I invite you to join discussions, it enhances the reading experience for everyone. Please share your thoughts, opinions and knowledge in a respectful manner. May we all learn something in our endeavor to educate our hearts and minds. I look forward to hearing from you!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Building a Framework of Hope: Part 1

You’re saved.

You have your foundation.

But how do you build upon it?

Is going to church enough?

How often do you really “need” to read your Bible?

What does “pray without ceasing” actually mean?

These are questions some ask themselves without finding the answers. They are also questions many of Christian's SHOULD ask, but don’t.

Generally speaking, here are a few categories of Christian's fall into:

Some are satisfied with “being saved”. You know, getting out of hell, and spend little time evaluating the need to draw closer to God or maturing in their faith.

Others are content with going to church and may even open their Bibles on occasion. Additionally, they take time to pray when it’s “needed” but they don’t go deeper. This group might be classified as “Lukewarm”.

Then there are those who are driven to “do more”. They’re focused on the Quantity of time spent with God. They read their Bible, attend almost all church services, take prayer seriously, volunteer on a regular basis and are considered “devote Christians”.  But they never feel as if it’s “enough”.  These are the ones who struggle with “grace verses works”. 

Next there are those who seem to really get it. Their faith is real. They rest in the saving power of God’s grace and don’t appear to question their faith or purpose. We think they are above us. Their faith can seem unattainable to the average person.

Finally, many float in and out of these categories (and yes, I know I’m being overly broad. Forgive me for being brief.)

So back to the original question:

How do you build upon your faith? And what are you supposed to build?

I want to help you build a Framework of Hope upon your foundation. That way when trials come, you can stand. Because hard times WILL come. It’s not a matter of “if”, but “When”. 

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ… but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame…” Romans 5:1-5 (emphasis mine)

Notice you don’t get HOPE until after you go through the process of pain.

Suffering makes us stronger, just like exercise. 

When I first started Taekwondo I could only do 5 “real” pushups, 8 months later I’m able to do 50 “real” pushups without stopping.

Getting to this point took pain. 

My muscles ached. They protested as I pushed beyond my limit. 

But I kept going. I persevered. And I will keep persevering until I reach my goal of 100.

This process is developing my character as I realize I’m stronger than I thought. 

And with each new goal I meet, my hope increases... as does my confidence.

I know I can do it. I won’t be put to shame because I am going through the process. 

I can’t jump ahead in my physical capabilities. And I can’t jump ahead in my spiritual ones either.

To get HOPE, I must do the work.

So how is this accomplished as it relates to building upon our Foundation in Christ?

First, you must evaluate where you are right now in your walk with God.

Not where you were five years ago. 

Not even where you were yesterday.

Where are you right now?

To go forward, you must be honest with yourself.

When I started working out I had to be honest. I was “skinny”, but out of shape. 

It was hard seeing people who LOOKED less in shape be able to do more. 

But I had to start with where I was. Not where I wanted to be or even where I looked like I belonged.

You must do the same with where you are in your walk with Christ.

If you’re having trouble, ask God to help you be honest with yourself. 

Until next time, I challenge you to get honest with yourself. Evaluate your heart. Check your motives. Figure out what drives you and what has meaning in your life. Find out what you’re building your life around. Ask yourself what would completely devastate you if it was taken away.

“"Ask and it will be given to you;
seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you.”

“Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
 See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Monday, August 1, 2016

Crisis is Relative

“Please keep my Grandma in your prayers.”

I glanced at him as we walked toward the Liberal Arts building where we would go our separate ways. “Of course.  Pray for my cat too. I don’t want to put him down, but I think I have to.”

His brow wrinkled.   “My Grandma is dying and you want me to pray for your cat?”

Before I could reply, he stomped off to his last class of the day.   

I swallowed the lump in my throat.  Yes, I want you to pray for my cat.   I love him.

Later that evening he called.  “I’m sorry for earlier.   I shouldn’t have said that.   Your cat is important to you, just like my Grandma is important to me.    I will be praying."

“Thanks, but you don’t need to apologize.   My problem isn’t as big as yours.”  

“Crisis is relative.   We both are hurting and need prayers. I was wrong to disregard your pain and your request.  Of course I will pray for your cat.”

“You’ve taken too many psych classes. You sound like your professors.” I joked.

He laughed, “My professors have never offered to pray for me…but you’re my sister-in-Christ, so I’ll pray for your cat…are we good?” 

“Yeah, we’re good.”


YEARS later that conversation plays through my head as I listen to my friend rant about the injustice she’s facing.

I want to yell at her, “my grandma is dying and you want me to pray for your cat!”

But I don’t. 

Crisis is relative.

My world may feel like it’s crashing in and I don't have time for anyone else, but my sister-in-Christ needs prayers. She needs support. 

She does NOT need me to tell her to suck it up. 

She does not need me to tell her I am facing real problems and hers are minuscule. 

As Christians we are called to bear each others burdens (Gal 6:2).

I may not think she is facing a crisis, but she genuinely does. Therefore, I will take time to listen to her.  I will pray for her.  I will point her to Scripture that will encourage her.  I will love her as I am loved by God--completely and generously.   

I hope the next time you want to scream at someone, “my grandma is dying and you want me to pray for your cat” you can remember “crisis is relative”.

Be there for someone and try to hold back the judgments.  Who knows, next time it could be you needing support for a “relative crisis”.