Blog under construction…

We are in the process of migrating ThInc to a Drupal format and so I hope to resume posting next week.

There should be some great stuff ahead…Matt Ostercamp has offered to submit a few guest posts on Technology & Faith, which I’ll pull up over the next couple weeks.

Rich blessings to you!

Advertisements

Prayer & marriage

I’d like to make an addendum to my previous post on Christianity Today’s article about Early Marriage.

One good product of the sadness and pain that comes from remaining unmarried in my life has been the call to pray. I have often been drawn to the story of Hannah this past year, mulling over what it meant for the Lord to give her the desire for a son and then permit her to wait year after year, and through the waiting, instill in her an acute awareness of the need for upright leadership in their midst.

If I had not the depth of heart-felt longing that has been deferred, I would not be in as strong of a position to take up the call to pray…for friends’ marriages to be healthy and rooted in Him, for young men and women that I know to seek Him first, for men to have the courage to pursue leadership and marriage, for women to be modest and patient, that older women I know will stay faithful to Him, that younger women I know might not have to wait as long as some of the rest of us so that they will not face temptation and doubt…

Perhaps some of you might also be called to pray, either for marriages in general or for the people you know, married and unmarried, who could truly benefit from God’s divine purposes through the transforming work of prayer.

But, I don’t feel like giving thanks…

What are some of the alternatives to thanks-giving?

Sometimes, we just don’t ‘feel‘ like expressing thanks. Here are a few illustrations of the repercussions when people don’t offer thanks:

Romans 1:21:  “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

Ephesians 5:4 “Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.”

Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

Allow me to summarize a bit, then. Sometimes when our hearts are inclined to be ungrateful, we are more susceptible to the ways of the world and the call of Madam Folly (see Proverbs). Other times, we might find our lips mocking, joking, or condemning instead of offering thanks, praise, and encouragement. Still other times, we are gripped with anxiety when we focus on our circumstances rather than God, who is always greater than our need. Each of these instances tear down our relationship with the Lord and with others.

So, scripture instructs us instead to praise Him, give Him glory, offer up thanks, and pray with anticipation that God provides.

This past week, I’ve been setting aside time each morning on my way to work to give thanks for things God is doing, who He is, and how He has provided. When an upsetting time came up this weekend, I actually thought to myself, ‘Alright, what out of this can I give thanks for?’ Friends, that’s not like me. If nothing else, I could say thanks that the Spirit is working that I would ask such a question when I’m prone to mentally itemizing every detail that is going wrong!

As I was listening to this week’s sermon, I was gently reminded to expect opposition. Here I am, asking the Lord to help me change an area of my life where He hasn’t been on the throne. I’ve let doubt, fear, and complaint take their turns sitting there, instead. That’s not going to be a smooth transition; trials will come and have already arrived. But God has taught us to give thanks anyway. He modeled it through Jesus and He equips us to do so by the work of His Spirit.

Scriptures on thanks

Gratitude is “learning to recognize and express appreciation for the benefits we have received from God and from others.”

Scripture has much to say about giving thanks. In the Old Testament, there are repeated references to giving God thanks because of His goodness and enduring love (1 Chronicles 16:34), His trustworthiness (Psalm 28:7), salvation (Psalm 118:21), and His answers to and provision for our requests (Daniel 2:23). The New Testament writers highlight the benefits of life in Christ, such as: grace in Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:4), victory in Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:57), generosity that overflows into thanks (2 Corinthians 9:11-12), peace of Christ (Colossians 3:15,17), that the kingdom cannot be shaken (Hebrew 12:28, and that Jesus will be the one on the throne forever (Revelation 4:9).

In reviewing passages that address thanks and thankfulness, it’s apparent that the emphasis is on directing our thoughts and our hearts towards the Lord. It is He who we have to thank, for who He is, for what He has done, and for what He will yet do with us, through us, and in us. So part of having a thankful heart involves looking up rather than inward or outward for reasons to be joyful and glad. As our eternal focus grows, we can sincerely learn what it means to give thanks no matter what is headed our way on earth. The deepest things we really have to be thankful for are grounded in our Lord and Savior, not in our circumstances or abilities. These things are always true and solid, even when our journey looks grim and our efforts are feeble.

May the Lord help us to recall who He is and what He has done with fresh faith and genuine gratitude.

I was particularly excited about this verse…“But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.” (2 Corinthians 2:14)

Watermark has a simple, but excellent song about our gratitude for salvation in Christ that I’ve been mulling over recently.

Why I’m blogging…

Greetings! I’m Rebekah Hall and I’ve been blogging for the library since January, but I thought I’d recap what I aim to do through blogging now that we’re beginning a new school year.

In addition to providing a place to highlight some resources and events at the library, it’s my hope that this can be a forum for conversations among the Trinity community, an opportunity for students to gain some familiarity with library staff, and a way to exhort us to think about our faith and consider how studying and serving at Trinity equips us to practice what we believe in everyday living.

I’m looking forward to posting on the library blog and I welcome your thoughts and feedback! Feel free to see my about page to learn more about me and my role at Rolfing.

FYI: We’re in the process of switching to a new website, so eventually the blog will be integrated into Drupal.

Joy & Pain…in service

Slowly, but surely, I’m plugging away at Fernando’s ‘Call to Joy in Pain.’ A few things I gleaned from today’s reading were that if churches really want to see the congregation rise up as servants (and not merely consumers), one of the very best ways to see that accomplished is for the leadership to invest themselves in loving the flock. Love motivates and inspires. We are living in a generation that refrains from vulnerability in relationships, but when we allow that to go on, we are short-circuiting the good work that comes from dealing with difficult circumstances honestly and seeking the Lord to help us to help those in our church body who’s needs surpass our perceived abilities to offer time, resources, energy, etc.

These are some helpful reminders for those of us who plan to be involved in lifelong ministry, whether full-time or part-time, paid, or volunteer. We all have a part to play here. As much as we sometimes feel that our schedules are already brimming, I would encourage you to prayerfully consider if there is any capacity in which the Lord might want to use you to either love another church goer or help someone from the body out with a practical need. One of my periodic things is writing letters to women from my congregation to encourage them in their walk, let them know I’m praying, or follow up about something that I know has been happening in their lives.

Sara Groves is one of my favorite artists…when I think about love, there are a few things that pop into my mind almost immediately: excerpts from C. S. Lewis’s Four Loves and Kierkegaard’s Works of Love (see quote tab) and songs from Sara Groves. Here are the lyrics for one of them:

When it was over and they could talk about it
She said there’s just one thing I have got to know
What in that moment when you were running so hard and fast
Made you stop and turn for home
He said I always knew you loved me even though I’d broken your heart
I always knew there’d be a place for me to make a brand new start

Oh love wash over a multitude of things
Love wash over a multitude of things
Love wash over a multitude of things
Make us whole

When it was over and they could talk about it
They were sitting on the couch
She said what on earth made you stay here
When you finally figured out what I was all about
He said I always knew you’d do the right thing
Even though it might take some time
She said, Yeah, I felt that and that’s probably what saved my life

Oh love wash over a multitude of things
Love wash over a multitude of things
Love wash over a multitude of things
Make us whole

There is a love that never fails
There is a healing that always prevails
There is a hope that whispers a vow
A promise to stay while we’re working it out
So come with your love and wash over us

Ajith Fernando’s Call to Joy & Pain

A dear friend of mine recently referenced Fernando’s Call to Joy & Pain: Embracing Suffering in Your Ministry. I thought I would take a look at it since it was related to some of the work I’ve been doing in scripture reading and Bible study.

In the introduction, Fernando addresses a very significant issue for Americans in acknowledging the “cultural incompatibility of the cross.” In the book, he will proceed to discuss both joy and struggle in the life of a Christian and how they are sometimes woven together throughout our experiences.

He points out that satisfaction competes with joy for our attention and investment. Satisfaction is not bad in and of itself, but when we pursue it at the cost of things that God has asked us to do or to forsake, then we’re in trouble. Fernando indicates that addiction is perhaps the most pronounced expression of satisfaction that has won out over joy in a person’s life. However, he reminds the reader that, “without the joy of the Lord, all pleasure has a hollow ring to it.”

I would agree that particularly in the current generations, we are facing a strong temptation day after day, to pursue satisfaction over a deeper, truer Christianity. Experientially, satisfaction fades away all too quickly, and we find ourselves feeling empty again and wanting something or someone else to fill that void.

Over the last several years, I’ve become increasingly convinced that our capacity to know the fullness of joy is connected to our willingness to receive pain. I think when we push away the painful times in our lives or attempt to ignore them, we are also cutting off the potential for a more complete joy that the Lord ushers in after a season of trials, or waiting, or growing.