4 | Patience. Prayer. [Podcast!] – Part 1

“…In other words, everything it is, good, bad, indifferent; whatever it is, you see it in the light of God. It becomes something for which you can talk to God. That’s praying without ceasing.” | J. MacArthur

It is estimated that the average Torontonian spends 84 hours per year in traffic.
That’s about 10.5 work days…
I’ve heard it said that, if you want to know how someone is, watch how s/he drives — Does s/he tailgate, change lanes, honk often, get road rage? Be careful of those warning signs!

I’m always amused by how the average person changes when s/he drives.

A large portion of my day involves being on the road.

More often than not, it is like this:


Yet there is an area of thanksgiving here — it has led me to wonderful radio shows like Grace to You, Insight for Living, and Turning Point. (Side note: If you’re in Toronto, it’s 99.5 FM. If you want music, try 100.3 FM.)

In case you don’t read on, one of the highlights of my week was listening to this podcast:  Praying without Ceasing here.

(You can download it for your drive to work 🙂 ).

This week was one that was trying to my patience… Not only in driving, but meetings, projects, tasks, family, and a new class that I’m taking. In reflection, there are more than a few incidents where I allowed impatience and anger to take over.

Yet my commute has also allowed for times of reflection.
This past week, I’ve been thinking about patience. And wisdom.

Patience

It seems that much of our lives involve waiting:
About 10 months for a child, longer until they can walk, 16 years for your driving license, then the graduation, waiting to save up for a car/your house, waiting in the grocery line, waiting for (and then on) your significant other, your family, your retirement, to see your doctor, to get the meds, the check-ups, and – ultimately – the time of your passing.

That’s the cycle.
But somewhere in there, you realize that we aren’t all waiting in the same line.
The road we thought we were on divides: We make different stops and different things are added to our lives. It is possible that the stops we wanted may not exist in our path, and part of our maturity is to accept that.

Sometimes there are barriers in our path, a broken road, a lonely road… And you wonder why you have to drive on this. (Isn’t there a short cut somewhere?)

Yet there is a place for pain and difficulties. The Bible is filled with examples of what seems like loss in the eyes of the world, yet it is precious and purposeful in the sight of God:

“Consider it pure joy … whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4).

“But we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5)

 

I think about the examples of men and women before us: Elizabeth Elliot, Eric Liddell, Hudson Taylor… Job, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, David, Daniel… Paul, John…

Did they imagine their lives to play out as it did?
Loss, separation, disappointment, unanswered questions, misunderstandings… All of this trying to one’s patience and character.

And yet, as we review their lives as a whole, does not our admiration come through their patience in suffering? It is not joy because of suffering, but because there is hope through faith in God!

Sometimes we get tired of taking the same paths, serving in the same roles with no changes in sight. This verse was an encouragement for this this week:
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)

To go one step further: to remember Christ’s love and example (1 Peter 2:19-23).

 

Let’s save the rest for another day, and end with the thoughts of this man – a king.
See how he counted time, and the reason for his patience:

Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked.

For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.

Lord Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in you.| Psalm 84: 10-12

 

Perhaps patience is really a lesson in obedience, and the target is our heart.
The road to get there isn’t easy, but we are promised His company 🙂

(And now, John MacArthur’s podcast, Praying without Ceasing here. It’s interesting to hear how applicable it is almost 40 years after it was first broadcast!)

 

 

Interim. No.2

I drove by the brightest hue of yellow the other day, and realized it was canola in bloom. The beauty of nature which the artist and photographer could never perfectly capture.

And yet, in an instant, it goes away: A storm, a change of season, a time for reaping.
A time for beginnings, a time for growth, and then comes the end.  (Ref: Ecclesiastes 3)
It is, it was, and it was not.

A fragile and persistent cycle…
Perfectly orchestrated by the hands of the Creator.

There is beauty in brevity…

Natural View of Yellow Canola Field Widescreen Wallpaper
Canola field late May/early June.

“There is no life, no life without its hunger
Each restless heart beats so imperfectly
But when you come and I am filled with wonder
Sometimes I think, I glimpse eternity…”

3 | Peace

Peace.
This was more difficult to write than imagined. It is foreign to me, in that my understanding of it is shallow, and its presence in my life is rare.
Every day, I feel as though there is less and less of this around us. The events in the U.S. this past week serve as a painful warning sign.

But friend, what does it mean for those who belong to Christ?
What is Peace?
May I remind you of some promises we can hold on to? ( I need it, too.)

Peace in the midst of storms

Close to the meaning of the Hebrew word shalom is the word used by the Kekchi Indians of Guatemala, who define peace as “quiet goodness.” The term they use conveys the idea of something that is active and aggressive, not just a rest in one’s own heart away from troublesome circumstances. [1]

————————————————————————–

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” | John 16:33

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” | Philippians 4:6-7

“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.” | 2 Thessalonians 3:16

————————————————————————–

 

Most understand ‘peace’ as the absence of trouble. Yet take a look at these verses, and its seems that the troubles are not taken away. Yet peace — that is, the peace of God — is given in the midst of these difficulties.

But before this, that is, before receiving the peace of God, there needs to be peace with God. Let me allow John MacArthur [1] to explain:

The natural man lacks peace with God. We all come into the world fighting against God, because we are a part of the rebellion that started with Adam and Eve. Romans 5:10 says we were enemies of God. We fought against God, and everything we did militated against His principles.

For you, my Friend, who has yet to know Christ

Jesus says, “Not as the world gives, do I give to you.” In other words, His peace is not like the peace of the world. The world’s peace is worthless…  Since World War II despite all of mankind’s “enlightenment,” and organized efforts for world peace, there have been an average of three new wars every year. The New York Times once observed that “peace is a fable.”

The only peace this world can know is shallow and unfulfilling. Most people’s pursuit of peace is only an attempt to get away from problems. That is why people seek peace through… forms of escapism. The fact is, apart from God, there is no real peace in this world. The peace of putting your blinders on, of going to bed and forgetting it, is fleeting and worthless. And yet people try desperately to hold on to this kind of mock peace.

It is futile pursuit. Godless individuals can never know true peace. They might know only a momentary tranquility–a shallow feeling, perhaps stimulated by positive circumstances mixed with a lot of ignorance

People today live in a form of existential shock. They don’t understand their own being, they don’t know who they are, where are going, or what they do when they get there.

But when we receive Jesus Christ, we cease being enemies of God–we make a truce with Him. We come over to His side, and the hostility is ended. Jesus Christ wrote the treaty with the blood of His cross. That treaty, that bond, that covenant of peace declares the objective fact that we now are at peace with Him.

A sinful, vile, wicked person cannot come into the presence of a holy God. Something must make that unholy person righteous before he can be at peace with God. And that’s exactly what Christ did, dying for sin, imputing His righteousness to sinners. So Paul says we are no longer enemies but are at peace because we are reconciled.

Paul speaks about [peace] in Philippians 4:7: “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” The peace of God is not based on circumstances like the world’s peace, so it doesn’t always make sense to the carnal mind; Paul says it is a peace that surpasses comprehension. It doesn’t seem reasonable that such peace could exist in the midst of the problems and troubles Christians go through. But this is divine, supernatural peace; it cannot be figured out on a human level.

And for you, Christian.

Jesus shows us the proper response to His promise of peace, “Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (John 14:27). We ought to be able to lay hold of this peace. It is there, it is ours; but we must take hold of it. It is interesting that He says “I give you peace,” then He says, “Do not let your heart be troubled.” The peace He gives has to be received and applied in our lives. If we lay hold of the promise of the very peace of Christ, we will have calm, untroubled hearts, regardless of external circumstances.

If you have a troubled heart, my friend, it is because you do not believe God–you don’t really trust His promise of peace. Anxiety and turmoil seldom focus on present circumstances. Normally, anxiety is trouble borrowed from either the past or the future. Some people worry about things that might happen. Others’ anxieties come out of the past. But both the future and the past are under the care of God.

He promises to supply our future need, and He has forgiven the past. Don’t worry about tomorrow or yesterday. Jesus said, “Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34). Concentrate on trusting God for today’s needs.

Perfect peace comes when our focus is off the problem, off the trouble, and constantly on Christ. Isaiah 26:3 says, “The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You.”

Most people who lack peace simply have not taken the time to pursue it…
He commands, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10, King James Version). And to those whose minds are steadfastly fixed on Him, He gives the gift of peace. 

Be still: Know that there will still be trouble, but set your hope in God. Look up, and set your mind on things above. And then receive this promised gift of peace.
(I’m still learning in this area. Happy to hear your thoughts and lessons on peace.)
Reference
[1] https://www.gty.org/resources/positions/P21/The-Gift-of-Peace

Tonight.

“No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It is life’s change agent.” – Steve Jobs

I received the news this morning.
We had our chat tonight.
Sometimes I think we argue on different planes… We don’t believe in the same things. How do we even begin?

But this is important, so let us try…

 

Frail as a breath. A shadow.
(I am not sure what to say, or that I trust myself to speak. In the meantime, these are some articles that seem to say what is in my heart. I hope they speak to you… And that you will at least allow the words to run through your mind before deciding your stance.)

DesiringGod:

The fact that suffering almost inevitably increases with the approach of death is often a terrifying prospect. Even those who are fearless of death tremble at the process of dying. I have seen terrible suffering in the hour of death…

But this tragic fact… did not change the truth: Giving and taking life belongs to God, not to us. And the suffering of our final days is not meaningless.

Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16–18)

In one of her videos, Brittany [Maynard] wisely says, “Make sure you’re not missing out. Seize the day. What do you care about? What matters? Pursue that. Forget the rest.”

I could not agree more. What matters is that we have been bought with a price. We are not our own. We live and we die and we suffer for the glory of Christ, our Lord. And we never forget the truth that makes everything worth it: “The sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18).

Gotquestions.org:
Death is a natural occurrence. Sometimes God allows a person to suffer for a long time before death occurs; other times, a person’s suffering is cut short. No one enjoys suffering, but that does not make it right to determine that a person should die. Often, God’s purposes are made known through suffering. “When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other” (Ecclesiastes 7:14).
Romans 5:3 teaches that tribulations bring about perseverance. God cares about those who cry out for death and wish to end their suffering. God gives purpose in life even to the end. Only God knows what is best, and His timing, even in the matter of one’s death, is perfect.

We should never seek to prematurely end a life, but neither must we go to extraordinary means to preserve a life. To actively hasten death is wrong; to passively withhold treatment can also be wrong; but to allow death to occur naturally in a terminally ill person is not necessarily wrong. Anyone facing this issue should pray to God for wisdom (James 1:5).
And we should all remember the words of former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, who warned that the practice of medicine “cannot be both our healer and our killer” (from KOOP, The Memoirs of America’s Family Doctor by C. Everett Koop, M.D.).

 

ChristianityToday:

At what point do we no longer believe God has a plan for each moment of each person’s life? At what point do we sanction ending it all to avoid suffering?

If we are swept along with cultural tides, we will be swayed into believing that assisted suicide is compassionate. Maynard was roundly praised by the media, chosen as one of CNN’s “11 Extraordinary People of 2014” and crowned a “hero” by People magazine. All this for choosing to commit suicide rather than face brain cancer, which she rightly called “. . . a terrible, terrible way to die.”

That is the wrong message to send the millions fighting with great dignity against terminal diseases. It’s like telling the depressed stranger on the ledge to go ahead and jump.
Rather, we should share Hill’s resolve to never give up, to always trust, hope, and persevere, as this is the way of love (1 Cor. 13:7).

On behalf of people who are facing terminal illness, severe depression, or any acute suffering: Act with true compassion. Get involved in their lives. Be present in their suffering. Pray for their healing. Let the reality of death change your life.
And rest assured that defending life is not merciless or judgmental—and that to endorse assisted suicide is simply to give up hope.

 

Some additional readings:
[1] http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/we-are-not-our-own-on-god-brittany-maynard-and-physician-assisted-suicide
[2] http://www.gotquestions.org/euthanasia.html
[3] http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2015/september/assisted-suicide-and-real-death-with-dignity.html?start=1