Monday, October 24, 2016

3 Little Lies: About God

We all know Satan is a liar. Jesus Himself tells us Satan invented lying.

But why do we still get caught up in his lies?

I think our main problem is we don't know how to spot them, or that they're so small, phrased just right, that we began not to notice they are contrary to what the Bible tells us (one of the reasons it is VITAL to have a daily time in the Word!).

And they tend to play on our emotions. Satan knows he can get to us easier through our feelings than our brains.

So for the next few weeks, let's take a look at some of the different lies we're told, and what the truth really is.

This week, let's take a look and see what three lies Satan wants us to believe about God.

1. If I mess up, God's done with me/I have to earn His approval.

"That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves;
it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." ~Ephesians 2:7-9, NKJV

You see this a lot in false religions. Buddhism teaches that, in order to end our suffering (nirvana), we must be good. The Quran teaches that good works are the only path to acceptance. Roman Catholicism demands penance for sins. According to Hinduism, the way to end the reincarnation cycle includes being utterly selfless. Mormonism takes another tack at this by denying our sin nature in the first place. Jehovah's Witnesses try to slide it by you by claiming to believe that only God's grace saves, but tacking on the conditions of being baptized and completely transforming your life* to faith.

Of all the major world religions (and I would hazard to guess all the world religions), Biblical Christianity is the ONLY one which teaches that while we are hopeless sinners, unable to do anything to save ourselves, God loved us enough to provide a way for forgiveness through faith in Christ's sacrifice.

But for some reason, we keep falling into this trap. Even though it goes directly against what the Bible teaches, we're so tempted to believe that, if we are just good enough, God will be happy with us. That in order to please God, to truly be accepted by Him, we need to do a whole bunch of good stuff.

If we continue on to verse 10, we read that yes, we as Christians are supposed to do good works. God wants us to be perfect, to strive to be like Him. But we don't earn His approval that way. It is through admitting our sinfulness and letting Christ clothe us in His righteousness that we receive grace. We please God by serving Him through good works, but it has NOTHING to do with His acceptance of us.

Where a lot of people get mixed up is probably the idea of consequences. God forgives. But that doesn't mean you won't suffer the consequences of what you've done.

God removes our sin as far as the east is from the west, and Jesus has paid the final price for our sins. But there's still the earthly consequences to bear.

Take a look at David. God forgave him for murdering Uriah and sleeping with the guy's wife, but he still had to suffer the consequences.

2. God can't help me with my problem

"Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You." ~ Jeremiah 32:17 NKJV

We're talking about the God of the universe, right? The God Who made everything? The God Who the Bible tells us of, where time and time again He got His people out of the messes they created for themselves?

But it's so easy to think that the God Who sent water to flood the entire earth can't help with college tuition. Or that the One Who caused the sun to stand still at the plea of Joshua can't provide a godly husband.

I feel like with this one we often get caught up in our own thing, where we're convinced that it's God's will for us to do this or to attend that. Whereas the truth could be that God doesn't want us to go to college (crud, did I say that?) or that God wants us to get married later in life, or maybe not at all.

Nothing is too hard for God. He can help us with any problem we have. The problem is, it might not be in the way we'd hoped for, or He might want us to wait.

3.God doesn't really care about me.

On the surface, this seems like the most ridiculous, like we'd never believe this one. After all, almost all of us know John 3:16. God loved us enough to send Jesus to save us from our sins.

But we get caught up in the small day-to-day life stuff. Does God really love me enough to guide my path? Does He really love me enough to provide for my needs? Does He really know who I am, out of the billions of people on this earth?

He guided Ruth, a stranger in Israel, to the field of Boaz.

He provided food for the widow and her son during a famine, even though their supplies should've run out long ago.

He knew exactly who Gideon is, though he was the least of his father's house.

Are we really that different from them? If God could lead and provide for those women, why wouldn't He do the same for us? If He knew who Gideon was, why wouldn't He know who we are?

God always cares. He loves us more than we can imagine. But sometimes in the midst of our "small" problems, we forget that if God gave us a solution to our #1 really big "unsolvable" problem (our sin separating us from Him) then why wouldn't He care enough to help us solve our little problems we face in daily life?

God is merciful, though we may have to deal with consequences of our sins.

God is powerful enough to deal with all our problems, though His solution/timing may not be ours.

God is gracious enough to care about our problems, and has already solved our biggest one.

Satan lies about God, but he also lies about himself. We'll take a look at three of those lies next week.

*Of course, true faith in God will produce a transformed life, but it is not a condition of salvation. Faith alone saves, but changed lives are a result of salvation and one of the most powerful witnesses to unsaved friends and family!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

We're the Problem

This coming election is a mess. That's no secret. I've yet to find anyone who is strongly for Trump or Clinton who isn't delusional. I mean, we're talking about the presidency of the U.S.A., a position which used to be reserved for the most qualified, most able candidate. Here in 2016, we have two candidates who are neither qualified or able, who have committed deeds and made statements that past generations wouldn't have allowed of town mayors, let alone the president of the United States. The only chance we have of having a decent president may be if a write-in or third party candidate gets elected, and even then it's probably a long-shot.

It doesn't end there. Just looking at the direction this country has been heading is kind of scary. We started out as a country where most of the founding fathers at least acknowledged God's existence and power. How did we end up as one where for a Christian to express his or her beliefs is now labeled "intolerant" or some type of phobia?

But the U.S.A.'s problem isn't so much keeping one of these candidates out of the White House. After all, if God could harden Pharaoh's heart, I'm pretty sure He can deal with whichever of these "wonderful" choices get in there. And though as we head nearer to the Tribulation we're going to see greater and greater evil, God's power hasn't slacked where He can't shield His own and bring the lost to Himself.

If we're honest, most of the problem with this country is us.

We who claim Christ's Name, but resemble the devil more than Jesus.
We who claim to be servants of God, but follow very few of His commands.

Here's what I mean:

1. We treat marriage as worthless.

I've seen conflicting results as to what percentage of Christian couples end up divorced. Some reports say the percentage is high, others not so high.

But our view of marriage is reflected in our view of sex and its proper place in a relationship. If we're willing to "go all the way" before the vows are exchanged, we really have a poor view of marriage and its sacredness. Living and sleeping together before marriage, common even among those claiming to be Christians, takes that precious gift and throws it in the manure pile.

2. We don't seek His Face.

Supposedly, 72% of pastors don't crack open the Word unless they're preparing to preach from it. Of course, technically you could say that all Bible reading is lesson planning, but this implies that only about a quarter of pastors actually have daily devotions. This is pastors we're talking about, men who are supposed to shepherd God's people. How many Christians are actually opening their Bibles?

We complain about how messed up the U.S. is, but what about how messed up we are, that we aren't seeking out a better relationship with the One Who gives us life?

3. We disregard our leaders.

When Paul wrote to Timothy, he urges prayer for our leaders. How many of us are praying for Obama, Biden, and our governors? How many of us pray for Hillary and Donald?

We fail to pray that God would work in their hearts so they would do good and not evil in this nation. We who have God dwelling in us know how hard it is to do the right thing. How much harder for those who don't have Jesus? We have the Source of Wisdom indwelling us, and yet we fail to pray that God would give our leaders wisdom, leaving them wide open for Satan.

Instead, too many of us are claiming the name of Christ while blatantly breaking as many laws as we can (which laws, FYI, we are commanded by God to obey unless they go against His commands). Stealing, pillaging, tax evasion, destroying/defacing public or private property: you name it, someone who claims Christ is doing it. I did a quick search, and found a graffiti artist who claims to be a Christian, whose art is found in "various restaurant bathrooms (LOL)" ( Of course, he could be getting permission, but I don't think God approves of vandalizing no matter what you spray paint on there.

4. We don't give a fruitcake about the poor and lost.

Regardless of whether you believe in a solid 10% tithe or just free giving out of what God has given you, we'll failing at both. We're arguably one if not the richest nation in the world, and yet we're giving less than 5%? That's shameful. What on earth are we doing with all of God's money?

Sadly, I'd hazard to guess that most of it we're spending on ourselves. We've been caught up in the craze for the latest and greatest, seeking out material goods at a rate our unsaved neighbors would be proud of.

Things aren't bad. But we're starting to shove God out with them. And it has to stop.

5. We don't speak the truth.

We as a people have become cowards for Christ. Instead of speaking out against what the Bible teaches as sin (such as homosexuality, adultery, women pastors, welfare abusers*, covetousness, etc.), we are too busy swilling out a watered-down version of something that might've been the Gospel at one time.

Truth is, the truth isn't popular. The truth won't get us many friends. But denying the truth is a sure way to help people down the road to Hell.

6. We don't speak it in love.

On the flip side, some of us are very good at speaking the truth, but terrible at speaking it in love. Jesus didn't call us to bomb Planned Parenthood clinics, or to bully gay kids. The only people we ever read about Jesus even using a harsh word against were the religious leaders, who claimed to know God while they denied Him in their actions and attitudes. Only once that I could find does the Bible make mention of Jesus using violence. So why are we taking that 1% and utilizing it 99% of the time?

People who are living in sin are hurting, broken people desperately in need of the forgiveness and love of our just and merciful God. We need to speak the truth, but we also need to pray for their eyes to be opened, that Satan wouldn't be able to deceive them anymore, that God would work in their hearts to draw them to Him. We need to call sin what it is, and we need to show the love of God. Why, when Jesus regularly ate with sinners, are we disparaging them? Especially when it's only by the grace of God that we're any different?

7. We trample on Jesus' sacrifice.

We do lip service to Jesus' death on the cross. But we spit at it heedlessly.

Could someone look at the way we live and honestly believe there's something different about us? That the merciful God and Lord of all saved us from our sins, and is making us new? If not, we need to pray for God to fix our lives.

Jesus died to set us free from our sins, but all too often we don't want to be free from them, we just want to be free from the consequences of them. We say a quick sorry but go right back to rolling in the muck Jesus has cleansed us from.

The U.S. is a mess, and it will continue to grow worse and worse until Jesus returns. But we shouldn't be growing worse with it. We should be going in the opposite direction, getting better and better through the renewing of God's Spirit in us. So what's happening? What on earth are we doing?

This country is only going to see Christ through us. What are we showing them? Are we showing them a righteous and loving God, just and merciful, Who hates sin but loves the sinner in spite of their actions? Or are we showing that God really doesn't give a circus peanut about anybody, that He's no better than those Roman myths of lecherous gods, that He commands one thing while doing the opposite?

*Not those who are unable to work or can't find a job, but those who refuse to work even though they are perfectly able to and jobs are spewing into their paths.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Faith and a Gray Cat

She was just supposed to go in for a checkup and blood draw before she got a dental done. No big deal, routine for a 14-year-old cat (that's an old fogie cat FYI).

She was little, but she is a runt, she's always been little. Only when she was rather fat was she more than 8 pounds. 6-7 was a good weight for her.

My little babe
I sat in the waiting room, my fur baby in her carrier beside me, giving me her signature stink eye glare. She'd ignore me the rest of the day when we got home, but I was just over the flu, and gave more thought to how much longer we'd be waiting than what mood my cat would be in when we got back home.

When we were called back and the tech weighed her, she was a little light. Closer to 5 pounds than 6. But she was old, and cats tend to lean out when they get old.

The vet was a little concerned, but thought it might be a thyroid issue. They drew blood, and sent me on my way after scheduling MeMe's dental.

The blood work showed high liver enzymes. The vet thought it better to wait, to get MeMe's liver issue fixed before we proceeded with the dental. They gave me a box of medicine, and hope that this issue would be resolved in a month.

That appointment was January 15.

My fur baby still has not been cleared for the dental.

My little cat has been on round after round of the liver medication, has been back for weight checks at least monthly, and is on steroids to help her eat.

She has had days where she gobbles up whatever I put in front of her, and days where even eating her favorite food is too much for her stomach.

She went from being the bully* of my other cats to being easily pushed out of the way by them at dinnertime. I feed her by herself, but she struggles to eat when I'm not around.**

Now her teeth bother her, she needs a dental, but the vet isn't sure she's healthy enough to have it.

And it tears me up inside.

I can't possibly imagine the pain parents go through watching their sick child struggle to get well. But this is the closest I can come. Call me a crazy cat lady, but my little girl is the closest thing I can imagine to having a child. And it hurts like crazy, watching her struggle, seeing her start to get better, and then slip backwards.

And sometimes, it's hard to believe God hears my pleas, that He sees this little gray cat, and that His heart breaks even more than mine does over her, over the pain I'm going through watching her suffer.

But He does.

Why then hasn't He healed her? Why hasn't He taken her, so she (and I) don't have to go through this any more? Will I have to make that choice, when the vet says there's no more hope?

I don't know.

My only answer is that He must be teaching me about faith.

Faith is defined as being "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1 NKJV). Right now, I can't see what on earth good it is for my little gray fur baby to suffer. I don't understand, and if I'm completely honest, part of me is too busy throwing a little hissy fit to care about understanding. But faith is believing anyway, even though we have no shred of proof beyond what God has promised in the Bible.

Faith is believing that He knows about my pain, and that He won't leave me to bear it alone.

Faith is trusting that He's working this out for my good, even though I can't see it right now.

So when you hear the devilish whispers, telling you that God doesn't care, that He's left you to sink or swim on your own, have them "talk to the hand." Dare to believe that God, Who was mighty enough to create the world, Who loved you enough to die on a cross, is also faithful enough to keep His promises. We can't see it now. We might never see it on earth. But you can bet your paychecks for life that He will keep each and every one of them.

I pray that, whatever you're going through, that God would remind you that He is faithful. That He would help you have faith in Him. And I ask that you pray for me, that I would remember that as well.

How has God been teaching you about faith?

*All the other cats had at least a pound on her when she weighed 7, now most of them have 2 or more.
**She could be locked in a room all day by herself with food, but she doesn't eat well unless I personally sit with her and feed her. Yes, she probably is spoiled (I can almost guarantee it).

Monday, April 18, 2016

"Everyone else is"

I glanced at the clock. Not even 12:30, and already I wished the school day was over. I knew how the kids felt. They must be impatient for Spring Break to begin as well. Their behavior certainly said so.

It was nearing the end, though. After being pulled to cover for meetings where there were no substitute teachers, only study halls remained before the students would be herded into the auditorium to watch a documentary for the rest of the afternoon. Two study halls had been canceled, and I had just gotten through one. That left only one more before the movie. How bad could it be?

The kids traipsed in, and took their seats at the computers as I gave out the instructions. Those who had forgotten their login info were doomed to reading. Most of the students, though, found talking about spring break plans with their peers more compelling than following directions.

As I tried to still the room back into a studious quiet, someone decided to make sound effects. As soon as I called Kevin* over, the room buzzed again.

I took a deep breath, begging for a little more patience. "Kevin," I asked, "why did you start making those noises right after I told everyone to stop?"

Kevin looked up at me, his dark eyes wide behind his glasses. As if I'd asked him to eat a ream of paper. "But everyone else's talking."

For a moment, I didn't know what to say. I had called for quiet because everyone was talking. Was he being smart with me? "But why are you talking when I asked everyone to stop?" I asked again.

The same stare. My goodness, the kid means it! "Everyone else is," he said again, faltering a little.

I bit my lip. He wasn't a bad kid. I had been in his classroom a couple of times last year. But how could I make him understand?

The room crept into a roar. I called for quiet again, and turned back to him. "Kevin," I said, "I asked you to stop. Do you think you should keep talking afterwards, regardless of what anyone else does?"

A blank stare. I was losing him. I tried again, keeping my voice calm. "Do you think you should?"

No change. The kid could've been a statue. I kept back my sigh. "Please, stop," I said, motioning him back.  As he returned to his computer, I quieted the room again. But I couldn't get our conversation out of our mind.

Because I had done the same thing so many times.

We all do, if we're honest. Whether it's the language we use, the TV shows we watch, or the music we listen to, we judge how we should act based on those around us.

Why shouldn't I read 50 Shades? Everyone else is...

I really shouldn't peek at those test answers, but the rest of the class is, so it's not really cheating if we're all doing it...

How can abortion really be murder? All those scientists say it's just a bunch of cells...

I really don't feel right about going to that party, but all my friends are going, so I guess it's okay...

God gave us the Bible to guide us in our decisions, but we tend to ignore it in favor of popular opinion. Like Kevin, who reasoned that there was no reason for him to stop talking if other kids didn't, we think that we get a free pass because of other people's behavior.

But that's just a lie Satan likes to tell us, that we're too willing to believe. After all, it's hard to stay strong and refuse to participate when "everyone else" is. It's much easier just to go along with it, to do what we really want to do anyway, to sugarcoat it in the "everyone else is" wrapper.

I really like this glass. I'll take it, the restaurant has more. And my friend is taking the dip bowl, so it's not that big of deal.

I don't really feel like going to work today. I have so much at home to get done. I'll just take a sick day, that's what everyone else does.
Since when did our standard become what "everyone else" is doing? God's Word is supposed to be the sole authority in our lives. We're supposed to judge our behavior, make our decisions, based on what the Bible says is right and wrong, not what our friends or the media or scientists or any other person says.

I want to read that book, but the reviews say it's full of sleeping around. I want to think about pure things...

This test would be so much easier if I could just take a quick look, but it's wrong to cheat...

The Bible says God forms us in the womb...

If my conscience is telling me not to go, I shouldn't...

I really do like this glass, but it's not mine...

I have a responsibility to my boss, and those sick days are for when I'm sick, not when I don't feel like going...

We need to return to the Bible as our guide, not popular opinion. God's standards don't change with people's whims. What He said was wrong 2000 years ago when the Bible was written is still wrong today. If we truly serve Him, if we truly desire to please Him, why are we letting Satan convince us otherwise?

We can't let "everyone else" be our cop-out any more.

*This isn't his real name, but as best as I remember, the rest of the story is how it happened.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

"He Knows Them All"

"...Who among us doesn't have sin or discouragement? Who among us doesn't fail? There are a million things we don't want to let anybody know about us, but He knows them all. And He is not discouraged about us..." ~ K.P. Yohannan, founder, Gospel for Asia

Confession time: I am an overachiever. And while there are a lot of good things that can be said for having that kind of drive, it can also be a very dangerous thing.

Being an overachiever means that, if I fail at something, or if I don't get something done on my to-do-list, I feel like I've failed for that day. It doesn't matter if I got five other things done which were really important. I'm unhappy with myself for not getting that one little thing done.

For almost the whole month of July, dipping into August, I've been struggling with some health issues, and looking back on it, I feel like this area of my life is what God was trying to teach me about. There have been so many days these past weeks where I've felt like a total loser because I couldn't get done as much as I wanted to get done. I would keep telling myself things like, "Come on, are you serious?! You can do better than that! You need to learn to mange your time better..."

And of course, there were bits of truth in that. There were days where I could have worked a little harder, where I wasted time watching an episode of Major Crimes or Suits or Pretty Little Liars. There were days where I honestly did not give it my all, where I let my illness be an excuse.

But the amazing thing is that, despite what we feel about ourselves, despite being failures and hopeless in our own eyes, God doesn't see us that way. We fail, we get discouraged, we have incredibly high standards for ourselves that we try to attain alone without God's help. But even though we're constantly messing things up, even though we start to think of ourselves as total losers, God never gives up on us. He's constantly working in our lives to mold us into what He knows we can be.

The idea that haunts me is that, while we put up a good image of ourselves, while we hide things even from our closest friends and families that we don't want them to know, for fear of rejection, God knows all of it. He knows in exact detail every horrible thing we've done, every time we messed up a commitment to Him or to someone else, every time we fell flat on our face because we thought we could do life without Him, and yet He. Still. Loves. Us.

Isn't that amazing?

I see myself as a life failure because I didn't get my birds' cages cleaned, and yet He doesn't see me that way. I think of myself as hopeless because I ignored a friend who was hurting to complete my own deadlines, and yet He doesn't.

God see us all as we are: sinners who are in desperate need of His grace. Broken people who He can make new.

Psalm 139 tells us that God knows exactly who and what we are. He knows each part of us, each wicked way, each sin we're particularly vulnerable to. And yet He doesn't give up on us. He hedges us all about, He is ever leading us, ever guiding us. He knows what our end will be. He knows that, even though we fall far from Him, He can make something beautiful out of it.

God's never finished with us, even when we're ready to throw in the towel. And unlike those "white lies"* we tell others so we look a little better, unlike those secrets we keep because we don't dare let others know how we truly are, God knows every little thing about us, and still loves us.

Pretty mind-boggling, huh?

*Come on, we all know they're just lies.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

3 Things God Can't Do

I cringed writing this title. It just makes my skin crawl, the idea that God can't do something. Isn't that saying He's not all-powerful? But really, it's not a lessening of God's might that He can't/doesn't do these things, but rather a reassurance of the goodness and holiness of His character, and of just how powerful He is.

1. He can't lie

"Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began" ~ Titus 1:1-2 NKJV

Depending on the translation you use, this verse either says "cannot," doesn't," "can't," or some other variable of the same thing. The idea across them all is the same: lying is not something God does, it's not even in His nature. 

Unlike us, who sometimes struggle to tell the truth, who find lying much easier, God cannot and will not ever lie to us. Everything we read in the Bible, we can take as solid truth. God never wrote something in there that is a lie. He didn't lie about the free gift of salvation. He didn't lie about His holiness, or our own sinfulness. He didn't lie about His love for us, or how He's ever willing to forgive our sins and help us overcome them.

2. He can't change

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever" ~ Hebrews 13:8

God's stance on sin has been the same throughout the ages, and always will be. God has always been all-powerful, all-knowing, all-seeing, ever-present, and always will be.

This is great news! We don't need to worry that God will decide one day that Jesus' blood isn't enough to cover our sins. We don't need to worry that there may be some other "scripture" out there that tells us what God wants us to do in the 21st century. God's Word is God's Final Word. There are no updates to the Bible. There are no additions, no subtractions. Once the Bible was completed, that was it. There are no contradictions in God's Word.*

And God will never stop being all-powerful, all-knowing, etc. He doesn't change. The day will never come that He is no longer with us because He is no longer omnipresent. We never have to worry that He will grow weak and be dethroned by another "stronger god." We never have to worry that He doesn't know what's going on in our lives anymore. He never changes.

It's interesting to note that cult writings (at least all of the ones I'm aware of), even though they may claim to believe in God and be following Jesus, directly contradict pieces of Scripture. If something or someone tries to contradict or "update" the Bible, you can be confident it's not of God.

3. He can't lose

"Who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel" ~ 2 Timothy 1:9-10 

God has already won the battle with Satan. There isn't some war being waged over whether Jesus's sacrifice is going to be enough to redeem us from hell. His blood is enough. Jesus offers the free gift of salvation to any one who will accept it.

There is still a very real spiritual battle going on over souls, but the results are already in. God is victorious, and those who repent and place their faith in Him will get to worship at His feet forever. Whereas Satan and his followers, including those who refuse to repent, will be cast into an eternal pit of fire, an eternal dungeon, forever.

The final battle's already been won. The only question left for each of us is whose side we're going to be on.

What are your thoughts? Do you think there are some things Gods can't do? Or are you shaking your head and thinking "WHY DID I READ THIS?" Share in the comments below!

*Now there are some places where it looks like there might be contradictions, By careful study, though, you can see that those passages really aren't contradictions of each other, but instead different explanations/nuances. For example, the book of James makes it sound like salvation is through works, rather than grace. But in reality James is explaining how true faith is evidenced by works, rather than that works save (I believe Pastor John MacArthur delves into this issue in one of his sermons).

Thursday, May 14, 2015

4 Reasons to Slaughter Self Pity

We can find ourselves in a lot of traps as we're going along, trying to live for Christ and trying to act like one of His.

One of the worst is the Self Pity Pit.

I confess, I find myself falling into it when I'm really impatient about something in my life or really frustrated. But honestly, there's not much point to it.

Instead, self pity is guaranteed to make you even more worse off than you were.

And we can find ourselves "indulging" in it over the most ridiculous things.

Let me give you a very recent example.

After a series of health issues, I started on an elimination diet to see if I could pin point what is making me ill.

For those of you who don't know what one is, it's basically where you take certain foods out of your diet for an extended period of time (usually 3-4 weeks). After that, you add one food in at a time for a day or so and see whether it causes a reaction.

In other words, it's horrible (whoops, see what I mean? Self pity pops up where you least expect it).

So right now I can't eat 6 different foods, or a lot of sugar (fruit excluded), including gluten and dairy.

(sniff, bye mac 'n cheese)

The first few days were hard, but after a while it started getting easier, and after about ten days my stomach troubles started to clear up.

Then came last weekend.

My grandparents came for a visit.

There's an old family recipe for cinnamon rolls, which my grandfather actually copied down from his  grandmother (who probably threw him out of the kitchen after he made her measure every single ingredient for these rolls, she was a throw-it-together-and-see-what-happens kind of woman). Since they are his favorite, and he doesn't get them very often, my mom makes them for him almost every time he comes to visit.

Of course, we're talking Pennsylvania-Dutch cinnamon rolls. Full of things like butter and brown sugar, and of course heaps of cinnamon.

They're kind of my favorite too.

And I helped make them, but couldn't eat a single one.

(toot! toot! all aboard the self pity express!)

Of course, it was super hard not to have one while everyone else indulged. I think I practically dove into the pit that weekend. But I've come to realize 4 very good reasons to blow up that train as soon as it starts pulling in the station:

1. It doesn't solve your problem

I don't know about you, but sitting around having a pity party for myself never helped me out of my situation. It certainly didn't help me last weekend. I didn't get a cinnamon roll. I didn't get to the point where I didn't want one either. I wanted something I couldn't have the entire weekend.

2. It doesn't make you feel better.

Self pity is like chocolate cake (or cinnamon rolls). You eat a little bit, and it tastes sweet. But as you eat more and more, you only feel worse and worse.And not even a single crumb is really good for you.

I didn't feel better about myself wanting those cinnamon rolls. I didn't feel better about how I felt not eating them. I didn't feel better about anything going on that weekend.

3.  It causes you to forget what's going good in your life.

My stomach was feeling better, not cramping anymore or giving me trouble. And yet I was so miserable about the fact that I couldn't eat a cinnamon roll that I totally overlooked the fact that I could actually eat without feeling sick.

When we fall into self pity, we don't see the good things in our life any more. We're so focused on the fact that we don't have a full-time job or that our sister took the last apple, that we overlook the part-time job that pays pretty well, or the two oranges that were sitting right next to the apple.

4. It causes you to doubt God.

Self pity and trust in God are like oil and water, impossible to mix. Because if we really trusted that God had our best in mind, that our all-knowing, loving, merciful Father was working out each little detail of our lives to our good, that He has carefully crafted for each one of us a future in this life and riches untold in His presence forever in Heaven, why would we pity ourselves?

God was helping me figure out how to heal my body, which He designed so intricately and remarkably that nothing man has made comes even close to matching what a few cells can do, and here I was upset because I couldn't eat a piece of sugary dough.

Even though my situation may seem a little ridiculous, the reality is self pity is ridiculous in any situation. It is one thing to be sad (I am not telling you that if your cat dies you are not allowed to cry), but self pity goes beyond that, where we start feeling as if the world is out to get us, and woe-is-me-that-I'm-in-such-a-position.

The truth is, things don't always go our way, and sometimes they can be downright tragic. It could be something as "little" as my diet restrictions, or something as heart-wrenching as your boyfriend breaking up with you.  It's tough, it's terrible, but wallowing in self pity about it doesn't do us any good. We'll be sad, but we can't let ourselves get caught into feeling sorry for ourselves.

The cinnamon rolls are about gone. I'm trying not to give into self pity, but it's hard. We have to constantly be on our guards against it. I feel like it's one of Satan's favorite little tricks, because once he has gotten us to doubt God, it's so easy for us turn our back to Him.

So stay strong. Resist the urge. Stay away from self-pity and stick close to God. After all, He's going to work it out for your best anyway.