Archives For Bible

Hopeless Hope

September 7, 2016

Christians and ministries often have a hard time losing hope. Hope filled Christianity is a wonderful thing, but it is more and more normal for people to hold out hope without any evidence to support it.

There are times when we must actually lose hope and it may be in the best interest of the person or the project.

Henry Cloud in his fantastic book,Necessary Endings,  deals with this at length. Take a look at some of these thoughts.

“Hope is based not only on desire, but also on real, objective reasons to believe that more time will help. That is way different from mere desire. Here is the principle: In the absence of real, objective reasons to think that more time is going to help, it is probably time for some type of necessary ending.”

Why is it we feel we must portray a model of perfection as Christians?

For as long as I can remember, the stereotypical Christian was one who cleaned up well and always answered the “How are you Doing?” question with positive enthusiasm.

Do we present a church which has arrived and is all together, or one filled with people on the journey of figuring it out?

Donald Miller, in his refreshingly candid book Scary Close: Dropping the Act and Finding True Intimacy says,

“Grace only sticks to our imperfections. Those who can’t accept their imperfections can’t accept grace either.”

A photo by Keith Wickramasekara. unsplash.com/photos/C-6TaN2fxK8

Sometimes it is these imperfections which bring beauty.

Miller would imply Christianity, at is core,  is an admission of weakness. We seem to grasp this as a way to enter the door of faith.

Loving the Stranger

July 5, 2016

While rounding a corner on a run in the United States the other day, I came across a Muslim women clad in a headdress and robes. I could see her cower off the sidewalk a bit as this white, American man came plodding her way in middle America. You could sense her apprehension and read her thoughts of “here we go again.”

I greeted her warmly, commenting on the beautiful day. You could visibly see her relax and the tension leave her body.

I’ve been in her position before. I too have been the foreigner in a land and culture which is not my own. I can relate to wishing I could change my nationality or accent in order to blend in. I wouldn’t wear my USA soccer jersey because of the perception of my nation in South Africa.

“King Solomon was wiser when he was young than when he was old.”   Dr. Ron Smith

Considering Solomon to be a major contributor to the book of Proverbs is a sobering thought.

Solomon is famous for asking for wisdom when God granted him any wish. He received great wisdom, loved the Lord (1 Kings 3:3), and even had God appear to him twice! (1 Kings 3;5, 9:2)

But right before his love for God was recorded, we see him entering into a marriage alliance with the Pharaoh of Egypt. This was the beginning of the end for Solomon, culminating in 700 wives and 300 concubines.

How could a man with so much experience with God and wisdom, end up this way?

I’ve recently had the privilege of teaching the book of Proverbs. Here are a few things we can learn from the fact Solomon had wisdom but failed to finish well.

Jesus is the Center.

We say this phrase often, but when have we last had someone we respect, tell us how this works in their lives?

Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your Heart, all of your Soul, all of your Mind, and all of your Strength.” (Mark 12:30)

So what does that mean?

When I was younger I was told several things reflected having Jesus at the center.

  • Raising your hands signified to my classmates I finally was saved and not one of the Christian school “rebels”.
  • As I got older, I was told being demonstrative and loud in worship was needed to be a leader.
  • In some circles, speaking in tongues publicly is the key.

I remember reading Brother Lawrence’s story of redirecting his thoughts to God once a minute. As I tried to “practice the presence of God”, I never achieved once an hour for the entire day let alone once a minute! An epic fail in keeping Jesus at the center!