Category Archives: Struggles and Trials

Walking or Riding?

A Familiar Story

If you are familiar with the Bible, you probably remember the story of Jesus walking on the water. And if you remember that, you may also recall that the apostle Peter was the one who walked on the water with Jesus – until he began to look around.

But if you don’t remember the story, here it is as found in the NIV version of Matthew 14:25-33.

During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified.

“It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.

But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Familiar Pictures

Now that you are familiar with the story, have you ever seen paintings or illustrations depicting this passage of Scripture? Of all the ones I have ever seen, Jesus is usually portrayed as a calm, sad-looking, and often effeminate water-stroller. Peter is always some scruffy-looking, heavy-as-stone fraidy-cat.

Then what about those waves? In all the depictions of this story, how high are the waves? Usually they are no more than just a few inches high around the Lord and his bobbing disciple, Peter.

Well, I am here to challenge the common perception based on these fallacious (that means stupidly wrong) paintings.

The Waves

I am not a seafaring man like my friend David Welford, but I would bet even he would say that 6-8 inch waves would have been NO problem for some experienced fishermen. What ever frightened Peter, once he looked around, had to have been more than a ripple on the surface.

Consider how the Bible described what was happening to the boat in Matthew 14:24: “But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.” Do kiddie pool waves toss a boat? No, but real waves do.

In stead of tossed, other translations use words like buffeted, beaten, and battered. The New Living Translation says that “a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves.” It would seem to me that the disciples were facing a life-or-death struggle, not inconvenient weather.

The Wacky Request

People often belittle Peter for his “lack of faith.” They think less of him because he took his eyes off of Jesus and began to sink. But who on this earth that is not currently on anti-psychotic medication would actually ask a UWG (Unidentified Walking Ghost), “If it is you, compel me to do something totally irrational and dangerous, OK?” What kind of crazy question was that?

I believe there is more to this story than we have been told. Why didn’t Peter just ask Jesus to come a little closer? Why not just ask Him to get in the boat and take a load off? What would have caused Peter to think of leaving the boat?

Maybe, just maybe, what Jesus was doing looked like fun.

Wave Riding

The next time you look out over a stormy sea capable of sinking a boat, try to find the smooth spots. The paintings that show the Savior walking delicately over glassy H2o in the middle of a gale are unrealistic.

My guess is that Jesus was doing more than simply walking. He was having fun! He was probably surfing without a board. It is possible that He was going up and down…up and down…up and down…smiling the whole time. That’s when Peter said, “If it is you, Lord, tell me to come out there with you…that looks like fun!”

Seriously, just stop and think about it. Here was a storm that was beating up a boat and wearing out the crew; waves that were anything but small; a boat full of panicking people; and a Man walking on water. Peter must have concluded that if there was going to be any place to be, it was with Jesus, riding the waves.

With Jesus

We can’t help the fact that storms come. But if there is any lesson to be learned from this story it is that the worst possible place to be can be the safest and most peaceful, as long as our eyes are on Jesus and we are walking with Him.

Does it make sense? No. Is it irrational? Maybe. But as long as we have faith in Jesus, we can ride atop the tallest tsunami, admiring the view.

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Filed under Faith, Struggles and Trials, Uncategorized, worship

Giving God’s Way (Not What You Think)

A Guest Post by: J. David Peever


I know the first thing that comes to mind with a title like Giving God’s Way is, “here we go again.” If you have attended church for any length of time you have heard, “giving God’s way” used as code for “we can’t make budget so we need to make people give more.” Take a deep breath, this is not going to be one of those times. This isn’t about money, it’s about the way we follow Christ.

Giving Up

If something is not going to work, giving up is the most likely choice. Consequences are unavoidable and outcome is out of our control and there is no way to accomplish what we want.

Giving In

If something meets with continuous resistance, giving in will eventually happen. Unlike giving up, the consequences are carefully considered and the outcome weighed leading us to conclude that what we want can be achieved because what we want has now become very similar to what the one who resists, wants.

Giving Over

In some things God meets our standard of trustworthiness so we give over these things, especially the ones that are too hard or meet with continual resistance. If our trust becomes stronger we become more confident in God, if we become more confident in God, we will give over more and more of our lives.

Which type of giving does God do?

God does not give up. Jesus’ death is proof of that. God does not give up on saving us even though He knows not everyone will accept salvation.

God does not give in. You can beg, you can plead and you can even try to present a logical argument but God cannot be persuaded to give into the continuous resistance we put up when we think He should see things our way.

God does give over. If we continually refuse His offers of salvation while pleading our case for Him to agree with our human way of living, God will give us over to our evil desires and the consequences of a life separated from Him.

Which type of giving do Christ followers do?

I don’t know about you but I do all three! Maybe you have this Christ following thing down pat but I am still in the not so perfect stage of my faith.

There are times I give up. I just can’t see it working out so I figure God will have to do something.

There are times I give in because my way meets with continuous resistance from God and finally I conclude that what I want can be achieved because what I want has now become very similar to what He wants.

What I really need to do is give over. As I learn to trust God, I learn to give over the things that are too hard or meet with continual resistance long before I give up or give in. This is only the beginning. I want to get to the point where I trust Him and have so much confidence in Him that I am willing to give over every part of my life.

God’s plan – God’s way – God’s timing – God’s chosen resources

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Filed under Christian Maturity, Christianity, Faith, Guest Posts, Struggles and Trials, worship

The Orange Razor I Never Got

I don’t always like doing it, but I do shave my face and head. I’m not overly picky about the razors I use, but I do have my preferences. Usually I prefer the 5-blade kind. 

I have, however, shaved with an old-fashioned “safety” razor in the past. Well, at least it’s safer than a straight razor. 

But last night was one of those times when I received some very troubling news, the result being a restless night with less-than-needed sleep. Therefore, it’s not surprising I had a strange dream. 

I don’t know what led up to it, but all of a sudden there was our oldest daughter, Alicia, griping at me for not writing a blog post about the razor she gave me as a gift. When I looked down (in the dream) I saw the razor she was talking about, and it was one of the orange razors they sell at Target and online. 

So, I know dreams can be crazy, but sometimes they can tell us a little about ourselves. Evidently, as best I can figure, I like sharp blades and orange things.

That makes perfect sense, too, because I’m sharp and from Tennessee. 

Maybe, since Alicia has never purchased a $9 Harry’s razor for me, she was really actually upset because I haven’t talked about myself? Yet, haven’t I done that before? 

Maybe, my mind wanted me to tell Alicia to put an orange razor on my birthday gift wish list? 

Maybe I’m low on vitamin C and I’m losing my edge…and I need to get a handle on things? 

Well, I definitely need to get a grip on some things, and an orange (or maybe orange jello) would be nice. But I can tell you this one thing for sure…

…I never got an orange razor. 

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Filed under Struggles and Trials, Uncategorized

Hurting

Guest Post by: Dorissa Vanover


“I’ve lost my song,” my mother-in-law told me, as her tender heart broke into a million pieces.Today, I understand exactly what she meant.

Sometimes the pain seems relentlessly intense and hopelessly never-ending. During those times, the singer can’t sing, the writer can’t write and the artist can’t paint.

Each of us is born with a unique gift or ability, given to us by our Creator, so that we can fully express ourselves. Using the gift is a way of expressing our love and thanks to our Heavenly Father, a way to encourage others we meet along the way, and a way of joyfully immersing ourselves in our passion. We make time, knowing that we affirm ourselves and our God-given abilities as we express ourselves.

And then…unexpectedly, because we are imperfect humans living in a fallen world, we encounter heartbreak so overwhelming, it immobilizes us. We may be able to awaken each morning, get dressed and make it through our day; we may even remember to thank God for the blessings we know are still all around us. Truth is, though, we feel hopelessness inside. While we may be able to continue to function, we are not able to thrive.

Finally, knowing our spirits will break if we don’t get help, we fall to our knees beseeching our Father for the comfort only he can give. We quietly absorb the grace and mercy of being in his presence. His love surrounds us and our burden is lifted. We are renewed.

Once again, the singer sings, the writer writes, and the artist paints. It seems amazing, but the time spent away from the gift seems only to enhance the song, the words, or the painting. Yes, our Father created each of us with a wonderfully unique gift and gives us a time and place to use the gift. The greatest gift he gave each of us, though, is the freedom to have a relationship with him. He alone can replace our brokenness with joy and thanksgiving.

There may be several periods during a lifetime when the hurt seems greater than the hope. We know, though, because we belong to him, he is our hope, and there is nothing greater than him!

 

 

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Filed under Guest Posts, Life Lessons, Struggles and Trials

26 Ways to Contribute to a Ruined Marriage

Like I mentioned in a previous post, because it is both Father’s Day AND our wedding anniversary, I thought I would share with you a list of things I jotted down the other night when I couldn’t go to sleep.

Folks, there are a lot of resources out there meant to help your marriage to succeed. However, not a lot of them specifically deal with things that can ruin your marriage. So, after 23 years of everything from marital bliss to marital warfare, I can speak with authority about the following items.

Why 26? Because that’s where I decided to stop. Each one of these could be expanded upon and sub-pointed.

26 Ways to Contribute to a Ruined Marriage (in no particular order)

  1. Never pray together as a couple.
  2. Think about yourself more than your spouse.
  3. Believe that what matters most is your personal happiness.
  4. Never pray for each other.
  5. Pursuing your own interests while ignoring those of your spouse.
  6. Saying negative things about your spouse to other people (especially those of the opposite sex).
  7. Having a “Plan B.”
  8. Spending all your time, energy, and money on your kids.
  9. Avoiding sexual intimacy.
  10. Pornography (soft sore, hard core, in print, in video, in literature – doesn’t matter).
  11. Flirting with others.
  12. Arguing and/or fighting, but with the sole objectives being to win or hurt the other.
  13. Materialism.
  14. Complacency.
  15. Bitterness.
  16. Not putting God first.
  17. Using each other.
  18. Lack of trust.
  19. Lack of, or poor communication.
  20. Baggage not dealt with.
  21. Running to Mother.
  22. Lack of leadership (for men).
  23. Lack of submission (for women).
  24. Too many single friends.
  25. Fear of / intimidated by your children.
  26. Pride.

Honestly, any one of the above items could lead to disaster, but what about when several of them are in play? The Enemy would love nothing better than to see your marriage fall to pieces or be nothing more than an empty shell.

Start over and give your relationships to God. He can rescue you, heal you, and restore you – but only if you will let Him.

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Filed under Marriage, Struggles and Trials

June 6th… Would We Do It Again?

d day

Seventy-three years have passed since the pride of the Allies, 156,000 strong, stepped out of landing craft and jumped out of airplanes into the mouth of a monster ready to eat them alive.

Seventy-three years have passed since young men from America, England, and Canada (and we must not forget Australia, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, France, Greece, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Poland) landed on beaches called Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword.

Seventy-three years ago, long before the fancy rock-climbing walls which are so popular in today’s health clubs and gyms,  the 2nd Ranger battalion “led the way” up the 100 ft. cliffs of Pointe du Hoc.

Seventy-three years ago, on the 6th of June, 2,499 American and 1,914 from the other Allied nations, a total of 4,413, gave their lives for the sake of freedom.

Seventy-three years ago men were stepping on the backs of their comrades as they sloshed through red water, breathed in the mist of war, and wondered if they would live to see the ground only yards (meters) in front of them.

On June 6, 1944, seventy-three years ago, it was said of those who landed:

They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate.” — President Franklin D. Roosevelt, radio broadcast, June 6, 1944

It is the 6th of June, 2017, but are we still a people with the stomach to liberate? If we were the ones living seventy-three years ago, where would we be today?

Ask those in pajamas talking on free smart phones. Ask the protesters who don’t even know why they protest. Ask those who are burning the American flag because “America was never great.”

image

It cost a lot to buy seventy-three years of freedom. Would we do it again?

If not, God help us.

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Filed under America, Countries, Culture Wars, current events, General Observations, Life Lessons, Struggles and Trials, World View

Fight On!

A word of encouragement from the “preacher.”  

“Are you fighting with the adversary today? Are Satan, the world, and the flesh, all against you? Be not discouraged nor dismayed. Fight on!… Fear not, you shall overcome, for who can defeat Omnipotence? Fight on, “looking unto Jesus;” and though long and stern be the conflict, sweet will be the victory, and glorious the promised reward.” – Charles H, Spurgeon 

Fight on, brothers! Fight on!

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Filed under Christianity, Faith, Life Lessons, ministry, Preaching, Struggles and Trials