Archives For christian

TWDuring a dark time in your life, did you ever say anything you deeply regret? Ever had painful words spoken to you that cut you to the bone-marrow? Me too, on all the above. Question is, how does God feel about those words? And how should you feel about those words spoken from you or to you?

In John Piper‘s book, A Godward Life: Savoring the Supremacy of God in All of Life, he deals with this. He points us to the words of Job when he responded to Eliphaz: “Do you think that you can reprove words, when the speech of a despairing man is wind?” (Job 6:26)

Did you catch it? Speech from despair is for the wind. It’s not called into our account. Nor should we call cutting words spoken to us into account. Piper goes on to say, “Let us discern whether the words spoken against us or against God or against the truth are merely for the wind—spoken not from the soul, but from the sore. If they are for the wind, let us wait in silence and not reprove. Restoring the soul, not reproving the sore, is the aim of our love.”

This is an interview I did at Word of Life Island last week. Perhaps it might encourage you to devote your life to meeting with God daily and meditating on His Word.

0:03 secs – 1: 59  (“When did you first fall in love with God’s Word?”)

2:00 –  3:49  (“Do you believe the Bible is relevant for today and not just a history book?”)

3:50 – 6:50 (“How do you personally study God’s Word?”)

6: 52 – 8:42  (“On fun side, what character in the Bible is your personal favorite?”)

8:45 – 12:38 (“What advice would you give on being more consistent in God’s word; that it would be more than routine and a ‘check-off’?”)

Rethinking Pain

August 4, 2014

pain1There’s the story of a Rabbi who told his students that if they studied the Torah it would put Scripture on their hearts. One of them asked, “Why on our hearts, and not in them?” The Rabbi answered, “Only God can put Scripture inside. But reading sacred text can put it on your hearts, and then when your hearts break, the holy words fall inside.” *

This I know: Truth doesn’t crack my heart. Pain does. Truth doesn’t bring wisdom. Pain that awakens me to Truth, does. I once believed a great sermon, a Christian best-seller, and a study on “Humility” would make me more humble, more forgiving, and more loving. It was never enough. It has taken pain to break my heart so God’s Truth would fall inside.

Celebrity actor Rob Lowe wrote, “You stop growing emotionally the very moment you become famous.” ** How so? Many celebrities spend millions to shield themselves from pain. They surround themselves with “yes” people. Yet, when the emptiness of celebrity sets in, or when they reach the point of near self-destruction, they take off to the Near East to sit at the feet of a Guru. They hope for a fast-track to wisdom, meaning, “truth,” or maturity.  But it never works. At least not for long….

This I’ve learned: Wisdom is not about avoiding or numbing pain. Wisdom is learning from it, growing in it, becoming stronger for it, and more dependent on Jesus because of it. Wisdom is using pain to build more wisdom into my life and make Jesus more glorious through my life. In many ways it still takes pain not only to break my heart so that the Truth would fall inside, but more so that Jesus would forever reign there. 

 

* As shared by Anne Lamott in her book, Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith

** Stories I Only Tell My Friends: An Autobiography by Rob Lowe

 

Of Porn & Marriage

July 22, 2014

Bride and groom on beachrear viewA previous post, “An open letter to girlfriends whose boyfriends ‘struggle’ with porn” got quite the responses publicly and privately (Read HERE. The comments are well worth your time as well). The majority of responses I received privately were from wives requesting I speak toward pornography in marriage.

Admittedly, porn is not just an issue for men. The percentage of women who battle with porn is significant and increasing. But that’s a post for another day. Context for now is girlfriends and wives seeking counsel, relief, and hope about their boyfriends, fiancés, and husbands.

I wrote an article titled, “Of Porn & Marriage” for a little magazine back in the Spring of 2008. I’ve since forgotten the name of the magazine. But I googled for the article to see if it might pop up. Boom! Interestingly, a website picked it up and posted it in 2012. My bio information on the site is outdated, but the content still resonates, I think.

The only part of the article I would state differently six years later is the “Pray for Power” section. My tune has definitely changed in thinking that prayer for victory over sexual sin should be one’s focus, especially a daily focus. That’s not healthy. One’s focus should be on Christ (Hebrews 12:1-4), our freedom from sin’s slavery (Romans 6), and on”things above not on earthly things” (Colossians 3:1-3). Can I blame it on being six years younger and dumber?

Finally, as I stated above, the article is directed toward married men with encouragement to their wives. But whether the battle with porn is the man’s or woman’s—single or married—I trust you can adjust and apply the content as needed.

Read “Of Porn & Marriage” HERE.

After reading the article, what else would you add?

(Please return here upon reading and leave your comments below. If you received this post in your email inbox, please go HERE and leave comments below the post on my site. Thanks!

refinersfire1aThere was a little figurine on a pedestal in a shop. A spotlight shined upon it. It was a glorious figurine. It was the centerpiece of the shop. People would come by all day and marvel at its beauty.

One night a lonely young boy going through great hardship was the last to leave the shop. He paused on the way out to wonder at the figurine. The boy began to cry. The figurine came to life! It said, “What’s wrong my young friend?” The boy replied: “I’d give anything to be like you. I’m a mess-up. I feel broken. I can’t take it anymore. I wish I could be just like you.”

The figurine shook his head and said, “You don’t understand. If up to me, I would be like everything else in this shop. Or, I’d still be a lump of metal in a pile of rubble. You see, my maker found me. He chose me from all the other metal and rubble. He said, “Hello, little one. I love you. You’re mine.”

I was so thrilled! Until… he put me in a furnace!   It hurt so badly! I cried out, “What are you doing? I thought you loved me! This hurts! Stop it!” He whispered, “Shhhhh, little one. Trust Me. I’m not done with you yet.”

Then He started hammering on me this way and that! I said, “I can’t take it! Please stop. How could you love me?! This hurts!” He said, “Trust Me. I’m not done with you yet.”

Then, he put me in the furnace, again! I could see through the flames and the window on the furnace door all the other rubble and metals. They did not have a care in the world. And here I am… IN THE FIRE? I shouted through the flames, “How could you? I thought you were going to take care of me? What kind of maker are you? You are cruel! This is unbearable.” He spoke to me again: “I know you doubt me right now, little one. You doubt my heart for you. Trust me. I’m not done with you yet.”

Out of the fire, and into more hammering, more grinding, more scouring, more bending. I nearly hated him for it. And as I looked at him speechless now, too far gone for words, He smiled at me, but it was a pained smile; a smile with tears running down his face. He whispered: “I know it hurts. But I promise you it is going to be worth it. I’m not done with you yet.”

And then one day… it was over. It was dark. Suddenly, the lights blazed on. And all the lights were fixed on… me.  My maker gazed at me in awe. Then he laughed out. Tears filled his eyes, but this time tears of joy. Then he danced. He clapped. He clapped as he danced. He stood still again and just marveled at me. It was then I saw my reflection in His eyes. I could not believe it. That was… me? Now, I understood.

He saw his reflection in my eyes. He laughed out. He said, “Little one, did I not promise you it was going to be worth it?” And he placed me on this pedestal in the center of his shop for all to see.

So don’t wonder at me. My maker is the wonder. He is the marvel. My maker loved me so much that he did whatever it took to bring me to this place of glory and joy.

My young friend, your Maker is doing the same with you. What you are going through is going to be worth it. So trust Him…

He’s not done with you yet.

 

 

*  I heard a version of this parable back in the 90’s in a college chapel by a speaker whose name I have since forgotten. His version involved a “tea cup.”  I took the parable and reworked it to share in my sermon “Fire” in the “Going through the motions series” at Grace Community Church. You can listen to the sermon, HERE

** Malachi 3:3; Romans 8:28-29