Thoughts about faith

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What is love?

I’ve always believed 1 Corinthians 13 to be one of the greatest passages in all of Scripture. If we could just learn to love with the kind of love Paul here describes our marriages would never fail, family strife would not exist, and the world would be an amazing place. The problem is we don’t love like this.

I want to take on one descriptor of love at a time and comment on it. Some of what I say will be commentary-like but I plan to through in personal experience as well. I am by no means perfect at love and fail to live up to these words all the time but by the providence of God my life has taught me to love more like this passage. God’s grace has enabled me to turn the trials into my life into growth and truly He is working all things together for good (Romans 8:28).

This is going to take time but I hope it is of some use.


Blessings

Laura Story wrote and performed a song called “Blessings” that really spoke to me. Before I comment let me post the lyrics.

  • Songwriters: Laura Mixon Story

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering

All the while You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near?

What if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise?

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough

And all the while You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears?
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near?

And what if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise?

When friends betray us, when darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home
It’s not our home

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears?
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near?

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst
This world can’t satisfy?

And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise?

It is so true we always pray for the good things like good health, solid finances, keeping our job, etc. Those are very valid things to pray for. Yet life does not always give us what we hope for. Sometimes God’s answer is different than what we prayed for.

Why do some live long lives and others short lives? Why do some live each day in pain while others are pain free? If God is love then why all the suffering in the world?

Romans 8:28 is my “life verse.” I’m not usually into having things like a motto, a favorite song, and so forth but this verse has stood out as one that answers the struggles of my life.

“For God makes all things work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.”

Notice what it doesn’t say. It doesn’t say God only allows good things in our lives. Note it says God “makes” all things  “work together for good.” In other words He takes the good and the bad and uses it for good. He shapes us and builds our character through our trials. Without trials we would not grow very much. That is human nature. We tend to stay in our comfort zone and avoid pain.

Yes God could make life easy and pain free. He did not make us robots though. He gave us free will. Ever since Adam and Eve disobeyed in the garden mankind and indeed creation has been on a steady decline. There are birth defects and diseases because we live in a fallen world and our choices affect this world like pollution and chemicals that cause cancer or add toxins to our bodies. God left us as stewards of this world and we have affected the world which God gave us.

Instead of constantly fixing our world or preventing our mistakes God lets us continue to make choices and live with the consequences yet for those who love Him He uses all of that for good! He is preparing us for eternity. We tend to not be able to look past this life. We have our hopes and dreams and when tragedy strikes we think of the loss of those things yet eternity awaits us. If we could but have one glimpse of heaven we would not fear our death so much. The Apostle Paul had such a glimpse and he was torn between wanting to be in heaven and finishing his mission here on earth.

In times of suffering and grief it is hard to see the good in it. Yet the good is there if we love God. Even in pain and suffering we can glorify Him. By bravely showing our gratitude in spite of our circumstances and keeping our eyes fixed on heaven we show the world that this life is not all there is. There is joy here and now when we keep the proper perspective on life and see it in the light of eternity.

I write this having led a difficult life with much hardship. I write this with my beloved sister recently diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer and now lying in the hospital in great pain due to complications. I am challenged not to ask why this is happening to her or why my life has gone the way it has. Instead I am challenged to look for the good God will bring out of it and how I can bring glory to Him in the midst of all this. I long for heaven and yet, like Paul, know it is not yet my time and until it is I have work to do. I must love above all else. No matter what else people think of me let them say I had great love and compassion. Let me comfort the sick and the dying and uplift those I am around. Let me make each life I encounter better for having encountered me.

God is mercy and sometimes His mercies come in disguise.

Praise God!


The Tebow Effect

Tim Tebow’s faith has been a hot topic for several years now. Not so much his faith but rather his expression of his faith in public. I don’t follow American Idol but one of the 11 finalists, Colton Dixon, has been warned by the producers of the show that his overt Christianity might cost him votes and ultimately lead to his exit from the show. People seem divided by the likes of Tim Tebow and Colton Dixon. On one hand they appreciate their talent but on the other hand they don’t want to hear about their faith. For some their expression of faith overrides their talent and they are simply not a fan.

My first reaction is that no one is forcing them to listen to or read the interviews nor is anyone forcing the media to interview these talented Christians. If you don’t like who they are or their expression of their faith then simply don’t interview them or watch the interviews. Pretty simple really. Why listen then complain? Did anyone put a gun to your head and force you to listen? Last I checked we still have freedom of speech in this country so if Tim Tebow or Colton  Dixon want to give thanks to their Lord for their talent and success than that is their right. 

Apparently what people want is a vanilla society in which no one ever offends our beliefs or bores us with their faith. Sorry but short of some scifi film-like society where we are all controlled by Big Brother we all stand for something. In the same news today I read about George Clooney saying the US must do something in Somalia. The same George Clooney recently spoke out in favor of gay marriage. Now I could complain and say George Clooney should restrict his public comments to acting and film. Why is an actor using his celebrity status to promote gay marriage or US involvement in Somalia? Agree or disagree with George Clooney he has a right to express his beliefs and use any avenue he wants to put out the message. He is certainly not the first or only celebrity to speak out in support of causes.

Athletes and other celebrities often thank their parents, agents, promoters, friends, and others for their success in interviews or at award ceremonies. Why is it ok to thank Mom and Dad and not Jesus? Maybe it’s because you believe Mom and Dad did help but you don’t believe in Jesus so you don’t want to hear about him. Or maybe you think there is a Jesus but people create their own success. Irrelevant. Tim Tebow and Colton Dixon believe Jesus made a difference in their life and are going to give credit where they believe credit is due. This is another case of “Your God is too Big.” See giving God credit implies a God who is active in our lives and capable of having an impact on our lives. For those who don’t believe in God or want a distant, disinterested God that is offensive.

Well get over it! There are some of us who believe every good gift, every talent, every success comes from the providence of God. Our faith defines us and makes us who we are. Tim Tebow without his savior is no longer Tim Tebow. Love him or hate him Tim Tebow is one of the most sincere and transparent people around. He is not trying to hide who he is. Some people suggest he is trying to shove his faith down their throats. I don’t think being honest about who you are is shoving your faith down people’s throats. Apparently any public expression of faith is viewed as “shoving” by some people. If so there is a lot of shoving going on in our society and those who get on Tim Tebow’s case or Colton Dixon’s better start going after celebrities like George Clooney too.

The thing is you’re not going to silence Tim Tebow or Colton Dixon. They believe in something bigger than awards, material success, and popularity. Colton Dixon’s response to all this was:  “Just because it can turn off voters or whatever. But, you know, being a Christian is who I am.  It is a part of me musically. It is what I want to do after the show — go into Christian music.” Amen Colton! Be who you are, stand up for what you believe in, and if someone else does not like it then too bad. As Christians we have been commanded to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28:19). Tebow and Dixon are just living out their faith. Should you expect anything less?