When You’re Tired

1-27-20

I spend a lot of my life tired. Physically, mentally, and or emotionally tired. Life can wear us down between stress from work, home, and church, even when we completely love all three. They’re still hard at times.

And sometimes I think about wanting to just take a break from it all. When I was in college I joked about having a pause button, and I actually drew one on a sticky note and put it on the wall. For some reason it never worked, but I kept hoping.

Everyone gets tired, but what about when it’s more than that? What about when it’s not just, oh, today was a really long day and I need to chill for half an hour and I’ll be alright? What if it’s I’ve been so tired for so long I’m forcing myself to put one foot in front of the other but I’m about to collapse?

Sometimes we get discouraged and burned out. This can happen to us at work, at home, or in our faith. If we aren’t careful, we’ll decide to quit. Maybe all at once, or maybe we just gradually run out like the batteries in a flashlight getting weaker as the beam fades into a glow and then blacks out.

That’s what happened to Elijah, the prophet. God had worked closely with him, and Elijah saw all sorts of miracles. Once he prayed that it wouldn’t rain, and the rain stopped for three years. He saw flour and oil be used and the supply not run out. He saw a widow’s son brought back to life.

But he also had to face one of the most wicked kings Israel ever had. King Ahab, his wife Jezebel, and the people who worshipped idols stood against Elijah. Jezebel told him she was going to kill him, and Elijah ran for his life. He separated himself from his servant and prayed.

But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, LORD, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!” – I Kings 19:4

Elijah had lots of opportunities for his faith to be built up. But even he had struggles with being spiritually exhausted. God took him on a journey by himself after that and took time with him to build up his faith before Elijah faced the people again.

If Elijah can struggle with faith deserts, then we surely can too. What’s important is how we deal with them. Notice that God didn’t tell Elijah he was lost because he was tired. God gave him what he needed so that he could keep going.

That’s what we need to do too. When we get tired, we need to figure out what to change to light our fire again, and then we need to get back to showing our lights to the world.

For the month of February, that’s what we’ll be talking about, but we’ll also have a daily email devotional with a specific topic and a daily challenge to build up our faith. If you’d like to join, you can sign up here.

Wishing you blessings until next time,

Heather

Attitude of Gratitude

1-12-20

Let’s talk about being grateful. There’s a lot of pressure to hustle and get ahead. Long hours of work in school or at a job are encouraged by our society. And working is a good thing; in fact, we’re supposed to work. What can become a problem is when we stop seeing the things that we gain as gifts and think that we’re responsible for what we have in life.

Really, everything that we have comes from God. So yes, we do have to work, and work hard sometimes, but it’s important to keep things in perspective.

As for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, and given him power to eat of it, to receive his heritage and rejoice in his labor—this is the gift of God. – Ecclesiastes‬ ‭5:19‬

Let’s never forget Who gave us the intelligence to receive an education, even though we do have to work at it, and the physical and mental abilities to perform a job that provides us with a salary. Let’s remember that God blessed us with the good health to be able to finish our education or hold down that job. And God protected us and homes and vehicles that we have so that we continue to own them, even though we’re really stewards of our possessions more than owners.

The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing; But the soul of the diligent shall be made rich. – Proverbs‬ ‭13:4‬ ‬

Not everyone who works hard will become wealthy, and a bank account with maximum zeros shouldn’t be our primary goal. But if we don’t work, that is if we aren’t willing to work, then we won’t be able to get what we want. Let’s take a second here and make sure it’s clear that being lazy and not working is vastly different than not being able to work. People who aren’t mentally or physically capable of working should be cared for and not degraded. But those of us who can do have a responsibility to provide for ourselves and our families.

For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread. – ‭‭II Thessalonians‬ ‭3:10-12‬

It’s easy to look at the people we go to school with, work with, or go to church with and notice what they have that we don’t. Maybe my coworker’s purse is newer and nicer than mine. Maybe a girl in my youth group has a new sweater that I’ve been wanting. Maybe I’m wearing the same coat for the third winter in a row and can’t stop thinking about how much I’d like a new one. Maybe a classmate has a car that has the latest bells and whistles and mine still has manual windows.

Jealousy and coveting can start so slowly and build until they’re ready to take us over before we realize what’s happening. Then maybe we start to get bitter because why shouldn’t we get to have those things too? When we start thinking we deserve things we can’t have, or don’t have because paying the electric bill is important, it can show up in how we treat each other.

Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. – James‬ ‭4:1-3‬

God wants to bless us. That doesn’t mean I should ask for this season’s coat when mine is still in good shape. But if I really do need a new coat because mine is getting worn out or the washing machine chewed holes in it, I can definitely pray about that and ask God to help me get it.

We don’t get everything we ask for, though. God hears all our requests and considers each of them. Then He gives us what we need most. Sometimes we don’t get what we want because it’s not good for us. In James 4:3, the Greek word for pleasures was associated with desire or lust. So this wasn’t just something clean we would enjoy. This involved sin.

Between school, a job, or sometimes both, and feeling like we really should have it a little easier, it’s easy to feel like we’re just going to take what we want out of life. Like we should have more than we do and we deserve to get it. Entitlement is a dangerous place to be, and it can start slowly and creep up on us just like jealousy. But God definitely doesn’t approve of this either.

The next couple passages are a little longer than usual, but I want us to look at them together. The first one, in Luke 14:7-11 is a story Jesus told.

So He told a parable to those who were invited, when He noted how they chose the best places, saying to them: “When you are invited by anyone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in the best place, lest one more honorable than you be invited by him; and he who invited you and him come and say to you, ‘Give place to this man,’ and then you begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher.’ Then you will have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” – ‭‭Luke‬ ‭14:7-11‬

God wants us to be humble so that we don’t think too highly of ourselves. If we’re having a Bible study at someone’s house, I shouldn’t give myself the nicest, cushiest chair. There might be an elderly man or woman who needs to sit in it and would be in pain in a metal folding chair when I might squirm a little, but I could handle it a lot easier than they could.

This teaching isn’t just about seating arrangements, though. It’s a principle for our perspective on life. We shouldn’t always try to get the best thing for ourselves at the expense of other people. We’re no more worthy than they are.

We also need to be careful not to expect people to do things for us. Yes, we should help each other, and we should be happy to do it. But we need to try our best to take care of ourselves first. Then if we can’t do something, let’s ask for help. Here’s one more parable Jesus told.

At that time God’s kingdom will be like ten girls who went to wait for the bridegroom. They took their lamps with them. Five of the girls were foolish, and five were wise. The foolish girls took their lamps with them, but they did not take extra oil for the lamps. The wise girls took their lamps and more oil in jars. When the bridegroom was very late, the girls could not keep their eyes open, and they all fell asleep. “At midnight someone announced, ‘The bridegroom is coming! Come and meet him!’ “Then all the girls woke up. They made their lamps ready. But the foolish girls said to the wise girls, ‘Give us some of your oil. The oil in our lamps is all gone.’ “The wise girls answered, ‘No! The oil we have might not be enough for all of us. But go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ – ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭25:1-9‬ ERV‬‬

Here, foolish meant morally heedless. So these five girls neglected to take what they would need. When they didn’t have enough, they wanted the girls who were prepared to share their oil. But they didn’t really even ask, did they? It sounds like they demanded it because they expected the people around them to make sure they were okay.

If we’re asking someone for help, we need to remember that they may be struggling too. Maybe our electric bill was $400 because the weather was so cold the last month. But our friend might have a hard time helping us, because their bill is likely high too, and they could be dealing with other issues at the same time like plumber bills to repair burst pipes.

When someone is able to help us, let’s remember that what they shared is something they could have used for themselves to get what they needed or wanted, but they valued us enough to give up what they could have had for our benefit. Let’s show that we’re thankful and never demand what we think we’re owed.

Let’s take care of each other as we go through this life, because it’s tough on everybody. When we can, let’s help other people and be glad we could. And when we need help, let’s ask, but let’s make sure we do it with the right attitude. Let’s try to remember too that nothing we have is guaranteed; it’s all a gift, and we’re blessed to have what we do.

Thanks for joining in! If you enjoyed this week’s episode, please share with someone. By the way, how about signing up for our February devotional series? We’ll be talking about how we get spiritually exhausted and how to recharge our faith so that we can keep sharing it. For the month of February we’ll have a daily devotional email. Even if you’re already signed up for the newsletter, sign up specifically for the devotionals if you want those so I’ll know to get them to you.

Sign up for the devotional email series here.

See you next time and wishing you blessings until then,

Heather

This Season

1-5-20

Hello, and welcome to the first post of 2020! If you’d like to check out the podcast episode, you can do that here.

I’ve had the idea of seasons on my mind lately. I hate change. So in any phase in my life, I tend to dig in my heels and find permanence. Or try to.

Thank God I haven’t been allowed to stay in some of my seasons.

Even when life is hard, and knocks me and my family down, and I crave change like lemonade after mowing the yard, the prospect of change sends me into a panic.

But nothing stays the same. Not the phase of school, not jobs, not families, not friends. Not really.

Maybe I keep the same job for several years, but my responsibilities there change.

Maybe I stay close to my family, but my relationship with them isn’t the same it was when I was eight.

And that hurts.

But it’s good.

Because we’ve grown.

This time of year may not be the prettiest, but there are things I love about it. I lose my breath when fog lifts up between the mountains and when frost swaddles the clover. I feel stillness under a blanket with hot chocolate watching the fire.

But I want spring to come.

To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted; A time to kill, And a time to heal; A time to break down, And a time to build up; A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing; A time to gain, And a time to lose; A time to keep, And a time to throw away; A time to tear, And a time to sew; A time to keep silence, And a time to speak; A time to love, And a time to hate; A time of war, and a time of peace. – Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

I’m trying desperately to acknowledge the seasons I’m in with my family, friends, and faith and revel in them while I have them. Because I know they’ll change. Some I’ll lose, because that’s how life is. Some I’ll keep, but they’ll never be just like they are now.

I lost my father almost 11 years ago, and it’s only been in the last year I feel myself thawing. For a long time I was numb. Then I started to feel emotions again, but not deeply and to my core the way I did before. Now I tear up at commercials and watching elderly couples holding hands when I hadn’t for a long time. And it’s not because I didn’t care, but emotions take a long time to recover.

I feel closer to myself this way, but I’m having to get reacquainted with my voice choking up when I start recording posts like this. And that’s okay. It hurts, and it’s new and familiar at the same time. I had to learn patience with myself then, and now I’m learning to be soft again.

Our experiences do change us, but we can choose how we are molded. Loss can make you surrender and grow bitter. It can make you grit your teeth and find strength in the One who is stronger than we are. It’s all in how we use the season.

Sometimes we have seasons with dreams and goals. I write fiction, for fun now, but I hope to someday publish. It sounds preposterous coming from me, but it’s my dream. I write to show that faith isn’t stuffy and irrelevant, and that even the dark times of the heart can be shared. Faith struggles don’t make us bad people. They make us people. And I want to find the extraordinary goodness in everyday lives.

The thing is, letting someone know they aren’t alone through your writing is only possible if you can share your writing. There’s a lot that goes into having a book published, not least of which is making sure it’s good enough to be published.

I’m in a writing season now where I’ve been working on it long enough that I feel like to justify continuing, I need something to happen to make it worth it. Some sign that it’s beneficial. And writing comes with a lot of rejection by nature, which is okay. But eventually, you need a yes. So at this time in this dream of mine, I have some decisions to make. Because seasons are good, but they don’t last forever. And I want the next season for my writing to start.

So I pray for opportunities to be opened and for me not to make something happen that isn’t God’s will just because I’m impatient. But it’s hard, isn’t it?

I know we can’t just sit back and wait on God to do everything. We have to make an effort. But just exactly where the line is between working as for the Lord and trying to do the work of the Lord gets a little fuzzy, at least for me.

I try to remember one of my longtime favorite verses:

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! – Psalms 46:10

Sometimes we just need to stop, take a breath, and soak in the knowledge that God is God. He’s got all this under control. What we need to do is search for what His will for our lives is and then embrace it.

He does have a plan for each one of us, and it’s beautiful. Sometimes it’s hard, and painful, and it’ll bring us to our knees. But that’s where we learn how to be strong through His strength. No matter what season of life we find ourselves, God has the future ready for us.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. – Jeremiah 29:11

So now, in this moment, I want to make the most of this whole big, messy, gorgeous, disastrous, unique life I have.

Chat with me! What’s special about the season you’re in now? How do you make the most of it? How do you handle when you want one season to change to the next?

I’d also love to hear from you about anything you’d like to see covered on the blog and podcast this year, whether it’s general themes or specific suggestions. Comment down below. And while you’re here, how about subscribing here to the newsletter? If you’d like to get an email when new posts are up, how about signing up for notifications here?

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See you next time and wishing you blessings until then,

Heather

How Can I Help My Friend?

11-24-19

Cue the song “Lean on Me.” (Yeah, I know it’s an oldie, but some songs never really get old.) We all want that kind of friend, right? And we want to be able to be that friend. Knowing that someone is going to be there for us, no matter what, gives us a little security when things go wrong, doesn’t it?

So what about when we have a friend who’s going through something? Maybe it’s a situation we’ve dealt with, or maybe it’s something we haven’t experienced ourselves. We want to be supportive. But what does that mean? Just saying, “I care what you’re going through” feels hollow. So what can we do?

Say It

First, go ahead and say that you care. A lot of times we won’t have an answer, but it always matters to us when a friend is having a hard time. So let’s tell them, because hopefully they know that, but it’s not the same as actually hearing it.

A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity. – Proverbs 17:17

That’s the thing about friends – true ones are the ones that are with you, no matter what. It doesn’t mean they’re going to tell you anything you do is okay.

A friend will call you out on your mistakes, but they’ll be standing right there with a hand out to help you up.

They don’t run away. You know you can count on them to be there. So let’s tell our friends that we care and we aren’t going anywhere.

Sometimes people need space, and that’s okay. If your friend needs it or you sense it, make sure and let them know that you’re going to be there when they’re ready. And then when they are, be there.

Show It

Show up for them. If they’re celebrating something, have a little party for them. If they’re grieving something or worried, be there for them. Take a card, a stuffed rabbit, a chocolate bar, a journal. It’s not about the gift. It’s about the fact that you thought about them and took the time to do something. They’ll remember this, trust me.

If they are in pain, don’t advise them not to cry.

Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. – Romans 12:15

We can’t, and shouldn’t, stay in our grief forever, but there is a time for it. And if it’s time for it, then don’t tell them not to cry. That’s like invalidating their emotions and response. People react differently to different situations. Some people don’t cry when deeply hurt, and others cry at something that may feel minor to someone else. That reaction isn’t a choice, but it doesn’t make it easier when someone implies you’re doing it wrong.

Go where they are and just sit next to them. Let them know they can tell you anything. Then listen.

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. – Galatians 6:2

Just being able to say out loud what has happened can make something feel less dreadful. If it’s a mistake your friend has made, then having you hear it and not abandon them shows them they can survive it. Describing a situation is sometimes enough to help a friend get a new perspective for themselves and decide what they should do.

So just be there.

Pray It

There’s no such thing as “All I can do is pray.”

It’s, “There’s this really awesome thing I can do for you that will literally bring Heaven to your problem, and it’s pray.”

Don’t pray because you feel helpless. Pray because you know where to go for help.

You and I can’t fix every problem our friends will have. That’s the way it’s meant to be.

That’s God’s job.

We aren’t supposed to be God.

Sometimes we can help. Maybe we can give our friend a place to stay for a few days or help them find a counselor. But we can’t take away guilt or shorten grief. God can, though.

It’s not that God isn’t capable of acting without us praying, but sometimes He waits for us to ask Him and in a sense give Him permission to act in our lives. When we pray for ourselves or our friends, Jesus advocates for us.

For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus – I Timothy 2:5

Jesus is waiting for us when we pray to go to God on our behalf. He literally pleads our case before God. How much more powerful a solution could we ask for?

Do It

If your friend asks for help, then try to do it. Of course, there are limits to what we’ll be able to do – we can’t undo something, take away consequences, or do anything that would cause us to sin, even though it may be tempting.

Advice isn’t always what someone needs, so do be judicious with sharing it. It can come across as judgmental or know-it-all, but sometimes we do have good insight. So if your friend asks or you do have something helpful to contribute, then share it. If there’s something practical you can do to ease what they’re going through, then try to.

Let Yourself Be Leaned On

Everybody’s turn comes. Maybe today your friend needs you, but you’ll need somebody too. So let’s be there for each other.

Be reasonable with yourself and what you’re capable of doing; we aren’t meant to solve all problems, even though a lot of times I wish we could. Know how much you can do, do it, and don’t expect more than that.

Can you think of a time somebody helped you and what made a difference? Or when you’ve been able to help a friend and did something they appreciated? Share your ideas in the comments! And while you’re here, how about subscribing to the newsletter? Click through here and you can get a download of 15 tips to help a friend on the way. Are you subscribed so that you get an update when there’s a new post? If not, you can do that below!

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Until next time, blessings,

Heather

What if my friends aren’t Christians?

Hello! Welcome to Episode 12 of the Faith Chase Podcast. I’m Heather Tabata, and this podcast is about making faith real in everyday life. Today we’re continuing a series especially for college, but the ideas apply to any point of life we’re in. Last week we talked about six ways to keep the faith. You can check it out here. (If you landed here on the blog and want to hear the post instead of reading the transcript, click here.) This week we’ll think about what to do if we have friends that aren’t Christians.

Continue reading “What if my friends aren’t Christians?”

6 Ways to Keep the Faith

Hello! Welcome to Episode 11 of the Faith Chase Podcast. I’m Heather Tabata, and this podcast is about making faith real in everyday life. Today we’re continuing a series especially for college, but the ideas apply to any point of life we’re in. Last week we talked about knowing yourself before you start college, a job, or a new school. You can check it out here. (If you landed here on the blog and want to hear the post instead of reading the transcript, click here.) This week we’ll think about six ways you can hold on to your faith in those same situations.

Read

The more you know about something, the more you understand it, and the more confidence you can have in it. So the first way to keep a strong faith in college is to read the Bible regularly. This is something all Christians should do, but in situations like this, it’s even more important. You’ll be around people who don’t believe the same things you do and in situations that will make it hard to stick with what you believe.

This isn’t the same as being brainwashed. God wants people to be informed about the Bible. If I studied it and realized it wasn’t true, then I shouldn’t follow it. But if it is true, then I definitely should. And the only way to get and keep that personal confidence in it is to learn it for yourself.

There are apps like YouVersion that let you set up free reading plans about a certain topic or to read through the Bible in a year. You can even set reminders to keep, or get, in the habit. If you want an accountability partner, you can share progress with friends on the app or on a regular text or call update system. If you rather read in a physical copy, you can still track your progress on the app if you want to keep you up to date. Whatever your system is, find one that will help keep you motivated.

Pray

Again, this is something all Christians should be doing. Seeing a pattern?

Talking with God is important to build our relationship. Maybe sometimes it’s hard to keep up a conversation that feels one way, but God does answer us. It’s just not as easy as hearing back from Him like a person.

Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him. – I John 5:14-15

God really does want to hear from us. And when we’re away from the people and places that we’re used to, it’s comforting to know we can always talk to God. Whatever it is we’re going through, He understands. Jesus lived like us, and He was tempted too. So He knows what it’s like to want to fit in and not be able to do things that would make us look cool. He understands how hard it is to want things we can’t have. He’s been there, so He can help us through it.

People

While you’re getting used to where you fit in with a new crowd of people, don’t forget the old ones. If there are people you already know who are supportive of your faith and are good influences, then make it a point to stay in touch with them. It’ll be harder, especially if you’re moving away, but it’s worth it. Then, when you have tough situations you need help with, you’ve got people you trust to go to.

When you’re getting to know new people, think about what your life will look like with them in it. Maybe you get the idea that some of them would dance around the edges of the rules. Probably a good idea not to choose those people for your closest friends.

On the other hand, as you’re getting to know people who have the same morals or faith as you do, make an effort to spend more time with them. That’s a solid basis for a friendship. It doesn’t mean you have to like all the same things or have the same type of personality. Often, it’s helpful to have differences like that. Remember, you’re not looking for perfect people, because they aren’t out there. You’re looking for people who are heading the same direction you are.

Church

If going to church services is a habit you already have, then be a stickler about holding on to it. There’ll be times it will be so much easier to use those extra couple hours for studying or sleeping, but it’s not worth it. If you miss once, it’s so easy to miss again. And then it gets hard to go back, because people will probably ask questions, or at the very least let you know they missed you. Being stressed, busy, and guilty isn’t a whole lot of fun.

If going to church meetings isn’t something you’ve focused on, then now is a great time to add that habit. You’re already trying to establish a routine. Let this be just one more piece of that. Or if you are in a new area and there’s no one to go with you, then go alone. Trust me, the people in that congregation will be thrilled to have a visitor. And if they’re not, then they aren’t showing God’s love the way they should. Look for a church that is true to the Bible that you can be a part of. It makes a difference.

Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing. – I Thessalonians 5:11

Surround yourself with people who want the same things you do and will help you get there. In the process, find people you can encourage. It’s healthy for the mindset to focus on other people too.

Routine

For a couple weeks, everything is going to feel new and different. Maybe it feels like you’re floating because there’s no one to tell you what to do when (or at least not as much as you’re used to). You can always pick up new habits, but the best time to build in what’s important is from the very beginning. Make sure you’re taking care of your faith regularly.

When I was a junior in high school, I took AP English III, which was a composition class. We wrote essays on demand regularly. We had a very limited time frame in class to work, and we had to turn in a well-thought, legible, essay at the end. I started noticing that I was getting dizzy when we wrote those essays. I couldn’t figure out why; I never got dizzy otherwise. One day I was writing an essay in class, and it happened again. That’s when I realized I was holding my breath. I was focusing so hard on taking care of the work that I totally ignored myself.

It’s easy to focus so hard on the external demands, like studying for tests, the dozens of due dates for assignments, meetings for clubs or groups you join, that you lose sight of what you need as a person. Don’t, figuratively speaking, hold your breath for too long. If you’re like me, you don’t realize there’s a problem until it’s about to turn into a catastrophe because you’re near your breaking point.

If you know that exercising helps keep you in a good headspace, then make an appointment with yourself to do it regularly. If you need to journal for 15 minutes at the end of the day so you don’t carry over that day’s stress into the next, then do it. Yes, it’ll take time you feel like you don’t have, but it will save time in making you more efficient and productive when you’re focusing on your work, and you won’t have meltdowns. Or at least not as many. The better you’re doing mentally and emotionally, the more you’ll be able to focus on your faith. And the other way around.

Ask Questions

People in college tend to be more open to wondering why things are the way they are and why they believe the way they do. Which can be a good thing. But if they are having doubts that you aren’t prepared to answer about your faith, it can rock your world.

Like we talked about, asking why is not bad. But be very careful when you’re answering those questions. Look for facts, because they’re there. Last week I mentioned apologeticspress.org as a good resource for evidence about why the Bible’s claims are true, and they aren’t from the Bible. They’re from historians besides those in the Bible, archaeology, and science. The articles are free and thorough. A lot of the objections people may have to faith are there.

If you start having questions or doubts, that’s okay, but address them. Don’t let them pile up on you. Study for yourself, away from influences of your peers. Then evaluate what they’re saying. Talk to your preacher, youth group leaders, and people you trust in church. Think about what they’re saying.

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. – II Timothy 2:15

God wants us to think logically about the Bible. He wants us to be sure of what we believe. You may hear people talk about blind faith, but that’s actually the opposite of what God expects from us. So ask your questions, and get your answers carefully.

That’s it for this episode! Thanks for joining in. Head over to Instagram, Facebook, or chime in here on the website and let me know your thoughts on this episode. What stood out to you? What questions do you have? If you want to stay up to date on events and get a little regular pick-me-up, you can sign up for my newsletter by clicking right here. If you’re enjoying the podcast, don’t forget to subscribe so the next episode can come straight to you, and tell a friend about it. See you next week!

Know Yourself

Hello! Welcome to Episode 10 of the Faith Chase Podcast. I’m Heather Tabata, and this podcast is about making faith real in everyday life. Today we’re starting on a series especially for college, but the ideas apply to any point of life we’re in. This week we’ll be talking about knowing yourself. (If you landed here on the blog and want to hear the post instead of reading the transcript, click here.)

Continue reading “Know Yourself”

The Beauty of Forgiveness

Hello! Welcome to Episode 9 of the Faith Chase Podcast. I’m Heather Tabata, and this podcast is about making faith real in everyday life. This week we’ll be talking about the beauty of forgiveness. (If you landed here on the blog and want to hear the post instead of reading the transcript, click here.)

We know we’re supposed to forgive people who hurt us, but it’s not always easy. Sometimes it’s really hard. When someone treated me or my family badly, I used to not just be upset at them. I was upset I was supposed to forgive them. Sometimes I thought I couldn’t.

Then I learned more about what forgiveness means. See, I looked at forgiving someone as basically saying, “It’s okay, it’s done, it didn’t matter. I’m not upset at you anymore, so I’ve forgiven you.” That’s not what it means at all.

Continue reading “The Beauty of Forgiveness”

Facing Change

Hello! Welcome to Episode 8 of the Faith Chase Podcast. I’m Heather Tabata, and this podcast is about making faith real in everyday life. If you’ve been tuning in, this episode will be a little different. Now, we’re still going to follow the Bible reading schedule, but those episodes will be every other week. We’ll talk about other faith topics on the other weeks. This week we’ll be talking about facing changes. (If you landed here on the blog and want to hear the post instead of reading the transcript, click here.)

School, jobs, family, they all change. I’ve never been especially good with change, even when it was one I was excited about. We have so many possibilities in life, and that’s wonderful. It’s also terrifying. In a way, choices I get to make are the most scary for me, because if it ends badly, then I’ve got myself to blame. Can you relate?

We don’t have to fear change. Think back to a time you felt safe. Maybe it was in a specific place or with a specific person. I always felt safe with my parents when I was little, and when they wrapped me up in a hug, I believed nothing could hurt me. I trusted them completely. What I didn’t understand back then was even though they were trustworthy, no person can control life. They could protect me to a point, but they couldn’t shield me from everything.

Now, I look to God kind of like I did to my parents.

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. – Psalms‬ ‭18:2‬

We can trust God. He’s a Father to His children, and just the way my parents made me feel safe, God can do that for us. Even when David faced bad times, and he had some horrible ones, he knew he could count on God.

But why? How do we know we can trust Him? After all, God doesn’t promise us a trouble free life. Actually, He tells us the opposite.

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. – John‬ ‭16:33‬

So if God tells us to expect that life is unpredictable, and bad things are going to happen, why should we depend on Him?

Because He doesn’t ask us to trust Him based on how our life is going.

He wants us to trust who He is.

So what does He say about Himself?

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. – James‬ ‭1:17‬

He promises that He sends good things, and that He doesn’t change. People can, and do, change. You and I change. But God doesn’t. The God Moses knew is the same as the one we know now, and He’ll be the same in ten years.

I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you should be afraid Of a man who will die, And of the son of a man who will be made like grass? … But I am the LORD your God, Who divided the sea whose waves roared— The LORD of hosts is His name. – Isaiah‬ ‭51:12, 15‬

God promises that He will be with us. If that’s true, and He’s the same God with the power to part the sea, then we don’t need to be afraid of what people can do.

“Am I a God near at hand,” says the LORD, “And not a God afar off? Can anyone hide himself in secret places, So I shall not see him?” says the LORD; “Do I not fill heaven and earth?” says the LORD. – Jeremiah‬ ‭23:23-24‬

There’s no place change can send us that is away from God. The idea of living 30 minutes away from home for college was terrifying. But God was there. Moving an hour and a half from home for graduate school had me terrified. But God was there.

If we go across a county, state, or the world God is there waiting for us.

But how can we be sure God is good and will watch over us? He gave us the ultimate reassurance in Jesus.

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. – John‬ ‭10:11‬

The job of a shepherd is to make sure the sheep are ok. When the seasons change the shepherd moves the sheep between home and the fields. When there’s danger the shepherd protects the sheep. And Jesus gave His life for us so we can be accepted by God. If He loves us like that, we can trust God to cover our past, guide our present, and plan our future.

When we’re worried about something, God wants to hear from us.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. – Philippians‬ ‭4:6-7‬

Whatever is on our minds, let’s take it to God. There’s peace He can give us that we can’t find anywhere else. I’ve felt it a couple times, and it’s hard to explain. It didn’t take me out of the terrible circumstances I was in, but God did help me to get through them. He knows what we need, when we need it, and He will take care of us.

I think that a lot of times, when I’m scared about change, I’m out of focus. I’m looking too much at what is happening right now, and what might happen soon, and not enough at what I know is coming later.

While we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. – II Corinthians‬ ‭4:18‬

All of this is temporary. The houses we’ve built or bought. School buildings. Church buildings. Saturday morning pancake traditions. All of this is finite.

But we can be sure eternity is coming. That should be comforting to us. We don’t have to look at it with dread. We can get excited about it like the vacation we’ve been looking forward to forever. It’s a good thing.

With our minds set on Heaven, life changes are more manageable. Not that some aren’t scary or take a lot of effort to deal with. Not that we won’t be afraid or make mistakes. But let’s keep the speed bumps from growing into mountains.

That’s it for this episode! Thanks for joining in. Head over to the Instagram, Facebook, or chime in here on the website and let me know your thoughts on the reading from this episode. What stood out to you? What questions do you have? If you want to stay up to date on events and get a little regular pick-me-up, you can sign up for my newsletter by clicking right here. If you’re enjoying the podcast, don’t forget to subscribe so the next episode can come straight to you, and tell a friend about it. See you next week!

Faith Chase Episode 7: Numbers 1 – 17

Hello! Welcome to Episode 7 of the Faith Chase Podcast. I’m Heather Tabata, and this podcast is about making faith real in everyday life. (If you landed here on the blog and want to hear the post instead of reading the transcript, click here.)

Numbers 1 begins with the direction for Moses and Aaron to take a census of the Israelites. They were supposed to count all the men who were 20 years old or older except for the tribe of Levi. God wanted them to count all the people who were able to go to war, and the Levites didn’t fight in battle. Their job was to take care of the tabernacle and provide people to be priests. There were 603,550 men counted in the census. This nation came from just one family, remember? Jacob’s twelve sons grew into a huge group of people.

Chapter 2 gave instructions on how the Israelites were supposed to camp. They didn’t make one big unruly group. God divided them by their tribes and gave them each a space to the north, south, east, or west of the tabernacle, which stayed in the center. From above, the whole group would have looked like a cross.

God told the Levites to let Aaron give them jobs to help with the tabernacle in chapter 3. They also counted the Levites, but this time the males a month old or older were counted, and there were 22,000. God chose to have the Levites dedicated to Him rather than the firstborn from every family. So they counted the firstborns, and there were 22,273. They dedicated five shekels each for the 273 who were more than the number of the Levites.

Numbers 4 told the sons of Kohath how to prepare the tabernacle for traveling. They were to disassemble the building and cover all of the furnishings. They weren’t allowed to touch the holy objects.

Eleazar’s duty was to oversee the oil for the lamp, the incense, grain offering, the tabernacle, and the furnishings.

The family of Gershon was to carry the curtains, the tabernacle, the screen for the door, and the furnishings.

The descendants of Merari were to carry the tabernacle’s boards, bars, pillars, and sockets.

All the Levites between the ages of 30 and 50 were counted, and there were 8,580.

Chapter 5 began with instruction to quarantine people who had leprosy, any kind of discharge, or who had come in contact with a corpse.

The laws continued with what to do if a person sinned against another. They were supposed to repay whatever had been taken plus 20%.

Taking a Nazarite vow is explained in chapter 6. People could do this for a time frame when they wanted to be set apart for God. During that set time, the man or woman wasn’t supposed to drink wine or anything like it or eat anything with grapes in it. They also weren’t supposed to cut their hair during that time. When the period was finished, they were supposed to make an offering to God.

God also told Moses what Aaron should say to bless the people:

The LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace. – Numbers‬ ‭6:24-26‬

Once the tabernacle was finished, the Israelites brought offerings by tribes in chapter 7. Together, they brought twelve silver platters, twelve silver bowls, and twelve gold pans. Moses went into the tabernacle and heard God’s voice speaking from above the mercy seat.

Chapter 8 gave instructions about how to purify the Levites so that they could serve in the tabernacle. They were to be sprinkled with water, shave themselves, wash their clothes, and be offered like a wave offering. They could serve in the tabernacle between the ages of 25 and 50.

When the Israelites had been in the wilderness for a full year, God commanded them to keep the Passover for the second time in chapter 9. This was a memorial of how God spared their eldest children and brought them out of slavery in Egypt. When the tabernacle was put together, a cloud covered it. That’s how it was from then on; during the day it was covered by a cloud, and at night it looked there was fire above it. When God wanted them to travel, He would lift the cloud, and when He wanted them to camp, He lowered it again. Sometimes they stayed in place for a day and sometimes a year, but God always guided them by the cloud.

In chapter 10, God told Moses to make two silver trumpets. They would be used to call the people together, to organize their moving, when they went to war, and during feasts. God promised that when they blew the trumpets before war that He would remember them and save them from their enemies. So the Israelites started traveling.

The people complained in chapter 11 because they missed the food they ate in Egypt. They said that they’d eaten plenty of fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic, and now all they had was manna. God was not pleased, and He killed some of them. Moses prayed on the people’s behalf, and God relented.

I think this is a good lesson in gratitude. It’s so easy to focus on the little things we want, like being able to eat what we want when we want it. The people complained against God about their food. God was working directly with them and showing them miracles, and they lost sight of what was important. We can easily do the same thing today.

It wore Moses down to the point that he asked God why He was putting this on him. Moses said he wasn’t the one who gave birth to the people and now he was supposed to be taking care of them.

I am not able to bear all these people alone, because the burden is too heavy for me. – Numbers 11:14

Taking responsibility on himself for these people was more than Moses could handle. He recognized this and told God, and God adjusted the situation. God told him to take 70 elders and bring them together. God would let them share Moses’ burden.

It’s easy to get in a rut of feeling like we have to take care of everything ourselves, but that’s not what God expects of us. He’ll give us help, too, if we ask Him.

But God didn’t let the people get by with it that easily. He was very upset. He told the people to consecrate themselves and the next day they would have meat.

…but for a whole month, until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you, because you have despised the LORD who is among you, and have wept before Him, saying, “Why did we ever come up out of Egypt?” – Numbers 11:20

So basically the people were saying they never should have left Egypt, where they were slaves, after God literally moved the earth to set them free. It’s strange for me to think about the holy God as being anything but dignified, but He used some pretty plain language. He was going to let the Israelites eat meat until it came out their noses and they were sick of it. God can be very direct.

After that, Moses asked if they were going to have to kill the herds of animals or take all the fish in the sea to give the people this meat God just promised. God didn’t much appreciate that either. He told Moses that His power wasn’t limited and to wait and see what happened. God sent a wind that brought quail from the sea to the camp. There were so many the ground was covered with quail three feet deep.

Chapter 12 tells about how Miriam and Aaron talked about Moses because he married an Ethiopian woman. They said, “Has the LORD indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?” God wasn’t happy with that.

He told Moses, Aaron, and Miriam to come to the tabernacle. Then God came to the door in a cloud. He called Aaron and Miriam to come toward Him. God told them that He spoke to prophets in visions and dreams, but that He spoke to Moses plainly face to face. Then God asked why they weren’t afraid to speak against Moses?

God expects a lot from the people who follow Him, but He watches over them too. He was angry with Aaron and Miriam, and He left the tabernacle. Miriam suddenly had leprosy. Aaron asked Moses to not hold them responsible and said that they had done foolishly and sinned.

Moses asked God to heal her, and God told them to put her outside the camp for seven days. After that she’d be allowed back in. The people didn’t travel again until she was allowed back in the camp.

In chapter 13, God told Moses to send spies into Canaan, the land He was going to give them. They sent one leader from each tribe. Moses told them to go see what the land was like, whether the people were strong or weak and how many there were, what their cities were like, and if there were forests or not. He told them to be brave and to bring back some fruit from the land.

They went and scouted the land. They brought back a cluster of grapes so big they had to carry it on a pole between two men. The men told the people that the land was good, but the people were very strong with large, fortified cities.

Caleb told the people that they should go into the land immediately and claim it because they were able to. But the other spies said they wouldn’t be able to, and they were like grasshoppers compared to the people living there.

Chapter 14 begins with the people saying they should have just died in Egypt or in the wilderness. They asked why they’d been brought to Canaan just to die in battle, and they wanted to pick a new leader and go back to Egypt.

Caleb and Joshua, two of the spies, told the people that with God, they could take the land. And the people wanted to stone Caleb and Joshua. Stoning meaning that the people got together and threw rocks at someone. It was a method of execution. The people were ready to kill them for saying God was strong enough to take care of them.

Then the LORD said to Moses: “How long will these people reject Me? And how long will they not believe Me, with all the signs which I have performed among them? I will strike them with the pestilence and disinherit them, and I will make of you a nation greater and mightier than they.” ‭‭- Numbers‬ ‭14:11-12‬

So God was ready to just wipe the people out and start over with Moses. Imagine Moses hearing that God would like to start a nation beginning with him. But Moses didn’t want that. He told God that the Egyptians would hear about it and say that God wasn’t able to give the Israelites the land so He killed them. Moses asked God to remember that He was patient and to forgive the people again.

God said that He would forgive them, but because they had seen all these miracles and still wouldn’t listen to Him, they wouldn’t be allowed to go into Canaan. Of the people twenty years and older, only Caleb and Joshua would be allowed into the land. They would wander in the wilderness for forty years, a year for each day the spies were in Canaan. Just like today, God will forgive us if we ask, but it doesn’t mean we won’t have to deal with the consequences of what we do.

Then the Israelites said that they had sinned, and that they would go on into the land. Moses told them not to try it because God wouldn’t be with them, but they didn’t listen. They tried to go in and take Canaan, and the natives drove them back out.

In Chapter 15, God gave the Israelites instructions in how to offer sacrifices. Verse 14 is really interesting to me. God said that if there was someone living with them who wasn’t an Israelite, and that person wanted to make an offering, that they could make one the same way the Israelites did. The offerings were part of worship. In the Old Testament, the Israelites were God’s chosen people, but He accepted worship from other people who wanted to follow Him. The thought of God having one group of people that He picked and they were the only ones who could be saved at that time used to bother me. But that’s not how it was.

The chapter ends with directions to put tassels on their clothes. The purpose of this was so they would see them and remember what God commanded them to do. It sounds like the equivalent of tying a string around your finger as a reminder. God wanted the people to always have Him and His word in the front of their minds.

In chapter 16, there’s a bad incident with an almost rebellion. Korah and On got a group of well-respected men together and confronted Moses and Aaron. They told them they were taking too much on themselves and asked why they exalted themselves above the rest of the people.

Moses told them to offer incense in their censers the next day and they would let God choose. At first God was going to strike down the whole group of people, but Moses pleaded for them. God did punish the leaders of the rebellion: the earth opened up around them so that they fell down into the ground, and it closed back up over them.

The next day the people complained that Moses had killed the people of the LORD. Personally, I think I would have been too afraid to say anything, but… So God sent a plague on the people. Over 14,000 of them died.

In chapter 17, God told Moses that He was going to get rid of the complaining. Moses was supposed to take a rod from each of the twelve leaders and write their names on them and put them in the tabernacle. God would make the rod of the man He chose blossom. The next day, Moses went to the tabernacle, and Aaron’s rod had blossoms and ripe almonds.

That’s it for this episode! Thanks for joining in. Head over to the Instagram, Facebook, or chime in here on the website and let me know your thoughts on the reading from this episode. What stood out to you? What questions do you have? If you want to stay up to date on events and get a little regular pick-me-up, you can sign up for my newsletter by clicking right here. If you’re enjoying the podcast, don’t forget to subscribe so the next episode can come straight to you, and tell a friend about it. On to the next reading!

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