That’s when I realized that in the midst of my need, I didn’t actually want God to provide for me; I wanted Him to make me comfortable. I didn’t want enough to cover this specific need. I wanted enough that I would never have to rely on the help of others again. I said I relied on God, but I really just wanted to make ends meet on my own terms. I didn’t want other people to be involved. I wanted Him to provide in a way that I could just meet the demands I faced by myself.
We feel so incredibly anxious because the things we are pursuing – convenience, happiness and comfort – are forever fleeting and therefore naturally create instability, stress and frustration – a chasing after the wind. But godly pursuits lead to the development of a foundation able to withstand suffering, stress and struggle. So we need to test our hearts and minds to assess our pursuits.
Though we may do it in different local or global contexts, all of our service brings glory to His name. As Christians, we want to glorify one or the other and it’s usually the one we are personally more passionate about. But can’t both be done in a way that gives glory to God?
Our most vital task as parents is to know God so well that what pleases and impresses and disappoints Him affects us, and our parenting daily. We want to know Him so well that what He has done and is capable of doing is obvious to little watching eyes; so well that what He says to us in all of our circumstances sounds loudly to tiny listening ears.
As a disciple-maker I am pointing women to something and someone greater than myself. In return, I get the distinct privilege of watching people become greater than me. Not only that, I get to become greater than me. As I experience God's redemption in beautiful and shocking ways, I become more like Christ as I strive with my disciples towards holiness. This is Christian discipleship.
This summer, the brothers and sisters of my congregation have gone through an unusual amount of physical suffering. Cancer, heart attack, strokes, sickle cell and death aggressively reared their truculent heads. One Sunday burdened by these ailments, the congregation joined hands across the aisle and bombarded heaven with desperate pleas of healing for particular individuals who were in digressing situations. Within two weeks, two people had died and a third was declared to be unrecoverable. It wasn’t long after that when a member asked me a sincere and relevant question: Should we have prayed for healing with so much boldness?
Whether we realize it or not, most efforts that appear to be merciful are, in fact, anything but merciful; they use the poor for our own gratification to give our people ministry opportunities or some other short-sighted end. Do the people we minister to really need this type of ministry?
Submission has often been perceived as a straightjacket for women; a one-size-fits-all solution for the battle of the sexes within the walls of Christian institutions. We’ve divorced submission from our relationship with God, forgetting to define this relational hierarchy by His character rather than ours. Then we transferred this broken picture onto our conception of God Himself, warping our understanding of who He is and the submission to which He has called us.
With only an hour or so to catch up, a few friends and I were at a table outside waiting for our lunch. A stranger had stumbled up, taken a prolonged stare at the counseling book on our table, said (aloud) to himself, “RICHARD! Here’s your chance,” and pulled out the fourth chair.
My miscarriages matter, but God’s goodness still reigns. And how do those things coincide? That’s really where I set out to understand – how is it that I feel like a walking coffin now but God is still perfect in His goodness. How do those two things work out? And that’s really what I had to figure out in my own heart.
How we use our words on social media verses how we would speak face-to-face doesn’t always match up. Everyday on our newsfeeds we see lobbying for social causes, cyber-bulling, shaming, celebrating and grieving. We hungrily consume information about other people’s lives, freely feeling we have a right to know the details and express our opinions.
I wish I could have been there, but what comfort and joy to know that Jesus was there. He was holding my mother’s hand, reminding her of his faithful promises. He was preparing her heart and giving her spiritual eyes to see her true home. It has brought me peace to be reminded that my mother’s death wasn’t about my inability or failure to comfort or help her, but about His sufficiency and faithfulness to care for her.
Your heart grew sick
seeking your own answers.
But you, O Lord, reign sovereign over
all time; the destiny of all souls
remains held in your hands.
Many of us have been wounded by some of the pitfalls in attempting friendship with the opposite sex. Many can sense that something in the way we handle these relationships is “off,” but maybe we’re not sure exactly what. As Christians, how do we negotiate what is appropriate and inappropriate between men and women in friendship while honoring both purity and family?
While Scripture tells us we do not have to live in miserable shame, I sometimes still want to hide from God. Can you relate? Even when I know He graciously pardons my guilt and covers my shame when I repent of sin and unbelief and believe in what God says is true, I don’t always live cleanly with Him in that mercy. I have a hard time shaking my shame.
This Sunday is Mother’s Day. Mothers are something to be celebrated, no doubt. Among the greatest blessings in my life are the amazing parents with whom God graced me. But Mother’s Day has been a major source of grief for me, flamboyantly flaunting all that I longed for and couldn’t have.
Instead of teaching people to ignore or deny their shame, we should use it for the purpose God intended: to point to Him and our need for Him. We don’t need to sit in shame, but if we truly want to “conquer it,” we must run to the One who covers it with his blood. He is more than able to save and free us from even the darkest pits.
In our increasingly secular culture, ultimate loyalty to self as the greatest commandment really isn’t that surprising. I wonder though if many of us who claim Christ aren’t still deeply committed to our culture’s highest value instead of our God’s. With all our talk of love languages, Buzzfeed quizzes and personality tests, I can’t help but question how much of our belief system is entangled with the lust to express our individuality instead of – or at the expense of – pursuing Christ?
Discontentment isn’t a word reserved just for single people or the poor or those with health issues. Discontentment is a real sin issue for all believers, caused by the lack of belief that God is enough. It can’t be fixed by gifts, relationships, promotions, or any temporary satisfaction.
Underlying my friends’ perspectives is an idea that sorrow and joy are oppositional; as if rather than sorrow and joy, the paradigm should be sorrow versus joy. But the Word of God and the very life of Jesus show this dichotomy to be a false one.