All posts tagged: trials

How Can You Trust When Trust Seems Impossible?

Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. – 1 Corinthians 13:7 As a dad, I have to teach my kids how to trust others, how to assume the best and believe all things. But to be entirely transparent, there are times I question how much I should trust someone else, especially someone I have just met and don’t really know. This was the reality that I had to grapple with when my first born arrived in this world. To say she was born early and a little unexpected would be an understatement. Ten weeks prior to my wife’s due date, we found ourselves in the hospital, with a doctor we had just met looking us in the eyes and saying, “So, we are going to be delivering your little one today.” Those were not the words I had hoped to hear. As they wheeled my wife off to prepare for surgery, I watched her till she was out of sight and could not wait to get back …

Will You Wither or Glory Under the Heat?

These are some entries written in one man’s “journal.” They may sound like yours. I’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles… I’m not sure what to do… I’ve been spiritually terrorized… I’ve been thrown down… Even if you don’t write in a journal you’ve probably said similar things to yourself. Maybe even out loud. We’ve all felt the heat of circumstances beyond our control. Some of us wither under the heat. Some of us react in hurtful ways—towards others, towards ourselves, towards God. And some of us come through it glorify the Lord Jesus Christ. What makes the difference? The Apostle Paul wrote those “journal entries” above. You can find them in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (The Message). But he, in today’s jargon, did not put a period where God had put a comma. If you look in your Bible you will see that each of the above entries (even if worded differently) is followed by a comma. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not …

Suffering Alone And For What?

-written by Kristen Ebensberger Have you ever felt like you were the only one who is suffering? When you are knee-deep in the muck, you may think it’s only going on in your world. We can get caught up in self-pity. We start thinking “if only…” and it’s usually followed with a thought of how someone else should have acted differently. I can promise, you are not alone. Scripture tells us our trials, or “heat,” has a purpose and it’s our job to figure out how God wants to use it for our good. Our trials reveal what is at the heart level. Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. – James 1:2-4 Have you ever wondered why your children won’t listen to you the most when you’re out in …

The Good Shepherd In Your Darkest Hours

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields near by, guarding their flocks of sheep. – Luke 2:8 I’ve been thinking about these shepherds lately and finding myself identifying with them. I picture them awake and alert, in the dark of night, guarding. Why are they awake and doing this when the rest of the world sleeps? Because they understood what lurked in the dark. They understood predators exist and danger is much closer then the sheep realize. Make no mistake, the reality of what the shepherd was is much different than what is portrayed in stained glass. They were rough, vigilant, capable of violence, and realists. To them, Christmas Eve was just another dark night.   I worked night shift as a police officer for a little over nine years straight, 6:00 PM – 6:00 AM.  The night shift has a way of sharpening you, for a variety of reasons. But there is also something about that “late” night hour; the period of time way after midnight and well before dawn.  It seems to …

Meditating on the Goodness of God

Over the past few years, I have been greatly influenced and impacted by corporate worship through song. Whether it be with my church body, other believers at a conference, in the car by myself, or in the living room with my wife, I have come to love singing songs to the Lord. Psalm 96:1-2 says, “Sing a new song to the Lord! Let the whole earth sing to the Lord! Sing to the Lord; praise his name. Each day proclaim the good news that he saves.” This Sunday, November 5, we’re singing a new song! We’ll also be singing a song that has become one of my favorites— King of My Heart. Through this song, we meditate on the goodness of our God. We meditate on the fact that God is our provider and sustainer— we are utterly dependent upon Him. I particularly like the bridge of this song, which repeats, “You’re never gonna let, never gonna let me down.” These are such sweet words to meditate on if we truly understand them. These words are like honey to our …

The Fence of Grace In Life

Wes Seeliger writes in One Inch from the Fence about an old alligator at the Houston Zoo. He nicknamed it “Scarface” because a fellow reptile had chewed a hunk out of his snout. The wound was covered with a grotesque mass of scar tissue that made this 18-foot long gator one of the ugliest most vicious-looking creatures he had ever seen. He tells about the day he and his son fed marshmallows to Scarface. Wire mesh was the only thing that separated them from jaws that could snap a horse’s leg like a twig. And the whole time his hand was just one inch from becoming Seeliger-burger! But there was a fence! And that made all the difference in the world. I love the title of our series on the book of James: the Gospel on the ground. And that’s where life is lived—on the ground; terra firma. But the terra is not always firma! Several times a week, if not every day, we feel the tremors of this adventure called life. Frustration with the kids’ schedules. …

Question and Grow in the Face of Troubles

Three hurricanes. An earthquake. A collapsed elementary school where 20 children were lost. Hundreds killed, thousands left homeless. Why God? It seems the past several weeks have been filled with nothing but tragedy after tragedy. And, the one question I keep hearing asked and keep seeing posted in social media is, “If God exists then how could He allow these things to happen?” To the unbeliever, I think this is the most difficult question to answer. I often respond with that we cannot try to understand and explain the infinite with a mind that is finite. We cannot attempt to understand the ways of God because His ways are not like our ways. But for the believer, as Jesus and James remind us in their letters, to choose a life of belief is not to choose a life free of pain. The Psalmist says, “The righteous person faces many troubles…” But, it also says, “but the Lord comes to the rescue each time” (Psalms 34:19). Times that bring great pain and seem to defy explanation test our faith. When …

Bugs, Worms and Your Daily Bread

written by Jean Daniel Just outside my screened-in porch, I have a small birdhouse. A pair of chickadees chose it as their nursery for the spring and began building a nest. After they carried straw for a few days, Momma Chickadee answered the call of nature and laid her eggs. She patiently sat until the time was right for her babies to hatch. I enjoyed watching all of this from my swing on the porch. Although I could not see into the birdhouse, I could tell when the babies arrived because Momma and Daddy Chickadee began the never-ending task of feeding those mouths just begging for a bug or juicy worm. But when I sat on the porch swing, the parents would not come feed the babies. I was a hindrance to the feeding process. If I moved farther away from their sight, the feeding would continue. The babies were hungry but I became an obstacle to their being satisfied. Give us this day, our daily bread. – Mathew 6:11, KJV We are the children of God …

Do You Have the Hope to Endure the Heat?

Often times when I preach, I come right out of the gates with the strong points. We don’t get a lot of time, so sometimes you just got to get to the point. This is definitely James approach in his book in the New Testament. Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. James 1:2-4 In the first century, a silversmith would take raw silver and purify it by applying heat, turning the silver into a liquid.  The impurities would separate from the silver and rise to the top. Using a spoon, the silversmith would remove the impurities, or dross, from the top layer of the silver. A good silversmith would repeat this process many times over. When the silversmith could see his full reflection in the silver, he knew that …

God Will Supply Your Needs When You Need Them

As I survey the Scriptures, one common theme is that God provides for His people. God provided Adam with a wife. God provided Sarah with a child. God provided manna in the wilderness. God provided an escape for Moses and the Israelites through the Red Sea. God provided us with His Spirit. The list really is endless. However, one of my favorite ways is found in the story of Abraham. In Genesis 22, God asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. On their way to the altar, Isaac notices something strange. One of the elements of the sacrifice is missing- the lamb. “We have the fire and the wood,” the boy said, “but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?” (Genesis 22:7). As Shannon has been talking about radical obedience, I can’t help but be challenged by Abraham’s faith here. Abraham thinks he is about to kill his only son- at the request of God. Don’t just read over that request like it’s easy. Put yourself in the shoes of Abraham. God asked Abraham …