Sunday, February 24, 2013

Bad Things Happening To Good People.

     Before I start on this post, understand that this is a topic that goes much deeper than I am going to go and I am simply sharing an encouraging story and perspective.

     In church this morning, our pastor got up in front of the congregation with his wife and explained to the Church that they had just had a miscarriage. The baby was 10 weeks old when it passed. They had gone in for their first ultra-sound and the Doctor was not able to find the heart beat. This is a fairly common happening and has been a struggle that many couples have had to endure. However, that does not make it any less heart-breaking.
     The reason i'm sharing this story is because of something that the mother said while talking about the situation. She was talking about how God has worked through this scenario and while chocking back tears said...
"The way that God has worked through this is so mighty that it makes it all worth it."
Worth it...
     Those words shot straight through my heart. When people in the body of Christ go through challenges and tribulations is is common to hear them express their gratitude for God's goodness and faithfulness, but the words "worth it" aren't always present. This couple did not love their child any less than anybody else, but the positive impact that it had on encouraging others in the church and the stories they had received of people growing closer to God through this incident made losing their child worth it to them.
     I think that is such a beautiful answer to the question "Why do bad things happen to good people?"
Non-christians love to ask this question. If our God is so loving and so powerful, why does anything bad ever happen to those who love and follow him. This story shows us why.
     What is Grace without suffering? What is comfort without discomfort? God IS sovereign and is not bound by a limited perspective. He looks through eternal glasses and sees how everything in life plays out. Who are we to say what is "good" or "bad"? This looked like a very bad thing that happened to this lovely couple, but in that baby's 10 week lifespan, it did more to further the kingdom than many of us have done in our whole life. An un-born child was able to encourage people, spread the gospel, and even lead people to Christ. God knew what he was doing when he gave this couple a baby that would not survive. He IS good and IS faithful. And because of the knowledge of God's faithfulness, this couple was able to see this even for what it really was...A blessing. Worth it.
     This also shows a picture of what happened when Jesus died for us. An all powerful and all knowing God gave His son to die. Sacrificed His SON for us because He thinks that WE (filthy sinners) are Worth it.
    What a might God we serve!

Psalm 136:1 "Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever."

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Stronger Today Than I Was Yesterday...

     Every morning when I wake up, I ask myself a question. "Am I stronger today than I was yesterday"? The question comes from a wristband I wear that I received from a fitness trainer I really look up to. I received two of these wristbands and decided to give the second one to my dear friend Mike, who also loves to hit the gym. When we first started with this idea, I had the mindset of wanting to grow physically stronger every single day, no matter how small the margin of growth. 

     Most mornings the answer is yes. If the answer is no, I work especially hard that day to make sure that pattern doesn't continue. Mike and I decided that it would be cool to make it a spiritual challenge as well. Asking ourselves every-morning if we are "Stronger today than we were yesterday" in our walk with Christ.
     About a week into this added challenge, I noticed the wristband bringing me more conviction than motivation. Much to my surprise, the answer most mornings to my new question was "eh, not really". But that isn't what really gripped my heart. If I ever felt like I was lacking physically in anyway, I would immediately make changes to my daily routine to fix whatever the problem was. If I was fatigued, I would go to bed earlier. If my weight was down, I would push my workouts. I had no energy, I improved my diet. My passion for fitness was clearly evidenced by my actions throughout each day. I was willing to make changes to my lifestyle in order to grow stronger, even if those changes weren't necessarily fun or convenient in the short term.

     I'm sure by now that most of you can see where i'm going with this. My deepest conviction came when I realized that I was not always willing to put the same amount of work into growing spiritually. When I noticed a problem in my heart, instead of taking the necessary steps to fix it, I would make excuses or manipulate some sort of justification. If my thought life struggled, I would tell myself it is impossible to fully control my mind. When I lacked conviction, I decided the sin wasn't that serious of an offense. If I noticed my friendships bringing me down, I thought that I could still be a good influence on them even if they weren't helping me. And the only explanation I had for these excuses was a lack of sincerity in my love for Christ. To top it all off, I had just read through James and remember verses like these...

James 1:22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

James 4:17  Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.
     What a terrifying thought. If my love for Jesus was as strong as my love of self, I would be willing to do what it takes to always grow closer to him. I soon realized that my relationship with Christ was just like any other relationship in life. It isn't something that will just magically grow on it's own and always be strong and beneficial even when I don't put any work into it.
Luckily for me, James also included...

James 1:2-4 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,  knowing that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness But let steadfastness have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

     So that is my goal. To become perfect and complete, lacking nothing. I plan to grow stronger FOR Christ BY Christ, everyday. I realize now that it won't happen on it's own and I have to train my spirit just like I do my body.
"Stronger today than I was yesterday"