Tag Archives: Hillsong United

Turn Around

It’s been 7 weeks since my miracle occurred.  Now that all of those accusing voices of guilt and shame are finally gone, they’ve made room for a new voice that says, “You’re a heretic.  It can’t possibly be that simple.”

I feel a little like Bart Millard from MercyMe in his song “Wishful Thinking“:

But now my eyes are open wide
If this is wrong
I don’t wanna be right

But I do want to be right.  I know you can be sincere, but still be sincerely wrong.  I get that.  But I want to be accurate.  I want to be Biblically accurate.

My post called “Moment by Moment” was about how I had turned away from God.  I was so convinced that He was angry with me, and trying harder wasn’t getting me anywhere, that I had turned away and stopped asking for forgiveness.  At the beginning of the post, I said that nothing in my life had changed, but yet EVERYTHING had changed, leading me to ask “what changed?”  I concluded the post with a Henry Ford quote and the answer to my question:  my mind was changed.

It didn’t strike me until after I had posted the blog, but that’s exactly what God told me about sin and repentance.  My “sin” was that I had “turned away” from God.  And “repentance” means “to turn around” and “to change one’s mind.”  That’s exactly what happened.  My mind was changed and I turned around to embrace the God who loves me and is not mad at me.  And all of those condemning voices were silenced.

I heard it explained this way before.  If I am walking against a strong wind, I may feel that “the wind is against me.”  And if I turn around, I may feel that “the wind is now with me.”  But the wind didn’t change.  I was the one who changed direction in relation to the wind.  God doesn’t change either (Psalm 55:19).  But we have the ability to change our direction in relation to Him.

The problem comes when we’ve turned away and we think He’s angry with us and that He’ll punish us if we turn back to Him.  Or that we have to somehow “make it up to Him” and “do better” before He’ll take us back.  Our pastor, Chris Zarbaugh, explained it this way.  Chris said that no matter how far we have traveled from God, how far we have gone in the opposite direction, even if we’ve walked 10,000 steps away (or 10,000 miles away), it only takes one step to turn around.  Even though we walked away, God didn’t go anywhere.  He’s always been right there, longing for us to turn around.

God is always pursuing us, but He’s too much of a gentleman to tackle us.  He wants real love, not robotic love.  So He’s patient with us.  The Apostle Peter said that is why God hasn’t sent Jesus back yet: “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” 2 Peter 3:9 (NLT)

He wants us to repent – to change our minds about Him and to turn around.  He’s waiting for us.  He loves us.  He’s not angry with us.  Maybe we had an earthly father who was  angry with us, so we figure our Heavenly Father must feel the same way.  But He doesn’t.  If you haven’t read “The Face of Grace“, check it out, especially the picture that Jordan Rose drew last year.  Every time I sing “Christ is Enough“, I think of that picture:

I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back
The cross before me, the world behind me, no turning back

And if you’re concerned about the “He does not want anyone to be destroyed” part (what kind of a Good God would destroy people?), I was too.  Check out Reconciling Wrath.

And what about that voice yelling “heresy!”?  Jesus redeemed that.

This is what the Sovereign Lord,
 the Holy One of Israel, says:
 “Only in returning to me
 and resting in me will you be saved.” Isaiah 30:15 (NLT)



Look Up

Worry.  Anxiety.  Depression.  Hopelessness.  I’ve struggled with all of them for as long as I can remember.  If you see me out and about, you probably know the “smiling Beth”, always happy-happy.  But if you lived with me, you’d know the other side.  Not pretty.

Chris Zarbaugh taught for the last 2 weekends about a process of asking questions when something big happens in your life and you don’t know what to do.  One half was about observing, reflecting on and discussing what has happened.  The other half was about putting together a plan, setting up accountability and acting on the plan.  The goofy thing is that I do pretty well with the “big” stuff of life.  It’s all the little things that get me down.

So, I started asking, what do I need to do when I’m feeling hopeless and overwhelmed?  I’ve observed, reflected and discussed my melancholy state over and over again until I’m blue in the face.  I know what it is.  But what am I supposed to do about it?  What’s my action plan?  My answer came over the last couple days.

1) In May, Kensington played a video entitled “Look Up” at a weekend service.  The video ends with this line: “Look up from your phone, shut down that display, stop watching this video, live life the real way.”  There are now several response videos entitled “Look Down“, asking if social media is really so bad.  John and I were watching a couple of those responses before church Sunday morning.

2) As we left the church parking lot, we asked Jordan what she learned in class.  Turns out that we had all been learning about Peter walking on water towards Jesus in Matthew 14.  Jordan said she learned that we need to “look up” and keep our eyes on Jesus.  I asked her what we would see and what would happen to us if we “look down” instead.  She said we would only see the waves under our feet and we would drown.

3) I saw the trailer for “Interstellar” today.  I’d never heard of this movie before, but I was struck by the first line:  “We used to look up in the sky and wonder at our place in the stars, and now we look down and worry about our place in the dirt.”

Sunday’s service ended with a beautiful rendition of “Oceans”, sung by Cheryl Bollinger.

I will call upon Your name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine

That was my answer.  Look up.  Call upon His name.  Keep my eyes above the waves.  Don’t look down at the waves or the dirt, but instead look up.  For accountability, I really need to ask for help.  I need to let people know I’m struggling and why (even if it seems like a really stupid reason).  And for action?  Turn on the music and turn it up loud.

Need more action steps?  I wrote this a couple weeks later.  I hope it really is helpful advice:  Robin Williams & (Not So) Helpful Advice