In the inaugural episode, Continue Reading…
Archives For gratitude
Suffering is one of the most common reasons people doubt God.
If God is so loving, how can such bad things happen?
Trite statements by Christians only make this worse:
Something good will come out this, just wait.
God has a purpose for everything.
Something good will come out of rape, child abuse, or the premature death of a loved one…
As if God were committing atrocities so we’d learn a lesson later.
I want to propose that most people live with the expectation that this world is heaven, so when they discover (through observing or experiencing suffering) that it isn’t, they are devastated. Specifically, their idea of God is devastated.
This is a very complicated topic because we are indeed eternal beings, yet we do not live in an eternal world.
As eternal beings, we long for heaven. Not just heaven as the place or destination, but a state of being without suffering, pain, disease, and death. This is, in fact, what we were created for so it makes perfect sense we’d still be hardwired for this. What we long for is a world without the effects of sin, while we live in the midst of a world riddled by these effects.
I am a product of my culture. We all are. A microwaved, instant, lightning fast, on demand, hurried, frantic, now culture.
I hate waiting.
Not only do I hate waiting, it exposes me. When I’m going really fast, I’m such a blur that you can’t get a good look at me. I can’t get a good look at myself. But when I’m stuck in the traffic jam, everything is revealed. My rust, my bald tires, my broken windshield, my engine that needs its oil changed.
When you’re a person like me who accomplishes tasks in order to prove their worth, waiting can be a lonely, depressing and scary place.
Over the past year and a half, ever since I read Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership by Ruth Haley Barton, God has been trying to rid me of my false self and let me live in the freedom of my true self: the freedom found in his unconditional love and grace for me as his son. As it turns out, I’m about as moldable as hardened concrete. As a result, God decided he needed to pull out a jackhammer as his sanctification tool of choice.
I am specifically waiting on the purchase of a new church building (our 5th, and final, in 10 years), on a publisher to get back to me, and on hiring a new youth pastor. 3 weights, weighing on my chest, where all I can do is wait.
Insert all of the Bible verses there are about waiting on the Lord, contentment, peace, gratitude, God’s sovereignty and faithfulness. Continue Reading…
In the aftermath of this morning’s Christmas sermon and a week of getting and giving Christmas presents, I realized most of us don’t know what a gift is. Since most of me and my extended family’s gift-giving money goes toward our collective six kids, all age 5 and under, this year we decided to draw names for the adults. You get one name and buy them a small gift, rather than having to buy for all the adults. I don’t know if you have an elf at your family gift exchange, but we always have an elf at ours. The elf is the person sitting nearest the tree who has the duty of reading the tags on presents and delivering them to the proper recipients. I was the the elf this year.
Not uncommon for me, I started making various jokes. One of them was when I realized there were additional gifts under the tree for adults, outside of the one-gift-per-adult allotment from the name drawing. For example, my mom drew my brother Pete’s name, but got him 3 gifts. I of course made sure everyone knew the additional gifts were because she loves him more than the rest of us, getting him two gifts from the goodness of her heart, outside of the one obligatory gift she had to get him from the drawing (she defended herself by saying she just got good deals and still kept everything under our set expense amount).
My brother Pete also bought gifts for adults outside of the person he drew a name for. One of these gifts was a box for me. I told everyone this was a gift from the goodness of Pete’s heart, whereas his name-drawn gift was simply obligatory. All of the name-drawn gifts were obligatory.
The gift he got me from the goodness of his heart was a yellow glow-in-the-dark piece of rubber dog poop. True story.
(What was really funny was listening to the kids fight over who got to play with “the poop.” “No, it’s my turn to play with the poop…” and so on.) Continue Reading…
If you’ve ever prayed, “God, give me what I deserve,” take time today to thank him for not answering that prayer!
Often our times of prayer, and our lives in general, are fixated on what we want from God and specifically, on the things we feel we have earned or deserve.
These are often legitimate and painful prayers. Health. Healing. A job. Continue Reading…