Archives For hope

Dark Night of the Soul

August 4, 2015

Most of us are familiar with this term. Many have experienced a true, dark night of the soul.

All of us can relate to times when our journey was at least a “dim night of the soul.”

The phrase originated with St. John of the Cross who contemplated this from prison. He spoke of “how God changes us not just through joy and light, but through confusion, through disappointment, through loss.”

This background first came to my attention through John Ortberg’s book, Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You.

Ortberg says, “God’s love is not content to leave us in our weakness, and for that reason, he takes us into a dark night.”

Our greatest enemy during these seasons is a lack of patience to wait for whatever God would give us, in the timing God chooses.

  • We want rescue now!

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going, I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end.”        Thomas Merton

Can you relate to this thought? Do you sometimes wonder what God’s direction is for your season or even your life?

This thought is not coming from a spiritual lightweight, but Thomas Merton! A giant in the faith!

Greg Garrett shares this thought in his book, No Idea: Entrusting Your Journey to a God Who Knows.

He shares how discerning the will of God for our lives is always a challenge.

“…any attempt to know what God is trying to tell us is complicated by the fact that God rarely writes down his desires for us on a slip of paper and hands it to us.”

Thriving in Babylon

June 18, 2015

I live in South Africa. Our president has multiple wives, has had numerous trials for corruption and other crimes, and it has been proven he used millions of public money for his personal house. Even so, compared to some other presidents around the world, ours is a saint.

The multitude of Facebook comments from America reflect a similar frustration with politics and leaders. I would argue whoever occupies the White House is “not that bad” compared to many world leaders, but the frustration remains. In fact, it seems to be despair at times.

Dr. Larry Osborne’s new book, Thriving in Babylon: Why Hope, Humility, and Wisdom Matter in a Godless Culture addresses this sense of despair by looking at the life of Daniel.

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Daniel saw his beloved city, Jerusalem,  destroyed and was taken captive to a pagan land of Babylon. He was made to learn its culture and religion. Daniel thrived in Babylon by having a different perspective. He faced evil and endured physical hardship, knowing God had a plan.

I hate checklists for spiritual growth.

They lead towards a works orientation and a focus on being performance-based.

When a recent church service message started with a “Checklist for Spiritual Zeal” I was concerned.

6 commands from Ephesians 5 were restated as questions.

Each one had an emphasis on not having a “hint” of such and such bad thing and of “never” acting another way. It was a list of do’s and don’ts which were totally and completely unrealistic.

When “never’s and always” are included for spiritual behavior, my legalism alarm begins to ring.

“So how are you doing?”, asked the speaker.

The church expected to be hammered into submission and guilt.

What followed next shocked me.

He went on to overview chapters 1-3 saying that all these commands are a response to what God has done.

The relationship between grace and obedience can seem tenuous at times.

An over-emphasis on grace with no thought to obedience can lead to antinomianism, hyper grace, or as some would say “free, cheap grace.”

Focusing on rules and commands as a means to gain the favor of God can lead to rule keeping, law, and legalism. The thinking of “God has done His part, now we do ours” is equally out of balance.

But it is clear the Bible promotes a balance or blend of these two truths.

In his book, Charis: God’s Scandalous Grace for Us, Preston Sprinkle shares a third way which comes from New Testament scholar John Barclay.

This view is called Energism. It stems from the Greek word “energeo” found Galatians 2:8.

“for he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentiles”