Eating Junk Food

My middle child Presley has always been kind of sickly. You wouldn’t expect such a big personality out of her tiny little frame. You know the saying “if momma isn’t happy, nobody is happy”? In our house the saying is “if Presley isn’t happy, nobody is happy”. This personality spills into her food intake, or lack thereof. The kid is very picky and doesn’t really like to eat food in general unless it is candy. This lack of food consumption, leads to her perpetual state of sickliness. No nourishment means a greater susceptibility to sickness.

She also has this nasty habit of putting her hands in her mouth, where she picks up more germs, and thus more sicknesses. As a mother I try to explain these concepts and every time she gets ill, I remind her if she would just eat and make better choices these illnesses wouldn’t be so frequent.

This week was another week of Presley being sick. We had to take her to the ER because she was so sick, undernourished and dehydrated. My level of frustration with her at this point is off the charts. I was driving home from church, fuming over her current predicament, when God does that thing where He convicts me. My thoughts were consumed with her malnourishment and in that moment God showed me my own malnourishment.

What does Jesus say at the last supper? Eat, this is my body; do this in remembrance of me. What does John say in the beginning of his Gospel? The Word became flesh. I realize the last supper is an act of remembrance, but I started thinking maybe when Jesus said to eat the bread representing His body, He was also reminding us to consume His Word.

I am as guilty of spiritual malnourishment as Presley is of physical malnourishment. I am getting a dose of candy by going to church for 2 hours on Sunday, which gives me an immediate boost, but then through the week I am slacking on continual nourishment of real food, which is the Word of God.

This is not a knock on Sunday morning worship or the pastors that provide the boost … unless the pastor claims they get special revelation from God and keeps changing the rules of what God says, or unless the pastor asks you to drink grape Kool-Aid. In that case RUN!!!!!

In this weakened state, I stick my hands in my mouth and get contaminated by the world.

This leads to the last problem. What does physical sickness inevitably always do? Spread, like wildfire; especially to those who are nearest you. The chain of physical sickness and spiritual sickness, really aren’t all that different.

No nourishment + dirty hands = sickness = contagious!

I like the counter formula much better.

Nourishment + clean hands = health = contagious!

Hallelujah God gives us his nourishing Word to consume. Don’t substitute it for candy…….ever! The price Jesus paid for us all was way too costly for us to rely on substitutes.

Unbalanced and Crazy

Karen SaltTeeFor pretty much 99.99% of my life, I have been aiming for the goal of living a “balanced life”. I have used phrases such as “everything in moderation” and have aimed to live a life that doesn’t have too much or too little of anything. I eat healthy, most of the time. I try to get enough exercise. I try not to watch too much television and have pretty much cut out all trash TV and trash magazines. My husband might disagree with that last statement. I’ve even extended this to my children. I don’t let them watch too much TV, eat too much junk food or get them over-extended in too many extracurricular activities, but I don’t deprive them either. After all, it’s all about balanced living; some might even call me Zen.

This morning on my run, I was having my usual morning conversation with God. Did I mention I am also a master multi-tasker? I was talking with Him about what our small group had discussed on Sunday night. Our conversation in small group was about what the first disciples must think of current day disciples and how little the Holy Spirit actually worked in our lives compared to how massively He worked in the disciples lives. We are talking about uneducated men penning and speaking some of the most eloquent words ever written or spoken through the power of the Holy Spirit.

I’m more educated than the first disciples yet most of the things that continually come out of my mouth are completely ignorant. In glaring contrast, the disciples words were so powerful that they were bringing thousands to Christ. The first disciples are ultimately responsible for the spread of the largest religion in the present day world, all through the power of the Holy Spirit. I don’t know about you, but that blows my mind! What is wrong with me? Why isn’t the Holy Spirit working in my life like that?

BINGO! I figured it out. All this balanced living is like a Holy Spirit blocker. I am like the women at the well who has spent so much time searching for happiness in all the wrong places that I have completely missed the source of living water.

It finally hit me today … living a balanced life isn’t scriptural. Living a balanced life is a distraction implanted by the master of all lies. God doesn’t want me to live a life of balance; He wants me to live a completely unbalanced life focused solely on HIM.

Every night I’m sitting in front of a brain sucker (TV) when I could be communing with the maker of heaven and earth and I call that balanced. I’m on Facebook catching up on what food you ate for dinner last night when I could be reading His inspired word. Am I going to be one of those “crazy” people who doesn’t have a TV in their house? Probably not, baby steps, but maybe that is the key.

We have gotten the “crazy” switched around. I’m sure the angels in heaven are constantly in awe of how flippant we are in our pursuit of happiness when the source of joy, incomparable joy is right in front of us just waiting to be tapped into. For me, I’m going to not only start tapping; I’m going to start banging. I want the Holy Spirit to fill me up like the disciples were. I want to be so unbalanced people think I am “crazy”. I want to give and take all I can to my Savior. This is my story, this is my song … praising my Savior, all the day long. You can have the balance, I’m done with it.

While you’re here, why not check out our soft and non-cheesy Christian t-shirts. 100% of all profits are given directly to ministry efforts in the Dominican Republic. Support this ministry by purchasing your SaltTee today.

An Elder’s Wife

Until this week, I never gave much thought to the term elder’s wife. I can be a bit oblivious at times. This week my life changed though. This week I became an elder’s wife… dun-dun-dun (sing that to scary music when you read it, it makes it sound cool). When Brian approached me several months ago and asked me what I thought about him becoming an elder, I said sure, sounds great. I always try to encourage him to be part of working in God’s kingdom.

I assumed it would be very similar to many of the other things he is involved in. My role in it would probably be to plan and organize some events and just help out whenever I can. That is who I am, a worker bee. I love to be behind the scenes organizing and planning and then fall behind the scenes. I don’t do well in the spotlight. I don’t get on stage and I don’t like to pray out loud. All of these things give me hot flashes, sweaty hands, shaky voice, a blotchy red chest and stomach pain. I’m a blender.

So, you can imagine my surprise this week when I had people coming up to me congratulating me. The first congratulation took me completely by surprise. I had no idea what they were congratulating me for. Perhaps it was that I had done a good job getting a handle on my acne, perhaps they were congratulating me for a particularly good hair day. I just wasn’t sure, as must have been obvious by the puzzled look on my face, followed by clarification.

The other unexpected surprise was comments from people like “just wait, now that you are an elder’s wife everyone is going to be watching you close”. WHAT???? Then I started looking around at the other elder’s wives. They are so put together and distinguished. Brian is the youngest elder and only elder with elementary age children and a toddler. I’m the one in the fellowship hall who had to rip the piece of chocolate cake out of her two year olds hand, pick her up as she is having a freak out over the loss of cake, only to then get smacked in the face by her, all in week one of the job. Awesome!

There isn’t a book for this sort of a thing, so far the only advice I have received is don’t screw up. Great, that is a perfect job description for me. It seems like I can always find a way to screw up. I’m the person who thinks when the spiritual gifts test was created, the author left out the spiritual gift of sarcasm and cynicism. I think that is a gift, probably because it is one I possess. Don’t judge, I’m still a work in progress.

This new title, made me reflect on all of the people within our lives and our church who we hold unrealistic expectations for. The people I have empathy for are pastor’s kids. Bless your heart. How it must stink for everyone to watch you so they can judge your parents. I’m sorry for that. We have robbed you of the ability to be authentic, we have shut you down. As my friend Beth Moore said in Bible Study today, we shouldn’t give anyone enough power to throw us off course by his or her actions. Everyone is going to mess up. The only person that will never mess up is Jesus.

So, let’s extend grace, all of us at some point in our life will inevitably need to have that grace reciprocated. Be careful not to withhold it. Messing up and failure doesn’t necessarily make those scrutinized under a microscope frauds, they make them HUMAN. Some of the PK’s (pastor’s kids) I know are battling the enemy and winning. They aren’t in the stands rooting for Jesus, they are on the field making plays and I am so proud of them!

So, this is for them. Keep on, keeping on and don’t be scared to be yourself. That is who God made you to be and He doesn’t make mistakes, people do. Will you make mistakes, let’s hope so, it will take some of the pressure off me, but don’t let it stop you. I will be right there along with you, doing my best, but probably having my share of screw ups along the way. Let’s love extravagantly, let’s show grace and mercy, even to those who don’t give it, but most of all, let’s make some big plays together for Jesus. That’s who we are playing for!

While you’re here, why not check out our soft and non-cheesy Christian t-shirts. 100% of all profits are given directly to ministry efforts in the Dominican Republic. Support this ministry by purchasing your SaltTee today.

Worshiping at the Gym

There seems to be a lot of worshiping going on at the gym. Maybe that’s why they have so many mirrors. Don’t you just hate those big muscle bound men constantly staring at themselves in the mirror, worshiping their bodies? I was thinking about this today. Then as I looked at my body, that I don’t like so much, in the mirror, I realized I’m doing the same thing … worshiping my insecurities. Worshiping myself.

I have been back at the gym for the last 4 weeks now, and have been making some major changes to my eating habits. I am 38 years old, and to this point in my life I have refused to eat anything green. Well that’s not 100% true. I like green Jolly Ranchers and M&M’s. I rarely eat vegetables, unless you count the sauce on top of the best homemade pizza ever. I may grab an apple once every other week, but that has been the extent of my fruit and vegetable intake. I have recently come to realize I have also been worshiping food.

So a few weeks back I made the decision, I want to get healthy. Oh, I’ve made this decision many times before. In fact, I pretty much make it every Monday, but this time something is different. This time I made the decision because I want to be healthy enough to serve Jesus for the remainder of my time on earth. I want to worship Him through service, through how I raise my kids, through how I spread His love. This time, I’m not doing it for me; I’m doing it for Him.

As I was on the treadmill today I had my head phones on jamming to a great worship album (Top 25 Modern Worship Songs, various artists) and as each song played I began to think of how my work out was an act of Worship. Many churches have split over worship styles. Some like modern praise songs, some like southern gospel, some like hymns and some like a rock concert. I think too often, we think song is the only avenue to worship. It is important that we begin thinking of our entire life of an act of worship. Everything we do.

  • Give money in the offering … worship
  • Serve a small village in a foreign country … worship
  • Change a poopy diaper in the nursery … worship
  • Obey God’s commandments … worship
  • Give a dollar to the homeless beggar on the side of the road … worship
  • Share your faith with family members who don’t know Christ … worship
  • Run for 60 minutes on the treadmill … worship
  • Drink a carrot-kale-spinach-apple juice to improve your health … worship

It’s not about singing songs on Sunday morning, and it being your “style” … it is about your heart. It is about having Jesus at the center of everything.

As I ran on the treadmill and listened to music through my headphones, I would hear lines like …

“I lift my eyes up, where does my help come from” … as I was on the most challenging level of the hill climb workout.
“And if our God is for us, then who could ever stop us” … as I approached the point of wanting to quit.
“Your love never fails, never gives up, never runs out on me” … as sweat dripped from my body and the workout ended.

You see, God is there with us all the time. We are made to worship. God doesn’t have a standard on the type of worship He accepts. He just want us, all of us. How we worship is irrelevant. In the past, when I wanted to “get into shape” it was about worshiping me. It was about wanting to look better for me, wanting to feel better for me, wanting my pants to stop cutting me in half, for me. But this time it’s different, this time it’s all about Jesus (except when I make it about me). This time I want to change my health so I can live and serve Him longer. This time I want it to be about continuing to serve the least of these. This time I want to have the energy to raise kids who love and worship the one true God. This time, it’s all about you Lord.

Leave a comment below or on our Facebook page and let us know where you worship God?

Why I Left the Church

When I went away to college the church almost lost me. I went to college and met thinkers; to me this was a completely new concept. Questioning things and not just believing things because I was born into some religion was a new concept. Realizing there were thousands of other people born into other religions that thought the same thing I thought, I’ve got it all right, scared me to death.

I met the people of the “world” that my church told me would be so bad, and I liked them. They were cool people who encouraged deep thoughts of question and doubt. I met a group of people that loved philanthropy; this was a new concept to me. Even though Jesus was the greatest philanthropist ever, I wasn’t exposed as a child to serving the least of these.

By no longer attending church I no longer had to endure the messages each week of “try a little harder to be a little better” … the exhausting treadmill of works based teaching that I knew I’d never be able to meet.

Moving out of the confines of the church I began to feel free. Free to think. Free to live. Free to love those who didn’t look, talk and think like me. Free of the flannel board characters of the Bible. Free of the place that said the world was 5000 years old. Free of the place that said women were inferior to men. I was ready to explore the real world of thinkers.

To me it was a higher level of thought. I was leaving behind the world of the uneducated Christians who were confined to so many rules because they weren’t smart enough to think for themselves. I was so disillusioned by the church by the time I was 20 that I had grouped them all together as the intolerable nuisance that I must learn to tolerate. To me religion was just a coping mechanism for death.

My husband and I were out to dinner the other night with some great friends and thinkers. We were discussing our worst fears for our children. Our worst fears weren’t pornography, drug addiction, or pre-marital sex (though they were on the list). One of our worst fears was that our children would grow up to be that single minded, Pharisaical church goer who isn’t able to think.

It is a natural instinct to want to shelter our children from the world, but it is a disservice and dangerous not to encourage them to think, question and explore the doubt they will inevitably experience at some point in life. If we do not encourage our kids to think, they will be encouraged by agnostics and atheists to think once they leave the protection of our nests. If we (parents and church community) do not encourage them to discuss science and history with an open mind … I fear they will mature into lukewarm Christians who don’t know what they believe or why they believe it. They will miss the point.

When we moved to Florida ten years ago, I begrudgingly went to church. To be candid, I was looking for a break from my one year old and I knew she would have fun with the other kids in Sunday School. We didn’t know anyone in Florida, and I assumed the people in child care had gone through security checks. I wanted an hour to myself to sit in quiet while my daughter had an opportunity to interact with other children.

What I discovered was a body of believers who were trying to follow Jesus and answering hard questions. I was introduced to people that said “in opinions liberty, in faith unity, in all things love.” I was introduced to how electrifying God is. I started reading about faith from great thinkers like CS Lewis and Francis Chan who introduced concepts that were foreign to me, though they shouldn’t have been foreign since they have been in the Word of God for 1000’s of years.

In my youth I wasn’t reading and examining the Word of God. I was just listening to what other (well meaning) people told me. If and when I actually read the Bible it was to help justify what I already believed. There are two ways of gaining knowledge in God’s Word:

Eisegesis: an attempt to import a subjective, preconceived meaning into the text. Cults use Eisegesis to justify their beliefs. Eisegesis has been used to justify everything from slavery to greed to lust to a litany of other sins and social injustices.

Exegesis: an attempt to discover the meaning of the text objectively. Start with the text, draw out its meaning and allow the Spirit to illuminate it.

God is truth. He provides us the Holy Spirit for clarity. Don’t believe everything you have been told. The God of the universe has provided an avenue for you to learn truth. Open your Bible. Be an exegesis. Be a thinker.

There are some mysteries we will never fully understand on this side of eternity. I will encourage my daughters to study exegetically what God’s Word says, to ask the deep questions, and to be thinkers who study history, biology, philosophy, psychiatry and sociology. No matter if they come to the OPINION that the world was made in 6-days or 6-billion years, I pray that it only strengthens their FAITH that we serve an awesome God so they may extend His LOVE to this broken world.

Karen Culbertson is a founding partner of SaltTee, Premium Christian t-shirts with a story to tell. 100% of all profits from the sale of our soft and comfy Christian t-shirts is given directly to ministry efforts in the Dominican Republic. Support this ministry by purchasing your SaltTee today.

I’m a Nut Job

It all started while we were on vacation in the Florida Keys a few months back. The house we stayed at had a multitude of coconut trees. Resting in my pool chair, it seemed as if the coconuts were taunting me saying “you can’t climb up this tree and pick me.”

Well I climbed the tree and got the coconuts, much to the astonishment of my husband and children. Now I needed a reason for my obsession with coconut picking so I didn’t seem like a nut job (no pun intended). Thus I got the idea of the Coconut – Fruits of the Spirit – Family – Project. It would be a fun learning and bonding project for me and the kids this summer.

School starts in a week and there lay those darn coconuts in the box harassing me yet again “You are never going to get this done before school starts.” So finally today I pulled the girls outside in the grueling summer heat to paint the coconuts. I asked the girls to sing me the song so I could remember what all the fruits are. I should be ashamed that I don’t have them memorized. So begrudgingly they started …

I got the love, joy, peace, patience way down in my soul, kindness, goodness, faithful, gentle, self-control …

Kennedy (10) started her painting with JOY. I tried not to be bitter, since I wanted to do joy. I had already planned out the cute little music notes to put on it. I instead started with PATIENCE, thinking I could probably use a heavy dose to get through this project.

Presley (7) decided she didn’t want to do our project and that she would paint an apple on one for her new teacher instead. I was kind of relieved because, I knew hers would be less than perfect, not that I am aiming for perfection or anything, that would make me less than KIND, which is also a quality we will be painting on the stinking coconuts.

JOY was fair, I had Kennedy make just a couple of changes, but it wasn’t terrible. Next Kennedy chose LOVE. I really wanted to do LOVE, so I might have been a little less than GENTLE with her when I made her start over because I didn’t like the finished product.

Kennedy wasn’t FAITHFUL to the project and she left. Presley was already long gone by this point. There I was sitting in the floor of the garage, painting coconuts by myself. What a nut job!

The whole point of this was to spend time with my children, having fun and talking about the virtues God gives us through His Spirit and wants us to display to the world. But instead I made it about the idol of perfection. I could have been teaching my girls principles that really matter; instead I was focused on the cuteness of the project.

Are you like me and constantly battling this tug of war with what really matters? Putting focus on things that will eventually rot and be destroyed? Placing so much importance on the cuteness of coconuts is like chasing the wind … completely and utterly useless and exhausting.

These coconuts will now be a great reminder to me that fruitful virtues are what I should be striving to achieve. As the coconuts fade and rot, which they inevitably will, I will be reminded of the treasures that will never be destroyed.

Karen Culbertson is a founding partner of SaltTee, Premium Christian t-shirts with a story to tell. 100% of all profits from the sale of our soft and comfy premium t-shirts is given directly to ministry efforts in the Dominican Republic. Support this ministry by purchasing your SaltTee today.

Open Your Hymnal to Page 337

I grew up singing hymns in church. Hymns are almost a thing of the past and while I enjoy the more contemporary music we sing at church today, there is something about hymns I love. They are like comfort food for my soul.

Today we wrapped up our last day at the North American Christian convention. I met so many inspiring people serving the “least of these” throughout the world. I met people who serve the less fortunate in Jamaica, people who provide counseling to those who can’t afford it, people who serve the deaf community, people who write books walking new believers in Christ through the before and after steps of baptism.

Christ followers are a motley crew (not the band) of people and although our commonalities vary, we share the same passion. We all love Jesus and are passionate about our purpose during this journey on earth. I was finding myself sad this week because most of these people, I will never see again.

Last night at the main session we sang an old hymn together … “When we all get to heaven.” I looked out at a sea of believers and thought; this is just a glimpse of what heaven is. Thousands of people from a variety of nations, sharing the passion of praising our awesome God! Words can’t even begin to describe my emotions.

My sadness about never seeing my new friends again turned into joy. I won’t see most of the people I met this week on this side of eternity. However, these wonderful people, shining the light of Jesus to all the nations of God’s beautiful creation will sing with me again one day. Only this time it will be face to face with Jesus … the One who has strung this ragamuffin crew all together.

Karen Culbertson is a founding partner of SaltTee, Premium Christian t-shirts with a story to tell. 100% of all profits from the sale of our soft and comfy premium t-shirts is given directly to ministry efforts in the Dominican Republic. Support this ministry by purchasing your SaltTee today.

Do You Only See the Rain?

Get that frown off your face put a smile in its place, let the love of Jesus Christ show through. This is the song I sing to my kids when they are being grumpy about getting their hair brushed, their faces washed, or being grumpy about life in general.

Today it was a song I sang in my heart to remind me to quit grumbling. I am in a small community in the Dominican Republic this week on a mission trip and I’ve been a bit of a complainer. The floors aren’t clean in the dorm room, the waste baskets by the toilet are overflowing with our USED toilet paper (can’t flush the TP in the DR), I have felt unsafe a couple of times, I feel dirty and stinky, etc.

What a diva I am being, I’m in a third world country, not the Ritz. Yesterday an urge to read James overcame me. One thing I love about the Word of God is it is living. Reading something today, that I read five years ago, could impact me completely differently today.

Typically I love James because it is a book of wisdom, it’s the Proverbs of the New Testament, and most famously known for the “grace without works is dead” line (James 2:7). It’s why I come to the Dominican, to live out my faith.

This time James spoke to me about being humble and controlling my tongue. I needed that refresher. Why should I complain and expect the trash cans to be emptied or the floors to be swept by someone else. I should rejoice in having the opportunity in doing lowly jobs. Jesus washed his disciples’ dirty feet. Who do I think I am?

I am here in the Dominican this week to serve but I wanted to serve on my terms and to serve only the people of the Dominican. I missed an opportunity to serve our team by grumbling about the situation instead of doing something about it. It’s one of the 5099 things about myself I need to work on … looking for the opportunities in circumstances instead of the reasons to complain.

Do you grumble and complain? Do you only see the rain? Then thank God my friend that you can see. Dry your eyes, clear your sight. Look to the left, look to the right. You’re really in good company.

Karen Culbertson is a founding partner of SaltTee, Christian t-shirts with a story to tell. 100% of all profits from the sale of our soft and comfy premium t-shirts is given directly to ministry efforts in the Dominican Republic. Support this ministry by purchasing your SaltTee today.

It Takes a Village

It takes a village. I’m almost scared to put that in writing after the backlash Hillary Clinton received after saying those words. I have learned in the past few weeks though, how true it is. Not only does it take a village to raise a child, it takes a village to live on this planet.

Brian is having surgery today. I am sitting in the hospital beside him as I write this because I am trying to concentrate on something else since I almost passed out when they took his blood. Fortunately, we have also had several other things this morning to keep us occupied, since the doctor is running several hours late. This is where the village comes in.

It is not even 8am and Brian has already had 5 visitors to the hospital. Our pastor was here before we even got here at 5:30am. Brian’s parents were also here first thing this morning. My phone, email and Facebook page has kept me busy in the meantime. All of our village people reaching out to us to check on us, pray for us and offer to help us.

My niece arrived yesterday to spend the night and take care of our three girls. Our good friends and work family are coming tonight to fix the kids steak and spend the night with them so I can be with Brian at the hospital. Our church family and Sunday school class have been overwhelming us with physical and spiritual support through their presence, prayer and offers to help. Our friends and school family have volunteered to set up meals and child care.

I am honestly speechless because the biggest lie Satan usually whispers in my ear is, you don’t matter to anyone. Guess God wanted to show me in a big way how wrong he was … BOOYAH!

It wasn’t that long ago that if something like this happened, we would have went through this ordeal alone. My husband and I are both introverts at heart. We require a lot of quiet time to think and process and open up. We sat in the back row at church, strategically arriving after the “hug your neighbor” portion of service and bolted at the last song to beat the crowds at child care pick up. We worked with each other from our home office. Our kids were not really old enough to be in any activities that required us to interact with anyone. All of that was perfectly OK with us. We were completely isolated and unaware of what we were missing.

I am so glad God intervened and pushed us out of our comfort zones.

A few years ago, at the exact same time, God put on my heart and Brian’s heart to get more involved. We started volunteering more at church and in our kid’s activities, we started attending Sunday school and bible studies and we actually got out of the car when we picked the kids up at school instead of just going thought the car pool line.

If anyone reading this doesn’t have a village, I highly recommend them. It is amazing how small life changes, have filled our life with an abundance of people and more importantly people I love.

So to our Sunday School class, Thursday morning ladies bible study, pastors and elders, work family, small group, lifelong friends, school family, and people who are my family through birth and marriage, you rock and I love you. You are the best village people ever!!!!!!

Not for a Moment

I’ve dealt with back pain all of my adult life. It started in college and has continued to get worse over the years. I’m told I have several herniated discs and the spine of a 70 year old (I’m 37 years old). I’ve never been in an accident. The best anyone can tell, it’s simply bad genes. I’ve been able to manage it over the years with physical therapy, injections, stretching, and working out, all with varying degrees of success.

In the last month, I’ve had a major flare up, and have experienced the most intense physical pain of my life. I’m sure there are worse physical pains, but in my personal experience, this has been my worst pain ever. I can’t find a comfortable position. I can’t sleep at night. I lie in bed all day, missing time from work and even worse, missing time with my family.

Yesterday as I was feeling sorry for myself driving to yet another doctor appointment, I was listening to the radio and heard the song “Not for a Moment” by Meredith Andrews. Honestly, it’s not my style. It is one of those sappy girly songs I usually zone out on. But in my pain, as I drove to have another MRI performed, the lyrics really stood out to me.

“When I thought You were a thousand miles away, Not for a moment did You forsake me. After all You are constant. After all You are only good. After all You are sovereign. Not for a moment will You forsake me … In my heart at my worst … even in the dark … even when it’s hard … You will never leave me.”

WOW! (and thank you to WAY-FM for always seeming to play the perfect song at the perfect time).

In my pity party, I felt like God had forsaken me. My prayers weren’t being answered fast enough. I actually stopped praying because I wasn’t getting relief from the pain fast enough. Have you ever done that? Not prayed because you just didn’t expect God to answer it anyway, because you felt like God had forsaken you?

As I sit at the stoplight in more pain than I’ve even experienced, I was overcome by emotion as I thought about the pain Jesus suffered for me on the cross … for my sins. His pain and suffering, for just Brian’s sins, far exceeded the excruciating back pain I am experiencing right now. And yet, he freely took upon Himself the pain and punishment for sins of the entire world from the beginning of time to the end of days. I can not begin to fathom the pain, agony and suffering He experienced as He hung on the cross, in total humiliation, paying our debt.

The pain was so intense Jesus cried out “Father, why have you forsaken me?” We have no ability to appreciate the utterly horrific experience of having the sins of the world put upon Jesus as He hung, in excruciating pain. The physical pain was immense, worse than a billion herniated discs. And yet the spiritual pain must have been so much worse.

How can I ever doubt God’s love for me?

God will never forsake me, not for a moment. He will never forsake you, even when it’s hard. He loves you and me so abundantly that He came down from His thrown to suffer pain like we can’t begin to fathom, so that we can have abundant life like we could never imagine. So in my pain today, I still say, blessed be the name of the Lord, who will never ever forsake me.

I’d love to hear about times when you thought God had forsaken you. Feel free to leave comments below to help encourage others.