How to Put Your Faith in Front of Your Feelings

Why Your Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Bad Day Doesn’t Define Your Life

How do you deal with bad days? In the midst of those moments, it’s easy to feel like things will never get better. The emotion clouds our perspective

How to Put Your Faith in Front of Your Feelings

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When our daughters were toddlers, my wife would read them Judith Viorst’s wonderful little book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Poor little Alexander had a bad day not because bad things happened. As it turns out, those things happen to everybody. It was a problem of perspective.

When we look at our lives, we tend to rubberneck the wrong direction.

Ultimately, our problem is with God. But we don’t say that. We’ll point to people as the reason pain lurks in our lives. Parents, bosses, children, spouses, and even the devil has his part to play. If God would only bring relief, all would be well.

It’s a problem of perspective, not of circumstance. We need God’s perspective.

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What My Dumb Dog Taught Me about the Greatness of God

Welcome to the spectrum of all we don't know.

As I left the house early one morning recently, I turned on the garage light to make my way out. Our dog, Carlie, who sleeps in the garage, immediately stood up, walked over to me, and leaned against the wall.

What My Dumb Dog Taught Me about the Greatness of God

(Photo: Our dog, Carlie)

Her wagging tail slammed against the wall repeatedly—and the other side of that wall was my bedroom. I knew the pounding would disturb my sleeping wife.

I had tried to keep quiet. My dog ruined that. I got frustrated fast.

“Dumb dog,” I muttered under my breath.

Then it hit me.

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Caution: We Worship What We Think We Need

Are people taking the place of God in your life?

When you hear the word “idol,” what comes to mind (other than the TV talent show)? We might think of money, materialism, or even the golden calf. But rarely do we think of people.

We Worship What We Think We Need

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We worship what we think we need—whether it’s God, money, or even people. People make us feel good. Like a sunflower in a sunny field, we face the source that keeps us satisfied and meets our needs. But whom we worship, we will also obey.

That’s why worshipping people—or using them to get what we think we need—leaves us enslaved to them.

Years ago Cathy and I were given a gift certificate to the Dallas Hard Rock Café, which used to be, ironically, a place of worship—the McKinney Avenue Church. Inside the café I saw a 50-ft high stained glass rendering of Elvis, seated on a throne. It reminds me of what British pop singer Robbie Williams said to the BBC Radio:

I’ve got the tattoo on my arm: ‘Elvis grant me serenity.’ Before the gig we all get in a huddle and pray to Elvis to look after us while we’re onstage.

Really? Wow.

God offers a better alternative.

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God’s Pop Quizzes and Your Struggling Answers

When the tests come, we can believe what is true or what is false.

God’s tests are most often pop quizzes. You don’t see them coming. If you knew you would be running late tomorrow morning, you’d prepare ahead of time. But that’s not a real test.

God's Pop Quizzes and Your Struggling Answers

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A real test hits your blindside. It tests the mettle of your theology, and often, it even seems to contradict it.

  • You have walked with God, but a family member suddenly gets terribly ill.
  • Your integrity on the job has been stellar, but someone else gets the promotion.
  • You have worked hard on a project, but the doors for its success stay closed.
  • You get an unexpected phone call with news that chills your soul.

In the end, the pop quizzes we experience usually boil down to one thing.

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Take a devotional break for a moment and watch the beautiful words of Isaiah come to life.

All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him. —Isaiah 53:6

Sometimes I think God created particular creatures simply to provide potent metaphors He could use to teach us with. Picture yourself as one of these sheep—and the Lord as your shepherd.

We all have wandered. But the good news is our Good Shepherd sought us out—and died for our sins. Jesus Himself said:

If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying? —Matthew 18:12

Question: How does seeing these words visually help you internalize their truths? To leave a comment, just click here.

(Video from SourceFlix.com)

How the Downer Book of Lamentations Offers Us Hope Today

3 bits of good news from the character of God and the promises of God.

The book of Lamentations isn’t one we often read. Let’s be honest. It seems like a real downer. Jeremiah’s “lamentations” sting like the swat of a paddle. And yet—amazingly—there’s good news for us.

How the Downer Book of Lamentations Offers 3 Reasons to Hope

(Photo by Photodune)

Good news seems good usually because of the bad news that came first.

  • The bad news: Because Jerusalem had abandoned the Lord by pursing idols and foreign alliances, God had given over the city to the Babylonians, who disciplined Jerusalem by forcing most of its citizens into exile.
  • The good news: God’s divine discipline always comes as an expression both of His faithfulness and His love.

Amazingly, this downer book of Lamentations offers at least 3 reasons we can have hope in life.

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Your Natural Stuff in God’s Marvelous Plan

Sometimes the ordinary days make us wonder if God has forgotten us. After all, when we read the Bible, it all seems so exciting. Our lives, on the other hand, seem boring.

But the natural events in Joseph’s ordinary day in the Dothan Valley revealed God behind the scenes.

Your Natural Stuff in God's Marvelous Plan

(Photo: Dothan Valley, where Joseph’s brothers sold him. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Jacob’s 10 oldest sons had traveled north to pasture their father’s flocks at Shechem. So Jacob dispatched Joseph, whom he loved more than all his other sons, from the Valley of Hebron to check on their welfare.

When Joseph arrived, he found that his brothers had moved further north to the lush pastures of Dothan. Seeing him in the distance, the brothers—jealous of their father’s love for Joseph—purposed to kill the boy. But the presence of a nearby cistern convinced them instead to hurl Joseph into it—and leave him there to die (see Genesis 37:12-28).

It seemed that God dropped the ball. But His painful providence would prove wiser than Joseph’s limited insight.

The same is true for you. God uses your natural stuff in His marvelous plan.

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What to Do with Those Bad Parts of the Bible

Keeping your integrity when God's Word seems to contradict God's love.

The Bible is full of wonderful promises and words of encouragement. Who of us hasn’t been refreshed by its verses and inspired by its truths? At the same time, the Word of God also has parts that seem, well—bad.

What to Do with Those Bad Parts of the Bible

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After reading these unnerving passages, we come away with questions:

  • How do we deal with the genocide God commands in Joshua?
  • Why doesn’t the Bible specifically condemn polygamy?
  • What does Paul mean by speaking of the submission of wives?

The list goes on.

As people of integrity, how do we deal with those uncomfortable “bad” parts of the Bible that seem, well, wrong?

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Anger with God

God controls everything.

So our frustration with Him reaches the boiling point when He seems to do nothing with our requests. Here’s a biblical way to think through that tension.

(I recommend The Anger Workbook by Les Carter, an essential resource used in this series.)

Part 4 – “Good and Angry” – Psalm 13 

Wayne Stiles Podcast