The story is an old one. Spirituality fluctuates between a wasteland and vibrancy. This narrative reoccurs throughout time. King David experienced it.
As people grapple with the current crisis, some will trod this well-worn path. Others may never reach the vibrancy. Continue reading “Self-confidence, crisis, then praise”
James described both the poor and the comfortable encountering economic trials. Although details of their challenges differ, nonetheless both situations test one’s mettle. Furthermore, both trials go to the heart of the matter.
Fortunately, James offers us a practical path foward filled with uncommon wisdom. He turns our financial perspectives upside down. His counsel reorients us by calling us to reframe how we think about ourselves.
Continue reading “Everyone faces economic trials”
His counsel seems counterintuitive. It certainly doesn’t represent our intuitive reaction. What’s more we might wonder, how can it be possible? “Consider it nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of trials” (James 1:2). How can James write this? Did he know something that could help us in the current crisis?
Continue reading “Handling adversity”
“Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or faint-hearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. . . . It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons, for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? . . . For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:3-4, 7, 11 ESV).
I am known as a dedicated coffee drinker. Not only that, but I prefer dark-roast coffee, brewed to be rather strong. My philosophy on coffee, I often say, is, “If it will pour, it will drink.” That is, if it is liquid enough (i.e., thin enough) to pour out of the pot, it is liquid enough to be swallowed. Continue reading “If it pours”
“It is an ill wind that blows no good.” But there do exist some ill winds! One has blown down our garden shed and others are now destroying a favorite trellis.
Garden structures are not the only maintenance in a garden, of course. Our fragrant and beautiful Carolina Jessamine has been taken over by a stray Virginia Creeper that crept in among the vines growing up and over the delicate white trellis by the patio.
And now that poor trellis is leaning precariously from the weight of both of the heavy vines and the prevailing west winds. It will have to be completely removed, along with the plants. Continue reading “Recombobulation”
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. The frost last night is the last one for the year, and it should be safe to plant tender annuals now.
The thing is, when I’ve said it before — about four or five times already this spring — the weather forecast changed. Many of us had our plants frostbitten or even killed by the late spring frosts. Continue reading “Impatient for Impatiens”
Rousing successes and mountain-top victories are not the stuff of life. They do not produce life nor can they define it.
Elijah discovered this, post-Carmel, 1 Kings 18-19. Wise men warn against letting the dips and valleys of experience determine personal value and satisfaction; let them alert the foolish that neither can the peaks and heights of accomplishment.
Many seek to increase time spent on the slopes of success. They strive for the vibrant hills of a moving heart. But the tops can be, in their own way, as draining as the dale. For beyond the pinnacle lies the downward incline to the next dip. Continue reading “Of dips and dales”
“What’s the point?” “Is this worth the effort?” We have all heard such comments and perhaps even asked such questions in certain situations.
When such thoughts reveal a floundering faith in Christ a physician’s care may be required. Just as athletes might need some athletic tape or analgesic spay to press on, Hebrews offers remedies for going the distance in moments of doubt and discouragement. Continue reading “Remedies for going the distance”
If our lives are unfolding as expected, wonderful. However, if we can relate to the expression that “expectations are just premeditated resentments,” if crises of health, finances or injustice have slashed our dreams, then we will want some relief. Continue reading “Avoiding hopelessness and bitterness”
A few school teachers seem to delight in failing students. They make up trick questions, use questionable methods, and prefer murky objectives and subjective grading. But God wants to give every child of his a passing grade, if we will but respond positively to his testing.
The Lord works for our success. He wants us to grow and be like him. He has our best interest at heart. God is good and desires to bless. “The crucible is for refining silver and the furnace is for gold, likewise the LORD tests hearts” Proverbs 17.3. His testing has a good purpose. He hopes to bring out the best in us. Continue reading “The pudding is in the proof: God proves his people”