Through Trials, Part 1: Be Quiet

12 Nov


“… and no faith is so precious as that which lives and triumphs in adversity. Tried faith brings experience. You could not have believed your own weakness had you not been compelled to pass through the rivers; you would never have known God’s strength had you not been supported amid the water-floods. Faith increases in solidity, assurance, and intensity, the more it is exercised with tribulation. Faith is precious, and its trial is precious too.” Morning & Evening, by C.H. Spurgeon for November 12

I think that this can pretty much summarize one basic struggle I have:

“It is good, that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. Let him sit alone in silence, when it is laid on him; let him put his mouth in the dust- there may yet be hope; let him give his cheek to the one who strikes, and let him be filled with insults.

For the LORD will not cast off forever, but, though he causes grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not afflict from his heart or grieve the children of men…”- Lamentations 3:26-33

I have trouble being quiet. Can you identify with this? I find when I have a problem, whether with myself or someone else, I tend to talk, a lot. I have had times where my husband has had to stop me and remind me that I’ve explained the same issue to him, in multiple variations, numerous times. He is patient with me, and I’m thankful for that. If it’s not him I talk to, I can easily find a listening ear to unload upon. I do have wise friends, but I wonder at the same time if, my talking is not a sign of my real desire to hear the advice from others, but rather my desire just to be heard, to know that someone is going to listen and that maybe the more I talk about it, the more I can figure out a solution to my problem.

Being quiet seems to be one of the hardest things to do, at least that’s what James says when he refers to the tongue as a restless evil, full of deadly poison, an unbridled member of the body that can’t be tamed. With that in mind, I have been considering the very serious way that talking, rather than listening and waiting, hinders us in our obedience and in our ability to see what the Lord really is doing in the midst of trials and temptations.

The verse I quoted above says “it is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” I’m going to ask you to follow with me as I try my best to weave a few passages of Scripture together. Quietness implies submission. Rather than talking or taking matters into our own hands, quietness is a resolve to wait and STOP talking. Quietness involves putting the tongue to rest, and in turn, waiting to see what the Lord will do. Why do we need to wait and see? Because we don’t know the future. We don’t know what an hour, let alone a day can bring. If there is ever an opportunity to display belief in God’s sovereignty over all things, it’s in our call to quiet obedience while we wait for God to deliver us.

Another passage that calls for us to be quiet is in 1 Peter. Peter is calling women, wives in specific, to be like this: “… but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.” 1 Peter  3:4-6

Here is the passage I want to zero in on. Earlier this year, I was with a some friends and we were chatting about the whole concept of hope and submission to God’s will through trials and one point that was brought up that has not left me was this: Those holy women who were called precious, were called that because of their gentle and quiet spirit, which resulted from their hope in God. Did you catch that? Sarah, hoped in God, submitting to Abraham, and did good, not fearing anything that was frightening. Man did she have a lot to be afraid of.

I was sitting down this morning to read my Bible, and I began as usual with a short devotional from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening (the excerpt I referenced above) and was considering the trials and testing of our faith. That lead me to think about how we struggle with trials and are tempted to despair about God’s desire, even, to save us and rescue us out of trouble. As I was thinking about these things, I was brought back to 1 Peter and when I glanced over the example of Sarah and Abraham, my first thought was “I don’t need to read that story again, I’m familiar with it”. If you’re not, and even if you are, I strongly suggest you go and read it. I wasn’t going to- and there was my first problem. Aren’t we often tempted to say to ourselves that we “know” the Bible and its stories, and therefore have no need to re-read? This is where I think, we are loosing the most because rather than go back, reading with new eyes, and asking for God to continue to reveal himself through his word, we become presumptuous and miss out on the richness of truth.

Here’s what I found, and I’d love to hear from anyone if they see even more than what I gathered. God called Abraham out of Ur, to follow him. This is the beginning of Abraham’s journey of faith. He leaves the land he grew up in, to follow God into an unknown land, and God makes him a great promise or covenant, to bless him and make him a blessing to others. So Abraham responds in faith, and follows God as he leads him into Canaan. When they arrive, Abraham sets up an altar and worships the Lord. But then a a famine hits and as the one responsible for his wife Sarah (Sarai at the time), and all his servants and herds, he begins to make a plan to do what seems most needful to him, setting out on a journey that will ultimately lead to Egypt in order to find food and water to keep those that he loves alive. But Abraham’s one hesitation when he is about to arrive in Egypt is that the Egyptians will see Sarah as beautiful, and harm him in order to get to her, so he asks her to lie for him and say that she’s just his sister. This is incredible. God has just brought them into the land he promised, and he’s promised him a great inheritance, yet we don’t see a mention here of Abraham at any point calling on the Lord to provide or deliver him and his family from the famine. Aren’t we all like this at times when a trial comes? Do we take matters into our own hands, looking to the world for our deliverance, for our needs to be met? Just consider your own temptations and the way this looks in your life, because I’m sure that this is something we can all relate to. There was a real need- yet rather than call on the Lord and trust in his provision, Abraham goes down, into Egypt. We descend much in the same way. Rather than looking up, we look down and around and try to find our way out of trouble using what seems to us to be the most pragmatic of solutions.

I’ll continue my thoughts about the rest of the story in another post, but for now, how do you think Sarah dealt with all of this? She’d been sold out by her husband, was living in a foreign land in the home of the most powerful man in all of the Ancient Near East, and was on the verge of being made another man’s wife- all because of a lie and a plan that were not her own. I can just imagine the fear, the sense of betrayal, the anxiety for her own life and her husband’s life. Yet Peter gives us special insight about Sarah’s attitude and we know that she had that gentle, quiet spirit. She submitted to her husband, and hoped in God. If there is any trial where we can be sure our faith in God’s provision and salvation will be tested, I can pretty safely say that it will be in the context of those relationships we are most tempted to try to find hope and security in. Those people, spouses, friends, pastors, children, whomever we hold close to us and are most likely to want to place our trust in are the ones that are most dangerous for our souls. We can easily transfer our hope in God to hope in a person, and that is a dangerous transaction. To look for salvation from fallen men, a fallen husband, or a fallen wife is suicide. Can we trust in people who are also easily led astray, who don’t always trust in the Lord as they ought, and who just like ourselves are going to make bad decisions, even decisions that will hurt us? No. That is why Peter warns us, wives in particular, to hope in God. He even says that our obedience, our reverent behaviour is the means by which we win a disobedient spouse. Peter along with the Apostle Paul has much to say about suffering at the hands of sinful men, and they prepare us well for these trials so that we are not taken off guard, but rather, we are called to be faithful, patient in suffering, waiting for “the salvation of the Lord”.  Here is where he gets the glory- not just in the act of salvation (whether we experience present relief from a trial, or are given the grace to endure through it even if it’s never removed), but in our overcoming our temptation to doubt him and take matters into our own hands. God does not promise relief from trials, but He does promise strength to endure and provision to find our hope in him, not our circumstances and not in people.

I’ll let you stew over that for now. How are you tempted to hope in man, or a job, or a change of living situation, or relief from physical pain, or whatever very real suffering you are living with? This is a false hope, and rather than trying to destroy our joy, we know that as we read the truth in God’s word, it is there for us so our minds can be renewed and we can be freed from deception. False idols, those people or things or situations we are so easily led to bow down to are no hope at all, and in fact rob us from the one true joy. Once again, the Lord is rescuing us, not simply from these things, but from ourselves. I think what we stand to learn from Sarah’s response to the trial of her faith in particular is great, so I’ll save some more thoughts for later but I hope that for now, these reflections on our trials and God’s clear word on how we can be delivered through them would give you peace today as you think upon the fact that even if nothing changes in your situation, you can hope in him and that hope will not fail, for he is faithful and he will deliver you and give you grace, even if it means you will suffer as result of your obedience.

Press On

4 Nov

1622780_10153039132652262_6582303956987842076_nMy husband and I always have a good laugh when we think about this one time a friend of ours asked us to edit his resume. I’m pretty sure we were all finished university so when we read his bullet point that said “Grade 8 Athlete of the Year” under Accomplishments, we couldn’t hold it together. Needless to say, we told him that it needed to be scrapped. It’s funny because at one point that accomplishment did mean something significant. To the thirteen-year-old boy and his parents, it would have likely been a highlight of the year. But by twenty-three, one sure hopes that there’s been more “accomplished” since then.

When the Apostle Paul says in Philippians 3:13-14 “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”, he’s talking about the idea of pressing on. He’s just unloaded his list of accomplishments, and to the reader, they are actually something someone would want to write home about. If you’ve ever been to a conference or awards ceremony, you’re familiar with the way the introduction of the speaker or award winner goes. “So-and-so is a graduate of Harvard, a writer with the New York Times, founder of the charity Such-and-Such, and he just ran his third marathon- of the year!” There’s something in our worship-oriented hearts that loves to hear ascriptions of praise given to us, and at times lavished on others. We feel that someone is respectable or praiseworthy because of their accomplishments and therefore, we ascribe worth to them as a result. When others praise us, if we’re honest, it comes with a sense of pride in how awesome we are, how great it is that no one can do the things we do, and “I bet other people wish they were as amazing as I am at ________”. 

But here’s the thing. Actually two things. Thing one. There is only One worthy of praise. If we’ve ever been able to accomplish anything of any value or any eternal good, it’s because of God’s grace at work in us. That’s the first thing. My second and main thing is this. Aren’t we being a little like my friend with his 8th Grade Athlete of the Year award when we want others, or even want ourselves to feel like we’ve accomplished things of value? It is true- there was a point when he played well, worked hard, committed to various sports teams, and maybe modelled some leadership and as a result was deserving of recognition, but the point is that that event has passed. Now, wherever we are, whatever works we’ve done are finished. There’s more work to do, and therefore we need to forget what lies behind and keep straining forward to what lies ahead. Press on.

One mark of our knowing God is the continual desire to know him more. It’s not enough for the Christian to have known him last year, or during that time in college, or on the missions trip you served on, or in the camp ministry you participated in. We want more of him, through his word, and through experience. I love the athletic metaphors Paul uses so often because they’re easy for me to picture. The idea of straining your body is exactly what has to happen when you’re doing anything worthwhile in sports. If you’re running, you are pushing yourself forward, straining your muscles to drive you one step forward at a time, and it’s work. It’s not fun, it may bring you favourable results, but the process is not always pleasant. I’ve had the chance to run in two races and both times I’ve come to appreciate the mental game involved in getting yourself to the finishing line. Before you race, you’re supposed to train so that come race day, you’re not unprepared. The base you build with shorter, less intense runs serves to carry you through till the end on the day of the actual race. From what I understand, most race training programs won’t even have you run the full length of the race more than once before actual race day. The reason being that come the day of the event, your body has spent so much time building up overall stamina, you will be able to get to the end even if you haven’t practiced running that full distance. You’ll have exerted yourself through training enough so that when it comes time to race, you’ll be able to give it your best and push yourself further because you have extra energy stored up. Now here is the dumb thing that can potentially happen to your mind if you’ve run one race. You could approach your next one and say to yourself “Well, I ran last year in a race and that’s enough to get me through this one”. That would be foolish. That would be like remembering your past accomplishment and using it as a justification for not training and preparing for, or participating in future races. Why would you stop at what you’ve done last year? Why would that be a good reason to justify your lack of enthusiasm for the new challenges that lie in front of you today? You’re setting yourself up for failure by focusing on what you’ve already done and using that as justification for not having to do anything now.

Here’s my encouragement for us in relationship to the whole notion of pressing on. How are we to face the challenges we are encountering right now? Do you have a ton of work to get done and are you feeling unable, incompetent, or discouraged at the enormity of the task? I feel like that often. Do you have a relational issue that is causing you pain? What about your walk with the Lord? Is it not what you wish it were, or what it ought to be? Is there some area of sin that you keep struggling with and can’t seem to get past? Forget what lies behind- successes and failures, and press on. If we are stuck, remembering that awesome season where we were doing so well, loving people whole-heartedly, getting so much accomplished, being just all-around great, then we’re going to be tempted to pride and a false belief that the good we were doing was of our own strength, and if we just mustered up enough will-power, we’d be able to repeat the past. That’s a lie. If we wallow in our failures, we’re also believing another lie. We’re forgetting that our walk is one of grace and faith.

Just before Paul says that we’re to press on, he says this. “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” If we are to be able to move forward now in the good works God has laid out for us, we’re going to have to start by counting all the things that were gain to us (accomplishments, titles, experiences) as nothing. We need to do this so that now, today, we can continue to find our righteousness through our faith (not in our accomplishments!) in God in order that we might know him and the power of his resurrection, by sharing in his suffering, dying to ourselves, so that we can attain the resurrection from the dead. Wow. That’s a jam-packed thought right there. I’m going to encourage you to meditate on that. The way we are called to walk is a hard way, one that will inevitably cause us pain. It’s hard to be faithful, to keep pressing on in spite of the trials and temptations we face. It’s easy to want to throw in the towel and say “Isn’t it enough that I was the Athlete of the Year 15 years ago?”. Here is the motivation- when we are willing to suffer or die to ourselves, we are going to get to KNOW CHRIST. We are going to, experientially SHARE IN HIS SUFFERINGS. We are going to, in our mortal bodies, experience a RESURRECTION FROM THE DEAD. That is just amazing. That’s the point of all this. Press on, because in pressing on, we are going to be rewarded with the greatest gift which is the knowledge of God, intimately and personally, through the person of Jesus. I want more of that and I hope you do to.

He is Risen

1 Apr

I know, it’s not Easter for a few weeks, but I just had to say it. He is Risen. I had to remind myself of this today. In God’s providence, I’ve been having many conversations about death recently. No one “looks” for conversations about death. There are many other topics that everyone would much rather think upon. But, some days, it becomes an inescapable reality for various reasons. We all know that saying, “There are two things people can’t avoid: death, and taxes” but how often do we really think about what that means? Death is unavoidable. Just saying it makes people uncomfortable. There are so many things we can avoid in life. We can avoid getting a job, we can put off marriage, we can participate in many activities or choose to not participate in activities, and all of this gives us some sense that we are “in control”. But in death, there really is no control. That is a scary thought.

Just yesterday, I was out with a good friend, and we were having this conversation. We were talking about the recent deaths of several people we know, and reflecting on how unexpected they were. At the same time, it was sobering to face the fact that although the time and place were unknown to anyone except God, there was really nothing unexpected about their deaths at all. Part of the deception is that we all would like to believe in some way that death is just a normal part of life that we have to accept. In North America, with all our obsessions surrounding health and prolonging life by eating well, exercising, and prolonging our youth (whether it be through plastic surgery or just some form of procrastination from taking on certain responsibilities associated with adulthood), it has become too easy to trick ourselves into believing that death is not at hand. We rarely face even having to look at a dead body, since most of the time, attending a funeral means looking at a casket. It’s almost as if, by not thinking about it, and not seeing it around us, we pretend that it doesn’t exist.

I assume that most people, when asked how they’d want to die if they had the choice, would choose something “peaceful” like passing away quietly in the night, in a home surrounded by family and friends, at an old age. But what has ever given anyone a reason to not only believe that death is either “normal” or controllable? You don’t have to look far to see examples all around of how untrue this idea of death is. Its victims don’t have an age nor do they fit into a type or category. This is a certain reality: we will all die, and we don’t know when. In light of that, here are my questions: is there any hope in the face of death, and, are you ready to face it?

As I was talking with my friend about these questions, she asked me “Are you scared of dying?”, and although I knew my answer right away, it made me think even more about why it is that I can say with real confidence and real hope, “No, I’m not scared of dying.” Don’t get me wrong, if I have to think about the ways that I might die, there is definitely fear. I don’t think about this often, but I’m no different than anyone, I do not anticipate death with excitement in the sense that I think it will be pain free, or easy on me or anyone that I love. That is not what death does. It will one day destroy my body, and in some ways, I do fear that experience. My response, that I am not afraid to die, comes as a result of this truth: He is risen. You may have heard many things about who Jesus is and what His life was about, but do you realize, that the whole concept of the good news or the Gospel, is that Christ came to defeat death? When He died on the cross, His body was laid in the ground, but three days later, he was actually, physically, raised from the dead. During his life, he raised people from the dead. Lazarus, his good friend had been dead for several days, and when he came to him and called him saying “Lazarus, come forth!”, Lazarus rose up and came back to life! Does that blow your mind or what? Do we even stop and think about what that must have been like for people around watching, especially those closest to him? I mean, I can only picture how utterly stunned and shocked bystanders would have been. Lazarus’ sisters must have been speechless for days. Their brother, whom they had just buried, was now back with them, eating and talking. And he wasn’t the only one. Why do you think Jesus performed that miracle? I can think of one reason, although there are probably many. He was showing people that he had authority over life and death, and when he speaks and calls someone to come forth from the grave, they will live. There is nothing, not even the greatest enemy we as human beings have ever known, that can defeat him. That is hope.

You may not take the Bible as true or believe it to be what it claims to be as the authoritative word of God, but in it, there is the explanation as to why it is that death entered the world in the first place. Death is not an evolutionary process. It’s not “nature’s way” of eliminating the weakest. It is a curse and it is the result of sin that came into the world from the very beginning. All that God created, was never meant to die, and yet, because of the sin of man, we all live under the sentence that Bible says is the penalty for our sin. Anyone who understands the simple concept of justice, getting what one deserves as a result of an offence, can understand that when God said that anyone who sins must surely die, he was speaking about the reality that all sin, everywhere is an offence to the Creator, the one who made each and every person to live in perfect union with him. Since the beginning, death has never been normal or something that people should learn to accept. No, it needs to be remembered as being our greatest enemy. When we forget that, and are consumed by a thousand other cares or distractions, we are in danger of being totally unaware of the serious state of our souls. It is not something that any person, in themselves, can overcome or defeat. Tell me, do you know anyone who has truly cheated death? No. Except Jesus. He didn’t cheat it, he destroyed it.

And that is the real hope. It made me angry and sad to stop and think about what sin really does to each and every one of us. It blinds us from these realities and causes to live in various forms of unbelief about who God is and what it is that he has done in sending Jesus to the world. Many people are familiar with the verse, John 3:16, but don’t know what comes right after that. It says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” Read that slowly. God, loved us. He gave us his Son, by sending him to die for us in our place on the cross. By Jesus taking our place on the cross and receiving the punishment that we deserve, we don’t have to die a spiritual death. He did not send Jesus to destroy people, he sent him to give them life and to save them! From the beginning, God has been on a rescue mission, to bring lost souls back to himself.

I can’t not say these things right now, because for a moment I’ve been reminded again of the dark shadow that covers over all of us. Although Easter is a few weeks away, this truth should make us sing for joy each and every day of the year. Those who know Jesus have this real hope, that they will not taste death and they will not be destroyed, because Jesus already took on that death for us. I am so thankful for this. If only we would reflect more on our hope, every day, so that we go out into the world with a sober-mindedness about what we really have been saved from and how pressing it is that we share this hope with everyone else. And for anyone who doesn’t know him, I pray that being reminded about the reality of death, would cause you to reflect on the life you have now. There is only one person in all of history who has defeated death, and by trusting in him, and turning away from sin to follow him, life is yours to live. No longer do you have to live in fear, he came to overcome that.

“He will wipe away 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.” Revelation 21:4

Looking Back, for Strength to Look Forward

21 Aug

I’m breaking the silence on the blog… Here it is. I am glad that people probably have few or no expectations about me writing on here so in my absence (and that of all my co-writers), I’m sure life has gone on and everyone is doing just fine. Nonetheless, I think I’m ready to jump back in!

I’ve been learning MANY lessons over the past few months. I’m sure I haven’t arrived at a place where I can say that I now know and have fully grasped what it is that the Lord is teaching my and why He’s doing it now, but, somehow there are things that I think are getting through my stubborn skull. It’s funny how lessons don’t come in neat, tidy, easy to understand packages. Sometimes you get a little of this here, and something more there. Just the way it is with little children, you instruct a bit on one day, and that doesn’t mean that they get it immediately. It often takes time. A long time. Some lessons will keep being taught over and over in many ways and at many times, but there is a reason and purpose, and even when we don’t get the “why”, it doesn’t matter.

I’ll try and dig in to exactly what I mean by using a recent example. This past summer, I’ve often found myself floundering in discouragement. I am faced with some area of sin, some struggle I’m having, whether it be with patience towards my family, or learning to gain self-control in many areas of my life (time, money, etc.), and I begin to believe that there’s no hope and that things will always be the way they are. I’ll never stop responding with annoyance when I’m asked a question for the fifth time, and I’ll never say no to that unwise purchase, because I always find a way to rationalize my choices, even when I know they’re not the best. As I have on many days felt disheartened and hopeless, the Lord has brought to mind my past. Can you think back to when you first became a believer? When you first became convicted about sin in your life, or realized that the direction you were going in some particular area was not good, what happened? Did God leave you to wallow in self-reliance and guilt? I am sure that the answer for a believer is no. It is a good thing to remember back, and even list off mentally (or on paper if that helps you), struggles that you once had that have been overcome. I can think of many, many different things that I used to feel hopeless about, that God has brought me through. I’m not the same person I once was. That doesn’t by any means mean that I’ve arrived, or am floating around in some state of perfection, far from it. It is just a reminder that God is good and He doesn’t leave us in our sin. He who began that good work, WILL be faithful to complete it. It is Him, not us, working to conform us to the image of His son.

Reading from an piece written on another blog, I was reminded of how when parents are teaching their children, lessons get learned after much repetition. It is rare that the first time they hear or see something, they’ll pick it up and have no problem recalling what to do or say the first time they’re tested. But over time, they do learn. Thank God for His patience with us. We are just as stubborn. We want to insist that our way is the better way, or that we must see our situation more clearly than He does, so He’ll understand why it was ok for us to behave the way we did, without faith and hope in Him, and without obedience.

In a world where the world discipline has such a bad rap and is most probably associated with abuse, or unfair treatment, it’s hard to get our minds around the fact that it really is such a good thing. It’s a good thing to experience discipline and to practice it. The Bible says that if we are not disciplined by God, then we aren’t his children, because a loving parent disciplines the children he loves. God does the same thing. He chastises us, for our good. Again, with little kids, it’s the exact same way. We put limits on their desires, and stop them from going ways that are not good, not to restrict them but because we love them, and the ultimate freedom is not found in wandering whatever way they think is best, but in staying in safety, where they are able to fully enjoy liberty without hurting themselves and others. God’s reminders to us through His Word about sin, about the reality of our hopelessness, are not meant to leave us despairing and turning inwards for the solution. They’re meant to turn us towards Him so that we go to the real source of hope and strength. His discipline is a sign of His love.

Here’s one more point on discipline that comes from another recent experience. I’ve been running a lot this past summer. I’ve never particularly liked running and I actually don’t really know what got me started. I love sports, and I love exercise, but I guess because my time is limited in some ways, I find myself unable to do certain types of exercise that I’d typically be drawn to. I can remember participating on various teams growing up, and knowing what it meant to commit to some form of athleticism. The commitment didn’t just happen at game time on the field, or the ice, it happened prior, during 6 am practices. It happened at home, practicing some skill on the driveway. It meant saying no to other activities so that I could say yes to being on a team. But it always felt worth it because at the end, regardless of whether I played on a winning team or not, the satisfaction of having committed to something and having been willing to see it through till the end was good. With running, I have no one to hold me accountable. It’s just me out there, on the road alone early in the morning. I sometimes run with a friend and we’ve mentioned to each other several times that waking up and getting out the door is the hardest part. But once you’re out there, and once you finish that run, you feel great, not just physically but mentally as well. There is something valuable in telling your body to do things that it doesn’t want to do. It is a good thing to force yourself to work hard, even though you know your muscles will ache and you’ll have to crawl out of a warm bed, because the end result is so much better than not doing anything at all. Discipline is like that. It hurts you in the present, and the reward doesn’t show up till later on. You don’t want it, because it seems hard to accept that anything painful or difficult could be good (regardless of how many times you’ve seen results!). I’m telling you, even after running several days a week, getting up for that fifth time in spite of the benefits, is still a challenge. I’m sure it will continue to be, everyday I choose to go out.

To wrap all this up, remembering where we’ve been, and the fact that we’re not there anymore is hopeful. It reminds us that God has disciplined us, and will continue to discipline us for our good and for His glory. We don’t need to loose hope. We need to look up instead of inside. And the looking back serves as a good reminder that there are spiritual exercises that you have been put through and have seen results from. Just as our physical bodies need reminding that pain can be a good thing when it is used to mould us into a new person, so with spiritual difficulties and even failure. We’re reminded that we aren’t who we should be, but, to borrow from a quote whose author I can’t remember, by God’s grace, we’re not who we used to be, and one day, we will be who He has called us to be.

Till next time!

(Lord-willing not in 8 months!!!)


Some Favourite Tunes

19 Mar

I love music. I love all kinds of music.

I especially love the way song writers are able to capture profound truths in a very concise way. I thought it might be fun to share some of those amazing lines with you in this post. I will give you a link so you can listen to a few of them that you may not know that well. Enjoy!

“Well might the sun in darkness hide, and shut his glories in. When Christ, the mighty Maker died for man the creature’s sin.”(Alas and did my Savior Bleed, Isaac Watts)

“Thy mercy is more than a match for my heart,which wonders to feel its own hardness depart. Dissolved by Thy goodness, I fall to the ground. And weep to the praise of the mercy I’ve found.”(Thy Mercy, My God, John Stocker)

“Oh Perfect Love come near to me from hatred help me part. So I may bless my enemies with glimpses of Thy heart.” (Perfect Love Come Near to meWesley Randolph Eader)

“I am my beloved’s and my beloved’s mine. So you bring all your history and I’ll bring the bread and wine.”(Lover, Derek Webb)

“He knew who his betrayer was, He washed his feet, He washed his feet. He knew who his betrayer was, He washed his feet, He washed his feet. Oh, He loved them so.”(He Loves Them SoWesley Randolph Eader)

What are some of your favourites? I would love to hear from you.

I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy

7 Mar

The reality of God’s sovereignty has caused many sleepless nights in my 9 years as a Christian. I don’t loose sleep over wrestling with the complexities of how this works itself out in time and space with real human beings who make real decisions. Rather, it is the sometimes painful reality that God rules over each human being’s eternal destiny. He has mercy on who He will have mercy.

I go through a range of emotional responses during these long nights. But what I find myself coming back to is this: He is God and I am not. As we are told by Him in Exodus 34:6-7, He is “The Lord, The Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty….” this same Lord chooses whom he will shower that mercy upon. He says this of himself, just a few verses before, when Moses asked to see His glory: “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.” (Exodus 33:19)

So he is, as He tells us, gracious and merciful and in control of how that grace and mercy is shown. Imagine he wasn’t? Imagine it was me who was in charge of pursuing people to show them mercy and grace. It would probably look something like this: “You, the one whose personality I mesh with and have deep conversations with, I will show you mercy. And you, the one who is well dressed and good looking, I will show you mercy too. And now you, I am feeling pretty good today, so I will show you mercy too….but just make sure you stay on my good side and keep speaking to me in my love language or else I may decide to show you another side of my character.”

God is not like me. He does not show mercy because of what we provide him nor is he partial to the well dressed and pretty. He is not governed by his feelings, rather he binds his mercy to us with a promise that it will never leave us. His mercy and grace is beautiful. It calls out to those who don’t get along with him. In fact, His calls on his enemies to receive his mercy. He calls on those whose sins are like scarlet. He call on those who have been brutal and unloving to others. He calls on those who have lived with bitterness their whole lives. He calls on those who are weary and heavy laden. He calls them all to come and receive his mercy and grace because he wants them to know his mercy and grace.

So, the next time I lie awake at night and think about the profound reality of God’s sovereignty, I pray that he helps me remember that there is not one else like him. There is not one person on this earth whose mercy is as extensive as his. He is God and we are not. I pray that my soul would rest there and go forth into the world with that amazing message, for his names sake and for the good of all people.

Some helpful clarification on infant baptism

11 Feb

I stumbled upon a helpful short video from The Gospel Coalition website that highlights a discussion between Ligon Duncan (a Presbyterian)and Thabiti Anyabwile (a Baptist) on the issue of infant baptism and whether or not the practice is biblical. If you, like me, aren’t as well versed some aspects of the arguments behind infant baptism, their discussion is very helpful in clarifying and shedding light on the paedo-baptist position.

Take a look!


Day 3: Comfort food

11 Feb

Day 3: Comfort food


Day 2: Make a favourite meal

11 Feb

Day 2: Make a favourite meal

30 Day Challenge Day 1: It’s Spring! (sort of)

8 Feb

Since He (God) created man as a creative creature, by creating him in His own image, these ‘creative creatures’ have, through the ages, retained fragments of the perfection which He made in the first place- though spoiled, of course, by sin. Every single one of us has been spoiled by sin. But as we look back over history and see artists musicians and creative people in various fields, we can recognize the ‘image of God’. Continue reading