Monthly Archives: December 2016

Overwhelmed?

During the holiday season, I saw several posts on Facebook where friends basically said, “I am overwhelmed!” That’s easy to do around Christmastime. There are all the presents to buy and all the holiday gatherings for church and school and family. There are cookies to bake and cards to send out and plenty of places to go. When we get weighed down with all the stress, we become overwhelmed. It’s not just at the holiday season. We can be overwhelmed at any time. Would you believe that a prophet of God was overwhelmed? 

God told Ezekiel to deliver his message to the people of Judah. The message was that Babylon would destroy Jerusalem, the capital city. God was totally honest with Ezekiel. He said, “You will speak, but they will not listen and change their ways.” What a job description! “The Spirit then lifted me up and took me away, and I went in bitterness and in the anger of my spirit, with the strong hand of the Lord upon me. I came to the exiles who lived at Tel Abib near the Kebar River. And there, where they were living, I sat among them for seven days – overwhelmed.” (Ezekiel 3:14,15 NIV).

Some of the Jews were already in exile in Babylon. Ezekiel was part of that group. Now, he had to deliver the message that Jerusalem would be destroyed. Who would want to hear that? He sat there 7 days overwhelmed. What do you do when you are overwhelmed? Our typical reaction is similar. We tend to sit and worry and fret and not get much done, which leads to being further behind. Well, Ezekiel did not sit there forever. Eventually, he shares the message with others. What should we do when we are overwhelmed? Talk to God. Pray to him about what is overwhelming you. He can and will help. Talk to a friend. Many times, just talking about it releases the tension and is a big help. Also, that friend can open us up to our flaws. “You are doing too much.” Then, you can decide what to keep on doing and what you can let go. Or maybe that friend will help you see what you can start doing that will keep you from continuing in this cycle of being overwhelmed. Possibly learning to say the word, “No!” So if you are sitting there overwhelmed, you are in good company. Ezekiel was overwhelmed. Just don’t stay there!

Written by: Jimmy Hodges

The Holidays

 “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” Andy Williams sings these words to us every Christmas season. There are lots of great things about Christmastime. Life has reminded me, that it’s not the most wonderful time for some. They don’t have parents to go home to or children will not be coming home to them. Sometimes, this is because it’s impossible due to death. The loneliness sinks in deeper this time of year. Other times, it’s by choice. Somebody refuses to go home or invite them home, and the regret and missed opportunities are replayed in one’s mind. 

When you are busy with activities this time of year, it is easy to overlook a friend or family member for whom it’s not “the most wonderful time of the year”. But is this Christ-like? “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3,4 NIV). We need to step out of our comfort zone and invite that person we care about to share time together. Sometimes, this is just what the doctor ordered. Other times, that person will tell us, “It just brings back too many memories. I prefer to stay at home.” We respect that person and their privacy, but even when an offer is declined that individual appreciates you and I considering him or her.

Also, make the time to listen to someone when they are expressing their holiday blues. Sometimes, giving a person the time to vent and express their hurt and frustration is so helpful. Many times, people suppress their hurts because they feel like they have no one trustworthy to talk to. Hopefully, you and I can be that trustworthy person.

Are you down this time of year? I will share with you some words I call to mind when I am down. My Grandma often says something like this, “I could be down. But then I think about all the good times and memories we have. Then I’m not so down.” If I am missing someone in particular, I try to practice Grandma’s method. Relive that good memory and even though that person is gone, be thankful for that special time together. My mother has instilled in me the words of John Mellencamp, “Oh yeah, life goes on long after the thrill of living is gone.” We have our highs and we enjoy those. We have our lows, and frankly we don’t like those. But we keep going anyway. Too many people love and care about us to do otherwise. If you are in a valley, I encourage you to keep going. We love and care about you.

Written by: Jimmy Hodges

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Questioning God

Occasionally, I hear this statement, “We must not question God!” Have ever heard anyone say that? I have heard some very faithful Christians make that statement. Do you say that to yourself, “I must not question God?” I was reading through Jeremiah this week and was reminded of that statement.

In Jeremiah 32, God tells the prophet to buy a field from his uncle. Purchasing a field is a normal activity. What is uncommon is the timing. Jeremiah had been prophesying that the Babylonians would take away the Jews into exile. The Babylonians were right at the doorstep. So the prophet was buying land just before it was taken over by an invading army.

This transaction is full of symbolism. God wants the people to know, “Yes, you are going away for awhile. But you will return. One day, your descendants will live in the Promised Land again.” Jeremiah obeys God. He buys the field from his uncle. He is obedient, but he doesn’t like wasting money just as much as the next guy. It would be similar to buying a field you know is going to flood in 2017. Who would do that?

Jeremiah prays to God. He ends his prayer with, “And though the city will be handed over to the Babylonians, you, O Sovereign Lord, say to me, ‘Buy the field with silver and have the transaction witnessed.’” (Jeremiah 32:25 NIV). God does not throw a fit. He doesn’t say, “How dare you ask me any questions. I am God Almighty! No one questions me!” Here is his reply, “I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:27 NIV). Then, the Lord goes on to explain his actions for several verses. Then he summarizes by saying, “Once more fields will be bought in this land of which you say, ‘It is a desolate waste, without men or animals, for it has been handed over to the Babylonians.’”(Jeremiah 32:43 NIV).

God didn’t mind Jeremiah questioning him. He was glad to explain why he told Jeremiah to purchase land. God doesn’t care if you ask him questions. He is ready to explain himself. God doesn’t care if you question him. Questions lead to answers. My son Gabriel has always been full of questions about computers. That has led him to a lot of knowledge about the subject. I believe the same is true about God. Honest and sincere questions about God do not drive one from the faith, but further into a deeper relationship with God. So don’t be quiet. Raise your hand and ask God those questions. He has the answers. He will teach you his ways.

Written by: Jimmy Hodges

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