Thursday, March 16, 2017

Failure

Recently I heard a mom of three children say, “I want my children to experience failure before they grow up and leave my house and are out on their own. I want to help them work through the failure, learn from the failure, and overcome the challenges of the failure.”

Her statement got my attention. There is a side of me that does not want to see my children fail or experience hardships. But, I do want them to learn to be resilient, to learn to depend on God for help, and to learn to persevere.

James 1:2-4 states, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Trials, hardships, and failures are classrooms for learning patience, humility, and steadfastness. Through them God can increase our faith in Him and grow our dependence on Him. 

We all want the promise at the end of this passage: “perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Okay, this may not happen until heaven, but none the less trials can get us closer to these targets.

I do not pray for failure for my children or myself, but I do pray for genuine faith, true humility, and godly grit and resilience. I do not know how God will accomplish this, and I realize the clearest lessons in life often come through moments of failure. Amazingly, God works mistakes, hardships, and trials for the good of Christians. He brings victory from failure.


Sunday, March 12, 2017

Intimate and Awesome Prayer

I'm reading the book Life, God and Other Small Topics: Conversations from Socrates in the City, edited by Eric Metaxas. One chapter is a lecture given by N.T. Wright in 2006.

One of Wrights statements caught my attention,

“If you read chapters 13 through 17 of John’s gospel, you’ll discover a wonderful model of Christian prayer. Prayer is supposed to be simultaneously intimate and awesome. That’s an odd combination to us, but actually that’s how it is. There is an awe in the presence of one’s Creator, but there is also an intimacy because the Creator invites us to call him Father.”

I like this description of prayer as being both intimate and awesome.

Do you stand in awe of God? Do you know his power and might? Do you have a healthy fear of him? Do you worship him?

Do you also have an intimate relationship with him? Do you know his love? Do you know his care? Do you know him as your Father?

Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, Christians can approach God the Father with confidence. We can talk to him, and he hears us. We have an amazing God!

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Life's Paradoxes

Charles Colson was a Christian leader who founded Prison Fellowship, had a daily radio program, wrote many books, and started the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. He was also Special Counsel to President Nixon, where his actions led to him serving time in jail. Amazingly, God used the lowest of lows in his life to save him and completely change him. You can read the full story in his autobiography Born Again. I highly recommend it.

I am reading the book Life, God and Other Small Topics: Conversations from Socrates in the City, edited by Eric Metaxas. One chapter is a lecture given by Charles Colson in 2006. One of Colson’s statements jumped out at me,

“One of the things about my life—those of you who know much of my story will know it has been a roller coaster certainly, but one of the things that I think my life illustrates is what a paradox life is. It’s never the way we think it’s going to be, and sometimes the worst things we do turn out to be the best things, while the things we think are the best sometimes turn out to be the worst.” (p 170)

I completely agree. Life is full of paradoxes. Some of the greatest challenges I have faced have led to significant growth in my faith and character. Trials have made me stronger. Physical ailments have humbled me and made me more dependent on God and others. Hard times have prompted me to pray more and read the Word more.

It all reminds me that God is in control. He uses trials to refines us. For Christians, He works all for our good.

Are you going through a challenging time now? Do your circumstances discourage you? Remember your Heavenly Father loves you and holds you. He will make you strong for the task at hand. He will grow your faith. He will work this for you good.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

God’s Voice

What is God’s will for your life? How do you hear His direction? How do you discern His voice?

In chapter 12 of Chase The Lion, Mark Batterson states,

How do you discern the voice of God? It starts with the Word of God. If you want to get a word from God, get into the Word of God. That’s how you learn to discern the voice of God. After all, it’s the Spirit of God who inspired the Word of God. And when the Spirit of God quickens the Word of God, it’s like hearing the voice of God in Dolby surround sound.

Christians want to do God’s will. We want to hear His voice, follow His lead, and accomplish His goals. The challenge is hearing His voice.

Mark Batterson reminds us that this should start with getting into the Word of God. Daily Bible reading places God’s words right in front of us. Studying Scripture helps us discern His voice.

The Word of God is alive and active. Scripture is God-breathed. We have the opportunity every day to read the Holy Word of God.

Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

II Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Read one chapter from the Old Testament and one chapter from the New Testament every day. Read carefully, meditate on the Word, and anticipate hearing God's voice.