Category — Hardship & Suffering

Was Jesus Ever Taken Advantage of?

Quest 6 4Was Jesus ever taken advantage of?

This may seem like an odd question, but it’s one I’m wrestling with in a very personal and practical way. You see, I just learned that I’ve been taken advantage of by someone. This person had been posing as someone with a chronic illness and in dire financial need. I and others rose to their alleged need by paying some of their bills, serving them and praying for them. This has gone on for a couple years. Now that their deceit has been exposed I feel violated, foolish and a tremendous sense of grief for them.

What should I have done differently? Did anything like this ever happen to Jesus? If so, how did he respond? How does he want me to respond? How do I guard myself in the future—or, should I? [Read more →]

March 28, 2010   2 Comments

Life is an Adventure with God!

church-goes-corp-8A while back I was reading the account of Abraham again in Genesis. God appeared to him in his homeland and told him to leave and go to a land that he would reveal to him when he got there. Think of setting out on a thousand mile journey with your household, livestock and belongings on wheeled carts not knowing where you were going! I couldn’t help but see his walk with God as one big adventure. Paul calls Abraham the man of faith and I realized that a life of faith really is a life of adventure.

Webster defines adventure as “an undertaking or experience that involves hazard and requires courage.” My mind went to Luke 9:22-23 where Jesus called disciples, “And he said, ‘The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.’ Then he said to them all: ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.’” [Read more →]

November 5, 2009   Comments Off on Life is an Adventure with God!

Spiritual Inversion

spiritual-inversionEvery fall in the Northwest we experience a weather pattern called an “inversion”.  An inversion weather pattern creates overcast and foggy conditions in the valleys making it cold, damp and dismal. The valleys and low areas are where most people live and work, so they’re often oblivious to the fact that the depressing weather they’re experiencing is localized. Sometimes an inversion will go on for days and can feel very oppressive. But travel a couple thousand feet higher in elevation during an inversion and you’ll burst out of the fog and dampness into warm, dry sunny skies! Not only is the sunshine revitalizing, but the view from above the clouds provides a bigger perspective on life.

All of us from time to time experience an “inversion” in our spiritual lives as well. We seem to get buried under the clouds of our daily grind. We forget the sunshine of God’s grace and presence and feel oppressed by trials and hardship. If relationships around us have grown cold our discomfort deepens and we may become joyless, sad and even depressed. [Read more →]

October 24, 2009   1 Comment

A Parable of Two Men

parable-of-two-menFor 40 years God led Israel through the barren wilderness of the Middle East. In spite of their repeated grumblings and rebellion, God continued to love, lead and provide for his people. Even when they were unfaithful to him, he remained faithful to them. In all those years, God sustained this massive company of people by miraculously providing them with manna. Manna was a food substance like bread that God caused to appear on the ground each morning. The people of Israel gathered manna as their staple food through all those years.

 In year 39 of Israel’s wandering in the wilderness two men woke up one morning. One man got up, put on his outer garment and lifted the flap over the door of his tent to step out into the desert morning. As he ducked under the tent flap it dumped a load of sand down his neck. He cursed under his breath and angrily shook out his clothes muttering, “I am sick and tired of this infernal sand! I’ve got sand in my bed, sand in my hair, sand in my food! Everywhere there’s sand! I hate this life of constant moving and upheaval. And guess what’s for breakfast? Manna—again!”  [Read more →]

October 11, 2009   Comments Off on A Parable of Two Men

The Lord is my strength!

stories-3When I was 16 years old, I participated in a 1300 mile bicycle trip around Lake Superior. The trip took us through Wisconsin, Ontario and Minnesota. Twenty three of us embarked on this adventure. Although we had trained hard to get ready for cycling 100 miles a day, once into the trip we realized that the only way to really prepare for riding 100 miles a day is to ride 100 miles a day!

I was riding a 1968 Sears and Roebuck ten-speed racer with a hard plastic seat. Others rode heavy Schwinns and quite a few bought brand new Gitanes—a super light-weight French bike. But no matter what we were riding, by the third day our butts were sore! Past that third day mark we began to get into a groove in which we felt good and rode hard. [Read more →]

September 4, 2009   6 Comments

Beyond Our Ability

obedience-to-godWhen I was 12 years old our church launched a campaign to raise pledges for missions for the coming year. The church leadership challenged us to spend time asking God what amount he would have us trust him for. Our leadership also led by example. God had given me a vision for reaching the lost around the world and I knew that he wanted to use me in a small way to see that vision accomplished. I prayed and sensed that he wanted me to trust him to give $4.00 per week through me.

As a 12-year-old I received a dollar per week for my allowance, so I couldn’t simply divert what was already coming in to my giving. I prayed that God would give me opportunities to earn enough to meet my pledge of $4.00 per week for the next year. I still remember how excited I was that morning in church when I turned in my pledge card. I knew I was embarking on an adventure with God and I could hardly wait to see how he would work in my life! [Read more →]

August 13, 2009   Comments Off on Beyond Our Ability

What Does a Worshipful Lifestyle Look Like?

quest-5-4Psalm 100 is one of the classic Psalms on worshiping God: “Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”

Reading through that Psalm it’s hard to miss the joy, gladness, joyful songs, thanksgiving and praise! These are all right responses to God in worship because of who he is. We often mistakenly think we have to feel joyful before we can worship God with joy. Typically what that means is that we behave as though our joy was tied to our circumstances—which manipulate our feelings—which drive the tone and intensity of our worship. For many years I was caught up in thinking like that. But that’s all upside down thinking that stifles our freedom to worship God joyfully! [Read more →]

July 22, 2009   1 Comment

Rejoicing in Trials

rejoice-in-trialsA few days ago we looked at Abraham’s ever increasing faith in God in spite of the ever dwindling likelihood that he and Sarah would have a child. We saw in Romans 4 that this acount was written for our benefit.

Just a few verses further Paul writes, “Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.” (Romans 5:1-2 NLT) [Read more →]

May 25, 2009   Comments Off on Rejoicing in Trials

Pure Joy!

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds.”  – James 1:2

“God ordains suffering because it displays to the world the supremacy of his worth above all treasures.”  – John Piper

When Linda and I got married, I had one more year left to serve in the US Army in Berlin, Germany. At the time there were at least three good reasons for us to stay in the military. First, the military was providing a steady income, while the US economy was in recession. Second, my job classification was in high demand and the Army offered me a $10,000 bonus to re-enlist. (This was a lot of money in 1975!) And finally, after seven months of marriage, we had decided to start a family and Linda was now pregnant. To stay in the military meant full health coverage for Linda and the baby. To leave the military would leave us without health insurance. [Read more →]

April 29, 2009   Comments Off on Pure Joy!

Preparing for Hardship

There is an effective biblical strategy to help us prepare for suffering and enduring hardship of any kind. That strategy is not based on a bank account or financial investments. For, “whoever trusts in his riches will fall.” (Proverbs 11:28) Instead, this strategy helps us guard against materialism, greed, anxiety and lack of contentment, replacing them with unlimited joy. Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. – James 1:2, NLT [Read more →]

April 26, 2009   Comments Off on Preparing for Hardship