For When You’re in the Middle of It

For When You’re in the Middle of It

I have a few friends who are in the middle of it right now. I myself am in the middle of it right now in a few different ways. I mean, life’s alright; nobody died or anything. But we all have those moments when somebody does actually die or maybe it feels like God’s not listening anymore or maybe a couple hundred bucks extra at the end of the month would take a little bit of the stress off or maybe if your kids would just shut up for two minutes you wouldn’t think about leaving.

What I hate when I’m in the middle of it are all the fixers who try make it better. It’s not that they’re bad or anything. And, I mean… some of it’s good. Like, I need a good sermon from time to time about hope and not giving up and trusting the Lord. But the sermon should come on Sunday or from a good podcast, not from across the kitchen table, ya know?

I bet that’s how Job felt, sitting criss-cross-applesauce covered in soot and boils. Then his friends show up and just. won’t. stop. talking… I mean, have you ever tried to read Job from cover to cover? Most of the action is in the first and last chapter. You don’t need much more than that to figure out what God is trying to get across in that book. The rest of it is just Job’s friends yammering a bunch of well-meaning mildly heretical nonsense, save a few chapters where Job tries to defend himself to them and the Lord.

The two obvious things we can take from Job are 1.) God is sovreign and He’s gonna do what He’s gonna do and we need to be ok that, and 2.) if you’re friend is hurting, just shut your mouth and sit with them. Watch tv or play Yahtzee or something, but, mostly, just be there and don’t talk about it unless they want to.

But that’s not what I want to talk about. Instead, I want to offer the one thing that gets me through the middle of it, the days I still grieve, the days I’m almost sure God isn’t listening, the days when I’m ready to just quit.

It begins and ends with this great song from Cody Carnes, The Cross has the Final Word. Go listen and then come back.

No, seriously.

Good, right?

Let’s continue.

The Cross has the final word because it was there that Jesus declared His absolute supreme lordship forever. Everything that He did—the suffering He undertook, His descending to hell, His rising with glory on the third day—established that He is indeed the mighty, endless, powerful, omniscient, omnipresent God He claims to be.

And that means we must trust Him, period. No matter how deep or dark the valley, we have no choice but to surrender to His work on the Cross, His triumph in resurrection, and His power by the Holy Spirit in order that we might endure to the end.

And when you’re in the middle of it, that thought doesn’t immediately make you feel better. At least not me. Usually, I’m like “OK GOD WHAT ARE YOU DOING HALP PLZ…” but then I think about all of it—the cross, the grave, the resurrection, the tongues of fire—and remember that He is indeed near, that I am going to be ok, that He has a plan.

The Cross has the final word.

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It’s OK to Hurt

It’s OK to Hurt

A friend of mine shared this blog post from Kris Vallotton, Prophetic Word For a New Season: Leaving Pain Behindand it brought some important issues to mind, issues that deal with human suffering and the character of God. Admittedly, I have a lot of personal emotion stored up in both of those topics due to my own season of suffering when my young wife unexpectedly passed away in 2011. But that season led me to some long arguments with God that He eventually won, and, in light of what Vallotton has to say on his blog, I wanted to share them here.  Continue reading “It’s OK to Hurt”

The Thing about Hugh

The Thing about Hugh

I want to first acknowledge that it seems Mr. Hefner was trying to do something good, as this NPR piece aptly noted:

“My father lived an exceptional and impactful life as a media and cultural pioneer and a leading voice behind some of the most significant social and cultural movements of our time in advocating free speech, civil rights and sexual freedom,” Hefner’s son Cooper, now the company’s chief creative officer, wrote in the company’s statment. “He defined a lifestyle and ethos that lie at the heart of the Playboy brand.”

Hefner’s assault on a what he called a “puritan” America was, I believe, well-intentioned. As such, I applaud him for stepping out to try and make America a better place. It’s much more than the twitter-verse has done to stop pretty much anything it decries and more than most bloggers (such as myself) do to bring positive change to the problems we wish we could fix with a laptop and a cable modem. Hefner certainly achieved his goals.

I’m just not sure those goals were good. Continue reading “The Thing about Hugh”

If you need time with God, spend time with your spouse.

If you need time with God, spend time with your spouse.

Or maybe I should say it this way: God will not honor the time you spent with Him if it’s time you took away from your spouse. 

I feel this tension fairly often, usually in the mornings. It’s when I wake up a little bit earlier than usual and think, Man, I should go spend some time in prayer / the word / worship / etc… and then Abigail stirs a little. I hear the sound of her skin on the sheets and then she snuggles in close to my neck. I try to pull away but she pulls me back closer. She’s still full of sleep, so she can usually muster only a few simple words.

No… stay,” she says.

Continue reading “If you need time with God, spend time with your spouse.”

I Love Hymns, But I Don’t Let My Church Sing Them Very Often.

I Love Hymns, But I Don’t Let My Church Sing Them Very Often.

Two articles popped up on my timeline in the last couple of weeks, and if I could summarize them briefly I’d call them “anti-modern-worship.” Now, a caveat: they’re not completely anti-anything. I don’t think the authors were sitting at their desks petting their fluffy, white cat in a villainous manner thinking, “Mmm… yes, I shall now destroy those Hillsong loving hipsters and their four-word choruses…. mmm… yes… AND THEN I SHALL RULE THE WORLD WITH JOHN PIPER PODCASTS!! MUHAHAHAHAHAHA…..” I think the authors carry a genuine concern for the church and its direction in our increasingly secularized culture.

However, I think they’re missing the point of what churches like my own do on a Sunday morning, and I want to make a strong case for how modern (read: non-traditional) churches worship. Continue reading “I Love Hymns, But I Don’t Let My Church Sing Them Very Often.”