We Want a World Without Suffering

There is No Such Thing, This Side of Heaven

There is no question that the world has plenty of examples of suffering. Why, we ask, would a loving God permit pain and suffering? Ultimately, this is a question that you will have to ask Him.

Suffering is critical to us becoming who we’re meant to be.

If everything was easy, we would not be able to accomplish all that we are supposed to. Nature is full of examples of this.

When a baby giraffe is born it falls 4’-5’ feet to the ground. Then as it is trying to get up the mother kicks it, again and again. Working through this struggle the baby giraffe learns to get up. In a matter of hours, it’s prepared for lions, hyenas and wild dogs.

Or, what about butterflies pushing to get out of the cocoon they find themselves wrapped up in. We’ve all heard about someone helping a butterfly with this process and then the butterfly’s ends up being too weak to fly.

We are no different. Sure, it would be nice if we didn’t have to suffer, but this would leave us weak and unprepared for life. Suffering makes us stronger.

While everything else follows its instincts and does what comes naturally…we humans think and think and think… Rather than embracing the struggles and learning and growing, we want things to be easy. We think we know better than God how things should be.

Easy leads to a life void of meaning.

In Viktor Frankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning, he outlines his theory of logotherapy. Logotherapy says, “The primary motivational force of an individual is to find meaning in life.” This theory helped him to survive his Holocaust experience. Being in a concentration camp as a Jew…that’s real suffering.

Frankl says there are three things needed to experience a life of meaning:

  • Finding a worthwhile project to work on and working on it
  • Understanding suffering and viewing it from a productive perspective
  • Working through life’s challenges with other people

Too much of the time people drift through life accepting things as they are rather than doing something about them. We have more control than that. Sure, there are things that happen that are out of our control but, we have way more control than we choose to believe.

God knew what he was doing when He created the world. He knew we would need help, so He sent Jesus. Include Jesus in your group when you’re working through life’s challenges.

We can choose to embrace life’s difficulties and be stronger…or not!

Make Every Day of the Year Thanksgiving

Not Just the One in the Month of November

2020 has been an interesting year to say the least. Sure, it’s been confusing and difficult, but it’s not like there hasn’t been confusion and difficultly before or won’t be again.

We get to choose our perspective – we can be unappreciative or we can be grateful.

“God’s Word challenges us: “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess. 5:18). There’s no getting around it. God wants us to pray with thanksgiving when the future is uncertain, when heartbreak hits, and when shortfalls come.

It’s hard to be grateful in difficulties, but it’s not impossible. Daniel “prayed and gave thanks” (Dan. 6:10), knowing that his life was in danger. Jonah called out “with the voice of thanksgiving” (Jonah 2:9) while inside a fish! These examples, coupled with God’s promise that He will work all things together for our good and His glory (Rom. 8:28), can inspire us to be thankful in all things.”

March 11, 2013 — by Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Today is Thanksgiving – GIVE THANKS!

Why Only One Day for Thanksgiving? – Charles Dickens said that we are somewhat mixed up here in America. He told an audience that instead of having one Thanksgiving Day each year we should have 364. “Use that one day just for complaining and griping,” he said. “Use the other 364 days to thank God each day for the many blessings He has showered upon you.” 

I love this perspective. It is so easy to get pulled into the moaning and groaning of the headaches and disappointments of our everyday routines. Instead of allowing life to become a recuring doldrum be intentional and make thankfulness a part of our routines.

In his book, A Simple Act of Gratitude, John Kralik tells the story of how he found himself viewing his life from a perspective of dullness, debt and disaster. He felt cheated of the things he thought he deserved. One day while walking in the mountains he was inspired to write a thank you note each day. This act of writing these helped him recognize the abundance of things he had to be grateful for.

GIVE THANKS EVERY DAY!

Think of Those Who Have Less Than You – A mother and her two little children were destitute. In the depth of winter they were nearly frozen, and the mother took a cellar door off the hinges and set it up in front of the corner where they crouched down to sleep so that some of the draft and cold might be kept from them. One of the children whispered to her, “Mother, what do those poor children do who have no cellar door to put up in front of them?”

Thanksgiving is perspective. BE THANKFUL!

How Do You Stay the Course in Times of Confusion?

It Requires a Clear Understanding of Your Compass

The year of 2020 has certainly had it’s share of confusion. It seems to be the focus of many, if not most, conversations. I’m big on talking through things. It’s a great way to process your thoughts. In essence that’s what these posts are…me thinking through my thoughts.

As you sort through the chaos it is imperative to be clear about where you’re going.

Having a clear understanding of where you’re headed will help you focus on which direction to go. In Sunday’s message Rev. Reece told a story about when he was playing high school basketball. He said that he got the ball and was headed toward the goal. He was getting around the opposing team; the crowd was yelling…he was going to be a hero and score a goal. It wasn’t until after the shot that he realized it was the wrong goal.

In Dave Ramey’s Financial Peace University, he has the audience stand up and close their eyes. He then asks them to point north. When they open their eyes, people are pointing every different direction. It was clear that some did not know where north was. Then with a compass Dave shows them true north.

Going south can get you to your destination, but it’s the long way around.

We need to know where we are going and determine the best way to get there. It’s important to periodically pause and assess where you’re headed and make course corrections as needed.

There currently seems to be more confusion than normal. I’ve heard it said numerous times that “I’ll be glad when things get back to normal”. I would contend that this is normal. Not that the current situation will be here forever…it won’t.

Things are constantly changing. Look back over your life. The older you are the more change you’ve experienced.

Change is normal.

In Hebrews 10:19-25 it points out that when Christ died that the curtain in the Most Holy Place was torn. This let’s anyone who wants to come into the presence of God. We are told to “trust in God to do what He promised. …to show each other love, to do good deeds…to meet together and encourage each other.”

Don’t let things as they are today, get you down. They will change. Acknowledge change as a part of life, understand it and make adjustments as needed to stay on course. Check your compass and keep moving forward following the true north.

A Hug Will Make It All Better

There’s Hope in a Hug

Last week I wrote about struggles of life…loss is one of the biggest. Losing can be; divorced parents, a spouse leaving, a child moving away, or the death of someone close. Grief is the response to loss, particularly someone or something to which a bond was formed.

Comfort that can be found on God’s lap when we’re grieving.

We all grieve death in different ways. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. It’s harder for some than others. We each have to do what works best for us.

The important thing to remember is that grief pushed down inside and left to fester will become an infection that will eat from the inside out, if not dealt with.

Like any other injury the healing will hurt but is worth the pain in the end.

Prolonged or extreme grief often comes out of a feeling of hopelessness. The sense that things will never be right again. This feeling is certainly understandable but doesn’t have to be the end. There is hope!

Christians have the comfort of knowing that death is not the end. In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11 we read that there is more to come after this life. My grief comes from not having shared this message with others before it was too late.

Hugs have the same healing power as a lap.

One of the best ways to share hope is through hugs. This doesn’t even have to be a physical hug. We can hug others through a kind word or action as well. We can share God’s hugs here on earth.

It’s like there’s some magical transference of hope with a hug.

I’m looking forward to having God’s arms wrapped around me and Him whispering in my ear. EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE ALRIGHT.

Being a Child of God Shows Us How to Live

It’s Up to Us to Do It

Living can be hard. We all experience times of difficulties and feelings of being alone or unwanted. Wouldn’t it be great if when we felt this way we could crawl up on our parent’s lap and just be hugged?

Not everyone can relate to this feeling. There are some whose parents were cruel and uncaring or maybe they never knew their parents. They may not have had the earthly experience of a parent’s lap.

In 1 John 3:1-10 we find out what it means to be, “children of God”. It’s pretty straight forward in this Scripture. It starts out with, The Father loved us so much…” Some of us were fortunate enough to know what that love feels like. If not…

Our Heavenly Father’s lap is always available.

When children of God grow up, they should become parent’s for God. We can be God’s loving lap for those who need it. We can be godly parents to our children and everyone around us. This is not an age thing, but a love thing. Being a parent is teaching through example.

We’ve all been given a purpose to share with others. That purpose is needed by others. Sharing our purpose is like being a parent.

Be a godly parent to others.

If you let Him, our Father in Heaven will show you how.

You Can Choose to Accept Love or Not

Just Know That Not Accepting, Makes It No Less Real

There are too many people out there who have not experienced real love. For whatever reason they find themselves in situations that may be called love but is not.

I’m fortunate to have been blessed with a loving biological as well as church family. God knows that I did nothing to deserve it. It’s part of a bigger plan that only He knows. My part in this is to share this love with others.

Love is the foundation for everything.

In Matthew 22:34-46 the religious leaders of the time had lost sight of that foundation. They had gotten caught up in the worldly perspective of the law. They overlooked the foundation the law was built on.

Not that the law isn’t important, because it is. It just isn’t the foundation. They were loving the law more than God. They were attempting to make God into their image of what they wanted Him to be. Be careful to not love the law more than God.

In Verses 37-40 Jesus says, “Love the Lord your God with all your soul, all your heart and all your mind. …Love your neighbor as yourself. All the law and writings of the prophets depend on these two commands.”

This sounds a lot like a foundation.

There was a young Christian man who wanted to share his faith with others. Not being super educated or sophisticated, he was surprised when he felt lead to share the message of Christ with a brilliant local attorney.

When he attempted to share his faith, the attorney laughed at him and had an argument for every point the young man made. The young man realized he was in over his head and felt ashamed for thinking he could do this. In his shame he gave up and as he left, he said,

“I just want you to know that I came here because I love you.”

Within a few hours of the young man going home and shutting himself in his room, the attorney showed up and knocked on the door. The young man’s wife tried to get the attorney to leave, but he was adamant about speaking with the young man.

When the young man came out to speak with the attorney he said, “I suppose you’ve thought of some more arguments to prove your point.” The attorney said, “No, I just want to know more about your faith.”

The young man said, “Every time I tried to tell you, you came up with an argument that I couldn’t answer.” The attorney replied, “Yes and you came up with an argument that I couldn’t answer.”

When you said that you loved me…I couldn’t argue with that.

God is love. He saved us out of His great love. You can accept or reject it, but it doesn’t change the truth of God’s love.

You can’t argue with God’s love!

Which will you choose? To accept it or not.

We Need to Be Intentional About This –

Who We Are and What We Do

We may never know what affect we have on those we encounter…good or bad. This is why it is so important to be aware and intentional about our actions.

There’s been a lot of love going around our church over the past couple of weeks. With October being Pastor Appreciation Month, there’s been many messages of thanks going in Pastor Lee’s direction. Simultaneously Pastor Lee has been sharing his appreciation of the congregation and the impact we have on each other.

This past Sunday he shared a letter written by one of the members of the church, sharing her story and the affect others in the church had on her life. More times than not, we have no idea of the impact we have on others.

We need to remember that every action has consequences…good or bad.

In Ephesians 2:8-10 we are told, “In Christ Jesus, God made us to do good works, which God planned in advance for us to live our lives doing.” This sounds pretty clear to me. God intends for us to do good, but we get to decide if we will do it or not.

We have control over our actions. We can choose what we will do and how we will do it. This starts with figuring out who God meant us to be. Then being intentional about living in that direction.

I think more time is wasted through drifting than anything else.

Intentional action and awareness of those actions are topics that have been prevalent in my thoughts lately as well as historically. As is evident with these previous posts: (links)

Everything we do affects not only ourselves but those around us. Choices can have huge consequences. Think about how your actions affect others.

We can’t control everything, but we can control ourselves.

Live your life intentionally in the way God intended.

It’s Up to You to Figure Out What Your Purpose Is

Once You’ve Determined That…Live It to The Fullest

We have all been given a specific purpose. A unique thing that only we have. The hard part can be figuring that what it is.

I don’t know that we will ever figure it out fully, this side of heaven.

The important thing is to be vigilantly looking every day. To focus on uncovering the “thing” God has put us here for. The Architect of the world has given us a “Blueprint” for building the life He designed for us. It is up to us to study that print and build our lives accordingly.

In Matthew 22:1-14, Jesus tells about a king who prepared a wedding feast for his son. The king sent his servants to tell those who had been invited that the feast was ready. The people who had been invited were too busy and went on about their lives.

So, the king invited other less admirable people, as per the world’s standards. When the king came to greet the guests, one was not dressed for the wedding. The king asked the man why. The man said nothing. The king had him thrown out.

This seems a little harsh. 

The custom of the day was that when people came to a wedding, they were given wedding clothes. So, it wasn’t like the man didn’t have everything he needed. He just chose not to use them. On top of that, he ignored the king.

This man wanted to enjoy all the benefits of the wedding feast with out putting on the clothes. Too many of us approach life in this same way. We’ve been invited to the feast and given everything we need to come and enjoy it. But we ignore the King and the wedding clothes that He’s given us.

We want the benefits without doing the work.

Take time to read and study Life’s Blueprint. Discuss the plans with the Architect. Determine what your purpose is and build the life God has designed for you.

A Cornerstone Is the Foundation of the Foundation

What Is the Cornerstone You’re Building Your Life On?

Getting distracted and losing our focus is easier now than ever before. We are flooded with information that can wash away our foundation if we aren’t careful.

This even happened when Jesus was alive. In Matthew 21:33-46 Jesus points out to the priests and church leaders that their foundation was eroding and going to collapse if they didn’t get them aligned with the Cornerstone.

The cornerstone is the first stone set in the construction of a masonry foundation. All other stones will be set in reference to this stone.

The Cornerstone determines the outcome of the entire structure.

The foundation is the most critical part of building. If the foundation isn’t square and straight the building won’t be either. It is critical to refer back to the foundation constantly and repeatedly.

The quality of the foundation determines how we make it through the storms of life. A wise man builds on the Rock not the sand. Building on the Rock will allow us to better weather the storms.

The kind of foundation we build on is up to us.

What if we started our building on a poor foundation? It’s not too late. Remove the bad one and put in a new and solid one. Our lives are under construction until we die. The sooner the foundation is corrected and aligned with the Cornerstone the better. Don’t wait…

Build your life on The Cornerstone!

Be More Like the First Son

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

In Matthew 21:28-32 is a story about a man and his two sons. The man said to his sons, “Go work in my vineyards”. The first son said he wouldn’t go, but then later he changed his mind and went. The second son said he would go, but never did.

Which of these sons obeyed his father?

I would say that neither really did. It is evident that the son that actually went to the vineyard was at least honoring his father’s wishes. In the second part of the story, verses 31-32, Jesus makes a point about our eternal life.

I think this story is also important for the here and now.

Saying one thing and then doing something else is way too common. Sometimes it can be a simple misunderstanding, but more times than not it’s simply lying. We say things that people want to hear rather than the truth.

Not telling lies is one of the Ten Commandments, not to mention several other Scriptures expressing how God feels about lying. When we say one thing and then do something else, it’s a lie.

Say what you mean and mean what you say.

This is especially hard for people with a servant’s heart. We want to do everything we can for everyone. Saying no is one of the hardest things there is to do.

Trying to do everything for everyone leads to doing less things well for fewer people. Trying to do more than you have time for will lead to corner cutting and poor quality.

Both sons in this story lied to their father. Who knows why neither one just said what they meant.  The first son’s actions at least spoke louder than his words. So, if you’re going to do one or the other…

Be more like the first son.