Friday, November 30, 2012

Tough Questions

You've heard them, the "tough" questions in the Christian's life. Why do bad things happen to good people? If God is there, why is he allowing this to happen? Why would He let innocents suffer? Why do the "sinful" people have more, do more, seem happier? Why did he let this person die? In the past couple of days, those around me have suffered two deaths and I have had some of my teens asking the tough questions.

As I read my reading for today (Job 19-21), I realized that the tough questions in life have plagued humanity since the fall of man. "Why do the wicked live on, growing old and increasing in power?" (21:7) "Yet they say to God, 'Leave us alone! We have no desire to know your ways.Who is the Almighty that we should serve him? What would we gain by praying to him?'" (21:14-15)

We have no idea, just faith. I consider those the "faith" questions. It is in those moments that we have to have the faith that God is in control and knows what He is doing. We have very limited knowledge, no foresight, no understanding, but God does. He knows all. I know that feels like a weak answer to give someone, but it shouldn't. That is the truth.

Mankind is not wise. God, in his love, has given every human free will. He does this so that we can choose to serve him, choose to love him, not be little robots on the earth. He wanted companionship, not toys. Therefore, we must endure the consequence of each and every individual's choices. Each choice affects not only the person, but the people around that person, sometimes causing pain and suffering. That person, as a result of their suffering, must make more choices, affecting more people. Imagine how that has taken course over thousands of years! Our world is now so full of consequences of actions from years and years of poor choices, that sometimes the things that happen don't even make sense. You can't "trace the source." But you do have to understand that God is allowing the earth to turn, the world to live out life without his micromanaging. He has given His Spirit to prompt and guide, but ultimately, it is up to us. And we don't make the greatest choices.

Don't try to make up a reason. When we are faced with the tough questions, we want to "defend God" and give a good justified reason. Don't. The truth is that we don't fully understand, so admit that! Job said to his friends, "So how can you console me with your nonsense? Nothing is left of your answers but falsehood!" (21:34) Don't give the seeker and sufferers more reason to turn away from God. Give them reminders of God's love, comfort, and strength. Admit you don't know the answers or you will just push them away.

Are you going through a hard time and asking some tough questions? God loves you. He loves you SO much. Lean into his arms today.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Remebrance of Sincere Faith

Do you ever wonder what you would be doing if you weren't a mom? Occasionally, I do. It is amazing to me that once a woman of faith takes on motherhood and the raising of her child, all else seems to slip away. We often joke about having "no life," because every last effort in a day is consumed by doing the most to raise those beautiful blessings. And sometimes, if you are like me, you wonder if all that you do is even worth it. Will they even care? Will it make a difference?

The biblical mother and daughter pair Eunice and Lois remind me that it is most definitely worth it. Paul immortalized these two women with one statement in a letter to their grandson/son Timothy:

"I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well." 2 Timothy 1:5

Sincere faith. We don't know much about Eunice or Lois, but we know a lot about Timothy. Just knowing that these two women were the ones that taught him about God and the Scripture from the time he was a small child (2 Timothy 3:15) is enough for us to know that they were good moms. They did what it took. They raised him with a fear and love of God - a sincere faith. And they did a great job. At least as far as Paul was concerned, all their efforts did make a difference in the character of Timothy and how God was able to use him in the early church.

It's ok to get worn out. That is when we must turn to the God who is our fulfillment, our breath of life. Just remember today that it all matters! Let go of all the things that don't. Feel free to make a mess if it gives a few laughs. Let the laundry pile up on a sunny day. Teach them to fear and love the Lord. Teach them to enjoy the beautiful life around them. Make those memories! Build those relationships so that you may pass on that sincere faith.

Comment: Do you have a Eunice or Lois in your life? Tell us about her!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Crazies

We all know the story of Noah. Some of us may have even had the picture represented on our nursery walls or bedding as infants. We tend to think of this story as a children's story. We have little rhymes to sing about it. My son even has toy figurines of Noah and all his animals. My questions is this: When did the story of Noah stop being a story of absolute tragedy and despair? As I reread the story of Noah the past couple of mornings, I realized that there are several parallels we can make to that story - and that is terrifying!

The Hearts of Man Broke the Heart of God

Then the Lord[b] saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. Genesis 6:5-6

How far are we from being able to say that every intent of the thought of man's heart today is only evil continually? When we read or watch the news, when we look what is happening in the homes of so many families, when we see the trouble in the schools, how can we say that we are not breaking God's heart? And we are the fortunate ones living in the US, how much worse is going on in so many other parts of the world today! I will not get into more, for I feel that you, my friend, can fill in with your own experiences the corrupt actions that take place in the society around us. Let me make one thing clear: It is breaking God's heart. Are we in on this? Are we breaking God's heart by going along with what is happening in the world?

It's Always the Crazy Ones

By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. -Hebrews 11:7

Can you imagine how it felt to be Noah at that time? In a desert saturated with nothing but corrupt values, one man was "walking with God" and builing a giant boat. He was one of those "crazies." He would have been labeled as "extremist." I am sure that there would have been those around him who would have said, "I believe in God, but that is taking it too far." Have you ever heard those words said about you? I certainly hope so! Do you know why? Because it is always the crazy ones that God uses for incredible things. It is always the crazy ones that witness the miracles. It is always the crazy ones that get their reward in the end. The average person is always the one who wishes he had listened. Don't believe me? Read Hebrews 11. It is referred to sometimes as the "Hall of Faith." Every individual listed is someone who did great things through faith. Every individual listed was probably considered crazy. Enoch, Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Joshua, David. Think about their stories. Were they not crazy? Crazy about following God with everything they had! I love the following passage at the end of this chapter:

And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: 33 who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. 35 Women received their dead raised to life again.
Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. 36 Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted,[f] were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— 38 of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.

God is Crazy About You

Another amazing thing about this whole story is that God gave mankind another chance. And then another. And then another. Then he loved us so much, that as he looked down and saw all of our wickedness and corruption, instead of finally giving up, he sent his son to this earth, to pay the penalty for all that we had done. Talk about crazy! How can we ever love or serve him enough to show our thanks for such an incredible act of love?!

Dear friend, you have to be crazy to believe that God would love us that much. You have to be crazy to stand against the flow of society and live your life the way God has desired you to live, despite the consequences. It may cost you your job, your family, your wealth, your reputation, and they may call you crazy. Don't blend in with the world. God is calling you to be crazy.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Poison Apple

This is a repost of a post I wrote a few years ago...
Do you remember that intense moment in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves when Snow White is about to be tricked by the Evil Queen (in disguise as an old woman) into eating that poisonous apple? You just wanted to scream at her, "Don't do it! It is a trick!" But alas, our beauty takes one bite and falls to her death (or a deep slumber).
            This part of the story echoes an all too familiar story of another deception and another piece of fruit. Let's go back to the Beginning, to the garden of Eden. Our beauty in this story is named Eve. As we read the first few chapters of Genesis we come to this same intense moment. Eve is about to be tricked by the Evil Prince of Darkness (in disguise as a serpent) into eating that forbidden fruit (could have been an apple, probably not). Again, we just want to scream at her, "Don't do it! It is a trick!" But alas, our beauty takes one bite and falls to her death, taking the rest of the human race along with her.

            But don't worry, happy ending lover, it isn't over. As Snow White lies there, cold and lifeless, along comes a prince on a white stallion. The Prince sees Snow White as beautiful, falls in love with her, and kisses her lifeless body (ok, so it is kinda morbid, but I think it is supposed to be romantic). By the power of that love, the spell is broken; Snow White awakes and the Prince carries her away with him to his castle in the clouds. IN THE SAME WAY (ironic the parallels here), as Eve, and the human race, were experiencing the death of their souls, the separation from God the Almighty, and living through the ever-increasing consequences of this sin, along came THE PRINCE, Jesus Christ. He saw his bride, felt compassion and love, and gave his life for her (a bit harder than a kiss, wouldn't you say?). And once again, by the Power of that great Love, the bonds of sin were broken; Eve, and her children, awake to new and everlasting life, and THE PRINCE will come soon to carry us away to His mansion "in the clouds." Wow.

            So what can we take from this and apply to our life today? I mean, as Christian women who have already accepted THE PRINCE and await His return. I believe the key here is the temptation. We may have been rescued from the result of our sinful nature, but we are not finished here. The tempter is still hot on our trail. So we need to be wise to him, not allowing him to deceive us as he did our mother Eve. "(Our) enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8. Here are some things we learn about the schemes of the Devil:

One: He jumbles up your mind and twists God's Word. (Gen 3:1-3)
            Two: He contradicts God, placing His motives under false light, and causes Eve to doubt her faith in Him (Gen 3:4-5).
            Three: He leaves it all up to the senses, which for us women is a dangerous thing. (Gen 3:6)
            So what can we do when Satan attacks, placing that oh so desirable thing before us? Well, if possible: RUN!!!! But here are some other things:
            One: Know the Word of God. "Do not let the book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful." Josh 1:8 Don't allow Satan to jumble you up when it comes to what is in the Bible. If you get confused, there is only one thing to do-open up that Bible and find the truth.
            Two: Know your God. If you spend time with God daily, in prayer and in His Word, you will know the character of your God. Satan can not cause you to doubt someone you so intimately know.
            Three: Know yourself. Realistically. You don't have the power to overcome when you allow something to sit there and stare at you, calling you, looking so desirable. You'll break. We all will. Think about a little child wanting to touch that pretty ornament. You said no, but it is still there, staring at them, tempting them. And what do they eventually do? Touch it. So as parents, or caretakers, what do we generally do? Say no, and then remove the temptation. It is the same for us. All I can say is remove that temptation somehow. Back to my original advice - run!