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Christian Apologetic, and Social Commentary in a world gone mad
Tag Archives: Pain
Confused, Restless, Anxious, Hurting? Hurry Up and Wait!
June 4, 2010Posted by on
In doing my G90X reading today I ran across a passage I’d heard a sermon on previously Exodus 40:36-38 “The Israelites set out whenever the cloud was taken up from the tabernacle throughout all the stages of their journey. 37 If the cloud was not taken up, they did not set out until the day it was taken up. 38 For the cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day, and there was a fire inside the cloud by night, visible to the entire house of Israel throughout all the stages of their journey.”
There is something to be learned here about waiting on God. This is echoed throughout scripture, but especially in the Psalms… Here are a few examples:
Psalm 27:13-14 I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. 14 Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.
Psalm 33:4-7 Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: 6 He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. 7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him…
Psalm 130:5-6 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. 6 My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning…
So, what’s the point? In times of discontent, restlessness and uncertainty instead of trying to kick in doors and seize control of our futures, we ought to wait and pray and see what God will do… It’s usually much more amazing than we could ever dream… At least that’s what I’ve seen in my life… The times I’ve rushed, I’ve failed… when I took my time and gotten (and followed) wise counsel, the results have been astounding.
Of course, this doesn’t apply to stuff that we already know that we need to be obeying, like sharing our faith, giving to the church, praying, having a quiet time… etc. God has been clear in His Word on what we need to be doing in those cases and we need to MOVE – NOW… but that is a topic for another post!
Failure is not an option – it happens!
April 20, 2010Posted by on
One of the things I’ve tried to put into place in my life is accountability. This is a painful thing often, because it requires people telling me that I’m not doing things perfectly (I really want to think I’m close to perfect – but the sad truth of the matter is I’m not even close). Things have been going fairly good in our church – there’s a lot of positive that’s happening in the church as a whole and in the youth as well, but when stuff goes well I rejoice with one hand and brace for impact with the other.
You see, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about integrity… Satan’s attacks… persecution… fighting for the Kingdom of God and other things.
I am consistently wary of how my failings may affect my family, my ministry and other people. A few years back (okay a lot of years back) DC Talk wrote a song that captures my personal feelings on this matter. The 2nd verse and chorus are particularly appropriate:
Father please forgive me for I cannot compose
The fear that lives within me or the rate at which it grows
If struggle has a purpose on the narrow road you’ve carved
Why do I dread my trespasses will leave a deadly scar
Do they see the fear in my eyes?
Are they so revealing?
This time I cannot disguise
All the doubt I’m feeling
What if I stumble, what if I fall?
What if I lose my step and I make fools of us all?
Will the love continue when my walk becomes a crawl?
What if I stumble, and what if I fall?
Here are a few things I know:
- When someone starts making an impact for the Kingdom of God – Satan takes notice and goes after them with everything he’s got (cf. Job; Luke 22:31-32; esp. Luke 4:1-13 ).
Hey, this is a great strategy! Take out/discredit the leadership and the followers will be easy pickings. To do this he will use lies, deception, evil people, bad circumstances… but like Robert pointed out in a previous blog Satan often focuses most on our particular weaknesses and natural dispositions to specific sins… Usually for Christian leaders the temptations that lead to epic fails are in one or more of these 3 areas (cf. 1 John 2:16): Pride (fame, influence, accolades); Money (Stealing, hording or materialism); Sexual Immorality.
- Christians carry the name of Christ and their reputation reflects upon His reputation (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:20; Matthew 5:11-12; 1 Peter 3:13-17).
In fact, this is exactly what “Christian” means. That term started off as a derogatory term basically meaning “little Christs”… This is such a complement when we are being like Him, but the sword is double edged… it cuts both ways… when we carry His name what we do says something to people about Him – it’s not fair to Him, but it is the harsh reality of the matter.
- If we get things flipped around to where life is about our fame and glory we are in for a world of hurt because we will be fighting God (cf. Prov. 3:34) and Satan.
There is no doubt that we will be persecuted – scripture is clear about that. However, we are only blessed when we are persecuted for doing right… Otherwise we’re just getting what we deserve.
- We are all going to sin! The point is to get accountability in our lives and be daily in God’s word and controlled by the Spirit as much as possible in order to minimize the impact and depth and breadth of our inevitable failures! (cf. Ephesians 5:15-21; Galatians 5:15-26)
- Forgiveness is available to any who seek it – but this requires humility to repent and confess when we have failed! (cf. 1 John 1:9, James 5:16)
1 Peter 5:1-11 really speaks to all of this. Let me encourage you to read it and meditate upon it, especially if you are in any sort of Christian leadership and most especially if that leadership is in any way in the public eye. Jesus took quite enough of a beating for us 2000 years ago… He certainly does not need another black eye.
One of the guys that regularly hold me accountable sent me a good reminder yesterday from Oswald Chambers (My Utmost for His Highest): “Unguarded strength is double weakness because that is where the retired sphere of the leasts saps. The Bible characters fell on their strong points, never on their weak ones.” Now that’s some old English speak that basically says, be careful about what you are strong in because it can become an area of pride and pride comes before a fall.
My friend’s take on this was:
If our strength is UNITY… be careful.
If our strength is COMMUNITY… be careful.
If our strength is TRUTH… be careful… Etc..
Each of these (and numerous others) is a double edged sword.. since each can probably derail us too.. I must know who I am in light of HIM.
Another thing… It is important to note that the failings of humans do not really invalidate the truth of the Gospel (the claims of the Bible should be evaluated on their own merit) – however, Christians’ failings can damage the perception of the Gospel in the court of public opinion and make it more difficult sometimes for people to come to Christ.
Is accountability fun?!?! NO WAY – actually it quite often stinks, stings and smarts. But at the same time it keeps us from MUCH MUCH more serious damage to ourselves, our families, our friends, and the reputation of our God.
Why Apologize?!?! No Apologizing on… Apologizing!
April 8, 2010Posted by on
Have you ever heard that it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission? That may be true in some circumstances, but that doesn’t mean that asking for forgiveness is an easy thing to do. It can be very hard to apologize sometimes – especially when you don’t think you’re the one who’s most in the wrong!
Surprisingly, the Bible doesn’t seem to say a whole lot about apologizing, at least not on the surface! You won’t be very successful in trying to do a word search for apologize in the Bible, but that doesn’t mean that the concept is missing in God’s word… Let’s look at a couple of places where the Bible addresses this from a different angle.
Jesus spoke about asking for forgiveness in the Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 5:21-26 Jesus talks about what we are to do when someone is angry with us… He says to “reconcile” with them right away. Notice in the passage that Jesus didn’t say who was at fault… He just started off saying that it was bad to be angry at someone and call them a fool… Then He said that if you remember that someone may be angry at you, go make it right! In context this tells us that we need to do what it takes to make things right with this person (including asking for forgiveness) not for our sake, but really for their sake!
I can imagine some of you scratching your heads on that. Let me explain. Jesus said that it was dangerous for Christians to hold on to anger at someone. He then told us to go reconcile with people who are angry at us. So, what He’s saying is to love others enough to do what you need to do in order to help remove that bad blood between you.
One way to diffuse a situation is to admit your portion of the wrong and ask for forgiveness… Not just say “I’m sorry if I offended you”, but instead say, “I was wrong when I _______________. Will you please forgive me?”
I know that it seems like splitting hairs, but saying “I’m sorry” usually doesn’t move the heart of the one we’ve offended, but taking responsibility by saying “I was wrong” often does.
I am convinced that this is at least partially what James 5:16 is telling us to do when it says, “confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” Taking responsibility for where we were wrong in a situation (even when the other person may have been MORE in the wrong) brings healing to a relationship… This is for the betterment of everyone involved.
What else is difficult about apologizing? It requires a HUGE amount of humility. What do we naturally want to do when someone is angry with us? Defend ourselves, of course. Especially if and when we think the other person is more in the wrong than we are… Really though, in the greater scheme of things, that doesn’t matter – The fact of the matter is that it always takes two or more people to make an argument and almost always the fault for the argument is at least partially shared. You may not have the greatest majority of the blame, but was there anything you did that contributed to the argument? Probably… So ask for forgiveness for your part without pointing out the obvious (the other person’s part) – take responsibility for taking the first step toward healing in the relationship. I think this is what God was getting at when He inspired Peter to write:
Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” (1 Peter 3:8-12, ESV)
God’s saying that if we want to have a good life here on earth we need to do our best to live in harmony with others. We are to bless others – one way to do that is to diffuse their anger. But that’s not our natural reaction… Normally, when someone is upset with us we want to defend ourselves and fight back. But I Peter is saying that is absolutely the wrong course of action! Defending ourselves and our pride is counterproductive to what ought to be our primary concern: the greater good of all involved (including ourselves) – and that only comes through restoration! Consider the following related verses:
Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. (2 Corinthians 13:11, ESV)
Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves… Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:17-21, ESV)
Scripture may not speak specifically and directly about apologizing or how to apologize, but it does have a great deal to say about humility and forgiveness. Perhaps this is because forgiving is even harder! Regardless, I think that the passages above speak to all of this.
Because there is so much to say about forgiveness, we will deal with it more extensively in another post – too much to cover here without short changing apologies. What does need to be said about forgiveness here is: “when someone asks for forgiveness, give it – period.”
What else needs to be said about forgiveness is that as difficult as it is to give, it is super hard for true forgiveness to happen without something initiating the process – 99.99999% of the time that something is a sincere apology.
So, let me challenge you today… give asking for forgiveness a shot, it may save a relationship or two.