Category Archives: Faith

Muchas Gracias

It’s been a long year, a hard year.

Since the beginning of the year we’ve attended more churches than I care to count. I spent the first eight months of the the year working a part time job from home, which certainly helped out, but after several months it became hard to pay the bills……then I was laid off from that job for around six weeks.

A few weeks ago I was hired back at my old company where I was laid off from at the end of last year. My new position at my old company is to help assist the Chinese with technical questions by helping them do my…….job.

And to top it all off, I’ve had about a 15lb weight gain due to some medication I was taking earlier this year making it difficult to do what I like best….running.

I’ve written here many times about faith and trust in God. This year has certainly put that to the test….I’ve failed miserably. My faith has been sucked right out of me to the point I have a difficult time even praying regularly. Through all of it I have such a hard time believing God is even paying any attention to little ol’ me.

Oh I know He’s there. I know He loves me and never will forsake me….but I seem to no longer find it easy to see it deep inside.

Yet somehow I still look to Him. Not knowing if I’ll ever get an answer or if He’ll ever cast a look in my direction again. But Lord, to whom else shall I turn?

The Bible says if we have faith as small as a mustard seed that we can move mountains. God has to be providing me with the faith I need to survive right now. Otherwise I’d have given up long ago. I guess my faith is as small as a mustard seed right now….I sure seem to be moving mountains. They seem to be falling all over me.

That’s where my thanksgiving comes in at. My God loves me enough to have disciplined me this year (Hebrews 12). He loves me enough not to break this bruised reed nor snuff out this dim candle that’s still somehow burning inside of me.

So tomorrow I wake up. I thank God I have a job for the day. I thank Him my children have more food than 90% of the children in the world and I thank him for a faithful wife…faithful to me and faithful to God. After that I’ll have to let tomorrow take care of tomorrow.

And most of all, I’ll give thanks for God for not snuffing me out, which is what I deserve due to my sinfulness and rebellion and whining and grumbling……

By the way…. I don’t care for quail anyway.

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To Make a Long Story Short

It’s been a while since I posted on Justa Sorethumb.

Things have been a little difficult around here for a while. As I’ve posted here before, I lost my job of 4-1/2 years in Dec 2010. I quickly found another job working at home here in the Fort Worth, Texas area for a Seattle engineering firm in January of this year only to be laid off again in August.

After searching locally for about 6 weeks I was ready to have to leave town and head toward Seattle to go back to work temporarily for the Seattle engineering firm I had been let go from. Out of the blue, I get a call from my old company that I was let go from in December 2010 and they wanted me to start right away. It’s not exactly the type of job I want (it’s basically a job helping the Chinese learn to do my job), but it’s a job for now.

This was my fourth week back at my old company and it’s been a little difficult getting back into 11-hour days, but I am. I’m glad to have a job locally and I didn’t have to leave my family.

I’m not really a political sort of guy anymore. I gave most of that up when I was saved. No man is our savior and whether we know it or not, far too many “evangelical Christians” have too much faith in their elected officials. However, my political soapbox comment of the day has to do with the astonishing amount of work we’re sending overseas.

I know many Americans are aware we’re sending huge amounts of our manufacturing base to China and India, I’m just not sure if most Americans really understand how much. Take for instance the Boeing 747 jumbo jet with it’s millions of parts. While most of the large components are still assembled here in the USA, almost all of the parts are now built in China or South Korea. Literally thousands of high paying jobs along with the skills and technology were siphoned from our industrial base and used to boost the economy of one of the worst human rights violators in the world.

Contrary to popular belief, this wasn’t done because Boeing couldn’t make a profit by making it completely here in the USA, It was done simply because they wanted to make a bigger profit. It’s no longer good enough in America for a corporate executive to be worth 20 million dollars, they want to be worth 200 million and the quickest way there is on the backs of cheap labor.

There is a great shifting of power from the Western world to the Eastern world going on now. This is just as the book of Revelation in the Bible has said it would be in the end times. As much as it disappoints and disheartens me, I know God is in control. He brings rulers up and he brings them low. America doesn’t get a free pass in this.

I don’t know if I’ll see the return of Jesus Christ in my lifetime. I do know, just as my mother said, it’s closer now than ever. Any Christian paying attention can sense it’s coming soon. There is certainly a hardening of hearts like never before. There’s a greed in society like never before. and most of all, even the Church is beginning to tolerate falsehood like never before.

So look up, Christian, because your redemption “draweth nigh”.

With the kind of hours I’ve been working and trying to keep up with my running, I don’t know how often I will be able to post. I miss it, because it’s kind a of a therapeutic thing for me, much like my running. It’s been a hard struggle to go through a change of churches and a change of jobs in the same year.

I know God is still there. He’s never left or forsaken me. It’s just a little tough to see him now, though. I’ve had to force myself at times to continue believing this past year. I’ve had to choose with my mind to believe because my heart certainly hasn’t been in it.

Nevertheless, I continue to hope. Praise be to God the Father through Jesus Christ.

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Of God and Jalopys

After a grueling 1-month plus search, I just bought my daughter her first car today.

The truth be told, it was a kind of cooperative purchase. My daughter has had a savings account since she was a baby that all of her extra loose change went into. She used that money to pitch in a little. My wife and I contributed more, along with a gift from her grandfather. Together she was able to get her a pretty nice little Scion with some very high mileage. However, I think it’s a good little car and will service her well for a while.

As I stated earlier, the search for this car lasted for over a month. I went into this whole “first car” search totally unprepared. I guess because of the economy and the gas prices, the price of small, cheap, fuel-efficient cars has gone through the roof. More than that, though, is the fact that there just aren’t that many to choose from at any price.

We live in a metropolitan area with an excess of 5 million people. You would think there would be an abundance of good, cheap, small cars, especially since this is Texas. We do love our pickup trucks, you know. But during this last month, I spent an excess of $300 in fuel searching for a car that was just deemed “acceptable”. I wasn’t picky, honest. I merely wanted a car that didn’t look like it had been through a night of joy riding by a bunch of drunk teenage boys. I guess that was going to prove to be far more difficult than I realized.

My father has a sort of philosophy. He says you can learn something from every single person, if you’re just willing to pay attention. you may not learn the right way to do things, but you can learn what nor to do. Either way, it’s learning from others. See, this isn’t my first go-around with buying a car. At all. I’ve bought many, from all kinds of people for all kinds of prices, with all kinds of mileage. But I guess I what I learned during this experience tops all others I’ve ever had.

Here are just a few examples:

  • Since 1998 there apparently hasn’t been a car manufactured in any colors other than silver and black.
  • Appearantly, every car has been totaled and has a “salvaged” title.
  • Apparently the term “never been in an accident” doesn’t apply to wrinkled fenders and caved in doors.
  • Additionally, the term “good, clean, straight car” doesn’t apply to cars that have been beaten so badly with hail that they look like a large golf ball.
  • The length of the list of after market speed parts installed by the previous owner is directly proportionate the amount of underwear showing over the young male owner’s baggy pants.

Nevertheless, although it was a long experience, it all turned out well in the end. She got a good car and though we paid higher than we originally intended for a car, it’s still a lower price than what most are selling for currently.

Like everything else in our lives, especially so in tough times, this experience of finding a car for my daughter was another lesson I needed in God’s sovereign timing and grace.

When we started looking for a car we prayed that we would find her a good car we could afford. As time went on, the whole ‘afford’ thing was beginning to look a little hopeless. Again, this is a metro area of 5 million plus and although it seems unbelievable, we really weren’t that picky. Nevertheless, we prayed….several times.

Finally we found a good car but it was too expensive. We had just finally concluded we were going to have to break down and spend even more and we committed to buy the car.

In God’s timing and grace, though, the owner of the car went out of town for over a week and we couldn’t complete the sale. While waiting, impatiently I might add, another car just like the one we had settled on popped up for sale. Same car, same condition, same high mileage. The biggest difference was that it was over $2000 cheaper……well, and silver, of course.

During this entire car search God knew just what we needed and I have to believe that in spite of our impatience, everything worked out according to God’s timing. After all, didn’t we ask him to help us find one we could afford?

As a believer, God is involved in every detail of our lives. He’s making straight our way and leveling our paths before us. We only have to ask and believe. And of course, be willing to accept His will.

Too many Christians want to hear an audible voice, or even a sign from God. I’m the worst. However, in the day-to-day life of a believer God is unfolding their life before them, according to His will. Through prayer and patience, God carries those that are His along through life.

When something like this car deal works out the way it does in my life, I’m always left feeling a little ashamed before God. I guess shame isn’t really the word. More like humbled. Oh, sure, I pray and claim to have faith, but I’m always trying to push forward rather than accepting His timing and His will. Then in the end, after it’s over, I can always look back and see even the smallest details that God was orchestrating in the matter.

I guess that’s what faith in God is. It’s not convincing yourself He’s going to heal you or fill your checking account. It’s praying, waiting, and trusting that He will work it all out for the best, according to His will, because He loves us.

Faith, after all, is actually coming to believe the promises God has already given us, not pressing Him for more.

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What is Love?

I would guess if there’s one thing in life I’ve had the most difficult time understanding, it’s what the definition of love really is. I would probably also guess at this point I’m hearing a resounding “I coulda told ya that!” from my wife. Probably a lot of other wives would say the same thing about their husbands. I mean, after all, is love a feeling? Is it an action? Is it both?

I certainly agree that I’m the last person to be able to describe or even define what true love is. However, I do know that true Biblical love is probably far beyond what any of us can come to truly comprehend. But in Jesus, we do see what God intends to be true love. We can look to the Bible and get at least a definition of the framework of what love is to be like. Sometimes we see acts of love in the Bible that’s so beyond what we expect that it’s hard for our finite minds to process it.

Take for example, Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins. So many questions come to mind if you pause to ponder God’s purpose behind Jesus’ death. Questions that can’t be answered any other way than: True Love.

For years I read and tried to understand the passages of scriptures below (emphasis mine):

3 For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. 4 When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. (1Cor 5:3-5, ESV)

18 This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, 20 among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme. (1 Tim 1:18-20)

Notice the emphasized parts of the verses above. I thought we were to keep people away from satan? Why would a Christian ever hand a man over to satan? What does “handing someone over to satan” even mean?

The Pyromaniacs Blog recently wrote an article on this here, which is what brought this back up in my mind again. It’s a good illustration of what Paul is trying to get across in the verses above.

For many years now I’ve wondered why I see so many Christian families with seemingly utter chaos within their families. Drug abuse, premarital sex, pornography, repeated divorce, chaotic financial decisions, and on an on the list goes. This same thing is even common in “church families”.

It’s generally played out in a situation such as this: Bob was into sex, drugs, and rock-n-Roll until he gave his heart to Jesus. Bob’s life was cleaned up for a long time until he fell back into it all again. Then one Easter Sunday Bob, at the end of his rope and attending church with his momma, makes the walk to the altar and “re-dedicates” his heart to Jesus. The cycle repeats itself all of Bob’s life. All along, Bob’s family knows Bob is a Christian who’ just backslides occasionally.

All along Bob thinks he’s a Christian, after all he said a prayer at the altar, and if Bob died today he’d go to heaven. But you see, Bob has lost his fear of the Lord. Bob’s not really struggling against sin. Oh, he doesn’t really WANT to go to hell, but he has no real desire to take up his cross, deny himself, and follow Jesus.

And who’s to blame for Bob’s lack of fear of the Lord and his lack of a desire to follow Jesus in true saving faith? Bob? His family?

Ultimately, Bob will be held accountable when He stands before Jesus. But what about Bob’s Christian families’ responsibility?

Look back at the verses above. In each of these verses Paul was addressing issues with professing Christians within the church. However, they were false converts. They looked and acted like many Christians today, even like ol’ Bob. What Paul was trying to say is this: As long as you continue to pat these guys on the back and assure them they are saved they will continue to have a false assurance of their salvation and will never come to true repentance and salvation.

And ultimately, is that love?

Do you love your brother, sister, son, daughter, dad, mom, fellow church member, or friend enough to “hand them over to satan”? Do you love them enough to tell them if they continue down the path they’re on, they’ll face a terrifying God on judgement day? Do you love them enough to let them know no matter how many times they attend church and put on their religious face every Sunday, their still headed for judgement?

When a person is chosen by God for salvation, God places His Holy Spirit within them. Though they’ll make mistakes along the way, God continues to draw them to Himself through a continual sanctification process. They’ll have an ever-growing desire for the things of God. It won’t take a continual propping up of their faith and a human assurance of their salvation. Over time, the inner working of the Holy Spirit in their lives will become more and more evident. If they truly belong to God, the “handing them over to satan” will have no effect.

Only God knows who’s truly saved and who’s not. But the Bible does give clear outlines of the characteristics of a believer versus a non-believer. This was given by God for our discernment purposes.

We aren’t doing any favors for our loved ones by our continual reassurance of their right standing before God. Step out of God’s way and let Him do that. Trust me, He’s more than able to draw his children unto Himself.

Again, I recommend you read this article. He does a much better job expressing his view of the same issue.

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Christian Disguises

The words below are the lyrics to a song titled Blessings by Laura Story. The song is getting a lot of airplay on the Christian pop station in the Fort Worth, Texas area where I live; likely all over the USA.

The song is a beautiful song and, of course, is popular with a lot of Christian women right now. But I’m reprinting the lyrics here for more than just that. The lyrics contain a lot of theology regarding the sovereignty of God.

Read the lyrics to the song below and as you do, think about the words and see if you really believe what they say about God’s character. I’ll comment below.

We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
And we cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
And what if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know the pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home
It’s not our home

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise

As I’ve stated in entries elsewhere on this blog, one of the most wonderful things God has done for me is open my eyes to come to understand His sovereignty in all things. Believing in God’s sovereignty is the basis of true faith in God.

For instance, if you have a sick child and you’re one who believes that the Bible teaches that if you can only come to believe hard enough, if you can only muster up enough faith within yourself that God will heal your child then He’ll do what you ask. The problem with that theology is that God is actually being moved by you.

The truth is, we are incapable of even knowing what God’s will is outside of His Holy Spirit opening our eyes. We are completely incapable, due to our depraved sinful nature, of even submitting to God’s will or His grace unless His Spirit moves us to do so. God is sovereign in ALL things and it’s a theme taught throughout the entirety of Scripture.

I recap this because I wonder how many people singing along with these words on their morning commute REALLY believe in the sovereignty of God? I can know with reasonable certainty that if I was to ask any of the Christians I know if God was sovereign, they would say “Yes, definitely.” I gotta say, however, they don’t live or pray like they believe it. It’s evident in the way they speak about God in their daily lives.

Look at the first paragraph of the song:

We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

Do we ever really stop and think about the deeper meaning of our prayers? For instance, what if God really was to give us that job we’ve been praying for before we’re ready to lead? What would that do for our careers? It could ruin us, but we think because we didn’t get that job we desired that God didn’t come through or we didn’t have enough faith. All along it could’ve been because God is a good Father and He knows what we need.

What about that relationship that’s gone sour? What if we’ve prayed and prayed doing everything we can to muster up enough faith for God to answer our prayers for restoration? What if, however, God loves you too much to see your spirit sucked dry by someone who God never intended you to be yoked together with in the first place?

Now read this paragraph:

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise.

Is it possible we’ve spent so long praying to God, crying out to Him for relief that we’ve actually forgotten the real goal? Have we cried out to God for years and years to heal our sick child when all along what God really wants is to hear your thanks for what you have? What if the pain and anguish you’ve been going through was put there by God so you’d finally lay it all aside and cry tears of thanksgiving for His grace? Because after all, because of our sinfulness and rebellion, did we really deserve the love of even a sick child? Is it possible the book of Job, Hebrews 12, and James 1 in the Bible could be true in spite of what the famous Christian televangelist might be telling you otherwise?

And finally:

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise

What if there’s more to everything we see? What if God is so gracious and He loves us so much that His ultimate goal is to prepare us for eternity? What if His ultimate goal, as Hebrews 12 states, is that He loves us so much that he wants nothing more than to clean the sinful lusts of this world from our lives so we’re devoted enough to Him that we’re willing to lay this life down for Him?

History records that 11 of Jesus 12 disciples were martyred for preaching the Gospel. The apostle Paul was also. It is my sincere belief that at least once each of these apostles asked God to take their suffering away. What if God had answered their prayers? Why didn’t God answer their prayers? Did Paul lose his head because he didn’t have enough faith? Was peter crucified upside down because he didn’t pay his tithes? The answer, of course, is “no”.

God was sovereignly preparing each of these men for something greater in eternity. Even now, because of the trials in your life, God may be preparing you for something greater in eternity. Notice I said “eternity”. You may lose everything here on this earth, including your very life.

But, as the song says above:

And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise

What if God might love you so much that His unanswered prayers are actually His mercies in disguise?

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Rest for the Weary Soul

28And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. (Matt 10:28-31, ESV)

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matt 6:25-34, ESV)

One of the hardest things for me to learn and come to understand in my walk with God is His sovereignty in all things. I’m not there yet…not even close. But as time goes on, I’m coming more and more to rest and trust that God is in control of ALL things. That includes the good and the bad.

If I was to ask any one of my Christian friends and family members if they believed God was in control of all things, without a doubt all of them would say “Absolutely!”. Yet as with all words, they come cheap for us. A man can tell his wife he loves her all he wants, but if she knows he’s cheating on her with another woman, his words mean nothing. The same works when we say we believe something about the character of God, yet our actions belie it.

We wrestle with demons in our house. We command sickness out of our house. We fight, strive, wrestle, battle, command, take authority, plead, cry out, and try to grab ahold of the altar and shake it till God comes out. We spend so much time trying to get God to do our bidding that we never learn to trust Him and walk in peace and humility before God.

I spent far too many years searching for God’s “voice” and not enough time just trusting in God to take care of me just as He does sparrows and lilies. I wanted God to tell me about bible college, my job, which church to attend, and a whole lot of other difficult decisions. I would pray and listen. Never did an answer come in the form of a “word”, a “dream”, a “feeling”, a “prophecy” or any other thing people are chasing after these days. It seemed like everyone else was “hearing” from God, but He never seemed to speak to me.

I broke down and became angry at God because it seemed He was talking to everyone else and not me.

It’s taken some time for me to learn what the New Testament really teaches about the character of God. Once we are saved we are His. We are bought and paid for with the blood of Jesus Christ. Never will he leave us nor forsake us. We are now slaves of Christ. He is our master and no ultimate harm will come to us.

38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” 39 But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. (Matt 12:38-39, ESV)

Jesus taught that to be constantly seeking signs from heaven was to be someone who didn’t trust in God and the promises in his written Word, the Bible. If one day we see something spelled out in a cloud, or a street sign named the same as a person we’ve been praying for, or even the Virgin Mary in a piece of toast. Thats all they are. They aren’t signs from God. And even if they were, so what. Everything He promises is written down in His word. He promises us nothing more. Anything else is divination, which is no different that reading tea leaves or tarot cards.

As we live our daily lives we can trust Him to provide all that we need. If sickness comes our way, whether we live or die, we do so for the Lord. If we lose our job, He’s promised in the verses above that we won’t go without food, clothing, or shelter. If one day we are brought before a council and asked to deny Jesus Christ or be burned at the stake, we can also rest assured He will provide for us there, too.

We’ve become so infected with the “prosperity gospel” far too many of us Christians have come to think there’s always good that will come out of everything here on this earth. But I have news for you, it doesn’t always turn out so good here on Earth. Sometimes people lose their heads, die of cancer, are crucified, or are burned to death for the sake of Christ. It’s happening all over the world as I type this. 

Our lives are not our own. They belong to Christ. We are to love Him and obey his written word, the Bible. We are to seek Him through prayer and to yield ourselves to his word daily. In this manner things will work out the way He wants them to. It’s just not always the way we want them to.

In the meantime:

But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, 11 and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, 12 so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one. (1 Thes 4:10-12, ESV)

We can trust that He’ll guide our steps, make level our paths, care for our body and needs, bring us the relationships we need, and place us just where He wants as we seek Him and trust Him quietly and patiently.

It’s hard for me, too. But believe me, it’s okay to stop the striving……now if I can only walk it out too.

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