TGIF

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23 Responses

  1. monax says:

    Word, Michael!

    i very much appreciate what you wrote, thank you.

    “and unless a seed dies. . it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit”

    Amen

  2. Michael says:

    Thank you, monax.

  3. Josh Hamrick says:

    Read the verse at the top again, think about the guy who wrote it and his life, and gain a little perspective. (Not to Michael, but to everyone)

    We are blessed beyond our ability to comprehend.

  4. barnabas says:

    I always appreciate your transparency Michael. I’m sure you are not just concerned about what you see in your own life, or the Western Church. Look to the Global South, and the Middle East. From the mission reports, and eye-witness accounts I hear, God is very much on the move. I am well aware of the silent and dark periods of faith in my own life. When I get the birds eye view, it encourages my soul. America really hasn’t had to suffer much for standing with Christ. 271 people a day, outside our borders, lose their lives as martyrs while we transcribe our journalistic insights here and other places. Let’s pray for each other as we will certainly have our faith in God challenged in a whole new way as the days progress. We need to learn to rejoice in our sufferings as Christ did. Outside of the supernatural power of God, I don’t see how I/we can possibly do that.

  5. Michael says:

    barnabas,

    Well said…

  6. monax says:

    “we rejoiced in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

    thank You Holy Spirit for the work You do in our hearts!

  7. Michael, this is right where I’ve been the last few years. I’m not easily rattled by wrath, hell, judgement, science, prophecy updates, conspiracy theories or the nightly news.

    I used to consider Ephesians 3:20 my life verse. It’s easy to quote when things are going well. But on days like today, when the pain in my joints makes me almost unable to function, and I know there are people right here in our PhxP family who have much more severe issues to deal with, that verse seems more like a pie-in-the-sky saying from Guideposts magazine.

    Yet…still…in spite of…I will continue to believe it. What other choice do I have?

  8. Ricky Bobby says:

    Good word.

    For me, dying physically is a fore-gone conclusion and being rich or poor or middle class is more a function of reaping and sowing and ones drive and ability to pick where they want to be in that socio-economic structure (in the USA anyway).

    Health is another issue. Some is Reaping and Sowing principle and one has a say in it (eating right, exercising, avoiding smoking, avoiding over-eating, etc). But, some of health is completely random depending on circumstance, genetics etc.

    Nothing shakes my “faith”…but what I define as “faith” has changed and I no longer have “faith” in evangelicalisms version of what they define and interpret as “faith” which is really what they say their truth is.

    True “faith” is beyond what evangelicalism or even loosely (though there is broad disagreement even among this Group) Christians* define.

    All will keep their “faith”…everyone has “faith”…it’s just different (mostly) for each person. Even atheists/agnostics have a level of “faith” if you press them.

  9. Michael says:

    CK,

    I hear you.
    We aren’t the first to feel this way…

    “So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?”Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.””
    (John 6:66–69 ESV)

  10. God is slow… that is attested to clearly in scripture but he is not slack. And I see enough so that the slowness doesn’t take me out either.

    Onward we go unto our destiny, our glorious destiny in him.

  11. Ricky Bobby says:

    Even my atheist friends say they wouldn’t reject God if they had the evidence they needed to believe. I imagine this is a level of faith and that if/when they find out the truth, they will believe.

  12. Ricky Bobby says:

    Right now, my atheist friends say they are no more rejecting our version of God than we are rejecting the Mormon version of God or the Islamic version of God or the Hindu version of God etc. they just lack belief in the reality of our version of God due to lack of evidence…and we would assert that we don’t believe in the version of God of the other religions because there is no evidence their Gods are real.

  13. Ricky Bobby says:

    Dread, I think God is slow…so slow that he’ll redeem the entire creation at a later date. I don’t think anyone would reject God (like the devil did) once they find out he’s real in the next life. “Every knee shall bow and tongue confess”

  14. Papias says:

    “My God is able to do more than I can ask or think and that’s an awesome ability…if He were only willing to use it more often.”

    “God is slow… that is attested to clearly in scripture but he is not slack. ”

    Clearly, some people have been reading my mail…… 🙂

    Good word(s) fellas

  15. Nonnie says:

    In the multitude of my anxieties within me,
    Your comforts delight my soul. Psalm 94:19

  16. barnabas says:

    I’m learning to live with fewer “airtight” answers, and still trust that God cares deeply for me and the world he created.

    CK,
    Remember Ephesians and other pastoral letters were often written in the crucible of suffering. I don’t know that Paul ever had a peaceful nights sleep. Beatings, threats, mockery, exhaustion, abandonment, conflicts with brothers, formed the mindset for those writings.

    We in the West need to cultivate a settled mind that suffering to the point of an agonizing death is the price we are willing to pay to follow Jesus. Faith in faith is an idol, and hardly sustainable in times of darkness. Faith in the truth embodied in Christ is worth suffering for, even to the point of extended misery.

    I’m nowhere close to this today. I pray God makes me courageous to follow him in the midst of excruciating pain and suffering. Pain that darkens the sight, and dulls the emotions. Pain that illuminates the glory of God. Pain that melts into the sufferings of my Lord.

  17. Ricky Bobby,

    I respect you as a thinker and as a man of conscience I really do but I think you are making God in your own image I imagine you think the same about historic Christianity.

  18. Chile says:

    Issue #1 Destroyed my world
    Issue #2 Left me abandoned
    Issue #3 Overwhelmed me with grief
    Issue #4 Ripped my health apart
    Issue #5 Destroyed my trust
    Issue #6 Made me think God had abandoned me
    Issue #7 Resulted in hopelessness
    Issue #8 Living without answers for over 25 years was the hardest of all. The ongoing nature of it all wore me out, wasted me, laid me bare.

    T-H-E-N …

    I slowly, with a little bit of Light, saw that the world that was destroyed was a world that would have destroyed me.

    That though I was abandoned, it was a severe mercy that I would no longer be influenced by them.

    Grief cleaned me in a way, by connecting me to the raw parts of life, those parts that have a way of instantly making clear what is important and what is not.

    Sickness caused a type of suffering that had a way of beginning to empty me of self, of selfish/vain ambitions and pride.

    Destroying trust -in a weird way- caused me to see more clearly how trustworthy God is.

    Crisis’ with God had a way of digging a hole in my heart that God later filled with Himself, His transformative power.

    While hopelessness had a way of shining a light on the subtext, or the unseen root causes, which was a necessary step for hope to be able to grow back.

    And the hardest of all the issues was the sheer passage of time, the grinding wearisome never-ending questions of what? Why? When? & Where are YOU? That resulted in an ever increasing stamina to persevere … even without answers.

    After a couple decades I had answers to some things which revealed that the pain and suffering were gifts beyond measure. As for those that are still unanswered … I have more trust that God has my best interest at heart.

    This is my personal testimony and not intended to discourage anyone who does not have any answers yet. It can feel like a very long road. I think it’s like the description on Scripture about birth. It says that the birth is difficult and painful, but a few days afterwards the woman begins to fade in her memory of the pain. So too, it is when God does bring understanding (partial or full) of a suffering that has lasted a long time.

  19. Barnabus,
    Paul’s writings are so much more powerful and understandable when we consider the context of his life. Thank you for that reminder.

  20. Chile, that was rich!

    “…an ever increasing stamina to persevere…” I have no doubt that this is something that God is working in me. Figuratively speaking, I spent much of my life as a “runner,” not running the race which God has set before me, or running to the safety of the Strong Tower, but running from difficulty and pain.

    “… even without answers.” Exactly. Something that Dave Rolph said on here a while back encouraged me to not put life on hold while waiting for answers. I’ve got a long way to go, but I’m learning to ask less “why” questions and more “what” questions.

    “…the pain and suffering were gifts beyond measure.” Amen, my friend, Amen!

  21. “Tested faith brings experience, and experience makes religion real. You will never know the bitterness of sin or the sweetness of pardon until you have felt both. You will never know your own weakness until you have been compelled to go through the rivers. You will never know God’s strength until He has supported you in deep waters.” ~ C. H. SPURGEON

  22. PP Vet says:

    A million bloggers, but my favorite is the guy here. Weird.

    I am the opposite – I have health, career, a beautiful family.

    But I always point out, to anyone who will listen: stuff happens.

    The life I have is not some inevitable result of my personal righteousness.

    It just happened to happen to me.

    Is it the grace of God? Yes, but the broke sick man is living in the grace of God as well. (And has just as much right to feel good about himself as any rich man does.)

    This life is a vapor.

  23. Chile says:

    Thanks, Kevin. I see you know something of my world. May God build our perseverance.

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