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Circling for a Landing

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Do all dogs do this?  All the ones I’ve ever had did.  They would approach their favorite landing spot…pillow…dog bed…my bed (sigh)…and they would begin the process.  They would circle and tramp and circle and tramp and circle and tramp until they finally plopped and curled into a compact and comfortable ball of fur.  They would then look up at you with “that look” (furtive, raised eyebrows)–the look that said, “I am comfortably ensconced now…DO.NOT.BOTHER.ME.  I will let you know when I need feeding or walking or other service from you.” 

The Doberman would exhale with a canine harrumph.  The Dalmatian would tuck her nose tightly under her foreleg.  The Dane would sprawl…legs cast about in random compass headings…occupying acreage that was the envy of small countries (This is true; I have the ambassadorial complaints on file).

It was clear to anyone who observed: the pooches had arrived at max comfort and would not move until some biological necessity or some rude human required such movement.

And I have to confess that part of me grew wistful as I observed this dogified pursuit of comfort…landing “just so” on a perfectly prepared perch…not a care in the world…the essence of serenity.  Makes me want to run out and get one of those deluxe doggie beds.  You know the kind…it’s advertised in the “mall in the sky” magazine that you browse when you fly.  Those doggone beds have comfort-dialed mattresses, separate dining rooms, and spare rollout doggie cots for when the in-laws visit.

Supreme comfort…the pinnacle of pup aspirations.  And, I am afraid, often the pinnacle of people’s aspirations as well.  There have been so many conversations with Christians who have punctuated the dialogue with a note about (or insistence upon) comfort.  “I’m just not comfortable with that,” or, “I’m looking for a place where I can be comfortable.” 

My usual mental response:  “Well…the mattress store is just down the street, why don’t you try there?”  My preferred verbal response:  “Are you out of your EVER.LOVING.MIND?!?”  No, not really… 

My actual verbal response is usually something like this:  “I don’t think Christ followers are called to comfort; I think we’re called to radical obedience and I think that radical obedience often implies a decided lack of comfort.”  Then, upon completion of the mandatory and reflexive eye roll, my conversation partner will usually “ease on down the road”–often muttering something about me needing to get a grip on reality. 

To be sure, the Bible mandates the giving and receiving of comfort on the part of God’s people (see Isaiah 40:1 or listen to Handel’s rendering of same). 

But the Bible’s comfort is not a pursuit of the pain-free, cushioned, doggie-bed life–nor is it a ministerial call to provide such for God’s people.  The Bible’s comfort is all about experiencing the fullness of the God’s presence in the middle of the hard stuff of life.  

Paul was most eloquent in this regard in 2 Corinthians, Chapter 1.  He says that we who have struggled are called to reach out and comfort those who have had a life struggle that resembles ours…by dispensing the comfort we ourselves received from the very hand of God.  This is not a “making my life easy” proposition; this is a full immersion in the fabric of life and ministry that Jesus called “abundant” but which is not usually marked by luxury or an absence of challenging personal circumstances.  Sadly, advocacy for this is near quixotic in our day and time. 

My experience (for what it’s worth):  the most growth, the most fulfilling times of life and ministry, the deepest relationships forged, were all in the midst (don’t you love it when I speak KJV?) of the most decidedly “uncomfortable” times. 

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort”

(2 Corinthians 1:3-7).

© All rights reserved.  Scripture quotations from the NIV. 


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Wolves in the Dark

Ever thought about wolves??

Ravenous, mean, cunning, cagey, crafty and insidious just about sums ‘em up. They are all about one thing and one thing only to destroy, kill and eat.

But the wolf that comes in the darkness as the sun is going down is the worst! After a day of infuriating hunger, it is more fiercer and ravenous than in the morning. The wolf is ready to pounce and kill.

It can creep up slowly and alone, stalking, stealthily catching the scent of the innocent and unwary or it can come in packs, howling hideously, striking the foe with a force unparallelled, surrounding and tearing the victim/s with a torturous ferocity.

When I was thinking about wolves especially wolves in the dark and their cunning, my mind wandered to how like the wolf is our doubts and fears.

After a big day at work, or minding kids, or worries about finances, or concerns for ill family members etc, after our minds have been bombarded and distracted with all sorts of ‘things’ along comes our wolves with their fangs ready to attack.

Maybe our wolves in the dark come calling after a huge loss in our business dealings or crashing superannuation or maybe even sarcasm and derision about our faith.

“Where is your God now’? Our thoughts and minds tell us – ‘Why wasn’t He there when I needed Him”?

How ravenous and voracious are our dark wolves – filling our minds and hearts with apprehension, confusion and dilemmas.

How greedy are these dark shapes all around us when we let them in? they gobble up any suggestion of well-being and rest. They can completely annihilate our confidence; smash reliance on our Lord and utterly destroy any thread of our resoluteness to our God.

Wolves love to gash and mutilate the unwary sheep supposedly safe and warm in the fold. They love to attack at night when the sheep are sleepy and non-watchful.

We are so much like those sheep – so vulnerable to attacks by the wolves in the dark. When we are distracted and have taken our eyes off the Shepherd. when we have wandered away from Jesus and away from the main flock.

Our doubts and unbelief can overwhelm us if we listen to the lies of Satan – the fangs of the wolves are so ready to tear us down if we don’t stay as close to God as we can.

The dark wolves of doubt and fear won’t come anywhere near us during the ‘faith-filled’ days when we have our hearts and minds centred on our Captain.

It is only in the dark days when we are weakened by circumstances that the wolves of doubt and despair come rushing to wipe us out, encircling us with uncertainty, rejection and indecision.

Doubt and despair can paralyse and debilitate even the strongest of Christians. Pressures come at us constantly; sometimes it feels like we have been hit by a Mac Truck; they bowl us down with relentless regularity.

It is in these very same times we MUST turn to our God; the God who wants so badly to have a REAL relationship with us; to love us; to comfort us and to help us to regain our focus on Him.

Amazingly as it sounds God sees us a “treasure” and if He sees us that way then that is precisely what we are – let God’s truth help us to re-focus on the treasure that is within us and not look at the dark wolves of despair and doubt circling around us with drooling fangs.

When we take our minds off Him and start to concentrate on our frail little lives then despair and desperation will be the natural result.

But when we see ourselves as God’s “Treasure” we can be reborn and revived in Him. Not only that but our “treasure” can ‘slop’ out all around us for others to see.

What an amazing transformation we would see; and it would certainly exterminate any wandering dark wolves that may come a-calling one dark night.


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WEEP WITH THOSE WHO WEEP

By Neil Anderson

 banner_secondary_who i am in christ

Romans 12:15 

Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep
 
Early in my pastoral ministry I received one of those middle-of-the-night telephone calls that every pastor dreads: “Pastor, our son has been in an accident. They don’t expect him to live. Could you please come to the hospital?”
 
I arrived at the hospital about one in the morning. I sat with the parents in the waiting room hoping and praying for the best but fearing the worst. About 4:00 a.m., the doctor came out to give us the worst: “We lost him.”
 
We were devastated. I was so tired and emotionally depleted that instead of offering them words of comfort, I just sat there and cried with them. I couldn’t think of anything to say. I went home feeling that I had failed the family in their darkest hour.
 
Soon after the accident the young man’s parents moved away. But about five years later they stopped by the church for a visit and took me out to lunch. “Neil, we’ll never forget what you did for us when our son died,” they said. “We knew you loved us because you cried with us.”
 
One of our challenges in the ministry is in learning how to respond to others when they honestly acknowledge their feelings. I find a very helpful principle in the conversations between Job and his friends. Job said: “The words of one in despair belong to the wind” (Job 6:26). What people say in an emotional crisis is irrelevant other than to convey how deeply hurt they are. We have a tendency to fixate on words and ignore the hurt. When grief-stricken Mary and Martha greeted Jesus with the news of Lazarus’ death, He wept (John 11:35). Paul’s words crystallize it for us: “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). We are not supposed to instruct those who weep; we are supposed to weep with those who weep.
 
Prayer: Lord, teach me to love like You love. Give me the freedom to respond emotionally to those who are in pain.


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Fire: Keeping the Flame Ablaze

During this summer, I have spent some time clearing out a worship spot at my house in the back of our woods. I must say, I really enjoyed doing it. I wanted a spot that I could go and spend time with God in solitude. I gathered old down trees to use for seating, found various pieces of old furniture to place back there, and Tiki Torches to help keep away bugs. In the middle I built a good-sized fire pit for bonfires. The other evening I went out to that spot to spend some time with God. My brother was with me and we were trying to light the fire. The pit had quite a bit of wood in it so if we ever got it lit, it would be a very big and nice fire. The problem was we couldn’t get the fire lit.  Granted the top pieces were a little wet, but the rest of the pile was dry, so we didn’t think it would be much of a problem. We had pieces of cardboard to help start the fire, but it didn’t work. We lit some of the dry leaves in the midst of the sticks, but it didn’t work either. We even found some straw to light to help with the process, but all it did was burn. It didn’t stay lit and the fire died quickly. So finally after much frustration, we got the gasoline. Now, I realize this is not the smartest choice nor safest, but I wanted a fire! Luckily nothing bad happened! So we light a few more pieces of cardboard and paper just enough to keep it a flame for a few minutes. Then we doused the places we didn’t have lit with some gasoline so with the fire caught it, it would light up. The finally we applied the gasoline on the flames that were going and instantly, the fire went ablaze. We experienced the thrill of getting our fire lit and the fire was glorious…for about ten minutes. But soon, that gasoline had burnt away, the wood had never really caught a flame, and the fire died out again quickly. Now I realize that there are better ways to light a fire, and if I did some other things I could have probably got that fire going. However, I’m glad I tried to light the fire the way I did because God used it to teach me something.

When the fire began to die out again, I was getting kind of irritated. Then I felt God speak to my heart saying, “I need people who will tend and stir the fire, not just light it.” I immediately knew what God was saying to me. In order to keep a fire going, you have to constantly add fire to the pile, you have to stir the fire to keep the fire going, and you have to watch it. Gasoline is a nice help, but it is only a temporary fix. It only lasts for a moment. It looks glorious and the flames are huge, but they don’t have much life. God doesn’t need followers who will be like the gasoline. Who will become very passionate and devoted to God one day, and have a devotion to Him that dies at the end of the week. He wants followers who will fan the flames. Who will keep the fire going, even if that means taking longer steps in doing so. Followers who will spend the extra time in prayer, reading of His Word, and living out the life He calls His people to.

I think you would be very hard pressed to find a church, if you asked them, would not want to see people come to know Christ. I mean, that’s just a ludicrous thought. The Church may have many different denomination and beliefs of theology, but I don’t really think there are many people in the Church who do not want to see souls saved. In fact if there are any, I really think those people need to evaluate their life and see if the are in step with the Spirit. But all too often the Church tries to witness to the world with gasoline. With big and glorious displays of various ministries, emotional appeals, etc. Those of you who serve the Lord know exactly what I’m talking about. But those things don’t last. People who come to the Lord on those terms won’t last unless that fire is cultivated. Unless their flames are stirred and wood is added to the fire. If the Church and Christians want to set this world on fire, we first have to cultivate the fire in our own hearts, then also be willing to take the time to minister properly and effectively to help keep the fire lit the hearts of others as well. Jesus told His followers that they will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon them and they will be His witnesses. The Holy Spirit gives Christians the power to witness to others about Jesus powerfully. God is the source of that fire. I pray that believers everywhere will submit to the Holy Spirit and allow God move in their hearts. I also pray that Christians all over the world will fan into flame the gifts of God and take the steps necessary to keep that flame going. When the fire rises true and proud, the world around us will catch fire too. Don’t use the gasoline. Cultivate that fire.

“Therefore, I remind you to keep ablaze the gift of God that is in you through the laying on of my hands.” ~2 Timothy 1:6

“Fire must be kept burning on the altar continually; it must not go out.” ~Leviticus 6:13

May God be with you.

-Joey


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Suffering is a Blessing

Romans 5:1-5: Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

How many Christians actually believe that suffering is a blessing? Suffering can include a wide variety of hardships, but did you know God uses our trials to make us stronger? There’s three points I want to hit in this blog.

1) Through Suffering We Become Dependent on God

In the midst of our suffering we realize we can’t do this thing alone. We realize while our wives, husbands, boyfriends, girlfriends, friends,and family will fail us, that God will never fail us. Our hope lies in Jesus Christ alone. When you become dependent on God, you will grow closer to Him. It may be painful, but with the help of God you will come through it stronger than before.

2) The Pain is Temporary

Yeah it may hurt for a time, but remember the pain won’t last forever. If you are in Christ, one day you will be in Heaven and you will no longer have to experience the pains of this life. Nothing will compare to what God has in store for you.

3) Suffering does NOT disprove the existence of God. 

Many atheists I’ve heard of say that a loving God wouldn’t allow His people to suffer. Because of that believe they think they disprove the existence of God. They don’t realize that they are dead wrong. God allows us to go through trials because they make us stronger and move us closer to Him. As verses 2 and 4 state above: “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” 

I quote from Lee Strobel’s book “The Case for Faith:”

“God is wise enough to foresee that we need some pain for reasons which we may not understand but which he foresees as being necessary to some eventual good. Sometimes God allows suffering and deprives us of the lesser good of pleasure in order to help us toward the greater good of moral and spiritual education.”

And again from the same book:

Atheist: “First, there is no reason that would justify God in permitting so much evil rather than a lot less; second, if God exists, then there must be such a reason; so, three, God does not exist.”

Response: “That’s like saying it’s reasonable to believe in God if six Jews died in a Holocaust, but not seven. Or sixty thousand, but not sixty thousand and one. Or 5,999,999, but not six million. When you translate the general statement so much into particular examples it shows how absurd it is……

At no point does suffering disprove the existence of God”

Blessings,

Austin

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God is Good; God is God

In looking through my journal over the last few weeks it seems all my lessons are about patience, obedience, and bearing under hard situation. There are times when it takes more than a day to see a real victory accomplished. My biggest mistake in the past has been to only stay engaged in warfare until I got over the emotion of the problem. But part of maturity is learning to stay in the fight until the victory is finalized. Or like King David wrote, “I have pursued my enemies and overtaken them; neither did I turn back until they were destroyed.” (Psalm 18:37)

This morning I woke up and said, “God, it’s too hard. I can’t do it. Please make all the trials go away.” I was tired of the battle and He is, after all, GOOD and would never want me to suffer too much, right? I forgot one thing, though. He is also GOD.

Yes, He is good, indeed, and He does make everything work together for our good. He is the Giver of all good things. And that’s just the point. He is the GIVER. I have nothing if not from Him. All I have and am is due to Him. He is Lord and I am servant; He is Creator and I am dust; He is Master, I am slave. If I put myself under His authority to receive His benefits I must also remain under His authority when He requires obedience. When He says go, I must go. What He says give, I must give…no matter what it is He asks. I must bear under the situation He puts me in until HE sees fit to remove me. For, really, when I ignore His request I refuse my Master the things that are His anyway. I become a thief of what was never mine to keep.  When I refuse to obey I become a rebel, taking myself out from beneath both His Lordship AND His goodness.

If I put myself under His authority to receive His benefits I must also remain under His authority when He requires obedience.

Yes, I had a major attitude adjustment and came away very humbled. I don’t know if tomorrow will be easier, but I do know this: Even if it’s not, I’ll obey anyway. I will remain in the fight against my enemies until they are conquered. I will do all that God asks for however long He asks it. Knowing all the time that He is good. Understanding through it all that He is God.

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Use God’s Strength to Heal Your Broken Pieces

 Broken Pieces “PERHAPS STRENGTH DOESN’T RESIDE IN HAVING NEVER BEEN BROKEN BUT IN THE COURAGE REQUIRED TO GROW STRONG IN THE BROKEN PLACES”

ISAIAH 41:10 (NIV)

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. 
I will strengthen you and help you; 
 I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

When we are broken, for the glory of Christ, we share not only in His sufferings but in rewards as well.  We grow into a deeper comprehension of His incredible sacrifice for us, by dying a torturous death on the cross.  We appreciate all the more His devotion and unconditional love.  Hopefully, when we suffer a trial it draws us even closer into His loving embrace. 

We are assured that our Savior will strengthen us and help us through whatever battle we must face.  He promises to uphold us in His very hand!!  With the provision of spiritual armor, there should never be any doubt in our making it through obstacles. In fact Philippians 4:13 tells us that we can do all things through Him who strengthens us.

So what are the rewards gained by enduring storms?  Well, for one thing your relationship and intimacy with Christ will mature.  With the maturing process that comes with trials of many kinds, we gain perseverance.  This process helps to complete us here and equips us for our heavenly work in the future.

We also gain a wisdom that can be used to comfort others who are going through trials similar to our own.  We must learn to take our broken pieces and request God’s assistance to reassemble them in a way that is pleasing to Him.  Asking for wisdom to apply our new knowledge and deeper faith should also be a prayer request.

So let’s review.  Trials will come; there is no getting out of them.  We are promised to have the provision of God’s strength to persevere and make it through the trouble.  He tells us, in fact commands us, to not be dismayed when they come and to be unafraid.  He will see us through and uphold us in His hand but faith is required on our part.

 In addition to the promise of seeing us through life’s circumstances, we share in the rewards that come with suffering for His name.  We gain wisdom, perseverance, a deeper faith and reliance on Him.  We mature and don’t remain “Baby Christians” dependent only on milk.  Rather, we can eat solid foods including the Bread of Life. We grow in our faith and trust, every time we see the Lord faithfully bringing us through personal trials and working in the lives of those around us.

Indeed, perhaps strength doesn’t reside in never being broken, but rather in the courage we exert to rise from the ashes of our broken lives.  It is by willfully choosing to use the strength God offers to heal our broken places that we find encouragement and a deeper relationship with our Father.

JAMES 1:2-5 (NIV)        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. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

PSALM 22:24 (NIV)       For He has not despised or scorned
the suffering of the afflicted one; 
He has not hidden His face from him but has listened to his cry for help.


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Are We Losing Focus?

“If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed.  If you look within, you’ll be depressed.

 If you look to God, you’ll be at rest.”  ~Corrie Ten Boom

Sadly, the Christmas celebration came to a predictable end and I was once again forced to begin the drive back to Tennessee from my hometown in Michigan.  This year, this also meant trudging through inches of snow lying on the Michigan and (northern) Ohio pavement.  Ugh.  Let the fun begin…

I decided to make a stop at a McDonald’s in Ohio–not only to maintain my caffeine intake, but also to give my dog, Bagel, a much needed visit outdoors.  The interior of this McDonald’s was quite a surprise   It had a beautiful stone fireplace, chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, and a large decorative clock mounted on the back wall.  When I was a kid, a McDonald’s was considered fancy-shmancy if it had a ball pit or Ronald McDonald statue to shake hands with in the foyer.  Now however, fast-food restaurants have apparently become a luxurious place to put our feet up, warm ourselves by the fire, and at the sound of the gong on a grand ole clock, make our way to the next looming appointment in our sometimes grueling days.

We have come a long way as a society.  Perhaps the progression of a fast-food restaurant’s aesthetic design isn’t the best example of this, but it does however paint a picture. 

*             *             * 

Each year, I see our American culture becoming busier, more advanced, and surprisingly maintaining an increasing “need” for acquiring more “things.”  We have more toys, gadgets and fantastically tantalizing thingamabobs then we’ve ever had before.  Practically everything seems to exist in a digital format, presented with the help of multiple digital devices that constantly remain in the race for which is the smallest, fastest, and containing the most storage space.  As a result, information is more readily available, efficiency is improved, and yet…why is it that we still seem to maintain, and even amplify those busy schedules?  Perhaps one reason is to continue paying for those gadgets that are supposed to make our lives so much easier??

Regardless of the reason, it’s happening.  Our pace is in over-drive.  Our distractions are rolling in with unstoppable force.  And where does that seem to leave us?   Most likely, this type of lifestyle does and will only continue to steal our time and focus from God, our provider of wisdom and rest. 

We lose focus.  We struggle.  We’re surrounded by harsh realities on the evening news and we fear what our children and grandchildren will see on their televisions when the time comes.  When does it end, and what can we do to stop it?  I hate to admit this, but as long as each of us has a pulse here on earth, it won’t end.  Devastating news reports will continue to roll in and technology will continue to steal our attention. 

We may not have control over everything that happens in this world (we were never meant to), but we do have control over our focus.  God hasn’t gone anywhere.  He is our sturdy, picturesque oak tree maintaining the strength in His limbs for our protection.  However, the further we stray from His shade, the more susceptible we are to distractions and self-destruction.  Now more than ever, it is necessary to remain close to His branches, despite the rough weather in our midst. 

Moreover, no matter what state our world is in, or where our personal footing lies, we must never forget the image we were created in and our purpose to shine for Him.  Today, here and now, we’re not finished yet.  There’s still time.  There’s still hope.  Dwelling on shortcomings won’t bring us or our nation any closer to God; it’s only one more distraction in our world of “things.” 

Lets keep our focus where it should be, on His guiding Words, and His withstanding branches.  If we focus too much on the distress, we may miss the beauty.

Tree Looking Up Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.  

Romans 12:2 (NIV)

Provoking Thought:  Have you recently been swept away by the world’s distractions?  There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a smartphone, iPad, or eReader.  (God knows I do!)  However, perhaps consider loading a Bible app to one of these devices during your next use.  A little reading goes a long way.

**Do you have any suggestions to share on how you maintain focus?  We’d love to hear!  

Twitter: @AliciaMSmith7

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LET’S LOOSE SOME WEIGHT!!

loose-weight-wdishsoap

I admit there are a few extra Christmas pounds I need to loose but this silly antidote leads into my question for you today.

WHAT IS WEIGHING YOU DOWN SPIRITUALLY?

Would you say that sorrow was your weight?  Is your grief leaving you unenergized and in your pajamas all day?  I promise that in time God will ease your suffering. Hopefully there are people around you who are offering to help carry your burden. If not, reach out and ask someone to visit you.  Sometimes people think grief should be accomplished within a matter of months or a year.  They don’t realize the length of time ( if ever) it may take to overcome this weight. If nothing else pray and ask God to ease your pain. 

Is guilt a weight you have been unnecessarily dragging around?  You do not need to be chained to your past. Forgiveness was given to you when you repented and confessed all of your sins. They were cast as far as the east is from the west. God has no memory of them.

How about anxious thoughts?  Do they follow you around all day and then into the night when you are supposed to be sleeping?  Rest is a gift God wants us to have so that we can walk with strength during our days.

It is my hope that all the added “weight” you are carrying around is melted off this instant.  Allow God to unlock those ball and chains and feel that wonderful “lighter step” as you walk with God.  You will have mountaintop experiences and hiking up the trails will be so much harder with the extra weight of chains from your past and the worries of today.

Matthew 11:28-30       Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Psalms 38:4 (NIV)        My guilt has overwhelmed me
like a burden too heavy to bear.

Psalms 55:22 (NIV)       Listen to my prayer, O God, do not ignore my plea; hear me and answer me. My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught

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The Newtown Tragedy, Two Weeks Later and Questions

Today, two weeks after the Newtown Tragedy, I welcome Pastor T.E. Hanna as a guest blogger to reflect on the Sandy Hook shootings and to tackle a few tough faith related questions.

TE HANNAT.E. Hanna is currently completing his final term as a Masters of Divinity student at Asbury Theological Seminary. In addition to his studies, he serves the church in two roles: as Senior Pastor at one location and as Director of Student Ministries at another. Follow his blog at OfDustAndKings.com or connect with him on Google+.

The God Who Wasn’t There: Answering The Newtown Tragedy by T.E. Hanna

Since December 14, when the unimaginable horror of the Sandy Hook shootings first reverberated throughout the news media worldwide, people have gathered to mourn, to cry, to rage, and to question. The very attempt to make sense of such an insensible atrocity seems an effort in futility, yet the following days would be marked by a news media consumed with just that. Sometimes, the answers just aren’t there.

questions

As much as we wish to know why, for many of us the questions run even deeper. After all, we serve a God who is all-knowing, all-powerful, and good. Surely, if God is all-knowing, then He knew this tragedy was about to take place. Surely, if God is all-powerful, then He had the capacity to stop it from happening. Surely, if God is good, then He must have felt compelled to stop that man from walking into an elementary school with an arsenal, and systematically executing innocent children. So then, why did this take place? Somehow, in light of the suffering born that day, the standard response that “He has a plan” seems to fall short and rings hollow.

This is a very good article concerning what happened at Newtown. This was written as a guest post on Holly Michael’s Writing Straight by Pastor T.E. Hanna, he makes some excellent points in what he says, I highly recommend this article.

To finish reading this article, please head over to http://writingstraight.com/2012/12/27/guest-post-the-newtown-tragedy-two-weeks-later-and-still-questions/ While you are there, why not check out the rest of Holly’s site and let her know something she wrote blessed you.