Through the Thorns…

Archive for the category “Christianity”

Friend – by Eric

friend1No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. – John 15:15

What does it make you think of when you consider that God calls us friend?  It’s easy to think of God in typical ways.  He’s my Lord.  He’s my Savior.  He’s the King.  He’s all-powerful.  God has many formal ‘titles’ and they are all true and meaningful, but how often do I think of God as a friend.  A friend that loves me and wants to walk through life with me.  A friend who cares about my thoughts, my feelings, my hurts and my joys.  A friend who cares about me and the details of my life.

It’s easy to ask, Who am I that God would consider me a friend?  But He does and I should value myself knowing that God values me.

Father, help me to see you as a friend as you see me and help me to draw close to you knowing that life is always better when I walk side by side with You.

 

White Stone – by Eric

The more we get to know God, the easier it is to see that He knows us better than we know ourselves.  It’s a simple truth, but one with a lot of meaning.  So many times in life when we are in the midst of the storm it’s hard to see past the clouds, past the haze that blocks our view.  But, thankfully, our God is bigger than the storm.   Read more…

Thorns – by Samuel

Throughout the Bible, the picture of thorns is often employed at various times to communicate difficulties, treacherous paths, and barren wastelands where God’s blessing has ceased to fall.  Where thorns flourish, movement is hindered, fields lay choked, and life is bitter for the inhabitants of the land.

Perhaps the most well-known reference to thorns in Scripture is located in Paul’s writings to the church in Corinth in 2 Cor. 12:7, where he speaks about having a “thorn in the flesh”.  In the classical Greek, the word “thorn” is ‘skolops’, meaning a “stake or a sharp wooden shaft used to impale.”  There have been many theories regarding what Paul meant by this phrase, everything from a chronic illness, to an eye disease, to sorrow, and to a literal ‘messenger of Satan’ meant to keep him humble in light of the revelations given him.  Whatever this “thorn” was, it served to hinder Paul and made his journey much more difficult.  Most importantly, it forced him to rely upon God.  For when Paul prayed to have the “thorn” removed, God answered with, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness”. (2 Cor. 12:9)

As those who are in Christ Jesus, we too are not immune to the effects of the thorns, nor are we exempt from having to traverse through them from time to time.  In fact, the Christian life seems to be fraught with thorns, ripping through our clothing, tearing into our flesh, and even causing us to become stuck at times.  And the more we fight, the more we seem to be ever more stuck, bleeding and agonizing until we realize that the only thing that will get us out is to simply “be still” and do nothing.  In those moments, we are mercifully brought to our knees before God as the only One who can bring us through the briars.  Thorns are never pleasant and they always leave their mark, but it is only through the thorns that we are able to grow and move forward in our spiritual journey.  In that most beautiful hymn, “Be Still My Soul”, we read,

“Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.”

As in all things, we would be wise to look at the example given to us by our Lord and Savior, Jesus, for even He experienced the thorns in a very real way.  Upon his “coronation” at the cross, Jesus received the wicked crown of thorns which tore cruelly into his righteous head.  In that terrible moment when He died upon the cross, He issued forth the words, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” (Luke 23:46), placing all into the Father’s hands.  Jesus, in the midst of the most severe physical and emotional pain, was “still” before the Father, trusting in Him to do what seemed good to Him, knowing that God would see Him through.  Jesus knew what lay beyond the thorns and He stayed the course set before Him by the Father.  In doing this, He has given us an example of what it means to be faithful and to trust in God to lead us through the trials of life and to come out the other side in victory.

Thorns might come in very obvious forms such as persecution, physical illness, or loss.  One only needs to flip through the annals of history, or even to simply live on this earth for any amount of time to see the truth in this.  But thorns can also come in more subtle forms which make their way insidiously into our very cores, rotting us out from the inside.  Even those of us in full-time ministry are often left wondering, “Why do I feel so dead inside?  Why do I feel so stuck?”  Stress, anxiety, depression, pride, the quest for possesions, and sheer busyness tend to mark our lives.  Less and less are we able to simply “be still”.  The thorns come and we begin to feel choked and barren.  We fight and fight until their is no fight left in us.

Thorns are inevitable on the path of faith.  There is no way around them, only through them.  But they are also a very neccessary component to true and lasting growth.  However the thorns manifest in your life and wherever you happen upon them in your journey, the question is this: “How will you meet them?”

– SEB

She. Is. Alive.

I have had the pleasure of working with Mary in ministry, and I can attest to her heart for people and her desire to live the life God has for her. Sometimes that life takes us through some very terrifying places. Mary’s story is a reminder of God’s care and provision in those times, and is nothing short of miraculous!

Super Woman Syndrome

Kaycee had just awoken from her nap. She was playing on the floor next to me, as the girls and I curled up and watched Treasure Planet. It was a rainy day and Kris and Kaycee had both been under the weather. Kris had the flu for the last many days and Kaycee had just developed a cold. We were having a quite and restful day. Kris was slowly waking up and getting ready to join us on the couch for the movie and time as a family.

Photo on 2-28-14 at 6.50 PM

Just a few moments after Kaycee had begun playing in the toy kitchen just behind me, she crawled over to the couch, pulled herself up, and started making an odd coughing sound. I looked over at her and noticed that she was moving her tongue in such a way to indicate something was in her mouth. I immediately put my finger in…

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Back to Basics – by Samuel

Having been a Christian for awhile, there have been times when, upon coming to certain passages of Scripture, I have found myself saying something to the effect of, “I don’t need to read this.”, or, “I’ve heard this all before.”, or, “That’s for new believers.”, or some other such rot.  Doesn’t that sound terrible?  I mean, what a positively arrogant stance to take; as if I had it all figured out already!  Yeesh… Read more…

Lacking Faith – by Kevin

Somehow, through the day-to-day, normal events of my week I managed to really cause some major discomfort in my feet. My hope was that a little sleep and a lot of rest would ease the pain I am now feeling (this is different then the low back, knee and ankle pain I normally deal with). But last night the pain escalated and my reaction was not made in grace, nor was it very manly. Instead, I reacted in fear, anger, despair and a little more anger. Read more…

“Blessed are those who Mourn”, A Poem by Eugene Peterson

Blessed are those who Mourn

Flash floods of tears, torrents of them,
Erode cruel canyons, exposing
Long forgotten strata of life
Laid down in the peaceful decades;
A badlands beauty. The same sun
That decorates each day with colors
From arroyos and mesas, also shows
Every old scar and cut of lament.
Weeping washes the wounds clean
And leaves them to heal, which always
Takes an age or two. No pain
Is ugly in past tense. Under
The mercy every hurt is a fossil
Link in the great chain of becoming.
Pick and shovel prayers often
Turn them up in valleys of death.

– Eugene Peterson, from The Contemplative Pastor

The Terrible Mirror – by Samuel

mirror

“The Distracted Pastor”; that’s me.  As I meander through life, I seem to be in a constant battle for dominance over my own mind.  Everywhere I go and everywhere I look, I am met with myriad distractions, all of them vying for my time and attention to the detriment of all else. Social media, television, the internet, my latest hobby obsession, a novel; all of these things have at one time or another been more important than family, ministry, myself, and even God. Read more…

It is Good for Me that I was Afflicted – by Kevin

It is good for me that I was afflicted,
that I might learn your statutes.

Psalm 119:71 (ESV)

What is the meaning of this verse? A few years ago this verse would have completely confounded my thought process. In the last three years I have really struggled with these words of truth. How can it ever be good to be afflicted? Why would a loving God… a “Father God” allow His child to struggle in pain and suffering? How could a God who allows such a thing truly be good?

My name is Kevin. I am 26 years old, but at times I feel like I am going through the degenerative process of what the author of Ecclesiastes calls the ‘evil days’. Read more…

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