’s knowledge and we are more precious than they. Oh, one day, I pray that I embrace this truth with the depth and security of one who trusts God no matter what I experience in this life. I’m not there yet. As the poem reflects this was a tear-streaked day. I have witnessed God’s care over and over, but I still don’t understand why he allowed Jonathan to die by suicide. Bottom line, I just want Jonathan here.

Turning My Page

I wanted your heart to heal from
the world’s unrelenting fists of hatred.
I tried to shield you, but their blows penetrated
to marrow. Broke bone and spirit without pity. They
meant to crush you—rob identity.
Rearranged home until
you no longer recognized love or belonging.

I thought if I cradled your heart
enough with my love, that somehow, someway
you’d emerge from despair.

But, control
of your rhythm was never mine. Your
soul was formed and shaped by a God
who knit you together in my womb.
On my knees I plead that His will be
done in your life—from beginning to end.

“DO SOMETHING!” I screamed at a
God who was not deaf to my desperation.

He comforted. He still comforts,
but I will not pretend to understand
why He didn’t rescue you.

Your future—my future—was never
mine to determine. And I pray
one day I walk this path knowing
that not even a sparrow falls to the earth
without God’s knowledge.

Your life mattered, and heaven
mourned you even deeper than I.

Turning Your Page: When Sparrows Fall to Suicide

You may have sparrows who have fallen in your life. Your mourning may be deep and waves of emotions swamp you.  Courage! May the promise of God’s care sustain you, even when the feelings simply are not there. You are precious to God. Your loved one was and is precious to a God who was willing to suffer with and for you. As you think about Easter consider the following:

  • “When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners” (Romans 5:6, NLT).
  • “When He saw the crowds, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36, BSB).
  • “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father” (Matthew 10:29, ESV).

Lord, this sorrow is too great. Carry it for me. Your tenderness and mercy towards my loved ones exceed my own and not one of them falls to the earth without your knowledge and mourning. Amen

 

Further Resources

Rob’s Kids is an excellent resource for children who have lost a parent.

 

Dream Bigger

Dream Bigger

This is God’s Word on the subject: “As soon as Babylon’s seventy years are up and not a day before, I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for” (Jeremiah 29:11 MSG)

Turning My Page on Dreams

Christmas came early for Turning the Page on Suicide and I am excited to unwrap it with you!

God asked me to dream bigger this year and this website is a part of His vision of hope. To dream bigger took steps of obedience, and with every movement deeper into trusting God’s plan, I saw new possibilities unfold before me. From color pallets to establishing a clearer mission, every aspect I found myself catching my breath with awe and joy. A joy that keeps appearing as a result of finding Christ faithful in hardships. I continue to get to know He is trustworthy, no matter where my journey takes me.

poem of hope

Jesus helps us shed despair

The imperfect family pose on my landing page reflects intense wrestling with life and the joy we experience in the midst. I had a “perfect” family pose loaded, but God asked me to use this one instead. My husband was suffering from severe vertigo and headaches. My son Daniel, who we believe suffers from the same disease that attacked Jonathan’s mind, body, and spirit, had frequent bouts of pain and intense emotional outbursts.

That same summer, my joy-filled daughter began a severe spiral downward in stomach pain to the point she struggled to eat, and I was overwhelmed with fear at losing them. All of us struggled to smile. Yet, at that moment, my son turned his head to blow raspberries at his dad and we broke into laughter. That picture serves as a reminder to me, as well as to you that God does not expect perfection. He expects us to show up as we are and take the next step before us.

And in those moments, in those places, we don’t feel like smiling. Joy appears.

May this website serve as a constant reminder to come as you are, yes there is sorrow here, but there is also joy. God is rewriting what the enemy meant for evil in my family and revealing treasures through pain and suffering. God has the power to rewrite your story. I testify hope still exists in darkness, in places that feel void of dreams. God is dreaming bigger for me, and I am so grateful he is inviting me in to witness his plan come to fruition.

Many thanks to the Blogging Bistro Team for bringing the mental health resource vision to life.

Turning Your Page to Dream Bigger

Is God asking you to dream bigger? Part of our ability to dream bigger is to know the dream giver. Joseph of the Old Testament was given dreams, even the ability to interpret dreams, and yet he did not interpret his own dreams correctly. As he got to know the character of God through his suffering, felt God’s provision even though years passed before the dreams came true, he came to give God glory, come what may. Only when the dream came true could he tell his brothers, who had sold him into slavery,”

And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt” (Genesis 45:7-8 ESV).

  • What are the current ways you feel that you are suffering?
  • What do you already know about God’s character and purpose for suffering?
    • Philippians 2:5-11
    • 1 Peter 3:14
    • 2 Corinthians 4:17
  • Do you have a person in your life who appears to be suffering well? What characteristics do you see in them? How are they dreaming bigger in their suffering?

Lord, may I get to know your character so well, that I trust where you lead and open my mind, heart, and actions to your bigger dreams for me. Amen

What is Truth?

Heaven’s army crowded the borders of the universe,
as God in Flesh
wore a robe of bloody lashes and crown of
mockery.


A legion of wings beat the air, ready
to rush to the king’s aid.
Angelic swords sparked against grinding wheel.
Muscles strained under bonds of armor.
The sweaty preparation of a rescue mission. But hope
remained restrained by a silent raised arm of the Commander.

“Forsaken.” Death
disfigured salvation.

Three days God held heaven at bay.
While man reveled in his own truth
WE ARE GOD!

Until grave rumbled to life,
and heaven triumphantly revealed
the passion of truth. Heaven perched on stone
and declared, “He is not here.”
Resurrection.

Meditation on John 18:

36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate.

Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

38 “What is truth?” retorted Pilate. With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him. 39 But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release ‘the king of the Jews’?”

40 They shouted back, “No, not him! Give us Barabbas!” Now Barabbas had taken part in an uprising.

John 18:36-40


Question Marks

The Temptation of “If”

The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’”

Luke 4:3-4

Turning My Page

If paralyzed me. Growing up, I feared saying and doing the wrong things and therefore changed my beliefs when pressed by the opinions of others. I was a chameleon, shifting my colors to blend in. I was misled and often hurt by those who could out-argue me. It took a desert experience, my pregnancy with Jonathan, for me to realize nothing but God would satisfy.

I began studying the character of God and he revealed my identity. But the enemy of my soul never let up. I am oppressed by the constant battering question, “What if you fail?” Fail as a wife, mother, Christian, turning the page on suicide. Satan questions my identity, my understanding of God, and my witness.

Why wouldn’t he? Satan successfully turned Adam and Eve from God with “did God really say that”. He used the word if three times when tempting Jesus at the beginning of his ministry. Since Satan was so bold to question the son of God’s identity, why would he not question mine?

Jesus didn’t back down from the fight because he spent time with his heavenly father. He knew him, and God knew his son.

And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

Matthew 3:17

My identity is not wrapped up in my position, possessions, or power. Marriage, motherhood, or ministry can all disappear and I still am who God says I am, and he is who he says he is.

“If” loses its grip the more my identity is found in Christ.

Turning Your Page

Satan can destroy you on the cliff of “if”. He’ll take you to the great heights of success and show you all he’ll give you if you submit to him. He’ll offer whatever he thinks will turn you away from God, but scripture doesn’t hide the character of God and Jesus used scripture to declare the truth when confronted with a potential identity crisis. You become more able to see the truth behind the “if” when you get to know God and are secure in your own identity. Establish experiences, traditions, prayer, fellowship, and reason as a part of your spiritual routine. These are all ways that Jesus grew up to know his Father.

  • The “if” can be subtle. Identify areas Satan tempts you to reject God.
  • How does the world describe you? How does God describe you?
  • What scriptures strengthen your identity in Christ? For example, if you are struggling with believing you are doing the right thing as a mother.
    • Genesis 3:20: “The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.” (Motherhood was created by God)
    • 1 Peter 3:4: “You should be known for the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.” ( God values my unique spirit as a woman)

Lord, you know me inside and out. May I know you so well that when I hear the word “if” I recognize the enemy and declare the truth of who you are. Amen

Familiar God

Am I too plain with you God,
leaning into converse with my Master
over chai tea?
I delight in your presence.
Hold your secure hand like a child as I explore your
nature.
I sob and pour out my heartache as
if you are my best friend.

Should I grovel before
your throne, weighted by the
the burden of all I have done?

You are Creator of the universe,
Lord of the harvest, King, Sovereign,
Judge. Your robe of titles drapes across your pedestal,
demanding holiness.
Your throne is established in the heavenly realms.
Your footstool, the earth.

I should tremble as I enter your
throneroom in prayer,
but yet,
I trace your face in the image of my children.
Experience church in the embrace of my husband,
Recognize your rich provision in the
worship song of sparrows,
and draw near to the Holy of Holies in scripture.

Throneroom of God

Jesus’ love tore the veil and developed a familiarity between us.
You know my sorrow and put to death
the limitations of sin. So I push
open the
massive doors of separation as a joyous child
running barefoot into the arms of her loving Father, Savior, and Friend.

Run into the arms of a Familiar God

To Know God by Guest Blogger Amy Malcomb

Have you ever completely geeked out over a celebrity? I have.  It was 15 years ago when my husband and I attended a Toby Mac concert.  We were huge DC Talk fans and seeing Toby Mac perform with his new band Diverse City was just as exciting. 

After the concert, he set up a table outside the auditorium to sign autographs.  We didn’t feel like standing in line so we went across the street to Wendy’s and bought some food.  At the last minute, we bought some extra food to give to Toby Mac.  When we returned we only had to wait a few minutes in line before we were able to talk to him.  We gave him the extra food and then had a great conversation about race relations in the church and adopting biracial children.  I think I managed to stay calm during the conversation but afterward, whenever I would talk to anyone about it, I would become overexcited and talk very fast.  Many years later it is kind of embarrassing to think about how I was on cloud nine simply because I had a conversation with a famous Christian musician. 

Oh, and don’t get me started about the fact that I graduated from the same high school as Jennifer Garner.  My kids groan whenever I start to mention it.  They have heard it too many times before. 

Here’s the thing though, Toby Mac and Jennifer Garner are just everyday people, sinners like everyone else.  It is only our culture that has elevated them to the high caste called talented and famous.  And if I can be honest with myself, I know they aren’t above anyone else despite what our culture leads us to believe.  I also know that Jennifer Garner has never met me and has no idea who I am. Likewise, I am fairly certain that Toby Mac does not remember me, the conversation or the meeting.   

Sometimes we become excited about meeting someone simply because they are famous, rich, powerful, or popular.  Even though in our heart we know they are simply human like us.  We might wonder what it would be like to be friends with them.  We think it would somehow make our lives better if we were to have them around.   

Let me share something astounding with you.    There is someone who is rich, powerful, strong, and wise who desires a relationship with you.   In fact, HE wants more than just a casual friendship or a shallow comradery.  He wants an intimate, loving, no holds barred, kind of relationship.  He wants to not only know about you, but He wants to be known by you.  

Amos 4:13 says this about Him:

He who forms the mountains, 
Creates the wind,
And reveals his thoughts to man,
He who turns dawn to darkness,
And treads the high places of the earth-
The Lord God Almighty is his name.  
It is mind boggling to think about this.

Someone who formed the mountains desires a relationship with you. The one who creates the wind, he reveals his thoughts to man!! (That is, you and me.)   He treads the high places of the earth, causes the sun to rise and set and he reveals his thoughts to man!!!  Talk about having friends in high places, that is a truly powerful friend.

  Jeremiah 33;2-3 says “This is what the Lord says, he who made the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it- the Lord is his name: ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”   So yes, the Creator of the world wants us to call out to Him, to seek Him, and to ask Him questions.

Try to grasp the big picture.   He wants to have a relationship with you!  He desires to share things with you.   He also cares about you, though.  Did you know that Jesus said in Matthew 10:30 that his Father knows how many hairs are on your head?  Is it sinking in yet?  He wants to be a part of your life, not just on Sunday morning, but every day, every minute, every second, all the bad parts, all the mundane trivial parts, all the exciting events.   He wants to be there. 

                God in his infinite wisdom though, knew it would be difficult for us as humans to know an abstract being on a deep level. He wanted us to understand that he was a compassionate, powerful, and just God.   And he wanted us to know Him on a profound level.

Philippians 2: 6 explains his solution.   (Jesus)” Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped but made himself nothing taking the very nature of a servant being made in human likeness”.   He came to be our Redeemer but he also came that we may know him and understand him better.  He left heaven to walk on this earth for you and me.  He experienced cold, hunger, thirst, cruelty, and temptation in a human body so that you and I might know him fully and so that he could more fully understand us.

                As this Advent season winds down, keep your eyes focused on him.   The next time you feel disconnected from your co-workers at an office party, or feel like the black sheep at a family gathering, or if you just feel anxious or lonely because the holidays aren’t quite what you thought they should be; remember Jesus is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.  Christmas is a celebration of Emmanuel – God with us. 

                Jesus’ greatest desire remains the same as it was 2000 years ago in the crowded town of Bethlehem.  He desires to be with us no matter who we are, what we have done, or where we are.   Praise God! He is with us, He knows us, and He loves us!  That is worthy of a celebration! 

Teaching My Spirit to Dance

Suicide doesn’t water down faith with
flowery prose about God.
I take my doubts to the mat and wrestle
with who He is.

Depression is the resistance between
my will and Yours, God.
Sacrifice, daily dripping sweat,
as I work out belief on the gym floor of reality.
Muscles cry out through the strain of discipline.

But still, You coach me beyond what
I think I can accomplish. “Just one more breath!”
Shaping and toning my soul into Your image.
Turning heads with a foxy endurance
that is not of this world!

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Suicide Hotline

National Suicide Hotline

If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call the National Suicide Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or go to the website at  SuicidePreventionLifeline.org.