Guest Post: Watching the News Without Losing Your Mind (Or Your Faith!)

This is a guest post from my wife, Melanie. She originally wrote this post for Biblical Woman, the blog site for the Women’s Programs at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The post originally appeared here.

A few years ago, I wrote an article about anxiety and the sovereignty of God. At that time, my children were preschool and young elementary age, and I struggled with worry over them. I found that article the other day and read through it, feeling like I was looking through an old family picture album.

The feelings of anxiety were fresh and I quickly remembered the worry I carried over keeping them safe, well-educated, and healthy. The idea that amazed me as I read back through that article was that – as much as things have changed in our lives – many things stay the same.

Yes, my children are older, but I still fight the temptation to become paralyzed in fear over them.  The situations might be different, but my heart at times can be the very same. Today, however, I find the anxiety not only coming from within, but also from around me.

The national news, the local papers, and social media are busting at the seams with shocking stories of pain, hurt, and trepidation for the future. There is a palpable feeling of worry, uneasiness, fear, and general anxiety among people today inside and outside of the Church.  The places that we used to turn to for help with anxiety (friends, church, even entertainment) are now over run themselves with the same anxious content.

What are we, as believers, to do in a world filled with uncertainty and fear?

First, we must remember that God has called us to be different. Christian women must stop falling into the same patterns as those around us. We have what the non-believer does not have. Because of our relationship with Christ and because He has given us His Word, we have the answers! The problem comes when we don’t access the power that we have been given. We turn into the gullible women of 2 Timothy 3 who might learn, but are never able to act on the knowledge of the Truth.

We must act on the wonderful, hopeful, freeing knowledge we have of who God is and how He is at work around us.  For if we do not, we will miss the opportunity to live out our faith, and no unbelieving person will ever want what our testimony of Christ proclaims.  Never forget, friend, that our Lord holds the future and He is still in control. Yet, if we worry just as much as our lost neighbor does, what peace do we have to offer her? It is only when we stand courageously on the truth of God that we can offer hope amid fearful times.

Secondly, we must train our mind and eyes on truth. The diet we feed our minds produces the fruit of our thoughts and emotions. Paul did not give the Philippians specific instructions on what to think on because it made for a pretty plaque on their living room wall. He wrote to them from a prison cell, during a time of disunity and heresy in the church. The Philippian Christians were surrounded by Gentiles in a town with a heightened military presence. I am sure the Christians might have been a bit nervous, so Paul charged them with exactly what to think on to prevent their mind from wandering into the back allies of fear and anxiety (Phil 4:6-8).

Lastly, we must rest in the sovereignty of God. A genre of writings that I find helpful in digesting the events going on in our world is biographies of heroes in the faith. What we are going through as Christian and as American women is not new. There are many who have gone before us and have gone through similar fears and challenges. God could have put us in any time of history, in any country.

But He chose to place us here; in our neighborhoods, in our cities, in our churches. Just like those who have lived through history, I want to be found faithful to fulfill God’s purposes right where He has called me. I can only do this if I release my grip on fear and anxiety and trust God’s plan for my life and the lives of those around me.

Trust His sovereignty in your life. Whatever happens, He has you right where He wants you for his purpose and for His glory. We must live our lives in a way that, no matter what, we can testify to His goodness and power in our lives!

Guest Post: If My Work All Day Goes Unnoticed, Did It Really Matter?

This is a guest post from my wife, Melanie. She originally wrote this post for Biblical Woman, the blog site for the Women’s Programs at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The post originally appeared here.

We all know the age-old question, “If a tree falls in the middle of the forest, does it make any noise?” What is really being asked is this, “If something happens and a person does not see it, did it really happen?” Many days, this is a question that is unconsciously dancing in the back of my mind. As a wife and mom, many things I do are not observed by other people.

If no one sees my work, did I really do anything all day? And does it matter if I metaphorically “fall down” if no one witnesses it? The answer is a resounding YES in God’s eyes!

Even if no one is taking notice, we still have an audience of one.

Our culture presents a great temptation to constantly perform for others. The increased use of social media in the last few years has only heightened it. Everyone wants to stand out, be noticed, speak up, and have a voice. If we fade into the crowd, get overlooked, are ignored, or are silenced, we become discouraged and begin to believe that whatever we are doing must not matter. However, in God’s economy, the exact opposite is true.

All throughout Scripture, God shows favor on the unnoticed one. He uses the meek or common to make an extraordinary impact.

One of the greatest examples is the contrast set up between King Saul and King David. When Saul is first described, it is in comparison to other men. “There was not a more handsome person than he among the children of Israel. From his shoulders upward, he was taller than any of the people”  (1 Sam 9:2). Saul was a man that others noticed. However, in regard to his heart before God, Samuel describes it as rebellious and stubborn and declares, “because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king” (1 Sam 15:23).

Saul received the praise of men, but was rejected by God.

In contrast, when God chooses David to be king, he is lowly in comparison to his brothers. The fact that God had to instruct Samuel to “not look at his appearance or at his physical stature” (1 Sam 16:7) reveals that David might not have been too impressive in those categories. On the stage among peers, David might have been overlooked.

However, God is an audience of one, and he notices the heart and takes heed of actions and attitudes that go completely unnoticed by others. 

David wrote many of the Psalms from the inside of a cave as he ran and hid from Saul. No one was there to hear his words. It was only him crying out to God. Alone. Now, let’s use the proverbial question at the beginning of this article, “If David cried out in a cave alone in the wilderness, did anyone hear him?” According to scripture, the answer is YES God heard him. God heard him and thought that David’s raw emotions and words were so powerful that He saw it fit to place them in Scripture as a testimony for all eternity of how we too can cry out to God in the deepest and darkest places.

In college, I had the privilege of studying under Dr. Les Hughes who is now the pastor of Highview Baptist Church in Louisville, KY. He wrote a book called, The Sound of God’s Applause that has been very powerful in my life and in the life of my husband.  In one of his chapters, he asks several questions that encourage the reader to reflect on the question “Am I seeking the approval of people?” As I have read through those questions many times, I am constantly convicted about how much stock I put in other’s opinions of me.

I have found that, as my desire to please others increases, my concern over pleasing God decreases. As I put more and more stock in what others know of me, I put less and less importance on how God deeply knows me.

Even if no one else sees the work or deeds that I do, God sees.

Even deeper, He sees the attitude of my heart. I want to learn to truly serve others, expecting nothing in return.  I desire to be content in doing good deeds, not for the applause of men, but for the pleasure of my Father.  It does not matter if no one else takes notice; it is God’s applause that I crave.

Poll Measures God’s Approval Rating

I am a self-confessed talk radio junkie. I listen to talk radio 95% of the time I am in the car. My oldest daughter has even asked my wife why daddy always listens to people talking on the radio instead of music. I prefer local talk radio shows over the nationally-syndicated types, and I am an equal-opportunity listener to both news/politics and sports talk radio. Typically on my drive in to work each day, I listen to a local DFW talk radio show, and I get my fill of news, politics, and job approval ratings. By the time I read something online or in the paper, I’ve already heard about it on the radio. However, I came across something new yesterday that I had never seen—God’s job approval rating.

Yes, the North Carolina-based Public Policy Polling conducted a poll[1] to measure, among other things, God’s approval rating. Some of the questions included, “If God exists, do you approve or disapprove of its performance? If God exists, do you approve or disapprove of its handling of natural disasters? If God exists, do you approve or disapprove of its handling of animals? If God exists, do you approve or disapprove of its handling of creating the universe?”

What makes this poll even more interesting is that it was conducted as part of a national congressional poll. Therefore, we are able to see how God stacks up against leaders in the national government. God’s overall job approval was 52% approve, 9% disapprove (40% not sure). Compared to John Boehner (33% approve, 37% disapprove), Congressional Democrats (33% approve, 54% disapprove), and Congressional Republicans (33% approve, 55% disapprove), God fared pretty well in the poll. God’s highest rating came with a 71% approval of his handling of creating the universe. He even got a 50% approval rating (13% disapprove and 37% unsure) on natural disasters. In what is perhaps the most ridiculous statement of the entire poll, the authors of the polling results state, “Though not the most popular figure PPP has polled, if God exists, voters are prepared to give it good marks.”

It makes you wonder what possessed Public Policy Polling to include questions about God in its congressional poll. It is certainly interesting that God performed much better than our government officials (and Rupert Murdoch, who was also included in the poll), but what does a poll like this tell us?

First, we have to understand that God is not up for re-election. As Creator of the universe, God exercises sovereign rule over all aspects of creation (land, sea, animals, mankind, and the affairs of man). In Isaiah 40:21–26, the prophet writes:

Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been declared to you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, who stretches out the heavens like a curtain and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in. He it is who reduces rulers to nothing, who makes the judges of the earth meaningless. Scarcely have they been planted, scarcely have they been sown, scarcely has their stock taken root in the earth, but He merely blows on them, and they wither, and the storm carries them away like stubble. “To whom then will you liken Me that I would be his equal?” says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high and see who has created these stars, the One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name; because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power, not one of them is missing.

God is firmly in place as ruler of the universe. Though we may think he is absent at times, he is not. Though we may think he is silent at times, he still speaks. One of my favorite book titles (and favorite books) is Francis Scaheffer’s He Is There and He Is Not Silent. This is so true about God no matter what some polling firm states. Our failure to recognize God at work is not his fault—it is ours.

Second, we have to recognize that it is not our place to judge God. Who are we to approve or disapprove of God’s job performance? Job learned this lesson the hard way when God confronted him. In Job 38:1–11, we read:

Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said, “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Now gird up your loins like a man, and I will ask you, and you instruct Me! Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding, who set its measurements? Since you know. Or who stretched the line on it? On what were its bases sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy? Or who enclosed the sea with doors when, bursting forth, it went out from the womb; when I made a cloud its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, and I placed boundaries on it and set a bolt and doors, and I said, ‘Thus far you shall come, but no farther; and here shall your proud waves stop’?”

After God continued to question Job, we see Job’s humble response to God in Job 42:2–6,

I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. ‘Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask You, and You instruct me.’ I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye sees You; therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes.

Just like Job, we have no standing to judge God or give our approval (or disapproval) to his job performance. God’s ways are higher than our ways, and his thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Isa 55:9). When we declare that we know how God could have done something better, or we give our disapproval of his performance, we naïvely declare that we know more than God. What an act of hubris!

Consider these things before answering the phone for a political poll (which for some reason call our house on a regular basis). We do not judge God because he is perfect and we are far from it. So what are we to think about this poll? I believe Dino Grandoni from the Atlantic Wire said it best when he wrote, “Believers or not, it seems ridiculous for the public to categorically grade God like this, until you realize that it’s pollsters who asked the questions in the first place.”[2]


[1] Public Policy Polling, “Americans’ perception of Congress improves, but still poor.” July 21, 2011. http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/pdf/PPP_Release_National_721.pdf.

[2] Dino Grandoni, “Only 52% of Americans Approve of God’s Job Performance,” The Atlantic Wire, July 21, 2011. http://www.theatlanticwire.com/national/2011/07/only-half-americans-approve-gods-job-performance/40268/.