Dear Church, I know you are tired

Tension is part of our life. Tension if not confronted and dealt with will wear your out. If you are a believer, you have tension between right and wrong, good and bad. If you are a believer, you have tension between the flesh and the Spirit.

For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit,

and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh,

for these are opposed to each other,

to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

(Gal. 5:17)

Let’s look at the life of Job. in the first couple of chapters, he loses his wealth, his children and his health.

His wife’s advice: “Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” (2:9)

Job’s lament: ”After this Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth.” (3:1)

What I find interesting is the word “hope” is used 19 times in 18 verses. Hope is used in both a positive sense and also in a sort of mocking sort of way.

The tension of Job’s life is between

hope and surrender –

belief and doubt –

staying and leaving –

trust and anger –

truth and feelings –

living and dying.

Hope & Surrender

  • Hope – patient endurance with great expectation.
  • Surrender – declaring defeat

Belief & Doubt

  • Belief – holding on to faith.
  • Doubt – second guessing everything.

Staying & Leaving

  • Staying – remaining spiritually grounded.
  • Leaving – looking for something else.

Trust & Anger

  • Trust – resting in God’s hand.
  • Anger – running from God’s presence.

Truth & Feelings

  • Truth – what has God promised?
  • Feelings – emotional responses.

Living & Dying

  • Living – continuing to get up everyday and being who and where God wants you to be.
  • Dying – removing yourself from God’s purpose.

I call heaven and earth to witness against you today,

that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse.

Therefore choose life,

that you and your offspring may live,

(Deut 30:19)

Dear Church,

It is the crucible (you should look at that definition and the next) of affliction where our faith, love and hope in Jesus is revealed. It is easier to abandon than commit, leave than stay, judge than love when the crucible of affliction is present in your heart, mind, body and soul. God is a redeemer of people and He often has to take us to the furnace before He takes us through refining.

Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; 

I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.

Isaiah 48:10

So today, for the love of Jesus, commit, stay, love because of your faith, love and hope in Jesus. I know it is hard on some of you right now, but know that God is at work even when you cannot see Him. Trust His heart when you cannot see His hand. Be encourage God ain’t finished!

With Love,

Dan

Newtown, CT – Why?

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Why? Why did it happen? Why will it continue to happen? These are hard questions. As I tweeted Friday,

Today takes away all the easy answers, this drives us deep into our beliefs. 

The tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School has shaken our nation to its core. It has shaken me to my core. As I told my wife Friday, “It makes me cry.” The pain so many feel does not compare to the pain families feels in the loss of their loved one. So many, it seems, lives were ended too soon. They approached life from such an innocence. Their six and seven year old minds did not understand so much. The faces of the children as well as the adults grips your heart as you see hope in their eyes. They all had plans and looked forward to Christmas to see if their wish list was going to be fulfilled. Now, presents will go unbought, unwrapped and unneeded. It’s sad! It’s terrible! It’s painful!

There are no easy answers to the events of Friday. All my Sunday school answers seem true but not helpful in the moment. I know God is good, loving and faithful (Psalm 100:7). I know that God work things out for good for those who love Him and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). I know God was not surprised by this and that He is still on His throne. I know He was not absent, asleep or uncaring on Friday. I know He was there with the teachers, children, police, moms and dads. I know that he was there as there could have been so many more killed. I know that this is not God’s fault.

This did not happen because prayer was taken out of our schools or because guns are not allowed in government buildings. This did not happen because those who are experiencing such pain did something wrong. The blame for this is to be laid at the feel of none other than the devil and his demons. Evil is to blame. Evil has been present with us since the fall (Genesis 3). Our society has grown to push God to the edges of life. He is no longer welcome in the public square. When Christ is removed as the Cornerstone (Matt 21:42, Mark 12:10, Luke 20:17, Acts 4:11, Eph 2:20, 1 Pet 2:6-7) everything begins to tilt and society becomes unbalanced. We see this everyday and will continue to see it as our nations has removed the Cornerstone of Christ and has replaced it with tolerance, relativism, political correctness and more. Our nation is tilting. It is tilting toward evil. The Cornerstone must be put back in place and it must be done with urgency. This has to first happen in the hearts of individuals then families. When that happens it will bring communities and our nation back into balance. The tragedy of Friday was mostly due to one person whose life was tilted.

The Cornerstone

must be put back in place

and it must be done with

urgency.

Evil manifest itself in so many ways. We see the horrific act of Friday as evil and without a doubt it is. I just find myself wondering about this young man, yet still a boy who took these lives. He had issues without a doubt. He fought evil and lost. With his personality at what point did he feel rejected? At what point was he the recipient of jokes, laughs and mockery. Could things had been different for him? I think they could. I think he could have experienced the love of Christ and His Body and it could have made a difference. The battles he fought and lost were and are very complicated. I’m sure his mom was very aware of his difficulty but never dreamed anything such as this would happen.

We must realize that we live in a world full of evil. The Devil is seeking who he can devour. (1 Peter 5:8, see post from Thurday, Dec. 13).  We must seek Christ in every environment. We must realize our contact with everyone is important. We must pray for the community of Newport, CT. We must pray for family and friends of the victims. We must pray for our nation. We must pray that Christ once again become the cornerstone of our lives, homes, communities and nation. Evil will be with us until the return of Christ, but our God is stronger. Let us desperately pray that the hearts of people will be turned to Christ, for that is our only hope.

Seasons of Life – Seek God

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Something’s you can’t rush. Today is the last of Summer and we will enjoy fall until December 20. You can’t change it! I love fall and winter. I love 60 degree weather, but I can’t control it. That’s life. Life has seasons and you can’t rush them. The next season might give you hope in your current season.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
(Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 ESV)

Seek God in all the seasons of your life.

Let the Awe Return

Why don’t we feel a great deliverance as Christians? Why do we not so cherish our relationship with Christ and His Church? How is it that we have lost the awe (a feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder) of our salvation or maybe never had any awe to begin with? How is it that we can slip back into sin so easily? How is it that we choose hate over love, division over restoration, fractures over healing, bitterness over forgiveness? How?

I have mentioned the book Jesus + Nothing = Everything several times over the past few weeks because it has been speaking to in my spirit. Sometimes I find a book and sometimes a book finds me. This book found me. He writes,

“The reason this news is so vast and wonderful is that the bad new is so huge and horrible. The gospel is big because our sin is big.

You and I will never know Christ to be a great savior unless we first understand ourselves to be great sinners. We’ll never really feel deliverance if we don’t first feel desperation. We’ll never experience the glory of real freedom if we don’t first experience the grief of our own slavery.” 1

Christ’s work for us was so enormous that we cannot even begin to understand it, but we do understand unmerited grace, favor and mercy. We all have been given what we do not deserve (Grace). We all have receive a standing we did not earn (favor). We all have enjoyed not getting what we do deserve (mercy). Let the awe return. Let it return in me.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins. (Eph 2:1, ESV)

1 Tchividjian, Tullian. Jesus + Nothing = Everything. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2011. Print. p. 78

Grief – Prayer – Promises

She could not have kids. That has to be one of the strongest hurts a woman experiences. As a girl she would pretend to have a baby. She would have an old rugged doll that she would give some fictitious name. She would feed it, play with it, have tea parties with it. She would change its diaper and pretend the baby was crying. All of this was a vision in a little girls mind of what her life would be like. She would have someone play like they were the daddy. Everyday she would pull out her doll and play. She would pretend to be a mom. She grows, she dreams, she marries, she waits. Continue reading