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the problem with faith.

For years, years, I have been troubled with people who prayed and “believed God” for a miracle, got healed, and proclaimed their experience for others to believe, too.

Don’t misunderstand. I was happy for them. I understood their thankfulness and desire to make known what prayer can do.

I was not troubled with them.

I was troubled with the people who believed God, too, and did not get healed.

In my 40 years of being surrounded and involved with understanding faith and prayer, I can count on one hand how many people have been healed.

We have to do something with this. Because there are a whole lot of people who are confused and discouraged. And I think God cares about this.

I believe in prayer simply because the scriptures are clear.

Yet, I think we should be careful about isolating a scripture and building so much upon it that we have created inaccuracy. Because God cares about those people who were not healed and are broken-hearted.

It only poses questions such as, “Doesn’t God love me?”, “Didn’t I have enough faith?”

I don’t believe God wants that for anyone.

I have struck a balance in my life of praying for good but accepting the bad. Too much either way causes problems.

Many contemporary churches emphasize Bible believing Christians doing greater works than Jesus.  

Hmm. If that were the case, where are all the miracles, healing, and deliverance?

If some can proclaim what they see, some should be able to proclaim what they don’t see. This is not a lack of faith. In fact, I think it reflects a very deep kind of faith which is not based on personal experience, but acknowledges that we do not see and understand everything.

Faith isn’t always visible. Faith can weather many disappointments and still rest firmly on God’s promises, and ultimately, the last chapter of the book when everything concludes:

He will wipe every tear from their eyes.

There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain,

for the old order of things has passed away.

I often think about the people who endured suffering throughout the centuries. Read their biographies. Sing their hymns. They still speak to us today, “the great cloud of witnesses”. What truths did they build their life on that contemporary Christian thinking has all but ignored?

What ever you are facing, let your faith find its place. And while I cannot promise a miracle, I can promise wherever you plant yourself, your roots will go deep and sustain you for the rest of your life…

until God fixes everything in eternity.

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grieving.

We’re all familiar with grieving when someone dies.

But we can be grieving over other things and not realize it.

Working really hard at something, only to watch it slip through your fingers. This is grieving, too.

Disappointments, unfairness, betrayal, and more.

We are aware of the unhappiness playing in the background. Not enough to plunge you into despair, but you feel it swirling around your heart, wanting to remind you of what wasn’t.

So what do we do?

We often turn to temporary comforts to help. Everything from “me time” – a day at the spa, a vacation, shopping – to alcohol, sex, and illegal drugs.

There’s nothing wrong with some practical (healthy) comforts. But that unhappiness is still there, isn’t it?

I have been well versed with the God-is-doing-a-new-thing in contemporary Christian circles. While I would never limit God’s ability to do new things, I have found it can play with our emotions.

Mostly, it does nothing for the unhappiness every one of us feel.

When you go home after a contemporary worship service with lots of exhortations and edification, that unhappiness is waiting for you at home.

How are you on Monday morning? When none of that is around?

Recently, I heard a preacher on the radio say something about being careful not to trade the old hymns for contemporary music; lyrics which often reflect how we feel.

The hymns are rich with truth and honestly, when I have suffered, when I have grieved, it was the hymns I wanted.

I found out a long time ago, the way to manage unhappiness is to accept it. Yes, there are things we can do to change our situation. But if there is nothing we can do, we have to accept it. But we do not accept it without hope. We have the hope of eternity.

If we are filling ourselves with the kind of faith these days that require energy to “name and claim”, “stake our claim”, or the like – consider it may be much to do about nothing if it does not sustain your soul day and night.

That mindset did not get me through my oldest son’s death and it doesn’t get me through grieving over other personal disappointments.

What gets me through is the awareness of being anchored to the Lord. No bells. No whistles. A quiet, presence of God’s promises to be near the brokenhearted. And the reminder of our home in eternity as promised by God.

Shouldn’t Christians be about living with eternity in our view instead of God-wants-to-fix-this? Yes, we should ask and pray.  But we also keep eternity in our view. It should be a very present thought and common in conversation.

We are supposed to encourage each other with these words. These words will carry you through anything.

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a loud command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will be the first to rise. After that, we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the lord in the air. And so we will always be with the Lord.

Therefore encourage one another with these words.

1 Thessalonians 4

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measurements.

Everyday we use measurements.

We rely on the accuracy of measurements.

We trust measurements.

Buildings, medicine, travel, food, time .. life requires a standard of measurement.

The Bible is a standard of measurement, too.

It is accurate. It is to be trusted.

The scripture is not a measurement to hurt us. It is for our good.

We may not understand the Bible 100%, but we understand enough.

When we are suffering, it provides the standard of measurement to help us.

All too often, we turn to other things.

I think God understands this.

So he waits.

We were made to reach out to Him. He wrote His words on our hearts.

We choose the measurement. Ours or God’s.

God uses the natural, physical world to explain the spiritual. They are parallel. Jesus spoke in parables to explain the spiritual.

Give us this day our daily bread. 

Bread that mysteriously anchors us, comforts us, guides us, frees us, strengthens us …

Bread that changes how we think, how we feel, how we act …

Are you grieving?

Do you know what God says about eternity? How he will wipe away every tear? And there will be no more sorrow or death?

This is a measurement for grief.

Without it, we will feel stuck in a place not meant for us. Unsettled. Asking the same questions over and over.

Until we apply the correct measurement.

measure

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the wounded.

Over the years, I have thought a lot about the 2 greatest commandments God has given Christians.

Love God with all your heart, soul, and strength.

Love your neighbor as yourself.

(yes, as yourself)

Jesus spoke these commandments to the Pharisees, who he defined as law promoting, rule following, loveless hypocrites, known for their self righteous religion and pride.

They clashed with Jesus.

I wonder. Do we ever clash with Jesus?

Have we ever found ourselves promoting the law over loving a person and patiently allowing the Holy Spirit to guide them?

Do we find ourselves fulfilled in our faith because we follow the rules?

Have we ever fooled ourselves and rationalized a sin, making an exception?

Are we self righteous because we would not do that sin?

Are we prideful in our position at church? In the way we relate to others? Especially those who share our faith?

Have we dishonored anyone with our straightforwardness through “telling the truth in love”?

How is it that after our lives get on the straight and narrow, we become judge and jury for others? That like the unforgiving debtor, who was shown mercy and forgiven a huge debt, threw someone in prison for owing him a small debt?

We may not be a Pharisee, per say, but we certainly can find their sins in our own hearts.

If we’re honest.

Today, with all of the access to books, pod casts, 24/7 television programming, conferences, preaching, teaching, Bible studies, and more, our lives are filled with knowledge.

But really, are we any different than 5, 10, 30 years ago?

 But while knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church.

                                                                   1 Corinthians 8

The remedy for pride, self righteousness, rule promoting and law abiding, is the patient, kind, humble, honoring others sacrificial love God has loved us with.

This is my commandment: love each other in the same way I have loved you.

1 John 15:12

That doesn’t mean we don’t follow the scripture. There is so much guidance because God loves us and knows the danger of going our own way.

We follow the scripture because we love Him. Period.

Not for any other reason.

And we love others because we love Him. Period.

Not for any other reason.

When we love people the way God tells us to, we are doing far more for them than giving them the rules first, which is often what happens.

Because they need to love God first so they will keep the rules.

People get hurt in church. And far too often they are not loved the way God says to love them.

They are told, “there is no perfect church.”

Or we go to the scripture to point out where their attitude or behavior is wrong.

That is not patient, kind, honoring, and humble. It carries with it an automated response that teeters on being arrogant from all of the knowledge we’ve gained.

It is not taking the wounded and bearing all things, believing all things, hoping all things, or enduring all things. Instead, it is failing. And when all the prophesying, tongues of angels, and knowledge comes to an end, it is only love that will remain.

There are people in our churches who must learn to persevere and endure hardship when there are disagreements. We grow through difficulty and suffering.

But too often, people are given a solution without the validation that comes with love.

I imagine churches being so filled with 1 Corinthians 13 love, which is much harder than giving the rules, because it requires sacrifice (love your neighbor as much as you love yourself).

A place where there is patience and kindness.

A place of humility.

A place of honor.

The world is watching. Jesus said the world will know we are His disciples by our love for each other.

Love defined in 1 Corinthians 13. If we want a rule, there it is.

If you have been hurt in church, don’t turn away from God.

Church is good and it is part of God’s design for you. God wants us to be committed to each other because no matter what, Jesus Christ and Him crucified binds us together, even with our differences.

Church is vital to the Christian life.

But if circumstances beyond your control have placed you in a season of not having a church, do not feel rejected, disqualified, discouraged, or labeled.

There is an old saying that’s been around for decades: Christians shoot their wounded.

Sadly, this is often true.

Love. Forgive. Be comforted.

Let God help you, guide you, and love you.

Nothing escapes God’s knowledge.

He is over all.

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be of good cheer.

The hay is swaying in the breeze through the old porch windows centered between peeling paint.

The ceiling fan hums, an occasional bird sings, the dog sighs.

Sweet paprika and thyme begins to permeate from the oven while the carrots, turnip, onion, and parsnips are waiting.

Tears well up in my eyes now and then.

There’s this. And then there’s that.

All the thoughts of what is not just, what is not right, and just plain why – tumble around in my head.

They’ve been there for quite some time.

I guess today, it was time for them to come forward.

An over used scripture (if there is such a thing) will not do.

A chin up! or this too shall pass, will not suffice.

Only God will do.

But wait. Isn’t scripture God? Isn’t faith and patience and perseverance God?

Maybe we’ve confused one for the other.

When you’ve walked through the darkest place on earth, and do not come out with shouts of praise and hallelujahs, people are strangely silent.

But they don’t know what to say she said.

And the words poured caustically into my bleeding heart.

I thought God spoke through his people. I thought we would do greater things than Jesus.

No one knows what to say?

Instead, they move along at an intentional pace.

To the early Christian, trusting God meant more than a teary-eyed testimony about the time I came to trust the Lord. It meant believing that even if obedience to God entailed great suffering, God was trustworthy to bring a person through it.

No time to sit and be silent and know.

No time to ask, what did you see in that valley? Was God there? What did he say?

But no one asked.

God tells you secrets. And I will tell you what to share and not to share.

But no one listened.

If you can’t speak to your own, how will you speak to the world?

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In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

have faith in God.

Some speak to mountains

and do not doubt

and the people marvel.

Have faith in God.

Some wield a stone

at the impending doom

as the threat falls to the ground.

Have faith in God.

Ravenous lions bow

tumultuous seas rest.

Step out of the boat

and let us see

your faith.

Take a risk.

Stake a claim.

Lights. Camera. Action.

But then the Lord looks down upon

things not seen.

The trusting ones

patient suffering

of trials proving genuine faith

just because you have not seen Him

yet you love Him

still.

Have faith in God.

The unfading beauty of a gentle, quiet spirit

so precious to God.

A cup of water

the extra mile.

A stable

a donkey.

A gentle whisper

a still, small voice.

Have faith in God.

Submition

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the brokenhearted.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

-The Bible

I wonder what God thinks ..

I wonder how God feels ..

When someone is overwhelmed by disappointment, sorrow or grief.

When someone’s spirit is crushed.

He is close to them.

I wonder what God thinks ..

I wonder how God feels ..

When someone does those things to another.

And does not acknowledge.

And does not admit.

And does not apologize ..

knowing the disappointment, sorrow or grief

they caused.

I wonder what God thinks ..

I wonder how God feels ..

When it happens in his Church.

And the brokenhearted continue to diligently watch over their hearts ..

forgiving

shunning bitterness

over and over

and over.

I know what God thinks ..

I know how God feels ..

He is close to them ..

since He knows all things.

Just a lonely heart...:))

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