Archive for the ‘ Doubt ’ Category

When We Call, He Is Near

Find how close God is through His wisdom as discussed at Proverbial Thought.

This is a special reminder for all of us who are facing trials, confusion, and difficulties.

I will let God’s Word speak for itself:

“I called on your name, O Lord,
    from the depths of the pit;
you heard my plea, ‘Do not close
    your ear to my cry for help!’
You came near when I called on you;
    you said, ‘Do not fear!’

“You have taken up my cause, O Lord;
    you have redeemed my life.”
Lamentations 3:55-58, ESV

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”
. . .
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
John 14:18-21, 27

Some Final Thoughts About Momma Klem

My mom said to get the Wisdom of God, so start with some of the thoughts found at Proverbial Thought!

Last week, Jesus gave my mom a great big hug and took her Home, one day after her 53rd birthday. The amazing thing is how much joy and love for God was experienced and expressed throughout her final days.

It is hard to stay upset when someone on her way out stresses the importance of our Lord being glorified in the middle of everything.

It was my honor this past Saturday to share about my mom at her Celebration of Life service. I am sharing it with you … plus the last bit I knew I would not be able to say in that moment!

I remember telling my parents when I was a child that I wanted to be just like them when I grew up … only better.

When I first became a Christian, my mom was afraid I had joined a cult, but she could not deny the change in my life.

James 4:6 says, “But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’” My mom’s response was “Well, I guess I’ll never get grace!”

However, she had a lot of questions, and within a year of my coming to Christ, my parents did to. But mom just asked more questions. As [Pastors] Todd and Scott  can attest, she always had questions. Sometimes there were full arguments over Scripture and Christian life. She would often come to me, call me, or message me in some fashion asking if she was sinning for doubting and questioning so many things that came her way.

First, I would remind her that many people doubted, including the Apostle Thomas, and He is a pillar of the Church! And I would always respond with 1 Thessalonians 5:21, “Test everything; hold onto the good.”

Back to James 4, in verses 7-8, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

As a new Christian, I often wondered why more people would not help out as much as I did as a new believer. When my parents finally started following Jesus, there was no stopping them! Ask anyone: they dived in head first, helping out everywhere they could.

But my mom had compassion and love for others. She had raised me to not judge anyone, not for any reason, no matter what they looked like, no matter what they acted like. She certainly lived out 1 Samuel 16:7, which says “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Many of you here know how true this is. How many co-workers, youth, and others did she reach with her love and compassion? She very easily lived out 1 Corinthians 9:22, I will just read it: “To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.” She struggled through her doubts so that with compassion and love she could help others struggle through their doubts that others might be saved.

She learned to live out James 4:9, to “[become] wretched and mourn and weep. [And to] Let [her] laughter be turned to mourning and [her] joy to gloom” so that others would come to know the same Savior she knows.

And as verse 10 says, she learned to “Humble [herself] before the Lord, and [she is exalted].” I think needing to be moved to a larger hospital room to fit all of the guests, and the people sitting here and lining the halls attests to, she has been exalted. And for all of us who know Jesus, we will one Glorious Day see her again.

[What I would have said, but had written down]

My parents have been through many fires and trials in life, and they have grown to live Jude, verses 20-23, “But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.

My parents have made it very difficult to do life better than them. I just look forward to that Glorious Day when we all get to reunite with our Lord and remember all of our stories together.

Weekend Words & Sunday Stanzas – 06/22/2014

Give your weary mind some refreshing wisdom from Proverbial Thought!

Perhaps you are struggling through something.

Maybe you have lost a loved one.

Maybe you have suffered through addiction.

Maybe you have suffered through prolonged illness.

Maybe you have received the news of disease or illness.

Maybe you deal with bullying.

Maybe you come out of abuse.

Maybe you live with depression, fear, or hatred.

As trite and cliché as it may sound, Jesus is the truest answer and ultimate Healer for all that burdens our weary souls.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30, ESV

Healing may not come immediately. Physical healing may never come in this life. But trust in the life, death, and resurrection of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, and you will find hope and peace. It may not come fully until the next life, but His resurrection proves His promises are true. We may suffer now, but we have the promise of eternal rest and peace.

 

as dawn breaks

on the weary soul

as dawn breaks on the weary soul

awakening the stillness of God

what the weary traveler has sown

will be reaped in the precious blood

as new light pours over this one

and eyes are opened for the first time

those eyes see the image of the Son

and see through the power of that Christ

as dawn illuminates this person

becoming more aware of deep filth

this weary one comes undone

and gives in to the Higher Will

as dawn breaks on the weary soul

and this weary one awakens to love

and realizes it is okay to let go

it is finally known that God is more than enough

The Core Facts: Despairing Disciples

Here is another friendly reminder to go read the wise words written by the men at Proverbial Thought!

Also, the youth pastor with whom I work speaks on all of this. Find Jesse Bollinger at Fervent Youth.

Last week I began the study of the Core Facts, starting with Jesus’ death on the cross. And I remind you that these posts are not meant to be exhaustive arguments on these topics. I currently do not have the time for that! Rather, these are a brief synopsis of the main points.

This week I continue with the second of The Four Core Facts:

The Despair of the Disciples

There are two main reasons why the Disciples being desperate is true:

  1. the Jews (of which all of the initial Disciples were) were expecting a Messiah to overthrow the pagan government; and
  2. it was shameful to record faults of heroes of the story.

On point number one, as was discussed last week, the Jews were expecting Israel to be freed from oppressive rule by a great King.

One example of the Disciples’ fervor for a conquering King is demonstrated while travelling through Samaria on the way to Jerusalem for the last time:

As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?”

Luke 9: 51-54

One example that they did not expect their Messiah to die comes immediately after Peter’s confession that Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah:

From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”

Matthew 16:21-22

Imagine being in their shoes … er … sandals. They are expecting the heir of King David to come to the rescue, restore Israel, and lead them as King …

… not die.

If you saw your unstoppable leader killed, would you not be emotionally destroyed?

If you saw your Lord being taken away by soldiers, put on trial, flogged (beaten, whipped, and tortured), and crucified, do you think you would run in and try to save the day or run and hide?

This leads to point number two: The Gospels recorded the Disciples running away!

Throughout history, those who have written history have generally put themselves in the best possible light. The epics written of old showed individuals and armies alike running into danger to rescue a friend, a leader, or an army. Individuals confronted hundreds or thousands of soldiers to save the day. Mere mortals braved the pain and torment of the Underworld to save a loved one.

The first leaders of the Church fled and hid. Then they told everyone about it!

At the time of the trial and crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth, they forgot He ever said that He must be killed and raised back to life. Peter even denied his best friend of the previous three years!

Some might argue that this kind of thing happens all the time, but I urge you to look into the current world of politics. Rarely do we see a politician taking the rap for a mistake, let alone deserting friends. If they do own up to it, usually it is to cast it in a good light.

The Disciples knew what they did was sad and wrong. They owned up to it.

Even today that shows someone who is honest and therefore trustworthy.

These were heartbroken men, literally scared for their lives, who believed their Lord and Messiah died. They had enough reason to suspect that they could also be arrested and even crucified for inciting a rebellion.

Perhaps they even thought they were wrong all along about who Jesus is.

Talk about an existential crisis.

Fortunately for them, within three days they were redeemed (on so many levels).

It changed their lives.

But that is for next week when I cover Core Fact #3: The Change in the Disciples’ Willingness to Die

Are there any thoughts on this?

Responses to Christmas: God’s Parents

It is time for a special series … THIS WEEK ONLY!

Yeah, I kind of gave into some of the materialistic hype. This special is only available the week leading up to this Christmas.

I have a seen a few similar series going around, but mine is better because … uhhh … I am doing it this week? This series is about how people responded to the birth of Jesus.

God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.
Luke 1:26-38

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This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,because he will save his people from their sins.”

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us.”

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
Matthew 1:18-25

God clearly chose these two to raise the boy Jesus for a reason. Other than being descendents of David, they also were kinda righteous, as humans go.

Take Mary:

  1. She was presented with something impossible: pregnancy without … the fun part. Her reaction to hearing this: “Help me understand how this is possible!”
  2. With a response that would make most humans say “Yeah, okay. Whatever that means!” she replies “I do not really get it, but I will follow You and see what amazing things you can do!”

Now Joseph:

  1. His first response to the unknown was to protect the girl he loved yet bow out gracefully. He wanted to protect himself (not bad) and the girl who apparently had been unfaithful, someone who apparently had sinned rather egregiously. He was a pretty cool dude, man!
  2. He has a dream telling him that the baby will be God and save people from their sins, therefore he should still marry Mary. Based on that dream, he complies. This is really all we know about Joseph (other than he and Mary forgot Jesus at the age of 12, and he also looked for Him). Personally, I see there is more than enough information here to understand his character: awesome!

What can we learn from these two?

  1. It is okay to have doubts, provided you are willing to listen to God (or His messengers).
  2. It is okay to question God, provided you are honestly seeking answers and not trying to justify yourself or simply asking rhetorically from disbelief.
  3. Sometimes, perhaps many or most times, we will not fully understand (if at all) what God is doing, but that is okay provided we continue to follow His leading.
  4. Enduring something inconvenient can lead to amazing blessings!

What about you? When you have doubts do you listen for God’s leading? Do you ask God any of the who, what, when, where, why, or how questions expecting a reply and being open to the answer? Are you willing to move forward in your confusion and lack of understanding? Do you trust God? If you do, amazing blessings await. To be fair, the blessings may not appear until eternity, but a lifetime of worries and pain is worth an eternity of peace and joy. (Think of a road trip someplace, like Disneyland or to family you have not seen in a while. It may be uncomfortable getting there, but the joy and experience of getting there almost help you forget it or even make it worth it.)

Belief in Unbelief

I have discussed before about how doubt is okay in certain circumstances. I was recently reminded of this topic while listening to one of my favorite songs (Jason Gray, For the First Time Again, and today I refer to the verse mentioned in the song and will get back to this later!), and it also reminded me of a conversation I had with me own mum a few years ago.

The verse I refer to is Mark 9:24: “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

The man who said this to Jesus believed that Jesus could help, but he struggled with doubt. He just handled it in the correct manner. He asked God.

What if our doubt has to do with whether or not God is involved?

The Bible deals with this.

John, in 1 John 4:1, says “Dear Friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

Did you know we are not supposed to have a blind faith? Many in the Western Church have been raised to “just believe and not ask questions.” This verse seems to declare otherwise. (Another is 1 Thessalonians 5:21)

Some people send out and/or forward e-mails that sound very inspirational or seem to raise awareness of some injustice or cause. This is the very reason Snopes.com (atheistic, as far as I know, but still quite trustworthy if you are concerned) was founded, to discover which stories are true and false. (Something I found ironic, my mom raised me to study things, and when I e-mailed her a link to something cool she asked forgiveness for not trusting me and checking Snopes! I had already checked it myself! This is the conversation I mentioned above) It is more than okay to look into these e-mails and reports.

As we get into the presidential election, we are going to be hearing many things from the candidates and their supporters both for and against each candidate. We have seen some of these stretch the truth pretty far in the past. We should check everything we hear about a candidate before choosing what to believe about them. It is just smart and an all-around good idea. If you believe we can trust everything every politician says, you need a little more help than I can offer!

Every time we meet for church or to study the Bible or for a fellowship event (concert, Promise Keepers, Women of Faith, leadership/missionary conferences, etcetera) we should approach each teaching with sound reason and a healthy dose of skepticism. I am not saying we doubt everything that is said, nor I am saying we should discount our knowledge of what each speaker has said before. For example, if you have attended the same church with the same pastor for years with solid teaching, you should be able to trust what the pastor says this Sunday, too. However, as many of my pastor friends have said over the years, we should follow along in our Bibles with every teaching to make sure there is no mistake! This is not questioning everything that is said, rather it is confirming truth or revealing mis-truthes and mistakes.

Similarly, whenever a new teacher comes along, a new theologian theologizes, or science proclaims new evidence of something, we should test the statements and information for validity and trustworthiness both with Scripture and logic. I am sorry if your feelings are hurt, but outside of Christianity all religions do not pass most tests. Even some spheres of Christianity (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints [Mormons], Jehovah’s Witnesses, Westboro Baptist Church, some separate congregations within mainline churches, and many others) leave Scripture and logic behind. We must be careful.

This is why doubt is a good thing. This is why we can believe in God and His Church but show signs of disbelief. My mom sometimes regrets feeling like “a Doubting Thomas,” but when we are receiving teachings from a fallen world and those who may be false prophets (which can come from other religions and secular society) it can be wise to not believe everything.

If we continually seek our Lord, it becomes easier to know when it is Him speaking and when it is not. I teach the young men I mentor (and anyone else who listens) to test everything I say. They are not to accept everything I say as truth but make their faith their own. We do not always agree on every little thing, and that is okay. It is not okay when our unbelief gets in the way of our belief in God and our ability to love Him and other people.

Have some doubt, but as I said in the posts I referenced at the beginning of this one, make sure your doubt pushes you toward God and not away.

Scared Running

I jumped

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:1-2

God can scare me. I have admitted it.

Verse one up above I have greatly enjoyed for years. Verse two has been offered to me several times as a consolation of my fears in doing many things. “If Jesus can confront death on the cross, you can do surely do this!”

Quite frankly, that has rarely helped. One thing that has crept into my thoughts many times is “Yeah, but He was and is God!” It almost feels unfair to be compared to Jesus sometimes!

What has been of comfort to me is, instead, the entire preceding chapter.

Chapter 11 has frequently been called “The Faith Hall of Fame” for the list of very human (read “flawed and sinful like me … I mean, like I”) people in history who were persecuted for and/or overcame fear/obstacles by their faith in God.

They are the examples of those who do not “shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved” (Hebrews 10:39, even though I know this introduction to the next chapter is referring to believers!).

I used to be terrified of heights. This meant that, even though I desperately wanted to for the sheer excitement, I was afraid to jump off of perfectly good cliff into some perfectly cold water (see the picture above). Based on that picture you should be able to tell by my body not being on any firm surface that I have indeed jumped off of at least one cliff.

There are two things that “made me do it.”

  1. I saw other people – some people I would say I trust – jump off first … and not die.
  2. After they jumped, I jumped.

The thing about number one is that I saw the empirical evidence to help convince me it was not necessarily deadly. The thing about number two is that I knew I could never know if what my eyes saw was true unless I experienced it.

Application?

I have read about these “Heroes of Faith” who demonstrated their belief and trust in God. Millions, perhaps even billions of people have believed that these people truly demonstrated their faith. God blessed them in some way and they are seen as righteous.

How else do I show people I trust God if I do not follow their example? If all I say is I want to jump off of the cliff, all I want to do is live a life honoring God, where is the proof?

I might be scared, but if I say I believe “God is for us” and “nothing is impossible with God” then I must demonstrate it or be a liar and a hypocrite.

Ouch.

I still sometimes fail, but He is greater than my fear. Hokey? Maybe, but whenever I follow His call, He proves it. When I fail, I prove how much I deserve His grace!

Do you ever get scared to the point you cannot move forward? Do you worry? Do you fail?

At least I am not alone, but remember: He strengthens us with His Holy Spirit and with each other.

Lean on me. Or some other person with the faith you feel you lack.