Thursday, February 16, 2012


In my mind, each individuals own Walk of Faith hinges on the issue of God's sovereignty.

This attribute of God can be both the greatest bone of contention or the strongest source of security.

God being sovereign is often the point of attack for unbelief. It's where His character is maligned by those who either refuse to believe in his existence, or those who choose to believe He is unworthy of their love.

You have surely heard, or even asked, the questions for yourself. If God is (sovereign) then why... is there pain, poverty, abuse, injustice, sickness, disease, death...? The list is longer, but these are a few of the favorites.

On another hand, when someone "of faith" finds themselves facing pain, poverty, abuse, injustice, sickness, disease, death... many find comfort in God's sovereignty. I believe this is because then they can hope or even believe there is purpose in their suffering.

I don't think anyone (particularly anyone "of faith") questions God's sovereignty in the good times, though those who choose not to believe will intentionally deny any credit of the "good thing" (blessing) to something such as the hand of God.

It's hard sometimes in the hurt, in the midst of pain, poverty, abuse, injustice, sickness, disease, death... to focus on God's sovereignty, it is sometimes best seen in hindsight, and sometimes it's not. Sometimes even when it cannot be seen, it has to be claimed. Otherwise, how do we live with the circumstance?

I've been reading lately about seeking God. One of the books I am reading has made reference to two different ways to seek God. Some seek His hand. When we seek His hand, His sovereignty is far more likely to come of issue. Because if the hand is not holding what we would hope for, or worse, if our circumstance somehow seems to indicate His hand might even be against us, then thought of His sovereignty is far more likely to breed discouragement, or worse- despair.

The better way is therefore, not to seek His hand, but rather, to seek His face. For when we seek His face, what His hand may hold is far less relevant. When we seek His face, what God does or does not do pales in comparison to who He is. And the false accusation against us, or the sickness we are facing, or the death of our loved one is no longer about us. Instead is just part of what is.

I think of the story in the New Testament when word was sent to Jesus that Lazarus was sick. He waited two days. Jesus waited. He tarried. And by the time He arrived Lazarus had died. I can imagine how Mary and Martha must have felt. Disappointed? Abandoned? Betrayed? Unloved? When they sent for Jesus, they had confidence that He could come, and by His hand have made Lazarus well. But He did not come.

Others have felt these same feelings. When John the Baptist awaited his beheading in prison, surely these were emotions he battled with.

Joseph, surely he felt these things as well... in the pit... in prison...

When Sarah was childless and ridiculed by Hagar, were these her feelings?

They had sought the hand of God, but His hand was empty. Perhaps His hand was even against them.

When Jesus finally arrived to Lazarus' tomb. Martha ran to Him, "“Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died." Mary also said the same thing to Him, in essence, "Your hand was empty, Lord."

If you read the story (John 11) you know that Jesus called Lazarus forth from the grave. Mary and Martha sought their brother's healing from Jesus' hand, but when they looked into His face they discovered not the power of healing, but the Healer Himself.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.
He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.
And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.

John 11:25-26a

I want to seek God's face, not His hand. I want the confidence not in what He does, or does not, do, but in WHO He is. He is Sovereign.

It brings me comfort, and it brings me angst.

In His silence, He is sovereign.

Though He tarries, He is sovereign.

When I hurt, He is sovereign.

In the midst of pain, poverty, abuse, injustice, sickness, disease, death...

He is Sovereign.

And I will see this, if I look into His face.

Do you believe this?”
John 11:26b

I believe.

Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice!
Have mercy also upon me, and answer me.
When You said, “Seek My face,”
My heart said to You, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.
Do not hide Your face from me;
Do not turn Your servant away in anger;
You have been my help;
Do not leave me nor forsake me,
O God of my salvation.
When my father and my mother forsake me,
Then the Lord will take care of me.

Psalm 27:7-10

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Why Lent? Because something's gotta give.

I have been a follower of Christ for nearly 20 years, and never have I ever even really considered observing Lent, the forty day period that leads up to Easter Sunday. I've always considered it more of a "Catholic tradition," and it's never drawn more than a passing consideration from me. Honestly I didn't "get it," and the whole idea of the debauchery and craziness of "Fat Tuesday" (aka Mardi Gras) always put me off so much I just dismissed it.

This year, however, I am not only not dismissing it, but I am strongly considering deciding to participate. If you follow this blog at all, you are probably aware that this has been a difficult season for me, one of both transition and struggle, and I've been suffering a bit of what you could probably label a sort of identity crisis.

I have to be careful with that term though. Let me be clear, I know exactly who I am in Christ. I understand who God says I am, what He's done for me, and I have no doubt that that is the reality of who I am defined as as a person.... HOWEVER, there is a disconnect between my confident scriptural awareness and the struggle of sensing it as I walk out my Walk of Faith. There is a glitch there, and I need something, somehow, to work it out.

So what exactly is Lent? I've been searching and researching, and I found a website that I think defines best why I feel the need to participate this year. It says: "Today, Lent is marked by a time of prayer and preparation to celebrate Easter. Since Sundays celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, the six Sundays that occur during Lent are not counted as part of the 40 days of Lent, and are referred to as the Sundays in Lent. The number 40 is connected with many biblical events, but especially with the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness preparing for His ministry by facing the temptations that could lead him to abandon his mission and calling. Christians today use this period of time for introspection, self examination, and repentance." (emphasis mine)

Something's gotta give in my life right now, and I honestly don't know what it is. I've been examining and evaluating and probably over thinking myself into spiritual and emotional exhaustion, and I feel so worn out. I do not see rebellious sin in my life, if anything I am trying with all I am to draw close and seek the Lord. Whether I am in a desert or a season of stretching or sifting, I do not know. I have been through all of these things before in my 20 years following Jesus, but the thing about them, is you often don't know for sure if that's where you were until you come out and look back on it from the other side. All of those seasons are a bit disorienting, and I feel disoriented.

The fasting in Lent is meant to be sacrificial. You give something up of value to you, as an offering. I am also looking to let go of something that is contributing to my disorientation. I don't drink, or smoke, and giving up chocolate doesn't feel like a solution to what draws me to seek God. I've been praying and I am pretty certain what God has called me to let go of for the 40 days while I seek Him, and it's really hitting me where I live. It's Facebook. I kept trying to make a "better offer," and even had some valid excuses why it wouldn't work, like the 100 Verse Challenge, but the deeper I look, the more certain I am.

The good news is that Sundays are apparently "festival days" during Lent, and you get to eat your chocolate or red meat or whatever you are fasting from, which means I could still check in on Facebook and keep the Challenge going as well as connect with my son's fundraising activities for his missions trip. Those were my only really good arguments about why I should not take a break from Facebook, and with this new information, it was assuaged. I can do both.

I'm not sharing this to be like "oh look at me, I'm fasting," because the fact is, I'm not impressed with myself at all, I am choosing to be obedient to what I believe God is whispering to my heart out of a desperation. The last thing I was certain the Lord was speaking to me was a simple instruction, "Listen to hear, before listening to speak." I think Facebook hinders me in that. Unlike my blog where I typically have to set aside time and contemplate before I post, on Facebook there is little filter, I am extremely communicative, and sometimes I only think to speak, or worse, don't think and speak, and listening, especially listening to the Lord gets lost by the wayside. So I really do feel like the Lord is asking this of me, and I really need to make the effort to walk it out. Because if I am right, and it is of Him, then there is excellent purpose in it.

Things that won't change, is my blogs will post to my page because they do it automatically, as well as do things I highlight from my reading on my Kindle, and anyone who wants to can reach me via email or by text if they want to. I won't be inaccessible, but I will be less distracted. I'll have to take Facebook off my phone and sign out on all the computers that automatically sign in, but it will be for good purpose, and in the process, hopefully there is a surrender that if this in fact a stretching season, I will be more malleable to the work of the Holy Spirit, or if a season of sifting, I will be strong enough to withstand the testing. And if a desert, perhaps I will be quiet enough to hear more clearly the direction God is calling me to, and my own complaints will be silenced if no one but God is listening.

That's my hope. So why Lent? Because something's gotta give, and it has to start with me giving more of myself to God. It starts a week from tomorrow, and my prayer is that by then I will have laid down all my angst and will be looking forward to the season leading up to the most precious of days, Easter Sunday when Jesus after dying for me, rose again so I could have victory in my life, and so I could know Him.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

100 Verse Challenge - Executive Decision

It's been three weeks since I wrote the verses down in my notebook, and two since the last time I updated the board in our kitchen. These last couple weeks it's been Wednesday or Thursday before I even thought about going over the verses with my children, and because most of the verses in these past few weeks have been somewhat familiar to me, I have not put in much effort at all at memorizing or meditating.

When we started this Challenge back in September there were 217 of us. But when the New Year turned and I had to make a new "event" on Facebook, only 66 joined in- and some of them were new people, not returning participants. Truth be told, I have no idea how many of the 66 are legitimately participating in learning the verses. If I actually accounted for how many people I know are actively participating in the Challenge, I could count them on one hand, maybe two.

The fact is, I am struggling a lot lately, A. LOT. LATELY. And I'm getting a little tired of it, a little tired of myself. But the sense of ineffectiveness can be overwhelming. I'm reevaluating practically everything in my life. Reevaluating may not be the right word, surveying might be more accurate. This blog is included in that. I'm not going to stop writing it, the Lord told me to start it, so until He tells me to stop, I can't. I won't. But I am completely uncertain about what it has become and what people's response is to it. I think... fear... it has become like the sound of traffic, a better example, the "grown up voices" in Charlie Brown cartoons, and no one is even listening anymore. I need to evaluate that.

I am thinking about taking the blog off of my personal Facebook. If you've liked the My Walk of Faith page on Facebook, it won't affect you, but if you haven't, then you will no longer have to be inundated with my postings anymore. I'm hopng it will dull the "waah wah wah waah wah" I believe my voice has become. I guess that's my hope. If people want to be reading this blog, there are options, liking the Facebook page (link in the right column); subscribing by mail (top of the left side column) or becoming a follower through google reader (right column.)

I'm not quitting the Challenge. I think it has great value. And even though the posts are not getting a lot of response, I know the way true ministry works, and I know in God's eyes, if something impacts even one person, it matters to the Lord. So even if it is only five or so people who are actually tracking the Challenge verses, it's a worthy effort. So consider this week a week to catch up. I'm going to catch up in my little notebook and next week make a fresh start with my board in the kitchen. Whether it will mean we add a week to the Challenge or i we have a week or two with extra verses will remain to be seen, but I don't think anyone was dead set on the "end date" I have on my calendar that no one else ever sees.

So my "executive decision" for the Challenge is simply a pause, a week's break. If you are participating, and are up to date, enjoy the break, or pick out one of the earlier verses that particularly spoke to you and meditate on it. If you're behind you can work on catching up (like I plan to do) or you can enjoy the week off and make a fresh start again next week. Either way, the Challenge will continue on next week. I hope to see you here.