Suffering. It’s all around us. You see it on the faces of people you pass at the grocery store, see it in the stories posted on the news and social media, and see the pain it causes in the lives of those you know and love. We live in a broken world, but it can be hard to make sense of all the pain and suffering we see and experience. How can a good, loving Father allow us to go through hard times? As born-again believers, shouldn’t we be free from the ravages of a sinful world? If God is truly sovereign, why does He allow us to walk through suffering?
Have you ever wondered what makes a good Christian leader? Or how God shapes and makes those men and women useful servants for His kingdom?
I know I have. Now that I’m serving in ministry and feel called to leadership in worship and discipleship, I have often pondered and contemplated how God chooses and prepares His servants. Throughout Biblical and Church history there have been many amazing and mighty men and women of God. A short list would include giants like Moses, David, Joseph, Mary, Paul, James, Peter, Billy Graham, John Wesley, and Hudson Taylor just to name a few.
But what set these people apart? Why did God choose them? And how did they grow into their roles of leadership? What journey did God take them on to shape and mold them into the leaders of His choosing?
Consider the question carefully. Do you need joy?
Can you say without hypocrisy that you would be 100% content and joyful if you were stuck in a prison cell tomorrow? Are you honestly 100% content and joyful in the life you have now? Can you say that you have truly learned how to be content in any and every situation? Is anxiety and stress no longer an issue in your life? Has the things of this world—learning, material possessions, achievements, success, popularity—all become less than garbage to you in comparison to knowing Christ?
I’m a full time private music instructor. It’s my job to teach students the inner complexities of music and how to translate what’s written on a page to how to play it on an instrument. I teach students of all ages, but right now, I have quite a few little guys—ages 5-6. And while these youngsters can be a challenge, it is so rewarding to see the proverbial light bulb come on and watch them master each new lesson. Recently, as I was telling my family some of the funny things these little guys have said—I have quite a few stories!—God hit me with something big.
Children trust utterly, absolutely, and entirely. They don’t doubt what you tell them, but in fact, are willing to somewhat blindly trust you.
Gratitude is a posture. A choice. We often overlook this truth and blindly believe that gratitude and thankfulness is a response to overflowing blessings. But Paul resets our perspective when he wrote to the Thessalonians:
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
~I Thessalonians 5:18
Over on my Google Plus page* I’ve been sharing a few A.W. Tozer quotes which have encouraged and challenged me as I’ve been reading through Warren Wiersbe’s compilation titled “The Best of A.W. Tozer (Book One)”. One of the quotes I shared last week reads as follows:
“When God’s sheep are in danger, the shepherd must not gaze at the stars and meditate on ‘inspirational’ themes. He is morally obliged to grab his weapon and run to their defense. When the circumstances call for it, love can use the sword, though by her nature she would rather bind up the broken hearted and minister to the wounded. It is time for the prophet and seer to make themselves heard and felt again. For the last three decades timidity disguised as humility has crouched in her corner while the spiritual quality of the evangelical Christianity has become progressively worse year by year. How long, O Lord, how long?”
Father’s Day was two days ago. Did you shower blessing and honor upon your father? Did you express how much you love and appreciate your daddy?
Just as our earthly father likes to be called daddy, so also our heavenly Father longs to hear the word spring from our mouths. Just as the toddler runs full speed towards his daddy, so also God wants us to always run straight towards Him. Just as a child turns to her father for every need, want, and desire, so also God wants us to turn toward Him. He wants us to view Him with the same trust, feelings of safety, and love that we associate with our earthly daddy. So He gave Himself a new name.
As we continue to march through the days of June and prepare for summer, I look outside and am astounded by the abundance of greenery and beauty that accompanies spring and early summer. The songbirds have returned from their winter migration and fill the skies with their graceful aerial acrobatics and complex melodies. The deer and other wildlife have little ones by their sides, and the trees are budding forth with new leaves. All these speak loudly to me of one thing: LIFE.
After a painful good-bye with promises to keep in touch, I climbed into the car and drove away from their lives. For the first two months after we moved, there were video calls every week. After that, however, it turned to phone calls. But those, too, became less and less frequent. Until in a matter of months the only messages were texts from me, as I tried to keep up. At first they were answered, but that became less and less frequent as well. Eventually, I felt like I was nagging my beloved friends. I felt like my messages were just another thing they had to do, and I should maybe send less of those as well. Now, I might hear of their lives from other people, but they don’t really know me anymore.
“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
~II Chronicles 7:14
We see this verse a lot. But what exactly are we asking when we quote this promise? Are we asking for a return to America’s former prosperity and season of blessing? When we think and pray this passage are we focused on the “then I will forgive their sin and heal their land” part of the equation? What are our motives? Do we just want the material, social, and political success of former eras? Or are we truly desiring the humbling of God’s people, repentance, and seeking of God?
The other night my family and I were discussing what Scripture meditation actually means, what it looks like, and it’s place in the Christian life. Personally, I believe that Scripture meditation is simply opening God’s Word, reading a passage of verses, and then being still before God. It’s a time when I ponder the meaning and significance of the passage in front of me, the biblical importance and background, and the personal application.
As a young adult, I often get questions like: “What are you doing with your life?” “Are you going to school?” “What are you interested in?” And so on. My response as of late tends to be “I’m interested in ministry and currently keep a devotional blog called So I Fix My Eyes…” However, after a recent conversation with my mom about future life goals and passions, I began pondering what ministry actually means.
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