Posts Tagged ‘trials’

part-time Atheist.

“No one can please God without faith. Whoever goes to God must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6; God’s Word Translation)

 

 

According to the bible, without faith, it is impossible to please God. The writer of Hebrews, then goes on to say, that having faith means 1) believing that God exists, and 2) believing that there is some benefit found in following him.

 

If you believe in God, but you don’t believe that there is any benefit to following him—you don’t have faith. And since knowing that God is good (Psalm 100:5, Mark 10:18, Psalm 119:68), and knowing that he rewards those who seek him (Philippians 4:19, James 1:17, Isaiah 41:10), is inextricably tied to who God is—denying his benefits is equivalent to denying his existence.

 

In Matthew 14:31, after Peter stepped out of the boat and began to sink, Jesus rebuked him saying, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”

In that moment, when Peter lost faith, he doubted who God was, and what God could do for him. In essence, in losing faith, he called into question God’s existence.

 

Often, when Christians gather together in groups at bible study, after church, or during prayer meetings, they sit down and just ‘wonder’ at the disbelieving Atheist.

“Tsk tsk” they say, completely aghast. “How could anyone live without Christ?” “I simply do NOT know(!) how I’d ever make it without God,” they sigh.

 

And what do the rest of do when we aren’t chiming-in in agreement? We nod our heads, raise our hands, and shout mercy(!), as we pity the poor unbeliever. Looking down from our church-bench on Saturday or Sunday, we wag our fingers the shortsighted atheist—who ‘luckily,’ of course, aren’t present to offer any rebuttal.

 

The fascinating thing is that when we claim to be Christians, yet become so lost in worry, fear, and doubt, we become no different than Atheists, who are at the very least consistent in their lack of faith. Like Peter who one day declared to Jesus, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” but then the next day swore, “A curse on me if I’m lying—I don’t know this man you’re talking about!” (Mark 14: 31,71) Our relationship with God often wavers depending on our environment. And God forbid, we enter into severe trials or struggles, we sometimes completely loose faith in God. We become like Job and wonder as he wondered, “Why did I not die at birth?Why did I not perish when I came from the womb?” (Job 3:11)

 

It’s at moments like this, that we no longer believe that God rewards those who seek him.

 

We ask ourselves, “Where was God when…” or “How could God let this happen?” We look at our failure and our shortcomings and we wonder what we even gain by following God. At those moments when we doubt God’s goodness and his benefits, we are actually doubting his existence. We go to church, but we are worried about our future, our family, our job – or lack of a job. And at these moments of intense worry, pain, and doubt, ask yourself if you really believe that God exists.

 

 

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Salvations is easy, but…

Man, I’m on a roll 🙂

So since I can’t (won’t) sleep. Let me tell you about the seminar I am leading (early) tomorrow morning. 🙂

lol, So the theme of the retreat is Stand Firm. When I was first told I would be leading this session the pastor immediately asked me what I would be speaking about. I was kinda thrown off guard and I think after he thought about it for a couple seconds he realized that he should probably give me a day or two to think about it. Nevertheless, when he hanged up the phone I immediately emailed him back with my topic: Trials and Temptations. I mean it was a no brainer! lol, this is simply because I feel that the best sermons are 99.9% of the time spoken through experience. I.e. don’t sit high up on a pedestal somewhere telling me God is good. Why don’t you come back down to earth and tell me how God has been good to you. Simple, right?

Anyways, so Trials and Temptations.

I was doing some last minute research o_O and I came across this: “Salvation costs you nothing, but discipleship will cost you everything.”

Woahh. If someone was trying to explain to me the last two years of my life is a sentence. BAM. Done.

You know, we are often told to come to Christ as we are. And then preachers usually go into those verses which make it seem like following Christ is a hop, skip, and a jump into some kind of otherworldly bliss.

*cough* (spoiler alert)—>

Yeahh, not so much.

The only thing easy about accepting Christ, was that, accepting Him. It’s the aftermath that I have been having problems with.

Like, how do I all of a sudden become perfect? I mean God. Have you seen me? Have you seen how much of a mess I can be? And now you want me to be perfect?? Wahhhht.

No can do. Too difficult. Man, it’s times like these I wish I was the thief on the cross. Man, that would be the life!! From sin, straight to heaven!! No more time left on earth to screw up the gift Christ died on the cross for. One shot and it’s done!

Meanwhile the rest of us have to face the harsh realization that Christianity is all about the narrow path. I mean I heard it was narrow. But I’m still thinking, nahh I got this. Few steps in, and I was already headed in the wrong direction. smh. Bible never lies. Path is narrow y’all.

I used to think it was only me though. That I was the only one who felt following God was a little bit harder than anticipated. But then I came across this quote:

The man who comes to a right belief about God is relieved of ten thousand temporal problems, for he sees at once that these have to do with matters which at the most cannot concern him for very long; but even if the multiple burdens of time may be lifted from him, the one mighty single burden of eternity begins to press down upon him with a weight more crushing than all the woes of the world piled one upon another. That mighty burden is his obligation to God. It includes an instant and lifelong duty to love God with every power of mind and soul, to obey Him perfectly, and to worship Him acceptably. And when the man’s laboring conscience tells him that he has done none of these things, but has from childhood been guilty of foul revolt against the Majesty in the heavens, the inner pressure of self-accusation may become too heavy to bear.

Sigh. A.W. Tozer always knows how to say what’s on a girl’s mind. *cough* So for those of you who didn’t get that –> “Salvation costs you nothing, but discipleship will cost you everything!!”

So come as you are dearie, but when things become uncomfortable because–> once you’ve found the Lord, you realize you can no longer stay the same, know that you are in good company. Salvation is not by works. But for those of us called to discipleship. By our fruits you will know us.

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Riveted

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The sun was hot, and I was thirsty. I could see the bugs starting to take residence near my toes, and so I kept fidgeting. That morning, in a rushed attempt to be conservative I had worn a cashmere sweater over a dress that showed a little ‘too much’ of my arms. But at this point, all sense of propriety vanished as I felt myself roasting under the hot sun. I slyly took off my sweater and tried to pay attention to the man who was currently speaking. We were in the middle of nowhere, hick-town Massachusetts, and church was taking place outside. Mentally preparing myself for another out of touch sermon from someone who could probably relate best to those in my grandparents generation, I settled in for the long haul.

The preacher had this thick black mustache that started from beneath his nose, and traveled all the way down to the bottom his face, leaving his chin freely exposed. I was still examining the complexity of his mustache (wondering if it grew that way naturally, or if he had altered it in some way), when his lips began to move. His words pulled me out of my thoughts and I heard him say,

“How much can you lose, before you begin to blame God?”

And with that, ladies and gents, I was riveted. They could have told me Usher Raymond was waiting for me in the back room, and I would have said he should hold on!! I don’t know what it is, but when I see someone who has been through hell and back, and still comes out praising God. It leaves me breathless. It makes me think, that well, maybe I can do it too.

The pastor continued saying, “Faith, is not hoping in Christ when all is well, but trusting in Him when all seems lost.”

You see, there is something quite remarkable about meeting someone who has gone through immense struggle, pain, or loss. You fully expect the joy to have left their eyes, the spring to be gone from their step. You expect them to wear the burdens of their past or their present firmly upon their shoulders. Yet it is even more astonishing to meet someone who has felt searing helplessness, pain, and misery, but each day you see them make a conscious effort to not let the consequences of life, mar the beauty of being alive.

It is so easy to stay faithful when everything is going well in your life. But when struggles come instead of thinking that God has left you, it’s time for you to ask yourself: were you following God just for His blessings?

Did you think you could play God like a vending machine?? Putting your request in and expecting your every desire to come out?

Or are you with Him for the long haul!? Are you like His disciples who said: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68)

Look, the fact of the matter is: God uses trials to build your faith. But He never puts you in a situation in which He can’t use you or your circumstances. You are covered in grace. So, never underestimate what God can do with your life!

The Search

For a long time I searched for God. I wanted Him to be real in my life. I saw the world through my struggles, my failure, my disappointments. I knew I had let God down, and I wasn’t worthy of His love. I thought He had left me.  And I knew I deserved it. I read the bible, but all I saw were the words. I went to church, but all I saw was a charade. It wasn’t enough for me. I wanted His assurance that everything was going to be okay. I wanted His assurance that He would never leave me nor forsake me. I didn’t just want to read it. I wanted to see it. I wanted to feel His touch. To know that He was the hand that was holding me up. The one who counted the tears that fell from my eyes. I searched for God. But He wasn’t lost. I was. And He found me. He found me in my sin, in my low estate. And do you know what He told me? He said: “Oh You of little faith, why are you so afraid? Why do you doubt?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the waves in my life. He said no to the traps I had laid for myself. He said no to my fear, my doubt, my pain, my unhappiness. And it was completely calm in my life. He didn’t take away my problems. But He brought me to the eye of the storm. Where amidst all the chaos around me. I could see Him and not my problems. I could feel His touch, and not my inadequacies. “The trouble that came into your life, did not come to break you, but to introduce you to God in a new and a fresh way.” God does not let you go through certain trials without having prepared you. So that when you are about to despair you can remember how He has lead you in the past! Remember what He has already brought you through, and His power to overcome whatever may come your way. He is with you!

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