Friday, 30 August 2013

What DoYou Believe

The issue of faith is not so much whether we believe in God, but whether we believe the God we believe in.  R.C. Sproul

I love this quote from R.C. Sproul for many people profess to be Christians but when questioned about their faith it is at an intellectual level, not at the gut level.  In other words they believe in God and what they have read about God, specifically in Scripture but their head knowledge has not been translated into everyday living.  Their intellectual assent doesn’t provide comfort and peace during troubling times, it doesn’t normally effect how they relate to people, and it does not alter behaviors that are undesirable.
I’m also bothered by the phrase “the God we believe in.”  A dear friend of mine loves to ask people “how big is your God?” and regardless what they say his response is “He’s bigger than that!”  To some degree, knowingly or unknowingly, we all put God in a box.  Things like visions, healing miracles, and other supernatural phenomena are common place in many undeveloped countries.  For most in the U.S. we are too learned and sophisticated to accept that the God of the universe actually communicates with His people in such ways.  Is that right?
We do ourselves a disservice and more importantly we do God a disservice when we put Him in a box.  Our finite little minds can’t begin to comprehend His magnificence. By now you may be thinking “this is a marriage blog, how about connecting the dots.”
Some of you who profess to be Christians are struggling in your marriage.  You have a feeling of hopelessness.  You are resigned to the fact that things will never change and you know God doesn’t approve of divorce.  You are in the proverbial catch 22.  Whether you are in a difficult marriage, distraught over your children, or you are experiencing some serious physical or emotional issues the God in whom you profess to believe can provide you with the strength and wisdom you need to contend with whatever is facing you. He can rescue you from the depths of hopelessness.

Ask God what He would have you do, how He wants you to respond to life’s challenges, and/or what lessons He would have you learn.  BUT when you ask you must believe that He will answer you.  He probably won’t tweet you or post something on your Face Book, though He might use someone to do so.  That is the God that I want to believe in, the God who gave up the Son that He loved beyond anything we could understand in order to rescue us.  He will use your pain and suffering to make you stronger, to use your experiences to spread His incredible good news.  He can redeem your marriage, heal your illness and reclaim your children at least that is true of the God in whom I believe.

 

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Doubt and its Cousin - Anxiety

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
—James 1:5-8

 It has been said that doubt, for a Christian, is a lack of confidence or assurance that God will do what He has promised.  So it follows for me that when I am doubting God it is no wonder that I become somewhat anxious.  For me it is the age old problem, i.e. my intellect and my emotions are out of sync.  Perhaps this is true for you as well.

Positive Self-talk
What is also true for me is that most often my doubt comes from self-talk.  I convince myself that something is not going to work out, at least the way I want it to.  Therein lies the double mindedness.  First I am doubting that God is going to do something and then I’m doubting that even if He does it won’t be what I would have hoped for.   In case you are tracking with me let’s see if there is a way out of this predicament.

My self-talk gets me into these messes and my self-talk must get me out.  I must remind myself that God is omnipotent and omniscient.   If He truly knows all things then He knows what is best for me.  IF He is truly omnipotent He has the power to make my circumstances turn our well. If He is my loving Father I will benefit from whatever the short-term outcome.
They have come up with a 5Hour Energy drink, I guess I’m waiting for a 5Hour Faith drink, for it is my faith that is weak.  It is my lack of faith that causes me to doubt and to become anxious.  I must remember God by definition can meet the challenges in my life (and yours).

So whether you are having problems with your children, you are struggling financially, your marriage is not what you had hoped it would be or you are faced with a malady that the doctors can’t identify there is only One source of hope, only One who can ultimately bring relief and healing and that is God. 

I’m feeling better already.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Is Your Marriage an Open Letter or a Closed Book?

You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. 2Cor. 3:2

The above quote was written by the Apostle Paul to the believers in Corinth but I think it has a great application to us today and in particular to married couples who profess to be Christian.  Paul’s letter was to be read to all the congregants.  Paul was saying that the conduct of the people he was writing to would become the testimony by which they would attract or negatively influence non-believers.

That should be the test of our marriages.  Do we conduct ourselves in such a way that those who see us, including our children, would conclude that we have something special, something to offer that is better than what the world is offering.

In Ephesians 5:25 husbands are called to love their wives just as Christ loves His bride the Church.  We as husbands are to emulate His example.  Our marriages are to be a reflection of Christ’s relationship to the Church.  As husbands we should have a deep abiding love for our wives that permeates everything we do.  So much so that those who know us well or just observe us from afar recognize that there is something very special about our relationship.

On the other hand if our marriage is a closed book it means that we have learned all we are going to learn and we have stopped growing.  The cover on the book is closed and we see no benefit in reading anything else.  This too will be evident particularly by those who know us well.  We may put on our Sunday morning persona but as we all know you cannot always tell a book by its cover.

The open letter on the other hand is available for comment, critique and questioning.   The authors are vulnerable because their lives are open to scrutiny.  They conduct themselves in such a way that their children never feel insecure.  Affection is visibly displayed; laughter occurs often; disagreements are resolved calmly in a way that glorifies the Father and it is apparent to every member of the household that God is an integral part of how decisions are made.  Prayer is more than just a meal time ritual and the parent’s behavior Monday through Saturday is no different than it is on Sunday morning.