Jesus keeps his promise his way

Category : Jesus, different, faith, hope, prayer, trust

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One of the hardest things to do as a Christian is to trust in the promises of God.  We want to throw our own promises into the mix.  When we read that God gives us freedom, we think, “well that must mean I can retire with a six figure salary.”  When we hear Jesus say that we will be blessed, we think, “that’s great, that must mean I will have an easy life.”

Yet it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that these things don’t always happen.  Is it any surprise that we become quickly disillusioned when our prayers “aren’t answered”?

I grew up believing in the religious “check box god.”  This was a god who would reward you if you just managed to get enough points or answer the questions correctly.  As long as you could do that it didn’t matter what was in your heart or how you lived your life.  Avoiding making a “big” mistake was all that mattered.  And of course “big” was defined as any mistake you hadn’t made before.

But that’s not what Jesus had in mind.

Jesus keeps his promises his way.  We can’t allow ourselves to insert our promises and call them God’s.  It doesn’t work that way.

I was reminded of this in my daily blog reading.  Jim Hamilton a pastor and professor discussed his experience with starting a church.

Sunday after Sunday, month after month, the same four families and a few singles gathered for worship at Baptist Church of the Redeemer.  As this happened, the Lord slowly disabused me of the notion that the church was going to grow because of me.  It hurts to have your pride molded into humility, but it feels good, too, and how liberating!  Not to mention the way others prefer humility to pride.

Through this experience, I learned that Jesus keeps His promise to build His church.  I learned the power of the Word of God.  And I learned – or made progress in learning – to love people.

As I’ve been out of work for 9 months now, I can’t even tell you how many times I have let my assumptions become what I thought was a promise from God.  And it was in those moments that I’ve been most tempted to turn away from him.  But Jesus keeps his promises.  He’s never let me down.  I just need to trust that his promises will be kept in his way, not mine.

living out a life of faith: 2008

Category : God, hope, live for the eternal, sharing faith, trust

  

Humility.  That’s what 2008 means to me. 

Professionally I find myself entering 2009 without a job.  The first time that’s happened since I was about 12.  This presents challenges and opportunities.  It’s challenging because more of my pride and self-identity are wrapped-up in working than I realized.  It’s hard to let go of that.  It’s also hard to let go of the money and sense of security a job brings.  But it’s also an opportunity.  I now have the time to visit friends.  I have a chance to learn new things.  And I also am in position to explore new writing and speaking opportunities. 

By allowing myself to be humbled, instead of rebelling in pride, I’ve been able to see the good as well as the bad.  Humility has a way of allowing us to realistically deal with the bad, while not losing sight of the promises God makes to us.  I’m not going to say this process was easy, but I will say it was worth it. 

On the personal side, writing R3 has been humbling in it’s own way.  Receiving feedback, (mostly positive!), knowing people are interested in what I write, and the slow realization that people get upset when I miss a scheduled post (you know who you are!), has all come as a bit of a shock.  Sometimes it even feels surreal.

But the most humbling aspect of R3 has to be the fact that writing for all of you is a huge honor.  One that I don’t take lightly, nor do I take it for granted.  I feel a sense of responsibility for R3 and of teaching what I think God is doing in my life.  Or, as Spider-Man once said, “with great power comes great responsibility.” 

All of this leads me to one last thought for 2008 – one of the themes I’ve touched on time and again is the idea that God can take anything and turn it into an important lesson.  Pain, suffering, joy, excitement – they all can teach us about God.  Every lesson we learn brings us one step closer to our creator.  It doesn’t matter if we’re losing our jobs or getting $100,000 raise.  In every instance there is something we can learn about God.   

We may not know what lessons we will learn in 2009.  And I am sure they will often be unexpected, taught to us by sadness and happiness, calmness and activity.  But we can always count on God turning even the greatest disaster into an opportunity to learn more about him. 

Which is why in everything that we do, we must strive to learn how to live out a life of faith.  A life that is ready to do great things for the Kingdom.  Because that’s really the point of everything, isn’t it. 

suffering & humility

Category : choice, faith, hope

  

When I wrote earlier this week that my time of being healthy was over, I had no idea what was around the bend.  Let’s just simply say I haven’t been that sick in at least 10, if not 15, years.  I am still trying to recover, and frankly discovering it hard to concentrate on much of anything today. 

I find the whole thing humbling, honestly.  We all strive to convince ourselves that we have such great strength, or that we can do things “on our own.”  But then you get sick, injured, or lose your job, and suddenly you can’t even get out of bed!  How we take the little things for granted!

Even after spending a whole week focusing on things to be thankful for, I never realized how nice it is to be able to get off the couch to get a glass of water.  Or to have the ability to find a blanket without being overwhelmed by nausea. 

Today I look out my window into a world that seems a little brighter.  A world I take a little less for granted.  Suffering can teach us things pleasure and happiness never could.  Funny that. 

what i’m reading: Longing for a Holiday at Sea

Category : Paul, bible, feeding my brain, sharing faith

     

What does it look like to live out a life of faith? 

That’s a question I’m always asking myself.  In fact, that’s really the whole purpose of R3

The more I look at God, and who he is, the more I realize we shouldn’t hide.  That we shouldn’t be afraid of acting boldly.  And that includes hiding from our failures and weaknesses.  In other words, a major part of being Christian is being open and vulnerable.  It also means admitting that we aren’t perfect and that we don’t have all the answers.

For some this seems to come naturally.  They can admit the challenges in their life.  I find this difficult to do.

It’s a problem I share with the people who lived in Corinth during the first century.  They were becoming increasingly prideful and “righteous” in how they viewed themselves.  Sadly, I can all too often relate to that.  So Paul rather bluntly addressed the issue saying, “We [the apostles] are fools for Christ, but you [the Corinthians] are so wise in Christ!  We are weak, but you are strong!  You are honored, we are dishonored!”  (1 Corinthians 4: 10)

Paul is pointing out that the pride and arrogance are the exact opposite of how Christians should behave.  He offers a different way of living, saying, the apostles “have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to men.” (1 Corinthians 4: 9

We’re not to put up fake barriers and to pretend we’re better than we are.  Because a true Christian is open with his or her life.  We’re vulnerable in front of the whole universe.  And here I am afraid of what people think of me!

This is why I find the blog Longing for a Holiday at Sea so encouraging.  It manages to be both bold and vulnerable.  It has that balance Paul implies.  Vulnerable, because it discusses difficult topics and personal trials.  Bold, because it focuses squarely on God’s grace and mercy.

The entire blog serves as an encouragement to people who are suffering and struggling.  It shows, in a very real way, that even in our struggles God has compassion for us.  In a book called The Grand Weaver, Ravi Zacharias demonstrates that God cares about our disappointments.  Our disappointments matter to him.  And this is surely reflected in Longing for a Holiday at Sea.  

Perhaps the thing I enjoy most is the encouragement I receive from reading this blog.  It teaches me that I can actively seek God, and have questions.  It shows that I can be imperfect, but still loved by God.  And those are lessons worth remembering.

absolute power & leadership

Category : Jesus, bible, love, taking action

      

“Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power” (John 13:3)

So what do you do when you have ultimate power?  When you have literally been given “all things”?

Well, if you’re Jesus you serve. 

John tells us that when Jesus knew he could do anything he wanted, he chose to serve his friends.  He chose to get on his knees and wash the feet of his disciples.  I wonder how I would respond if I had that kind of power?