Doubt: It’s Not Just in Your Head

Sometimes I battle doubt! This war rages not just in my head but also in my heart, in my choices, in my attitudes, in my motivations, in my desires, in my will…

For many of us the litmus test for doubt has rested on ones ability to pass a Sunday School pop quiz, ace it and you are in. Yet, this move of justifying ourselves only masquerades the real issue. We see in James 4:17 that the individual ‘who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.‘ This persons problem is not in their head but in their actions. The need here is not to correct wrong thinking but to provoke right living.

The obvious truth is, how we live reveals what we believe!
What we believe is revealed…
in our choices,
in how we treat others,
in where we find joy and pleasure,
in what gives meaning and purpose to our lives,
in who we run to for help, hope, and rescue from ourselves…

Maybe we all need to be reminded today of Jesus’ declaration to Thomas in John 20:27 “Stop doubting and believe.” May we receive this gift of faith and remember that Christ is our life (Colossians 3:1-3).

Put the Cell Phone Down & Step Away From Your Twitter

This year a number of friends have told me that for Lent they are taking Twitter and/or Facebook off their phones. The distraction of these networks had consumed more time and energy than desirable. What is their problem?

Well, if you are like me, you may have noticed or actually you may have not noticed how you can unconsciously scan the list of recent tweets from your friends or check-up on your FB friends. For some of us these actions have become so familiar we give away our attention without even realizing it.

This week I have tried to pay attention to what I give my attention to, particularly in regards to social media. My smart phone doesn’t always lead to smart decisions: like when I am checking twitter at every stoplight, reading emails at dinner in the middle of a conversation with friends, or checking FB when I need to be playing with my kids.

So, this weekend, my wife Holly and I decided we will work to set boundaries on how, when and why we are using or misusing our phones. Is this a struggle for you? If so, how are you working through it?

What can your church learn from a hospital?

I’ve spent a great deal of time in and out of the hospital recently. Sitting around various waiting rooms I began to think about what could a church learn from a hospital. In many ways these institutions are dissimilar. However, there are innumerable real life lessons discovered down the hallways of a hospital that bring focus to mission and visions for life both individually and corporately.

Here are a few reflections…

-Bad stuff happens, be ready!
Life inside a hospital causes you to quickly learn that suffering is inevitable in this life, for some more severe than others. Some try to ignore the possibility of pain, others figure out things to blame the suffering on. But ignoring is ignorance and too many people are busy arguing questions that people who are hurting aren’t even asking. Jesus clearly tells us hard times are part of our humanity. (John 16:33…In this world you will have trouble.)

So, as churches and as followers of Christ we need to prepare ahead of time. We need to be ready for the likelihood of suffering and not be swept away by trouble whether that be our own or that of another. In Christ we have the power and the perspective needed to endure any and every trial, as the remainder of the previous verse states…
John 16:33 In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

-The proper diagnosis determines treatment
If it’s discovered that you have cancer, advice to ‘take two aspirins and call me in the morning’ is a prescription that would get many doctors a sucker punch on the chin. Diagnosis is foundational and leads to the proper course of treatment. This is why so much time is taken to determine and confirm the right diagnosis, so that the very best plan can be made.

Often in our lives, and in our churches we are more interested in treatment options than we are fully understanding the diagnosis. Christian bookstores are filled with the equivalent of self-help books, sermons are laced with 6 steps to a happier, holier home and a hotter husband. We love to do stuff, we value helping ourselves.

Yet the gospel truth is that everyone of us are ravaged to our core by sin, a disease more menacing and demanding than the vilest cancer. We are held in sins vice grip, and none of our 6 steps to freedom or self-esteem exercises can break it’s power. Only through the loving and costly grace of Jesus Christ can sin be overcome and salvation found.
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

For some this does not seem to come across as an encouraging story, BUT I believe that only when we discover the gravity of the diagnosis of our sinful state, will we be able to fully embrace and rejoice in the glory of Christ! The biggest problems in our churches and in our lives are not divorce rates, financial or sexual issues, rather, it’s sin! So then, turn to Christ, run to Christ, and trust Christ today, everyday, and every day after!

Christ’s Love in Doubts & Darkness

George Matheson the author of this old hymn, renewed by Robbie Seay, provides a treasure of encouragement for those in the valley . Through a deep time of personal pain and doubt he wrote about his eclipse of faith. He endured a time so dark he, for a season, left the ministry. On top of the prior hymn, he also wrote a testimony of hope for believers who at times struggle with doubt, for those who…
-hear not the bells of Easter mourn
-tread the road to Emmaus but don’t meet the risen Christ
-stand on the mount of Galilee but hear no voice
-frequent the Upper Room but get no hint of his presence

Matheson says “My faith cannot walk by sight in hours like these. Lord what shall I do? Hast thou a remedy for the loss of light? Yes, my Father, Thou hast a gate where faith can enter without seeing where it goes. Its name is love.”

He powerfully continues, crying out, “If I cannot soar with Him in heaven, let me at least go back to finish his work on earth. Let me mourn with the Martha’s whose Lazarus’ I cannot raise. Let me pray with the paralytics whose weakness I cannot cure. Let me sing to the sightless whose eyes I cannot open. Let me lend to the lepers the touch of a brothers hand. Let me find for the fallen a chance to renew their days. Then shall my Easter morn shine again through all the clouds of night. Then shall I know the meaning of the words, ‘Blessed are they who have not seen and yet have believed.‘ ”

The love of Christ is sure and strong! Our only hope is found in Jesus and his redeeming love. He will not fail, He will not forget, He will not falter! So we too, with Matheson declare…

O love that will not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee;
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be

Praying For Kate’s PET Scan

Kate is off at school this morning and we are nervously passing the time: praying, reading, cleaning (the house and ourselves), sipping coffee and praying some more. Her PET scan is scheduled to start today at 1:30pm MST. I will do the math for you, that is 3:30 Eastern/12:30 Pacific. Please pray that the scan would come back negative for any cancerous activity!

We will most likely not get results until our appointment tomorrow morning at 10am. So we will remain vigilant in prayer and placing our hope in the LORD. I have been meditating on the staggering verses in reference to  prayer found in Scripture, and begging God to grant the faith to pray & live accordingly…
1 John 5:14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.
(see also 1 John 3:21; James 5:16; Matthew 21:21)

Your encouraging words and prayers have been such a blessing from God. Thank you and please don’t stop! Many of you have shared verses of encouragement and I have spent much time looking over the Scriptures and praying them to God. Here are a number of the passages that we have been praying and continue to lift up to God today, we would love for you to join us in praying these for Kate…

Exodus 14: 13“Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

Isaiah 43: 1 But now, this is what the LORD says—he who created you, O Jacob,he who formed you, O Israel:”Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers,they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire,you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.

Psalm 107: 19 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. 20 He sent forth his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave.

Psalm 27: 13 I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. 14 Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.

Psalm 103:  1 Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. 2 Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits— 3 who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, 4 who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, 5 who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

John 11: 4 When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”

Philippians 4:19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

Praying for Kate

I am overwhelmed and entirely amazed at the response to pray and fast for Kate today. As I was praying last night, and reading the following passage I was reminded again of…
-the desperateness of our situation v.8-9
-our total dependence on Christ v.9b-10
-the power of God’s people in prayer v.11

2 Corinthians 1:8b…We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. 9 Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.
10
He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11 as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.

3 times Paul talk about God’s deliverance and as he does so he moves from past present, to future tense. So now we also pray for God’s deliverance that we have seen in the past, to rescue again today, and set free forever.

Paul also talks about the partnership between his needs, the prayers of the saints and God’s Sovereignty. I can’t explain it, but I am thankful that God gives the privilege for others ‘helping together’ in prayer to accomplish much.

Please keep believing, please keep praying! I praise God for every person who stands with Kate through this…

The image above is available for download for free here Kate Desktop

A Day of Prayer & Fasting for Kate

I have never felt so helpless in my whole life!

Since getting the results on Tuesday our lives have seemed to weave in and out of reality, moments of relaxation quickly upended by the reminders of what Kate is facing. Our only hope this week has been our Creator God and his rescuing love found in Jesus Christ. Prayer has been passionate and desperate, I guess it always should be.

Now is a time for faith and prayer, and we are so deeply grateful that we have a host of warriors battling along with us in prayer. Now is an urgent time, so I have a request. If you are willing and if you are able, would you please consider fasting and praying with us tomorrow Monday February 7th, 2011.

Throughout Scripture fasting plays a critical role in many God ordained events:
-Moses fasted for intimate fellowship with God Exodus 34:28
-David fasted for his sick child 2 Samuel 12:16
-Ezra called a fast for humility and to ask for God’s provisions Ezra 8:21-23
-Daniel fasted to discern God’s will & seek God’s counsel Daniel 10:2-3
-Jesus fasted before beginning his public ministry Matthew 4:2
-Church leaders in Antioch fasted for God’s divine help Acts 13:3
-Paul fasted as servant of God for those he served 2 Corinthians 6:5

Here are a few requests for those who will partner with us:

For Healing… for Kate’s complete healing from top of her head to her toes
Psalm 107: 19 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. 20 He sent forth his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave.

For Wisdom… for Holly and I, for the doctors, and people we consult with
Colossians 1:9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.

For Jesus to be Glorified for Christ to be seen as POWERFUL & to be praised
John 11:4 Jesus said, ‘This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory, so that, God’s Son may be glorified through it.’

Again, I want to thank the countless people who have prayed and encouraged us for some time. We would be honored if some of you could join us in this day of seeking God in prayer and fasting. Please pass this along and ask others. If you need some guidance in fasting, I have found this site to be helpful…
Awake21 particularly the  ‘Prayer, Fasting, and Personal Devotion Guide’