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Archive for the tag “Image bearer”

To Stay Under

Last night, I wanted a good movie to watch. I didn’t want fluff. I wanted substance. I found Corrie Ten Boom’s story called The Hiding Place. I read the book many years ago and I had forgotten the details. I remembered it was about her life in the concentration camp.

Before the time of hardship, their family led a quiet life until the Nazis showed up in their world. The Ten Booms decided to take a stand. They decided to help anyone who came to their door. They had a safe place for Jews to come until they could make their way out of the country. It was because of that stand that eventually led to the family’s arrest.

Corrie, her elderly father, her sister Betsy and her two brothers were arrested. Her father died soon after the arrest. Her two brothers died while in prison. Corrie and Betsy were taken to the same prison and eventual concentration camp. Betsy seemed to have had the greater faith. She encouraged Corrie not to hate but to thank Jesus in everything even the hardship.

Their conditions were harsh. Betsy was beaten because she could not keep up with the work. They stayed in an infested dorm room in overcrowded conditions. But Betsy kept telling Corrie, even in the deepest pit, Jesus is deeper still. Betsy thanked Jesus for the conditions of the room – the lice kept the guards out of their space. It gave them opportunities to read the Bible and talk about Jesus to others.

This morning, I got up with the message of hope in this trying time. This is nothing in comparison to what the rest of the world suffers every day. Yes, we’ve lost some of our comfort and our normal way of life. Maybe it will come back some day, but we may be in this storm for another month or two or ten. Who knows? But hardship is the perfect way of seeing what’s beneath the surface.

Both Pastor Louie Giglio and Pastor Andy Stanley used James 1:2-5 in their messages this morning. Okay, seems important to remember that trials are for our good. Trials help us to persevere. To persevere means to remain or to stay under. James, the brother of Jesus, reminds us trials are a way for God to finish His work in us. It matures us and makes us complete. That’s why we’re supposed to find joy in our trials. God is working in us to complete what He started.

Our trials or hardships are a way of finding out what’s underneath the surface of our faith. Is it rock solid or is it made of sand? Without storms in our lives, we would never know the authenticity of our faith. Faith is a muscle that has to be tested in order to become stronger.

Jesus told Peter Satan had asked to shift Peter. Peter said he would follow Jesus to his death. But was it true? Peter needed to see what was underneath his declaration “I will die for you.” The story didn’t go as planned for Peter. He denied knowing Jesus on three different occasions. Peter had to see his fault in order to become the man he was saved to become. There was a greater work that would be soon coming where he needed a deeper, abiding faith.

We may not like this time we’re in, but God has allowed it for our good and for His glory. We may want this pressure to end. But it’s best to stay under and let God complete His work. I don’t want to get through this time and not see progress on my faith journey. I want this to change me (in a good way). Pastor Louie reminded his listeners that God does not send us storms to destroy us but to refine us. This could polish and perfect us and transform us into the image of Jesus. That’s our purpose as believers in Jesus – to be conformed into His image.

God uses shifting from the enemy. He also uses shears to cut off any branch that isn’t fruitful. For the fruitful branch, He prunes in order to produce more fruit. Living the life we’re meant to live means we have to go through hardships in order to be useful to God and to glory Him. Hardships get us to the place we are meant to be and to be the people we were born to be. We cannot allow ourselves to get out from under the pressure before the work is done or the next storm we face, we may not be able to withstand it.

Corrie Ten Boom’s faith was tested. But in the end, after she was released from the concentration camp by clerical error, she went on to live a life glorifying God and proclaiming His goodness even in the deepest pit. She reminds us even in this hard time we face, He is deeper still. This is our time for shifting to see what is beneath our faith; our time of cutting off the thing that is not producing fruit and it’s time for pruning what remains to become more fruitful. Stay under as long as it takes until what God wants is polished to shine in perfection. Keep the faith – He is deeper still.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

Making a Difference

It’s very encouraging to watch the people in Texas come together and help one another during this disaster. After all the mess we’ve seen on television over the last few months, it’s good to see people banding together – no matter the race, no matter the political preference, no matter the economic status. Everybody was affected by this storm. People were walking away with nothing, but still praising God for saving their lives and their families. One lady looked right at the camera and told everyone “God is good, ya’ll.” Just that small testimony said it all. Even in the midst of the storm, God is still good.

The first part of the month, a family friend died. She was the oldest sister in this family. She was much older than me so I have very few memories of her. I only remember the teenage version of this lady. I never knew her as an adult. However, the son of this family is my age, and he has been the longest sustained friend of my life. We were crib mates in the nursery. There are many good memories of the things we did as children when our families got together. We haven’t been together as a family since we were both teenagers. Thanks to Facebook, we have reconnected. It’s through Facebook that I heard of the sister’s illness and then passing.

Many things were posted about this woman’s life. I went to the memorial service and came away with the feeling that I wish I had known her as an adult. According to the reflections offered by her family and friends, she loved life and lived it out loud and to the fullest. She was an amazing teacher – it wasn’t about the subject with her – she loved shaping these students into their potential. Students that had no hope to succeed became incredible adults. She was an adventurer; she loved to travel. She spent two years in Turkey, and it was mentioned these may have been the best years of her life.

It was said that she never met a stranger. She went back to Turkey a few years ago with her daughter and son-in-law and someone she knew from her time spent living there, spotted her on the street and called out her name. She was that impressive for people to remember her. She made a difference in people’s lives. Cancer cut her life short. The world has lost a friend. But she planted many seeds throughout her time here that will outlive her. She loved well.

We can all be like my friend. I wish I had known her as an adult. I wish a teacher had been there for me like she had been for her students. Maybe I wouldn’t have made the choices I made back then. And maybe I would have found my calling earlier. But it is God’s timing in all things.

We can all make a difference in someone’s life. We can help out our communities even when there is no disaster. We can love well and plant the seeds of hope around us. Wouldn’t that be a better world to live in? We need to realize this life is really short, ya’ll. And God is good all the time, no matter what is going on around us. God loves us so much more than we could ever imagine. We need to believe that in our heart, mind and soul. We need to drive it deep.

When we grieve, He grieves with us. He is personal with us, knows us and loves us anyway. Each member of the human race is an image bearer of God Himself. We need to respect that and respect each human being on this planet. If there is no respect, all hell breaks loose as its doing today. We need to make a difference. We need to plant seeds and love well. This is my prayer today. For the people of the disaster, my prayer for them is to see God’s glory making good out of something so bad.

Trust Him in the process, ya’ll. He is our good, good Father. He will do amazing things, and He’ll let us be involved where He is involved. It’s possible, ya’ll. The Apostle Paul said it well, all things are possible through Christ’s strength, not ours – no matter what. Let’s make a difference today and love someone well.

Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. Hebrews 10:23-25 (NLT)

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