Tuesday, October 16, 2007

What Did You Learn From Your Pain?

"God uses our suffering to wean us from self-reliance and cast us on himself alone."
Piper, Desiring God, p. 222
So, when I am entering an especially difficult time in my personal life, I must ask myself, "Have I become too self-reliant? Is God attempting to get my attention away from myself and on to him? Why am I trying to handle this myself?"

And when I am in the throes on such a turmultous set of rapids, I must ask myself, "Who has the strength that I need? Am I clinging onto the paddle too tightly, steering us right into the rosks that I want to avoid? Do I need to pray instead of panic now?"

And finally, as I come out into the calm waters below the raging river run, I must ask myself, "How could I have allowed to have more control in that ride? How much better would it have been if I had given him more of the rudder? Did I handle that set of rapids with better skill than the last set (ie did I allow God to have more control)? Am I more confident in my abilities now or God's? Have I praised him for his abundant power, wisdom, care, and control -- after all he did bring you through safely!"

As I tell the story of my extreme experience of suffering, who looks like the hero? Me? or God? Does God get the spotlight or the footnote in the telling of my tale? Am I more or less dependent on Him now than I was upriver?

I want to suffer calmly, knowing that the captain of my ship is not me!
"This is God's universal purpose for all Christian suffering: more contentment in God and less satisfaction in self and the world."
Piper, Desiring God, p. 222
Riding the rapids, learning the lessons, praising the pilot,

Stuff You Won't See on a BillBoard

"Human beings flee suffering. We move to safer neighborhoods. We choose milder climates. We buy air conditioners. We take aspirin. We come in out of the rain. We avoid dark streets. We purify our water. We do not normally choose a way of life that would put us in "peril every hour." Paul's life is out of sync with ordinary human choices. Virtually no advertisement slogans lure us into daily dying [to self]."
Piper, Desiring God, p. 220

Monday, October 15, 2007

Suffering for Jesus

There is an incredibly hard decision point to be made when considering the texts of Scripture on suffering. What are we to preach to an affluent, propserous Christian in the US or Western Europe? Have we experienced real genuine suffering? John Piper's Desiring God has some incredibly challengeing stuff in his chapter on the topic. But I love this statement about all forms of suffering in the life of the Christian (even the US variety).

"All experiences of suffering in the path of Christian obedience, whether from persecuion or sickness or accident, have this in common: they all threaten our faith in the goodness of God and tempt us to leave the path of obedience. Therefore, every triumph of faith and all perseverance in obedience are testimonies to the goodness of God and the preciousness of Christ -- whether the enemy is sickness, Satan, sin, or sabotage." p. 216

So if I weather the loss of a job well, I am suffering for Christ, even if I didn't lose it because of my relationship with Christ.

How are you doing today? Are you suffering well? Are you suffering for Jesus?

Definitely on the easy suffering path,

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

My First Beach Wedding

I just got back from Virginia from a great wedding connected with a pile of firsts.

1. 1st wedding with a condensed pre-marital counseling period (4 sessions in 1 week)

2. 1st wedding on the beach (first attended, AND first officiated)

3. 1st wedding in bare feet (the whole bridal party too)

4. 1st wedding performed out of state (I am now officially registered to perform weddings in VA)

5. 1st wedding with a unity sand ceremony instead of the unity candle (same basic principles)

Overall, it was a great long weekend with Sue at the beach. How cool is that? :) The wedding brought back a lot of memories of our wedding, almost 17 years ago now. We had some good conversation and some special moments together too. Not bad for an old married couple! :)

Still happily married to the wife of my youth,