Posts Tagged 'Faith'



Belief

Denise and I were flying back from New York City this weekend, when it suddenly seemed like I was being bombarded by atheism. It started that morning with CNN running a story called, “The Friendly Atheists Next Door,” and extended into the night with 60 Minutes interviewing Neil deGrasse Tyson (who is claimed by atheists but who really isn’t one, as I’ll show you later), and through a variety of shows on FOX written by Seth MacFarlane (who is claimed by atheists and who really is one). I didn’t watch any of the shows, but it made me sad to think about the fact that there are people out there who not only don’t believe in God, but who really, really, want you, me, and our families not to believe in God either. It made me feel really distant to those people; the chasm between people who believe and don’t believe in the same thing seems awfully wide.

The CNN story was really a story about a couple who lost faith in the Catholic religion, and who then extended that unbelief in their church to unbelief in God. The sad part was that after they made their decision, they suddenly felt that they needed to share and promote this non-belief, and so the story documented how the couple was forming Sunday gatherings (yeah, I know, it sounds a little weird for atheists to come together on Sundays) apparently to talk to others about how and why they don’t believe in God. The story mentioned some things that atheists have in common: apparently they are mostly white, upper-middle class, college educated, and male, and most of them used to be Catholics. I’ll add another: They are also often handsomely rewarded by the natural world, and especially by other atheists, for “coming out.” For whatever reason these days, if you decide to become an atheist, even if you aren’t fully sure what that means, you’ll quickly find acceptance and apparently become newsworthy.

As Denise said in her book, though, there are really extremely few actual “atheists” in the world. That’s because it really takes a ton of work and research to even get close to coming to such an absolute stance, and even then there’s so much evidence for God that it’s hard to ignore. That’s why noted “atheists” like Richard Dawkins have said that they’re not really atheists – instead, for example, Dawkins says he’s agnostic. Same thing with Neil deGrasse Tyson, if you look here, you’ll see he doesn’t like being called an atheist, or any “ist” other than a scientist, and instead says that if you had to label him, he’s more likely agnostic: http://bigthink.com/think-tank/neil-degrasse-tyson-atheist-or-agnostic.

In fact, he finds the word “atheist” itself odd, since virtually nobody else tends to belong to groups mostly identified with what they don’t believe in. He’s got a point.

belief

All of this really boils down to our worldviews. We all have one, whether we know it or not, which makes up the entirety of our points of view. Knowing your worldview is handy because knowing what you believe can guide you through all of life’s tough times. Now, people who call themselves atheists have a worldview that perhaps partly includes unbelief in God, but I just wish they’d focus more on what they actually believe through their overall worldview instead of the thing or things they don’t believe. Agnostics have a worldview that involves saying they just aren’t sure what to believe about God, but you don’t see them holding meetings or actively trying to convince others also to claim ambivalence.

When I was younger, I went through a phase where I was probably best described as an agnostic because I simply wasn’t sure about what to believe, spiritually or otherwise. But then I decided to do the work needed to form a decently purposeful worldview. I ended up forming the spiritual part of my worldview after years of studying a variety of other spiritual worldviews and putting together the evidence that I needed to live my life based on what I believed to be the Truth. I suppose my worldview includes not believing in certain things, like eating gluten or maybe even atheism, but I’d rather focus on what I do believe. I believe in Jesus Christ, who was God come in the flesh. Because I’m a follower of Jesus, I believe everything about who he said he was.

If I could get atheists to focus on the things in which they believe, instead of the things in which they don’t believe, they might say something like, “We believe in human beings.” If they do, then this chasm between me and atheists might not seem so wide, because I believe in God, and God believes in human beings, too.

Stand Fast in Times of Trial

My heart has been especially burdened lately with the trials that many of you are experiencing. From lost jobs, to financial difficulties, hospital stays, and even family deaths, there just seems to be a lot of stuff happening that just isn’t fun. But I’m writing this blog to tell you that I have had confirmation from our Lord both from His Word and through several of His servants that He has not left our side. In fact, He’s right here holding out His hand to you so that you stay close to His protection and comfort. God wants you to stand fast in your times of trial.

When we talk about standing fast I always remember that the Bible says in Ephesians 6:11-13 for us to:

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

This passage means that life is not without difficulties. We will experience them, and we must be prepared for them. We must stand and face them head on. The good news is that with God on our side, there is nothing we can’t face and see through to the end. Sometimes just facing the trial head on is really all God wants. In my opinion, God is constantly looking for examples of people who face the troubles of the world with peace, grace, and a sense of calm knowing that He is ultimately in charge. It’s those people who really make a difference in the natural world.

I still remember a man who I met at a Denver area church who told me he had just lost all of his life’s saving in the Enron debacle. He was so calm! It didn’t seem to bother him one bit, and surely that same problem could easily lead to depression or even suicide with any other person. I’m sure that everyone who meets him and hears his story will be moved, like me, by his faith in God to turn even that great trial into a triumph through standing firm. He told me, “Well, I guess God wanted me to work when I thought it was time to retire. He must have something really great in store for me.” Can you imagine how pleased God is that this man still believes and tells others about His glory?

You should realize, of course, that not all trials are from the devil. That’s because many times we have made improper choices that set certain problems into play. Nevertheless, Satan is going to take whatever problem you initiate and use it to steal from you or destroy you if he can. Really, because of God’s grace, that’s the really exciting choice we have every day. No matter what happens, no matter how difficult we think something in the world is, we can choose to let Satan use that difficulty to really mess us up, or we can choose to let God use the same difficulty for His glory. If you really focus on what’s happening supernaturally, you can even find hope and some joy in even the worst times by simply knowing that what God has in store for you later will be so great.

When my husband, Tim, went back to Kansas to take care of his sick dad, things could not have seemed lower. No matter what he did, he couldn’t find out what was wrong with his dad, and after a while Tim had to quit his job to act as a 24/7 nurse. A lot of people fretted over the situation and warned Tim that he wouldn’t be able to find work again and that he would go broke, etc. Well, at that time Tim had a choice: (1) let Satan use the situation to cause hopelessness and despair, or (2) let God use it to show His glory. Tim chose number two, constantly telling people that God would surely find him another job, and the money would be no problem because God would surely work everything out. In the end, Tim was able to spend the last year of his dad’s life with him. He talked to many people in Kansas, including his dad, about God’s will and favor. And you know what? We never even really felt any lack of money due to losing his job. There was a sense of peace, even in the middle of a huge trial, by just knowing that God was in charge and that He would use the situation to lead to something even greater.

No matter how your trial originates, you still have the same weapons – namely the grace of Jesus dying on the cross, the Word (Bible) of our Lord, and our community of believers to provide encouragement, enlightenment, and strength. It’s so important to just stand and face that trial, rather than to run away, hide in a comfortable place or hop a boat on the river of denial J . If you try to ignore it, the problem will still be there when you return – in fact, it might have even grown into a bigger issue. And while you’re standing firm, sharpen your sword, which is the Word of God – dig into your Bible to refresh your memory of who you are and the promises our Lord made to you.

When I have things going poorly in my life I try to step back and ask a few questions and quickly move to the resolution.

1. What have I done in the natural world (like sin or un-forgiveness) that may have contributed to or started this difficulty?

If I identify something that has started the problem, then I accept the responsibility for the action or sin and ask for forgiveness. I then look for the resolution – it may mean humbly apologizing to someone, or making amends in the situation, or just standing in there for the natural course of things – like when you break a law and have to go through the court system. Sometimes I’m not sure what the root cause is and I just go to prayer and ask for revelation on what I have done. I ask for forgiveness, blessing, and supernatural help. Once I’ve done this, I try to leave it alone and let God walk with me through the problem however long it takes. That means that I try not to worry about it or continue discussing it. I simply release it so that my heart can remain pure and free.

2. Have I forgotten to pray spiritual coverage  to keep me and my household protected?

Sometimes I realize that I have gotten overly confident in my flesh and that I have not asked, on a daily basis, for God’s supernatural wisdom and perfection. This usually happens when I don’t get in the Word for even one tiny verse and my focus gets off my Lord and His purpose for my life. I immediately ask for forgiveness and ask for supernatural wisdom, revelation, and protection over me, my friends and family, my household and any one that I come into contact with each day.

3. Maybe I am doing the right thing – if so, is the attack from the enemy simply one designed to get me off track from living a Godly life?

If I’m on a Godly track and I think I am doing exactly what God wants me to do, regardless of what the world would say to do, then I just smile and feel fortunate that the enemy is trying to deter me from accomplishing something big. When this happens, I know that it’s some of the strongest demons that are in play, so I try to remember that it’s important now more than ever to press into my Lord through prayer, His Word, and His people. The Bible says that some demons react only to prayer and fasting, and so sometimes I fast.

And so, my beautiful brothers and sisters, stand firm! Be armed with the knowledge that your Heavenly Father is right there with you to help you muscle through your difficult time! In the end, getting through it by standing firm and choosing to side with God will be worth it. Whatever your trial may be, if you choose to walk with God, He will bless you with wisdom, abundant peace, and sharpened tools for life in the natural world.

Miraculous Healing and the Question of Faith

Have you ever prayed for healing and then secretly wondered whether you might not be healed because you didn’t have enough faith?

I had this very “crisis of faith” when I first prayed for a supernatural healing of my hip. You see, I’m one of the unfortunate few who, despite being relatively young, needed to get a hip replaced due to genetic factors. When I learned of my condition, I prayed passionately. My friends laid hands on me. I spoke positively, as if a healing miracle had already taken place. But when I didn’t get any better, I watched myself, almost surreally, scheduling conventional hip surgery. Where was my faith? Should I have given God more time? My fear, of course, was that my lack of faith had hindered the miracle.

But then two things happened. First, a friend of mine reminded me that our Lord can heal in many ways, including through surgery. This brought to mind my old seminary professor, who once said he could see God’s hand in literally everything – including a lamp, or a table, or a car driving down the road. Surely God has His hand in the extraordinary event that we now take for granted called surgery.

Second, I heard a pastor emphasize the doctors’ often crucial role in God’s healing process. God has orchestrated a doctor’s life of healing as much as that of any other person in any other role, and a doctor following God’s plan will undoubtedly serve by healing. The fact is that throughout the Bible, God used people – both believers and unbelievers – to accomplish his will. And today it’s the same. The key for me was to recognize that an unexplained, immediate healing (akin to the bleeding woman’s miraculous cure after touching Jesus’ robe) and an empirically sensible yet much slower healing through the hands of a surgeon could be equally miraculous.

I believe it takes great faith to receive a miraculous healing without human intervention, but it takes as much faith to put yourself completely in God’s hands and the hands of his earthly servant chosen to minister to you. It’s not a matter of greater or lesser faith. It’s just an overarching belief that God will heal. Whether it’s through a flash of lightning or a surgeon’s hands, God, not the devil, is in charge of the details.

And, looking back, I can clearly see that the details of my surgery were supernaturally miraculous. After the operation, everyone was amazed at my remarkably fast healing. I was back to work after three weeks and walking a mile every day without pain! I also was blessed to have some special time at home with my mom and my husband unencumbered by my usually overly active (i.e., without crutches) lifestyle.

But God really showed His hand through what He had me do during the healing process. Every person who came across my path, from the surgeons, nurses and physical therapists, to my friends and even some strangers, got to hear me talk about God, what He did in my life, and how He had used them to help heal me. It was so rewarding to see those helpers light up when I thanked them for their great service and told them how they were specially chosen by God, who loves them and gave all of them their amazing gifts, to help me with my “miracle.” I’m not sure I would ever have talked to any of them if the miracle meant for me was the instantaneous, “robe-touching” type.

But I am sure that God will have me minster to more people through my experience, “for it is God who works in [us] to act according to his good purpose” and “through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of Him.” Indeed, God continually gives us opportunities to grow our faith and share our experiences with others. Each opportunity is itself a supernatural miracle in which our creator reaches into our lives to provide a glimpse of His overwhelming glory. A need for healing can be one of those opportunities – an opportunity perhaps causing us to wrestle with our faith, but ultimately to help others come closer to God.

So, how much faith do you need for healing? The Bible says only as much as a tiny mustard seed, so keep your eyes on Him, open yourself to growing the faith that you do have, and watch God work. Your miraculous healing will surely come!


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