Tag Archives: Devotionals

A Thought on Faith, My Own

     I’m going to do something I don’t  normally do which is wing-it, meaning that  I didn’t preplan what this post was going to be about.  It’s kind of scary for me because I’m a deliberate sort of person.  I tend to be very intentional about what I do, thinking things through, and trying to see the big picture, and what the possible consequences are of what I do.  I do this because I dislike hurting people.  If you knew anything about my past life you’d know how odd it seems to me as I write this because there was a time when caring about how other people felt, or being intentional in the way I did things wasn’t what I was about.  I guess that’s the advantage of having lived almost fifty years.  You can look back and actually see how you’ve changed.
     Sometimes, I think I have a very good view of myself, that I know who I am, and what I am, and that I’m very comfortable in my own skin.  Usually those are the times when I’m deceiving myself, and not wanting to acknowledge that I’m nowhere close to being the person I like to think that I am.  In truth, I think most people live with the illusion that they’re in control of their own lives, that they know who they are, when in reality they’re not sure of themselves or anything else.  I believe that most people, I being one, tend to be two people.  the one they are and the one they’d like to be and we tend to go back and forth between the two.
     I’d love to tell you that after having lived 49 years that I’ve got it all figured out, but it seems the longer I live the more I realize that I have way more questions than I have answers to.  I’ve often thought it’s not the answers we come up with that show who we are in our hearts, but rather the questions we ask.  For example, why do I worry about things when I know after having lived so long that things will work out?  Why do I worry about whether I’m going to have money when I need it when I always have what I need when I need it?  Why, why, why, it’s always those kinds of questions that nag at me; that make me stay awake long into the early morning hours rather than sleeping.
     In a recent post, I wrote am I a man of truth, a man of love, and I wrote I’m as much of those things as I’m able to know and comprehend them.  I could have asked another question, and a more important one.  Am I a man of faith?  As I sit here pondering this, I’m inclined to say yes.  I want to say yes; I need to say yes; I have to say yes.  Perhaps that doesn’t make sense to you, and if it doesn’t I’m not sure that I can explain it to you.  Maybe a better question would be am I man of great faith?  The best answer I can give you is sometimes I am; other times I’m not.  There are days when my faith is strong, so strong that nothing can deter, sway or move me, and then there are the days when I can’t seem to find a positive response to anything.
     Chronic pain can wear on you.  It’s a fact.  There are times when I’ve just wanted to lie down and die, when I’ve even thought about killing myself.  Sometimes I get so tired, so cranky, that I just want to hide from the world, and even my own family, and not let them see me.  I get discouraged, depressed, angry, all those emotions that I’m not supposed to have, that in the admitting of them I show my hypocrisy, and lack of faith.  It’s bad enough to live with physical pain, but add to that the guilt, and there are two kinds of that, the kind I lay on myself for not being strong, courageous, immovable, for not living and showing the kind of faith I think I should and want to have.  Then the guilt laid on me by others who sneer at me when I mention the word (faith), and throw scripture at me as if it’s a magic pill that will remove all doubt.
     Those of you who have been reading me awhile know that I’m a christian, and perhaps I’ve just given witness to those who think that all christians are hypocrites the right to say “See.  I told you.”  If I’ve given you that then I’m sorry.  I’m a christian.  Whether strong or weak I know that I am.  I know that God exists, that He loves me, that His son Jesus died for me, and that I am His.  I won’t deny that there are many hypocrites in, and out of, christianity, but for many, including me, the hypocrisy lies not in whom I believe in and put what faith I have, what trust I’m able to muster, in Him, but in thinking and, allowing others to think, that I’m able to do anything through my own efforts and strength. 
     Only God knows how much I want to have faith, how much I want to be all that He wants me to be, how sorry I am for failing Him and not upholding Him, and standing firm in my commitment to Him.  Only He can judge my faith, not me, not you, for only He can do so with perfect judgement, and He will judge my faith accurately, and I know He will because He gave it to me.


A Thought on Clarification and God

     As you’ve noticed here lately, I’ve taken to publishing some devotionals from some of the great men of God from the past.  The reason I’ve done this is because so much of what I see and hear today from christians and from the pulpits is a message contrary to who God is and what He expects from His children.  We live in a country that has taken to speaking lies and believing lies with little evaluation, with little thought, with little desire to prayerfully and diligently seek truth above all else.  None of us, including ME, has the corner market on truth or has a perfect understanding of it, and thus is in no position to state anything unequivocally as being 100% true.  I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve stated something as true, and been surprised and even shocked when other people didn’t agree with me.  Since then I’ve learned that it’s the height of arrogance for any human being, ME, to say anything in such a way that precludes my being wrong in any way, shape, or form.  I am incapable of living or presenting truth without error.   If I could do that then I would be sitting at the right hand of God intercessing and advocating for you instead of sitting here in front of my computer typing these words.
     Am I a man of truth?  Am I a man of love?  As much as my heart and limited understanding can comprehend of what it is to be truthful and loving I am.  My ability to know, to understand, to live my life with truth and love expands daily, and sometimes minute by minute.  After 49 years of living on this earth, I can tell you that with all I’ve learned about truth and love I have no doubt that I’ve barely scratched the surface of either of those subjects.  There is a depth to love, to truth, that no human being born of sinful flesh will ever be able to fully comprehend while on this earth.  To fully know their depth would be to know God in all of His glory and Holiness, and as created beings whether on this earth, or in Heaven, I don’t believe that we shall ever know all there is to know of Him.  
     There are many things about God that I don’t understand.  There are complexities, mysteries, things that are hard to reconcile, and even things that seem contradictory, but my lack of understanding in no way impinges upon my faith or belief in God, or in the fact that His son, Jesus, died for me.  To deny, mistrust, doubt and excuse ourselves and our behavior in light of who God is, and His expectations simply because we don’t have full understanding of Him reveals our sinfulness in all of its’ conceit and ignorance.
     Of late, questions about God’s sovereignty, and the ways and means by which he accomplishes His will both in the world, and in our lives have come before me.  I’ve been asked heart-rending questions that are extremely difficult to answer, and sadly can’t be answered definitively; at least not by me.  I will address these issues in relation to my own life and the limited understanding which I possess in the hope that any misunderstandings can be cleared up.
     Some of you know from reading past posts that I haven’t always lived what I refer to as a clean life though I know that no life is clean.  At different points in my life I’ve been the victim of abuse, and an abuser of drugs and alcohol.  I’ve been a thief, a liar, a drunk.  I’ve been divorced twice, and married three times.  I’m crippled and live with chronic pain.  I don’t say this with any sense of pride, or as in look at me.  The only reason I mention these things is in order to understand what I’m going to say you have to know where I came from and who I was.
     As a child, my mother used to beat me with anything she could lay a hand on; she burned me with cigarettes, she cussed me, she told me that if she knew what I was going to be like she would have had an abortion.  Horrible things. How do you reconcile going through that with a loving God, with a God who is sovereign?  How could a loving God allow me to suffer, to experience shame and degradation, humiliation, to live in fear, and to carry so much anger and hate that I wanted to kill?  How could He see me going through those things and do nothing?  Why didn’t He stop the bullying I experienced at school?  Those are hard questions.  What do you say to someone who has gone through horrific circumstances or is going through them? 
     Did God cause my mother to beat me?  Does He cause evil?  No.  Absolutely not!  Did He give His consent? No.  Did He allow it?  Yes.  Words are so imperfect, so flimsy, when it comes to accurately depicting or describing feelings and thoughts, and when it comes to God and the things of God words are inordinately clumsy.  Allowing doesn’t mean consenting to, agreeing with, or promoting because.  Permitting doesn’t mean condoning.  The fact that God allows evil, that He permits it’s existence in no way means that He condones or gives His consent of it.  When I look back on my childhood, though I couldn’t see it then, I see now that He was with me all along.  I know He cried tears as I shed them, that His heart was breaking even as mine was, that He burned with anger even as I did.  Nor was He inactive during that time.  He was there in my pastor who cried with me, and prayed with me.  He was there in my grandmother who showered love on me, in my neighbors, in my school teachers, in so many people, in so many places.  It wasn’t that He wasn’t there. I just couldn’t see Him because someone else had turned out the light.
     Something that concerns me is the prevalence of false teaching in our society, especially from the pulpits of so many churches, and even from those who, as well-meaning as they are, promote falsehood by only adhering to one side of a two-sided coin.  To speak of God as love, without speaking of His holiness, His justice, His righteous anger toward sin is to pervert the truth of God.  God is love.  This is absolutely true.  Yet, He is also Holy, Just, and Perfect  To teach that God is love without teaching that He is Holy, that He hates evil, and that sin will be punished is to promote falsehood and gives people a false sense of security.  Our churches and our christian witness lost its influence when we quit using the words Jesus Christ, sin, redemption, the cross, the blood, forgiveness, sanctification, justification, righteousness, and holiness, and started using pop-psychology, and feel-good theology in their place.
     There have been instances when through a poor choice of words I have hurt and offended people.  For those who have been hurt or felt pain through something I’ve said or written, I’m deeply sorry.  It grieves me to think that I’ve caused anyone pain, and I ask that you please forgive me.  Please remember that sometimes we read things into other people’s writing that aren’t there simply because we view everything through the lens of our own education, life experience, and knowledge of God through His word. 
     At no time, that I can remember, have I ever stated or implied in one of my posts that I felt someone was being deceived.   To say that someone is being deceived is a judgment best left to God and to Him alone.  I find myself being guilty of something I told myself I wouldn’t do, and hadn’t done until recently, which is to quote scripture in order to prove a point.  It’s not that I don’t believe that the Bible is the infallible word of God because I do, but any and most scriptures can be used in such a way as to validate an opinion, and to make the word of God say anything we want it to say.  To quote a scripture is one thing, but to tell someone this is what it means when proving a point is to place myself in the position of the Holy Spirit.  I am deeply ashamed of myself for doing this, and won’t do so again.
     There is much that I don’t understand, and I’ve made many mistakes, but I believe that the Bible is the revelation of God’s love for man, ME, through the life of His Son, Jesus Christ.  I believe we’re to love God, to love each other, and to promote that love to others through our expression of the love He gave us.  I think it’s out-of-place and detrimental to the cause of Christ to debate, argue, and expound differences of opinion and draw focus to what separates christians rather than on what draws us together.
      Please, let’s remember that love encourages and builds people up.  It doesn’t tear people down, or makes others doubt themselves.  If we’re concerned about others let us pray for them, let us ask the Holy Spirit to guide them, let us come along side of them in love.  It’s God’s job to change the hearts of people.  It’s our job to just love the hearts they have.