How can I trust God when He gives no guarantee things will get easier?

cliff-drop-warning-sign--information_19-133742Anyone who has come face to face with the call to trust God in the midst of suffering will understand these feelings of trepidation.

The Christian, never having been promised an easy life, is still supposed to trust God, knowing that He may lead us into hardships. Sometimes it feels like you’re standing at the top of a cliff, fearfully putting your trust in someone who may well push you off, against your wishes and with no warning.

I remember wrestling with this during one of my most unwell times. ‘How can I trust someone who may allow me to go even deeper into this pit of suffering?’ It’s a very real question. If I can’t trust a God who loves me to protect me from what I fear most, then what can I trust Him for?

Sometimes I think we forget what it means to be a Christian. It means that we’ve been crucified with Christ. Crucified! We have given up all of our earthly rights in the hope that we can be restored to relationship with God; that we have a home in heaven; and that all things will, ultimately, work together for our good.

We do not chiefly trust in God to make our lives easier. We surrender our lives, to share in His sufferings, because we believe it is the greatest possible trade we could make. Our trust is in God, not for earthly pleasures, but for the glory that will one day be revealed.

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Is there a Greater Reality?

dreaming-in-the-grey-reality-1136764-mThis is a question that has changed my life. I think most of us go through life defining our reality by what we can see and touch. We assign levels of reality. Tangible objects are the most real, followed by feelings and then ideas. That which is spiritual is often designated a position in the outskirts of what we deem true reality.

The Christian is called, however, through the renewing of their mind, to alter their perception of reality. We must perceive that which is spiritual, as described by the Scriptures, to be equally as much of a reality, if not even more so, as that which we see and feel.  We are called to live not by sight, but by faith.

This changed my life when I realized that the truth of the Scriptures must override my earthly perception of reality.

When my feelings tell me I’m afraid, they are intense. They claw for a prime position in defining my reality, but as a Christian, fear does not need to be my reality. When I read the scriptures I learn that the Spirit within me does not fear, and therefore, fear does not have to have a hold on me. Acknowledging this as a greater truth and ‘even more real’ than my feelings brings liberation.

Our reality must no longer be defined by what we see, but what we know by faith. It’s radical. To the unbeliever it’s absurd, but as they say, truth is often stranger than fiction.

What Happens when Morality and Books Collide (and you couldn’t see it coming)

shock-and-awe_2666361I’ve always loved reading, and I’ve tried to be discerning with what I read. I grew up largely on Christian fiction, the occasional bestseller and my high school reading list. When I became a teacher six years ago, I set out to become ‘well read’ in secular fiction, so that I knew what to recommend to my students. I began devouring popular books, and, last year, read a book a week for the entire year.

My endeavor, however, had a frequent downside. Too often, I’d find myself gripped by a novel only to discover an increasing amount of content that I didn’t feel comfortable reading. I felt a conviction that this content was not something that I, as a Christian, should be reading; but I was loving the book! On occasion this battle ended with me tearing the book to pieces; making a bold personal stand within myself.

I was sick of the battle between my moral standards and my love of reading. I scoured the internet for a source that would help me discern what sort of content was in a novel before I started reading it. There was nothing to be found.

Now there is.

My new website, www.bookclassifications.com , exists to assist the discerning reader in discovering what level of content may be in a book before they start reading it, or pass it on to their child.

I’d love for you to check it out, share it with friends and family and like us on Facebook!

Halloween and the Australian Christian’s Dilemma

pumpkinThe commercialization of Halloween is gradually sucking Australians into a celebration we once considered to be purely ‘American.’

While many Australians may be willing to embrace this trend, the question must arise concerning the stance of the Christian. Just last week someone came to me asking my advice on what should be done regarding a teenage girl’s invitation to a Halloween party.

Of course each person must follow the convicting of the Spirit in their own hearts, but as the body of Christ, I truly believe that there are some things we should stand against as a community.

Having spoken to several teenagers in the past who have had terrifying experiences delving into the occult, it seems clear to me that as Christians we must be careful not to align ourselves with a festival which, despite its supposed ‘Christian’ roots, has become known for its associations with witchcraft, death, spirits and horror.

So what is a teenager to do, when it will not be well received by their friends if they do not participate? My heart aches for them; I remember how painful it was to make choices that were unpopular. But as Christians we were never called to do what was popular; we are called to be different, even when it means sacrifice. The greatest thing we can do for our children is to teach them how to make a stand while they are young, so that when they are older, the narrow road is not foreign to them.

Why is the message of Christianity offensive?

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The message of Christianity is offensive because it’s exclusive.

One of the foundational premises of Christianity is that salvation comes only through Jesus Christ. He claimed to be the Way, the Truth and the Life and that ‘no one comes to the Father except through me.’ Acts also states that ‘…there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among menby which we must be saved.

Christianity claims to be the one true religion, reconciling people with the One True God. You can accept it or reject it, but you can’t mix it with other faiths or worldviews.

I’m sick of people ranting about how Christianity is all about tolerance and acceptance. I wonder if these people have ever read a Bible. While Christianity welcomes all people, irrespective of their sinfulness or their past, it demands total allegiance; the renouncing of all other paths and the acceptance of salvation through Jesus alone.

This can be hard to swallow, but there is one massive payoff: It’s the truth! As Paul said ‘… the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.’

The Gospel message saves people! It offers hope, it transforms lives and it restores fellowship with God. It is the greatest miracle to have ever touched humanity.

It’s exclusive because it has to be; because it IS the only way. It’s a Jesus plus nothing message, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

What if Christians actually acted like Jesus?

seek_truth_by_beautifullyevilI found this discussion topic on another blog that I follow (jonlilley.com) and it really got me thinking.

How often do we hear or read something that sounds good, and automatically agree with it without even thinking about whether it’s true?

The following quote is by Mahatma Gandhi:

If all Christians acted like Christ, the whole world would be Christian.

Sounds good, sounds challenging. But is it true ?

What are your thoughts?

What is the meaning of life?

 

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One of my year 12 students asked me if we could talk about something deep. ‘Like “What is the meaning of life?”’ he said.

‘Oh, well that’s an easy one,’ I said (yes slightly, but not entirely facetiously), and then borrowed, as good Christians do, from the Westminster Catechism: ‘The meaning of life is to glorify God, and enjoy Him forever.’ (Or for the John Piper fans out there, to ‘glorify God by enjoying Him forever.’)

‘No! That’s not what I meant!’ responded my student. And of course it’s not what he meant. He meant let’s have a deep and complex academic debate about how life has any meaning apart from God.

It is no longer acceptable to have a simple answer to a question that has been overcomplicated by the desire to remove God.

It reminded me of a quote I found on a scrap of paper in my Bible: ‘Christianity is the easiest Religion because all you have to do is believe. And Christianity is the hardest Religion because all you have to do is believe.’

How easy it is to answer this question with a simple truth, and how difficult it is to live it.