Failure or Success?

An interesting question to consider: If the failure of dreams or goals we long for or work so hard toward is used by God to show us more of Him (and ourselves) is it His will to choose failure or success for us? On the one hand, God is more interested in our sanctification than our comfort. Though we avoid pain, it can be the most effective tool God uses to shape us. Drawing us ever closer to Him in obedience is His goal. On the other, God is gracious, full of lovingkindness, and nothing is impossible for Him.

Perhaps He brings a measure of both? What is true success as we walk with Christ? What is failure? Does God care about the details of our lives in vocation? These are questions unique to each of us.

As we set our minds on the preeminence of God in Christ, He is the source of our joy and meaning. Is this priority really enough for us in our successes or failures? Each circumstance can cloud our view if we do not keep our eyes on Jesus.

I said to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have…

"God Light", our Superficial View of God

People in our day have a trivial view of God. If relevant at all, we mold a God in our own image. He is a bearded grandfather smiling in the sky and overlooking our peccadilloes. Our God is much like Santa Claus, giving what we ask when called for and needed. A vague, superficial notion of love is seen in this, a "love light” from a remote, disinterested deity with which we possess no wish to devote our lives. With awe of God reduced, our esteeming of ourselves as independent and self-sufficient captains of our own ship elevates.

The view of God in our culture is so low we reversed roles. It is as if we are the masters and unless He answers to us, we have no need of Him. If we knew of God's holiness, there would be trembling at such presumption. In the secular world, a bare understanding that God is a supreme being is lacking, let alone His awesome righteousness and glory. Yet, in the liberalizing minds of the church, holiness is also subverted. With the failure to recognize…

Looking for Comfort in an Uncomfortable World

Our hearts cry out against difficulty. Yet, the reality that there will be some kind of adversity is inherent to human existence. There will be difficult, even painful experiences. We may encounter this almost every day in some manner, or go through periods which are overwhelming.

Americans, perhaps more than any other society, resist any form of discomfort. We are raised to understand our rights and what we can demand. With abundant material convenience, easements become needs rather than wants. The noble idea of the pursuit of happiness has transformed in our psyche into a desire to shield ourselves from any trouble in life.

Perhaps the most universal reaction to displeasure is complaining. Grousing has become a right, while defining much of our conversation. We complain about our bills, our health, our bad breaks, our marriages, how people treat us. If our things break or don't work like we want them to, griping is quick to our lips. Complaints about our government and institu…

Truth and/or Love?

Are truth and love in conflict with each other? In our postmodern culture, they are. As worldviews they are in divisive disagreement. On an interpersonal level, people usually fall into a predominance of one of the two. The disproportion reflects groups, churches, and organizations in an unbalanced view of these vital standards.

If we hold to truths of any kind, we often find severity or belligerence in defense of them. It can be any truth assertion, whether spiritual, philosophical, or political. Enmity and antagonism is the driving energy of our society. They do not call it a culture “war” for nothing. There are times we encounter those infected with a cold, judgmental attitude, using convictions as an excuse to be this way.

On the other hand, a major preoccupation in our day is love. Not sacrificial, virtuous love as once understood by the term. What we have is an “I’m OK, You’re OK, every evil under the sun is OK” love. Let’s just love. We are not sure what this means, it is a su…

What Characterizes Being a Man, Part 2

The Headlines

If you follow the media, the behavior of men in high places is a major topic. Headlines abound with shameful examples. It seems something is very wrong in the male culture of power, celebrity, and politics.

Compared to ourselves, public figures appear exaggerated to extremes in their conduct. We are rightly outraged. Yet, considering how known they are, their failure is more visible. Our own lives are not splashed across the media for all to see. These personalities are used as objects of scorn when they fall, but we may well ask, does our culture bear the same marks? Though most of us do not have the money or position to go to scandalous excesses, these examples rise out of the society in which they are formed. Do we need fallen figures to assuage our own personal failures and make us feel we are at least better than they? The general morality of people has soured. Sadly, our land is a self-exalting nation that serves its own pleasures.

The Presidential Example

There is …

Relationships, Pain, and Isolation

During a men's breakfast at church, a man visiting the US from Kenya pointed out a difference in social relationships in our country, compared to his homeland. He noticed the distance between people, the separation between lives. In relating this, he was not referring to today's chaotic world. He was talking about fellow Christians, who otherwise have more ideal connections than many in society.

A larger view of the social climate is more complicated still. Contemporary social relationships can be likened to living among clusters of islands. If each island were a person, while there exists limited connection with others, there is an unspoken separation of troubled waters. To chart a social voyage, the navigator must live up to a revolving door of different stipulations for each person. The interpersonal interactions we have are guided along a walk of carefully prepared eggshells. In our consequent isolation, we may well wonder, is there anyone who wants to understand the real…

Panic, Anxiety, and Fear: Finding Peace in Emotional Turmoil

Life is full of adversity and difficulty. We may not realize how much extreme effort we are exerting, if anxiety, stress, and "freaking out" is our way of coping with circumstances. Somehow we feel the strain will affect the outcomes. Worried fretting is held to our chests as we agonize, without considering healthier, more objective ways of dealing with challenges. The energy produced, though harmful to our emotions and health, seem a valid way of trying to manage. It becomes part of handling things.

In contrast, when we come to God first in our need, when we lay our agitated hearts before Him, we confront life with truth. We cry out for the whirlwind to stop and for Him to be our peace. Help alone is not enough, however. As we give up the notion of self-sufficiency and trust in God in Christ Jesus to be our enabling and contentment, we become free. There is need for Him to equip and empower, not simply as a nice addition to our lives. This is begun by learning of Jesus. He…