God is smart!

20 02 2009

Note to the faithful readers: Ryan pulled a Jeremiah Johnson on me, so I guess I’m temporarily in charge…

My dad, Bob, just got back recently from Cameroon and I wanted to share a very exciting aspect of his trip. Dad works with ITEM to train African pastors how to better shepherd their flocks in a biblical manner. Many of the local church leaders suffer from limited resources and bad training. Because of this, there are many issues of concern for the African church such as the wealth and prosperity doctrine and syncretism.africa

Dad has been to different parts of Africa many times, but there was an exciting new wrinkle in his last trip that just goes to prove who is really running the show. Prior to Dad’s trip a friend of the family who is a deacon at my church felt led to accompany him to Cameroon. Bob typically travels to French-speaking areas because of his fluency, so Tim was thinking he would go along as a source of encouragement and support.

As the departure date came closer, the details crystallized and Dad let Tim know that they would actually be going to one of the few English-speaking areas in Cameroon. While this was all well and good for Tim, what didn’t sit as well was when Dad told him that he could now teach some of the sessions! Read the rest of this entry »

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Why the Struggle?

6 05 2008

Every other Tuesday, I rise at 4:30 in the morning (cue the mourners and violins, please) and get ready to join three other Christan brothers for breakfast and discipleship at our local Denny’s.  We’ve been meeting at 5:30 for over a year now (we just recently switched from meeting every Tuesday to every other Tuesday- thanks for the gift of extra sleep guys!) and have grown in our relationship with each other and with the Lord. 

This morning we began a new study, going through the book The Enemy Within by Kris Lundgaard.  If you struggle with sin (anyone? anyone?) I highly recommend this book and think you will find it extremely helpful. 

In the preface of the book, the author raises this key question: “If God has redeemed me from sin, and given me his Holy Spirit to sanctify me and give me strength against sin, why do I go on sinning?

The question resonated with all four of us and we began talking about our struggles and, at times, how perplexing they can be. 

Then an interesting facet of this question was brought up: Why does God allow us to continue to struggle? 

Why didn’t God just finish the process of sanctification the moment we were justified?  Why let us continue on this earth and battle it out with the Devil, our flesh, and the World?  Why didn’t God just take us home to glory the moment we were converted?

As we worked through these questions, we all concluded that, biblically, we have a choice whether or not to sin (see Romans 6) and, experientially, we frequently make the wrong choice.  This led us to talk about the “value judgment” we are making in the moment of temptation.  Which do we value more: to delight in our flesh or to delight in our God? 

But still we wrestled with the “why?”- why did God leave us here to suffer and constantly battle?  We all confessed that sometimes we get so tired of fighting the flesh we want to just give up.    

Then we came back to this idea of value.  We began examining our love for God and the value judgment we are making even by saying “this is so hard, why do I have to continually do this?” 

In that moment of “weariness,” aren’t we saying that God isn’t worthy of my struggle, that I am more important (specifically, my ease and comfort) than God’s glory displayed through my obedience?  As we worked through this, I know I found myself convicted.  I had never really thought about my struggles this way, that even my attitude in the battle reveals something of my heart’s affection (or lack of) for my God.

However (and this is the reason I thought I’d post this today) with this conviction came hope

As I sat there at Denny’s, finishing my eggs and toast, I started to look at the struggle differently.  Instead of looking at the daily struggle against the flesh as this wearisome battle I’m just going to have to endure until I get home to glory, I started to see it as an opportunity to be rejoiced in

I know that might sound a bit masochistic, but hear me out.  What if I stopped looking at each battle as simply a trial to endure and started seeing it as a moment to examine God’s worth in my own affections?  What if, instead of seeing it as only about my fight for personal holiness, I started viewing it as an opportunity to declare God’s infinite value, a moment to proclaim my love for Him and utter dependence upon Him?  What if the moment became less about me and the sin I’m being faced with and more about my relationship of love with the One who first loved me?  What if it became less about saying “I don’t” and more about saying “I do”?

This change in perspective helped me to see the battle less as drudgery to be lamented over and more as a moment to be rejoiced in (sound familiar, James?). 

So, back to our question.  Why did God leave us here to battle?  Why the struggle? 

I don’t know if this is the final answer to the question, but this morning I’m clinging to the truth that the struggle is for His glory (that I may declare to the world around me that He is my greatest desire) and for my good (that time and time again in the moment of testing my soul would see that nothing compares- not even my comfort- to Him).