Finishing well

I hope that you all will have the opportunity to finish this school year well.

I was personally challenged and encouraged by learning about Eric Liddell’s journey of faith because he saw fit to stay focused on the Lord for all of his days. He ran the race with integrity. In each opportunity that the Lord gave him, he sought to give God his best, trust Him for the outcome, and give Him the glory. The biography that I have been reading provided numerous illustrations of friends, family, and acquaintances that saw in Eric a humility and an attitude of service that didn’t waver under the great success of his athletic career or significant periods of trial in his missionary endeavors in China.

race-image

Let this be true of those of us that are here today, studying, working, and contributing to the lives of church bodies and families. Our parents and grandparents need us to carry the torch and live out a strong legacy of faith in Christ. Our children and the youth of the next generation need to see tangible evidence in our lives that we won’t waver even when hard times come and there is much pressure and opposition to be a Christian but hang onto bits and pieces of worldliness that entangle us as we commit to run this race all the way to the finish line.

Peter…the flawed, but faithful rock

The last of the three Biblical characters I wanted to mention this week with regards to faithfulness is Peter.

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:31-32

I wonder that this passage sometimes loses some of its significance for us because in a few short chapters we see both the fall and the redemption and restoration of Peter. The scriptures on the denial of Peter leave a lot of room for us to imagine what might have been going on in the heart and mind of Peter when he initially defended his honor to the Lord, only to find himself denying Jesus three times before the rooster crowed.

Perhaps it is not until we really need to that we are able to see more in these words of Jesus. Not just to let it sink in that Satan wanted to go after Peter specifically, but that, in some measure, the Lord allowed Satan to get to Peter. Whoa. Yet, somehow in God’s sovereignty, this didn’t crush Peter or persuade him to abandon the faith. No, rather his faith was built strong, as Jesus had prayed that it would. This experience ended up being part of what prepared Peter to take on the leadership role that Jesus intended for him.

I hope that we can become so close in our walk with the Lord that we will be sensitive to His prompting, whether that is to be quick to seek repentance when we do fall or to pray for another who just may be sifted like wheat. In either case, it is an opportunity to submit to the Lord, to recognize how much we are dependent on Him to enable us to be the men and women He has called us to be, and to pray in accordance with the Spirit on behalf of other believers as well as those who do not know Him.

Miss California…modern-day Esther?

I don’t pay much attention to the news, so the odds are, if you were to approach me with, ‘did you hear about…’, the answer would be ‘no.’ On Tuesday night, one of the women from my Bible study was talking about the controversy of the gay marriage question posed to Miss California. The great thing about this piece of news is that it was, in fact, good news.

This event, too, ties into my earlier posts this week about issues of faithfulness and falling away. This was a moment where Miss California could have given way to fear, she could have tried to please men, she could have put a desire to attain her own glory above what is right, but she didn’t. Perhaps, it was ‘for such a time as this’ that she was able to achieve second place…so that this question would be asked of her and that by being tested, she could stand with conviction, in effect, expressing ‘if I perish, I perish’ or in her case, ‘if I lose the [earthly] crown, I lose it.’

It took great courage and faith for Esther to approach the king on behalf of her people. She did so with reverence for God, respect for the king, and humility. She did so in fear and trembling. Still, she stepped out as a woman of God.

At the risk of getting too close for our own comfort…it is good for us to do an inventory with the Lord from time to time to search out if there is anything that we would cling to more than Him if we were to be called on it. What dreams do you hold closest to your heart? What persons or achievements are most beloved? Do you love God even more than these? What if He tests you on that answer?

Abraham’s legacy of faith

“For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.

That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring–not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”–in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” ”

Romans 4:13-22

I think that this is a piece of the puzzle when it comes to thinking about Christians who stick it out for the long haul. Like Abraham, these kinds of Christians even stare some stark and sobering realities about the earthly obstacles they experience in the face, but they choose to believe God and fix their eyes on Him for direction, sustanence, and delight.

When we get consumed by the mountains only God can move, we become more vulnerable to distrust and then can be lured away by other fascinations that promise some immediate comfort or fulfillment that doesn’t appear to cost us so much. In truth, this is a deception, since everyone bows to something and so that lure can quickly become lord of our lives…more rapidly than we’d really like to admit.

I wish more of us ‘got it’ like Abraham did. He didn’t deny the challenges before him, but that didn’t give rise to a departure from God’s instructions. Abraham pressed on in the things God told him to do, even though he wasn’t seeing any physical changes to his need for a son and his inability to have a child with Sarah. He believed in the God who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. If we walked through our days making decisions that reflect an unwavering belief in this God, we have no cause to turn away after other things. God rewarded Abraham’s patient faithfulness. He multiplied it by allowing Abraham to grow strong in his faith as he gave glory to God.