Category Archives: Faith

How do we increase our faith?

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(Old Testament trash talk)

You know when God teaches you something in his Word and you just want to share it? This is one of those posts because it’s my blog and I can do what I want to.

I’ve been reading 1 Samuel lately because it’s one of my favorite books of the Bible because, well, David. I can’t help but love the guy. Anyway, I get to the story of David and Goliath and God showed me something in that story that I never knew. Don’t you love when God does that? He takes a story you’ve heard since childhood and makes you see it in a completely new way.

I always assumed David was afraid, even though I knew he volunteered to fight Goliath. Like he was shaking in his sandals and no armor, but God gave him the courage to slay the giant. After reading the text, I’m not so sure that was the case.

“When the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine.” 1 Sam. 17:48 ESV (emphasis mine)

He RAN QUICKLY. Basically he sprinted to meet Goliath, A GIANT, at the battle line. Scared people don’t sprint to meet their enemies. People who are fearful enter into battle carefully, with a well thought out plan. They may have summoned the courage to fight but they’re still sweating bullets when they enter onto the battlefield. No one shows up for a fight with a slingshot and a few little rocks and no armor to fight his opponent who is fully armed.

No one but David.

Was he just young and naïve? Rebel without a cause? Was he a teenager that thought he was going to live forever? Nope.

He was certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that God would deliver the people of Israel. He was betting his very life on it. See, we have to back up a little in the story to understand why David would have such confidence. Earlier in the passage, Saul is trying to talk David out of fighting Goliath, reminding him he’s just a boy and Goliath is a man trained for war.

“But David said to Saul, ‘Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.” (1 Sam. 17:34-37 ESV)

Oh, I’m sorry, did it say LIONS and BEARS? When hearing this story as a child I’m envisioning cartoon lions and bears. Like Simba and Baloo. It didn’t even seem real at the time. As an adult, if you told me my teenage son would be fighting off lions and bears to protect our families’ sheep, I would have a heart attack. Literally. I would also tell him to go ahead and say goodbye to sweet lamby because his mama ain’t gonna let him fight no wild animal. What kind of person fights lions and bears to save one little lamb? The person who has something to protect and, in this case, a person who knows he cannot lose.

David goes on to say:

“The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” (1 Sam. 17:37)

Whoop there it is. David remembered.

How did David know God would help him defeat Goliath? Because He had done it before against lions and bears. David remembered God’s faithfulness to him in the past, which gave David faith for the present. David was certain of God’s faithfulness to him. He knew he was beloved by the Father and that the Father would protect him and deliver the people of Israel out of the hands of the Philistines. Oh to have that kind of faith! The kind that assures me that I can do the hard, scary things and God will show up. He always shows up for His kids.

Want to increase your faith? Remember a time when God has been faithful to you. Recall a time He came to your rescue. God is always faithful even when we are not. We are his beloved sheep that He gave His own Son’s life to save…before we even knew him.

We would do well to face our giants like David.

RUN QUICKLY to the battle line.

REMEMBER God’s past faithfulness.

BE CERTAIN of victory.

This is how we face our fears. This is how we move mountains. We may not win the battle every time. We may very well crash and burn. This doesn’t mean God didn’t show up. It just means He has other plans. There is much to learn when we feel we’ve been defeated and we take that with us as we go into our next battle. My internal victories are far more significant than my outward successes by a long shot. I think when God spoke of the “work He has planned for us” (Eph. 2:10), much of it was on ourselves, in our hearts. And rest easy, God has already slain the enemy. Victory is oursWhat’s the mountain facing you?

-Courtney

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The One Thing I Want To Do In 2016

“I never knew how strong I was until I had to forgive someone who wasn’t sorry, and accept an apology I never received.”

I’m not sure if @pastorralexander actually came up with this or got it from someone else but it sums up in one sentence what would’ve taken me a thousand words to write. My brother showed me this quote the other day, not knowing that I had been writing about this very thing in my journal. It articulates everything I’d been trying to put into words the last month or so.

While we’re reminiscing over 2015 and thinking of goals/resolutions for 2016, this one’s mine: forgiveness. That’s my number one goal for 2016. Just like the quote says, the person I need to forgive isn’t sorry nor will I receive an apology from them. And that in itself is what makes forgiveness far more difficult. I want this person to be sorry. I want this person to want my forgiveness. They don’t. So what am I supposed to do with that? Why is it necessary that I forgive if the other person doesn’t feel they need it?

I’ll tell you exactly why it’s necessary: forgiveness will set me free. If I can choose to forgive then anger and hurt won’t control me anymore. I will hopefully be able to move on. There will be scars from the relationship but they won’t be open wounds anymore. Forgiveness will help me heal.

This might be the hardest act of love God has called me to do. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “Forgiven people forgive people” like that’s some easy task. Then I remember what Christ went through to forgive me. He absorbed all the sin and darkness of the world into Himself then hung naked on a cross for hours before His soul was released to His Heavenly Father. This isn’t even telling of the brutality He went through on His way to the cross. Forgiveness isn’t easy. Forgiveness is like love; it’s a choice and sometimes, it’s a hard choice. It is an act that is performed in contradiction to how I’m feeling. In Romans 5:8 the Word says, “-but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” He died for us before He received an apology. He died for us when we weren’t sorry. He didn’t hold forgiveness in his fist waiting for us to earn it. He just gave it because that’s what God does. He doesn’t wait for us to come around; He opens His hands to offer us grace we don’t deserve nor do we earn.

So this year, I’m going to try to choose the hard thing every day. I’m going to choose to rise above my feelings. I’m going to ask God to take captive my angry thoughts. I’m going to try. Then when I’m weary from trying I’m going to have to go before the Lord and tell Him I can’t do this on my own and I need His strength to do it for me. I know there’s peace on the other side of forgiveness because I’ve experienced it before when I first believed in Jesus. 2016 may look a lot like God prying open my hands to share the gifts He’s graciously given to me.

I’ve got a lot of learning to do in 2016. What do you want God to teach you in the New Year?

-Courtney

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Good Father

Recently I’ve been having difficulty reconciling some situations that have been going on around me. Then I read the news of the awful things going on in the world and have an even harder time. I wonder why God’s not doing anything. I wonder why He’s letting things happen. I wonder if He sees any of it at all.

Reading through Isaiah for my bible study has been enlightening. When God’s people turned from Him and decided to follow other gods, He saw. When they became prideful and arrogant, He saw. When they refused signs from Him because they didn’t think they needed his help, He saw. Nothing is new under the sun. The sins of Israel are the sins of today. We put other things (jobs, relationships, money, success) before God. We think we can do everything on our own. We don’t pray because we don’t think we need His help.

And I wonder why the world is so chaotic. I may be just a tad obtuse.

I feel like if I could control some people things would be much better. Not all people, just the ones that are directly affecting my life. If they would just let me tell them how to do their life, everything would go swimmingly (because obviously I think I’m the authority on how to “do life”, oh wait…). I get angry when I’m the victim of things that are out of my control. I get angry when people I love are hurt by the sins of another. I can’t control people and it’s maddening sometimes. This is when I need to be reminded that God is not in charge of sin. We hold our sin all on our own. He is grieved by sin and He is grieved when His children are hurt by sin. His Word says He is close to the brokenhearted (Ps. 34:18) and being on the receiving end of hurt can be heartbreaking.

I’ve been listening to a song over and over the past few days when I’m driving, and the more I listen the more I’m reminded of who God is. He is a good Father. As a parent, we can’t protect our kids from every bad thing in this world. We can try but ultimately we will fail. We live in an imperfect world and, for now, that’s just the way it is. What I’m learning is that what we CAN offer them is a safe place to land. Give them a place where they feel loved and cared for. We can’t fight all their battles, but we can give refuge to our little soldiers. God is a Father that gives us a safe place. Over and over in the bible, God is compared to a refuge, a hiding place, a sanctuary, a strong tower. In a world full of crazy He is the only place we will find peace. He sees what’s going on and He wants to walk with us into battle but He will also bring us back from the war, wrap up our battle wounds, and give us a place to rest. Remember He is close to the brokenhearted, He will save the crushed in spirit. He’s a good Father and He loves His kids fiercely. If this life is beating you down, He is here for you. Find rest in His promises to His people. In 1 Peter 3:12 says, “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer.” He sees us and He’s waiting to hear from us, guys.

If you have a minute, give this song a listen. It’s a little repetitive but sometimes I need that to drive home the message. It’s long because it’s the live version but just listen to the first few minutes and let it wash over you. It’s called Good Good Father by the Housefires.

You can do this life because you are loved my a good Father. He will not let you go.

-Courtney

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Controversy

“Don’t let the world teach you theology.”

My pastor, Dr. Michael Easley, says this all the time at church. I’ve always loved this because it reminds me not to look to the world for truth, instead, I’m to look to the word of God. If I’m ever not sure of God’s will or don’t know what to believe, I can go to the Bible in search of God’s truth. Granted, there are some things that aren’t discussed in the Bible so I guess I won’t get an answer to some of my questions until I meet God in heaven, unfortunately.

That being said, I really didn’t want to write this post. Like really really didn’t want to write it. I am aware that what I’m about to write could very possibly alienate friends and family that are very dear to me. My view of them has not changed; they will always be amazingly wonderful people. My fear is that their view of me will change and that worries me a great deal since I’m one of those people who want everyone to like them. It’s a sickness, really. That’s why I try to be funny, I mean who doesn’t like funny? So please hear me when I say writing this post wasn’t easy or fun but I had that feeling about it. You know, that sick-to-your-stomach-makes-you-want-to-throw-up feeling. This feeling usually indicates that I’m supposed to do that thing I’m scared of. I hate this feeling but the only way to appease it is to do the thing I don’t want to do. So here goes.

I don’t know about you but there are many parts of the Bible I sort of wish weren’t in there. I wish it didn’t talk about gluttony being a sin because I like to overeat (Prov. 23:20-21). I don’t always want to turn the other cheek because I think it’s unfair (Matt. 5:39). It’s really hard not to exasperate my children when I’m having a bad day (Eph. 6:4). It’s difficult to see the benefit in not repaying evil with evil (1 Pet. 3:9). Doing things without complaining (Phil. 2:14)? Not my strong suit. Even if it’s only in my head, my complaining and grumbling sounds an awful lot like a pity party. Truth be told, I wish I could brush all of these under the rug because they don’t suit me all the time and I want to do what I want to do and not feel bad about it.

When the SCOTUS ruled last week in favor of legalizing gay marriage, part of me wanted to sweep what God’s Word says under the rug. A small part of me wished I could be on board with it because it’s getting celebrated all over the country and who doesn’t want to be part of a celebration? It seems so happy and fun. Then I had that thing in my stomach; the thing that reminds me I’m on the unpopular side of controversy. “Don’t let the world teach you theology.” So I looked up verses about marriage in the Bible half-hoping I missed the verse where God said “Marry whoever you want. #lovewins” Guys, there is no such verse and no such hashtag in God’s Word. God was clear about a marriage covenant being between a man and a woman (Gen. 2:24). At no point in the Bible does He change His mind or wording on this. He always used a man and woman, a husband and wife, to be the representatives in marriage (Prv. 31:10-11, Eph. 5:22-33). It seems that any time in the Bible when God mentions things over and over it’s because He’s trying to make a point. And if I’m going to write about how my faith is rooted in the Word of God then I can’t skip over this. I have to take God at His word.

A long time ago I told God that I believed Jesus was His Son who died on a cross to save me from my sins, and rose from the dead to affirm He was the Son of God and the giver of eternal life. When I surrendered myself to this belief, I also surrendered my life. In doing this, I was telling God His way is better than my way, His thoughts are more important than my thoughts, and ultimately what He wants is more important than what I want. Now, hear me on this: I have a hard time with all of these and I most certainly don’t do them even close to perfectly. God never said that following Him would be easy but He said it would be worth it in the end. So I’m putting all my eggs in His basket and trusting that He will do what He says. But while I’m here living on this earth I made the decision to believe, and try to live by, what the Bible says. Again, I don’t do it all that well but it’s my understanding that’s what grace is for. My fear is that this post will come off like I’m some holier-than-thou punk. I’m well aware that Jesus died on that cross for the whole world, not just me, which let’s me know He loves all of us. And since I’ve chosen to believe this is true, I owe Him my life. I owe Him a life of obedience and gratitude for what He did for me.

So I believe marriage is a covenant before God between a man and a woman because that’s what the Bible says. I also believe that I am supposed to love others like Christ loved me because the Bible says that too. Remember how I said when you see repetition in the Word it’s because God is trying to make a point? Jesus tells us over and over to love one another. Don’t believe me? Read the book of John. God also tells us not to judge. Don’t believe me again? Read Romans 2. My (our, if you’re a believer in Christ) responsibility is to love. Just because I disagree with you doesn’t mean I can’t love you. And vice versa.

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Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35) This is how I’m supposed to identify myself with Christ. I’m supposed to be kind and love those I disagree with. If I only love people I agree with wouldn’t that be just a tad superficial? The people Jesus hung out with were nothing like him but He loved them just the same. I have to live out what I believe, as do you. So thanks for letting me get my thoughts out so my stomach could get back to normal. And I’m fully aware some of you may quit reading my blog after today and that’s ok. Thanks for sitting in my headspace for a few minutes.

-Courtney

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