Tag Archives: character

hope: in light of the incident in Boston

“I wonder…if the rent in the canvas of our life’s backdrop, the losses that puncture our world, our own emptiness, might actually become places to see.
To see through to God.”
– Ann Voskamp –

My heart aches

…aches for those in Boston

…for those affected by yesterday’s events.

I can only imagine what it would be like to live through that ordeal…and the more I think about it, the likelihood of that happening in my lifetime, directly to me or to those around me, is higher than it would have been the year I was born.

Oh, the world we live in.

darkness

sin

brokenness

And yet…there is hope.

Hope because we’ve been saved; by grace through faith.

Hope in Jesus.

Hope in His Kingdom to come.

Granted, I see events (am somewhat indirectly affected by them, rather) like yesterday’s bombing and I want nothing more than to go Home. I also know how difficult it is to see the hand of God in those types of situations, but He’s there…and He’s very much alive.

I’ve been rereading through A Sudden Glory by Sharon Jaynes (find book review here) and taking part in her online Bible study the last seven weeks and this week’s lesson really hit home today: “Trusting God in Tough Times.” She asks some pointed questions right in the first chapter: Could it be that the puncture wounds in the canvas of [my] life might actually become the rent places of the soul through which you can see God? …through which you can see His light burning through the openings?…How do we allow life’s difficulties to become see-through places? How do we see those glory moments?”

I’ve been working on another entry for quite some time – and I hope to have it up soon, but you know how temperamental writers/artists are; not including the fact that I’m a bit of a perfectionist – regarding such an experience. Did you know you can experience those moments on a daily basis? It’s true. It’s easy to find God when things are going well; when life is coasting by with the pay raise; the new home; a new love interest; a new addition to the family – but…

but…

when life gets dark…

when life gets tough…

when the road gets hard…

Where is God in all of that?

Jesus Himself states, “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33). And the beautiful thing? He has overcome the world! That statement, in and of itself, makes my soul smile. Have you ever experienced that feeling?

“When we experience shattered dreams, broken relationships, tragic losses/events, or unfulfilled longings, it can be difficult to feel God’s presence, to see His hand, and to hear His voice. Moments of His glory cease when we close our eyes in pain and tune God out in anger” or hurt. But that doesn’t mean that God isn’t there. He is.

People let us down. Life disappoints. And so does God…in a sense. We expect Him to move one way and He doesn’t. We show Him the roadmap we’ve drawn out for this situation in our lives according to the way we think it should go and He doesn’t follow it to a tee. Then, like a lover wronged, we guard our hearts against future disappoint and lower our expectations and trust. But…God understands. He’s been there. He knows exactly what you’re going through; what I’m going through.

He sympathizes.

He sees.

El Roi

“The God who sees me” (Genesis 16.13).

I’ve always thought the ancient Hebrew language was beautiful…and (on a side note) I’m thankful for the scholars, theologians and researchers who have done research and studied to uncover these truths about the Word of God that make the emphasis and its power that much more real…to me, at least.

Instead of following our tendency to be the child throwing the temper tantrum, maybe we should take God at His word and simply “be still.” I know…easier said than done, right? But not impossible. We simply need to shift our focus from what we see (but don’t completely understand) to what we cannot see (2 Corinthians 4.18). It may not make sense today, but some day? It will.

Isaiah 55.9 reads: “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

I stumbled on a fellow believer’s blog entry posted by a friend on Facebook today – which can be found here. Tim Meier asked a valid question: How do we respond to these events?

And, being human, I would tend to agree with his answer…and in agreement with Obama: justice. But…

but…

I also know that just punishing these people, while the right thing to do, won’t end a culture of violence or hateful evil.”

Ending that cycle starts with us.

And we must remember that God will bring judgment due to those based on what they’ve done with the life God gave them. That breaks my heart…the thought that thousands of could-be brothers and sisters won’t be saved before Christ returns. It’s my responsibility to live out His gospel on a day-to-day, moment-by-incredibly miraculous-moment basis; to show others what it means to have life to the full; to follow Jesus.

We may never understand the actions behind the tragic events of yesterday’s attack in Boston. But I know that God was and continues to be there. He is omnipresent….everywhere at once. He did not write the story of our lives to simply sit back and watch it play out. He is in the story with you; with me. In fact, He has the leading role.

Does that surprise you?

It shouldn’t.

We try to butt in and take the spotlight…often. Remember the statement I made earlier about showing Him your life’s blueprints? Yeah…we do that all too often. I’m guilty of it. You’re not alone on that.

Imagine this:

Imagine getting to heaven and looking at your playbill…personally, I think it will be the entire tapestry and I’ll automatically see that role He gave me to play in His bigger picture…and you’ll see that God had the leading role all along. His life covers ours. Our names will be listed in supporting roles as a display of His glory.

And His glory can be found here:

  • in your current timeline.
  • in the community that came together to help following yesterday’s events.
  • in the lives that were/are being saved.

Our limited vision doesn’t allow us to see how God is working behind the scenes, but we must believe that He is there. “Difficult times are pregnant with glory moments just waiting to be birthed in the lives of those willing to labor through the pain. The key is to not allow bitterness and anger to make our hearts infertile to God’s gifts.” Those moments in difficult times are not dependent on our circumstances but on our focus.

But how do we focus on God during trying times?

By cultivating a grateful heart…being thankful for all that you have…and keeping your focus on God through it all. Trials test and stretch us (read the book of James); they rip away the flimsy fabric of self-sufficiency and become the raw material for God’s miracle in our lives. God is far more interested in developing our character than doling out a life or comfort and ease. “Consider it pure joy,” James said, “when you encounter various trials.” (James 1.2). Note that he said when not if. It will happen. Believe it. And be prepared to grow in faith and character because of it.

C.S. Lewis (enjoy his work) stated, “If you think of this world as a place intended simply for our happiness, you find it quite intolerable: think of it as a place of training and correction and it’s not so bad.”

Phillip Yancy also wrote: “Faith means believing in advance what will only make sense in reverse.” That is so true. Often times, I’ve looked back over past journal entries and have been recognized God’s hand in my life during a past struggle…when I didn’t feel His presence or couldn’t see Him at that precise moment. He was there.

He’s here now.

The dark places are simply opportunities to trust that He knows the way – and the perfect time to hold on…

…hold on to faith.

…hold on to hope.

…hold on to Jesus.

Video – Give Me Jesus – Jeremy Camp

Works Cited:
A Sudden Glory: God’s Lavish Response to Your Ache for Something More. Sharon Jaynes. 2012.
When Terrorism Comes Close. Tim Meier. <http://www.theunitive.com/when-terrorism-comes-close-the-boston-marathon-ill-never-forget>

A Resolution to Live with Integrity

Note to reader: The following is the result of further study, research and reflection after reading a portion of The Resolution for Women by Priscilla Shirer, a book written upon the influence of the movie Courageous, which hit theaters nation-wide in September/October of 2011.

Blessed are those whose way is blameless. Psalm 119:1

It isn’t every day that I find myself reading material that makes me want to rip the book apart or shove it back on the shelf to collect dust until I either a) opt to donate it or toss it out or b) choose to read it again. I was both convicted and yet not when I got the section on integrity.

What comes to mind when you think of this 

I will not tolerate evil influences even in the most justifiable form, in myself or my home…

This point of the resolution requires an intimate, personal, introspective look at what’s going on in our hearts and homes. We then realize that these things we’ve been sanctioning with our time and attention are a glaring contradiction of who we are and what we say we believe.

This points to the types of books we read, the TV shows we choose to watch, the movies stored in our collect…the music we listen to…the way we live.

Instead of being repulsed by certain behaviors or grieved by the lies that our culture spins on our generation, we are more accepting of them; willing to watch TV shows like Glee or movies filled with intimate scenes, to laugh at Jeff Dunham on Comedy Central or read a trashy novel (because of the illusion of escape) and considering it all suitable with a side of popcorn or a comfy blanket.

Okaying these things within the confines of our own homes makes nothing more than the hypocrites we never wanted to be. We discourage one thing in public while finding it addictively exciting in private.

Integrity means to be the same underneath as we are on the outside.

Those who are careful about structural integrity build with the long-term goal of being blameless before God and others, not just on lightly traveled Sundays but at peak hours, all week long.

Living this way leads to weakness inside that won’t hold up when the time comes to hold your beliefs against you life.

This. Is. Serious.

Whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures you sense of God, or takes off the relish of spiritual things – in short, whatever increases the strength and authority of your body over your mind -0 that things is sin to you, however innocent it may be in itself. – Mother of John Wesley

You must decide…
Which do you want more?
God’s best, or our personal favorites?

We can look to King David as a man driven to resolve so seriously about living a life of integrity:

I will be careful to live a blames life – when will you come to help me? I will lead a life of integrity in my own home. I will refuse to look at anything vile and vulgar…I will have nothing to with them. Psalm 101:2-3

1: Have no tolerance for evil. Evil is like rat poison.

Did you know that three percent of the product is actually poison? The rest is food. Our culture is like that. Constantly distracting us with media that looks good and we dig in; unaware of the three percent that’s eating way at our insides. Before we know it, we’re dying a slow death.

But trust that we’re not alone in this. We can stop it before it’s too late. We may not be able to undo the damage done, but we can and should pray that God in His mercy and favor would thwart the Enemy from turuing those moments of weakness into strongholds on our lives. That’s where the next step comes in to play.

2: Closely monitor the type of people I allow to influence me.

One word: accountability. We need a group of close people in our lives (in my case, girls) who I can run to when life doesn’t make sense. Who I can run something by when a decision needs to be made. Who I can confide in when my life isn’t making any sense. Who I can trust to stop me if I’m heading down the wrong path. We all need accountability and having it will make you stronger in your defense against the Enemy of our souls.

3: Recognize my need for divine help.

Never expect that you can recalibrate the frequency setting on your life without God’s help, grace, and shepherding. He will be sure to alert you to changes that need to be made and then will eagerly empower you to carry them out.

Granted, these are extreme resolutions to live out. But let me ask you this. Have you ever met someone who follows this? Have you ever noticed their godly, admirable character? Those who enjoy the extra measure of God’s blessing and favor, who truly navigate their lives well, are those who discipline themselves in ways that many of us would consider borderline ridiculous. But like David, they’ve found it necessary to be as extreme in one direction as the culture has chosen to be in the other.

But keep this in mind. Not everything that bothers one believer is necessarily forbidden for all. Just because some wouldn’t consider it “good” doesn’t mean it’s worthy of being “slandered” (Romans 14:6). Consider your own structural soundness. Would it be able to bear the weight of your Christian profession? Is there anything that you do in private that the Spirit is convicting you of right now? Would your structural soundness hold up if some of your fellow church members arrived at your door unannounced?

Resolve to do this: Commit to being sensitive and responsive to any conviction the Spirit may be impressing on your heart right now in regard to a particular pursuit, decision, or activity. And remember, God’s goal is not to steal your fun but to position you as clean, pure, available recipient of His best, most fulfilling blessings.

Only by His power can you resolve to live and walk blamelessly.

And by His might can you expect to be the child who pursues in the dark what they proclaim in the light.