Do I have to carry THAT cross?

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There’s an old hymn we sing once in awhile entitled, “Nearer My God to Thee.”

Nearer my God to Thee,
Nearer to Thee!
E’en though it be a cross
That raiseth me.

Still, all my song shall be,
‘Nearer my God to Thee!’
Nearer my God to Thee—
Nearer to Thee.

~ Sarah Flower Adams, 1841

As with anything worth having, nearness to God is costly. Many claim to want a relationship with God, but have no desire to make any sort of sacrifice to achieve it. What about me? Am I willing to be “raised on a cross” in order to gain a closeness to the Lord that could not be attained otherwise? Continue reading

My Greatest Fear

 

Fear.

At times irrational, at times justified, fear is a human response to circumstance.

The news reels have been buzzing since November 8th. The whole country (and possibly certain world leaders) seemed to be biting down their nails as we all waited with bated breath for the election results. Admittedly, an election is always an anxious affair. The choices of a leader—even small choices—create an indescribable ripple effect. Continue reading

What the World Needs Now

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Some songs make me cringe.

It’s not necessarily the lyrics—although cringe-worthy lyrics abound. Often it’s the style of singing or instrumentation. Sometimes it’s an associated memory. For instance, whenever I hear Andy Williams’ voice belt out, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” I can’t help but groan inwardly. I associate it with disgruntled black friday shoppers and unhappy ugly-Christmas-sweater people. I don’t know why…. it’s probably related to some lame commercial. Then there’s Burt Bacharach’s “What the World Needs Now.” The words aren’t bad, it’s just the way it was sung or the melody or… something. Think “nails on chalk.”

And yet… Continue reading

Memorial Stones

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Freedom is Not Free (c) 2005 William Lawrence, http://beautifuldcpictures.com/tag/korean-war/

We are rather forgetful creatures. In some ways, our forgetfulness is a blessing. Time dulls the sharp pangs of grief and the pettiness of minor wounds. In other respects, our forgetful natures are a curse. Continue reading

The Trouble with Comparing Pain.

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The heart knows it’s own bitterness, and no stranger shares its joy

Proverbs 14.10, ESV

 

Over a month ago, I read some comments on a Facebook post discussing the damaging effects of vaccines. As is common with all vaccine-related discussions, the comments were awash with both sides of the debate. There is always someone bashing “anti-vaxxers” as being anti-science/stupid/ignorant/hateful/child-abusers/fill-in-the-blank-with-an-insult. One comment read, “I would rather live with a child that has autism than to have my child die of whooping cough.”

Continue reading

A Spark in the Darkness.

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Shootings in Dallas. Riots in Charlotte. Explosions in New York.

Deceit in the debate hall.

Worry abounds.

When darkness prevails and our grief overwhelms us, how do we get through it? What do we hold on to?  Continue reading

When life is overwhelming…

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Do you feel it?

Anger.

Apathy.

Angst.

The trio of trouble.

Anger abounds, fueled by perceived injustice, the prosperity of the ‘other,’ and the erosion of our foundations.

Apathy ambles about, numbing us to the downward slide, willing us to be indifferent to covetousness, deceit, and injustice.

Angst lives in the very air; we unwittingly inhale it’s noxious fumes and it’s effect spreads cancerously into every pore of our being.

Election years are always tumultuous here in the states, but the last four presidential elections have been particularly pernicious. One side foretells utter doom if the other side wins. One side threatens to abandon the country if so-and-so is elected (aaaand they never do). This house is divided, and if we don’t start getting our act together, it’s going to fall. Fear pervades every citizen.

Anger, Apathy, Angst—all are present for the show.

Do you feel these things?

Are we as Christians supposed sequester ourselves in a “joyful” bubble—unaffected and unaware?

I submit to you that even though the joy of the Lord sustains us, even though we know the world is not our home, we are keenly aware of the gathering gloom. It hangs heavily upon us and we are not immune to it’s influence. Temporal though it may be, we are living in this world and cannot isolate ourselves from the tumult around us.

What are we to do when the very fabric of our lives threatens to unravel?

Many who sit in the ivory towers of education negate the value of the Bible as an outdated tome of mythology. Professing to be wise, they have become great fools. The contemptuous treatment of ancient truths threatens to be our downfall.

To us who believe in the Lord, His words are the breath of life. A keen student of the word can observe patterns of human behavior, the consequences of pride, and the faithfulness of God. We find security in the wisdom an consistency of God. The words of the Bible may be ancient, but it’s truths are timeless.

No matter how we feel, nor how desperate the situation, the Lord will always be in command. While the world around us wears itself out with worry, we can rest in God.

Get down, look up, and zero in.

Get down.

Get down on your knees and pray. 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

~ Philippians 4.6-7, ESV

Get down into the word of God so that you will know His promises.

  • He promises to be with us. “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13.5-6)
  • He promises to give us peace. (see above)

  • He promises to save us. (Mark 16.16)

  • He promises to return. (2 Peter 3)

 

Get some rest.

Find a quiet spot and let your mind have some peace. Don’t overbook yourself and live life in a frenzy. Make some time for quiet.

Look up.

I am as guilty of this as most people. I look at my screen way too much. I need to look up more and see the world and the people around me. The emails and messages on my phone are important, and require my attention, but I also need to address the emotional needs of my neighbors, my friends, my spouse and my children.

The concerns of the world are like those emails, phone calls, and text messages. They have to be addressed, but they should not consume us. We need to look up and into the eyes of the God who loves us. Only he can give us the peace we so desperately crave.

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

~ Colossians 3.1-2, ESV

Zero in.

A rifle has to be zeroed-in before a hunt so the hunter can be sure of his aim when he shoots. In the same way, we need to spend time getting our mind zeroed in on God. Find a quiet place, shut off the distractions, and make a mental tally of what you are thankful for.  Commit the promises of God to your heart so that when all else crumbles you will still be standing on the foundation of God’s promises which cannot be shaken.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

~ Philippians 4.8-9, ESV

 Are Anger, Apathy, and Angst hanging out with you today?

Get down, look up and zero in.

What’s slinking around in your heart?

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In case you’ve been wondering, I have not forgotten about the GenNext series, nor have I fallen off the face of the earth. I’m currently working on editing some of the tools in the upcoming articles, and waaay behind schedule. I posted the following to our Elihu’s Corner Facebook Page a few days ago, and am sharing it here on the blog for my readers here. This is a short excerpt from C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity.

We begin to notice, besides our particular sinful acts, our sinfulness; begin to be alarmed not only about what we do, but about what we are. This may sound rather difficult, so I will try to make it clear from my own case.

When I come to my evening prayers and try to reckon up the sins of the day, nine times out of ten the most obvious one is some sin against charity; I have sulked or snapped or sneered or snubbed or stormed. And the excuse that immediately springs to my mind is that the provocation was so sudden and unexpected; I was caught off my guard, I had not time to collect myself. Now that may be an extenuating circumstance as regards those particular acts: they would obviously be worse if they had been deliberate and premeditated.

On the other hand, surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of a man he is? Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth? If there are rats in a cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats: it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man; it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am. The rats are always there in the cellar, but if you go in shouting and noisily they will have taken cover before you switch on the light.

From Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

 

Navigating the labyrinth of life.

Over an hour ago, I was preparing to add tags and hit publish on this post when…

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…this happened.

Continue reading

Why “going through the motions” is necessary at times

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There is a popular song that plays occasionally on the Christian radio station called “The Motions.” I had to look up the lyrics because I could only remember the chorus (even after I looked them up, they made little sense to me). This is how the chorus goes:

I don’t wanna go through the motions
I don’t wanna go one more day
Without Your all consuming passion inside of me

I don’t wanna spend my whole life asking
What if I had given everything
Instead of going through the motions?

(Full lyrics can be read here.)

Not to slaughter anyone’s sacred cow (or song), but this song has got it backwards. Continue reading