Posts Tagged ‘Faith’

Like probably many of you I have met people who are fascinated, compelled, or drawn to Jesus, but some question or obstacle keeps them away. They may have heard from a Christian, “This is how it is – end of discussion. The Bible says it, so that settles it.”

Or they might have been taught that to follow Jesus, they had to go down a certain road and believe certain things, some of which they found problematic. What interests me is the power of questioning and the experience of solidarity in finding you’re not alone—of always wondering, “But what about that?” and then finding out, “Oh, other people feel the same way.”

Rob Bell wrote a book back in March 2011 called Love Wins.  You may have heard of it.  The subtitle – A Book about  Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived. If you haven’t read or heard of this book – its not a book about hell, fire and brimstone.  It’s a provocative book that upset lots of fundamentalist Christians.  For me, that was a compelling reason to get myself a copy.

The first chapter of Love Wins poses this interesting question:

If a missionary got a flat tire, and missed meeting with a nearby village, would this really mean that the villagers missed the only opportunity to hear about God, and would not be saved? Would a flat tire mean that they are all destined for hell?

This of course raises a couple of far more disturbing questions like:

Is your future in someone else’ s hands?

And then the next question:

Is someone else’s eternity resting in your hands?

Perhaps Rob’s purpose here is that we get loosened up with the questions – that the questions pull out us out of ourselves and wake us up, like a triple shot flat white coffee. It’s okay. There should be no fear in the questioning and no hesitation in the asking. We can go there. The biblical tradition, particularly the Hebrew tradition, is actually filled with questions, all the way to Jesus on the cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Many people are afraid to question their faith, having been taught that this is tantamount to either rejecting or losing one’s faith. The best evidence against this line of thought is the Bible itself, in which both God and all the main characters ask many, many troubling questions.

Asking questions is, in fact, a means God often uses to help us rid ourselves of limited and wrongheaded notions about God, so that we catch a larger and expanded vision of who we worship. The bible is full of questions, and full of people who have many doubts and need answers.

By the way – if you’re still stuck or maybe uncomfortable about the two questions following the flat tyre question above then the answers are “most likely no – God has a Plan B.”

Perhaps questions are actually one of the ways we meet the Divine. Somewhere in here we find our own questions and we learn that we are never alone.
And the quest – behind the question is even more interesting and compelling than the questions.

May you, my brothers and sisters remember this week that the questions of life may be more important than the answers. May you recognize your quest behind the questions and may this take you to a place where you can sit in wonder and awe at what the Divine is doing in your life and how much he loves you.

Grace and Peace.

The Quest Behind the Questions

The questions that we ask
Follow the answers the we seek
They riddle the hours of our lives
As our days become our weeks

As we strive to understand
The complexities of life
We miss the here and now
As our worries lead to strife

As we wonder how the past
It teaching us the way
We miss the burning bush
As we rush past it every day

It is not the ‘why’ the matters
As we seek to know the reason
Don’t we just accept the sun
As it moves through every season?

Perhaps the ‘what’
Is the one compelling question
As it grounds us in the present
With it’s beckoning suggestion

That perhaps these questions comfort us
As we seek what keeps us safe
As our present hope is anchored
On our the object of our faith

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Go West

Of all the prayers that rise from human lips on this troubled planet, the vast majority must be some version of, “Help!”. But second place of “most often prayed” has to be, “God—what am I supposed to do?” Guidance, clarity, direction—doesn’t that seem to be one of the main reasons we pray at all?  Should I take this job?  What am I supposed to do with my life?

When seeking clarity we will almost always ask for the Spirit of wisdom and revelation. Both are needed. Sometimes, wisdom holds the answer. Other times, we need a revelation from God (as did Ananias, when the situation seemed to shout, “Don’t go near Saul!”).

The key to receiving answers to prayers for guidance is to let go our constant attempt to “figure things out.”

“Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:6 NLT)

God says, “I’ve got this great life planned for you, and surely goodness and mercy will follow you through it. But that’s not all of it. I’ve got something planned at the end!”

David explains how God connects yesterday and today with tomorrow, when he says, “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6). In effect, David ends his psalm by saying, “We’re going to Heaven!” With God, it just keeps getting better and better; the best is yet to come.

Paul says it like this: “For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down — when we die and leave these bodies — we will have a home in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands” (2 Corinthians 5:1 NLT).

How long is forever going to last? Forever! Someday your body is going to die, but you aren’t. Your body is going to end, but that’s not going to be the end of you. You’re going to live forever. We were made to last forever, and we will spend eternity in Heaven.

Why are Christians confident about the future? “We are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:6, 8 NLT).


So, my brothers and sisters, may you this week, recall what is yet to come, and in that space between the now and the not yet, go West when the evil go East.  God wants us to relax into the journey. We need to trust that he will guide us when we have lost our way.  May God remind you that every road you travel leads you back to him. Grace and peace.

Go West

To the true North
I will order your steps
But go West good man
When the evil go East

To the deep South
Delight in my way
But go West good man
When the evil go East

Though you may fall
You will not be cast down
For I will uphold you
With my hand

Set your moral compass
Fix your eyes on me
For your steps are good
And ordered by me

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In three of the four Gospels, the writers record an incident that caused Jesus’ 12 disciples to be astonished and afraid. While crossing the Sea of Galilee, a turbulent storm put them in real peril. Jesus, strangely, was sound asleep. When the disciples awakened Him, He told the storm to stop, and it did.

In the Matthew 8:23-27 account, Jesus and His disciples got into a boat. Being fatigued, Jesus was asleep. It is written that “suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves.” His disciples wakened Him and said, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” His words to them were, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” He then got up and “rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.” The disciples were in awe, and said to each other, “Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”

Jesus asked His men why they were fearful. The word translated fearful means cowardly or intimidated. They were losing their nerve, panicking, or coming unglued, so to speak. Jesus questioned their faith, and then rebuked the winds. The wind and waves immediately became tranquil.


Jesus spoke to a raging windstorm, and it immediately stopped. He wasn’t afraid or worried about His safety. He knew God’s Word and knew what He was destined to do, how He would ultimately die, and that His life and the lives of His men were not in jeopardy that day on the water. Jesus knew the source of the storm and the adversary’s intent to startle and paralyze with fear. Jesus knew the authority and the power He had and He used it responsibly and with wisdom.

May you this week know that you have the authority to calm the storm in whatever shape or form it comes to you.  Jesus is always in the same boat. While storms may test you faith, may you remember that this testing is for a purpose.  The purpose is to refine you and mould you for the coming Kingdom where boats lie on the tranquil shores, and storms are no more.

In the same boat

White boat I see you
High on the shore
Where waves don’t
Rock you any more

The dash of blue
Upon your side
That mirrors now
The faithful tide

Out in the lake
The storm blows in
Faith and doubt
To sink or swim

You wake and calm
The wildest waves
Our little faith
Has made us brave

Our faith doesn’t
Limit us anymore
Just as the boat wasn’t
Made for shore

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When the storms of life cause you to lose faith, don’t forget who is in your boat.

Have a read of Hebrews 6:13-20

This week I read a great article from In Touch magazine on hope as the anchor of the soul.  Here’s a section of it.

Many people in the world, maybe even you, are facing terrible storms in their lives: broken homes, joblessness, loneliness, loss, world crises. These things slash at the very fabric of our hope in Jesus. It may even seem as though we are lost, adrift at sea in a small boat during a hurricane. How on earth will we be able to reach the shore safely?

The disciples faced this fear as well. While they were crossing a lake in their small ship, the weather took a frightening turn for the worse, endangering the vessel and, the men assumed, their very lives. In desperation, they went to Jesus for help, but were surprised to find Him asleep. They cried out

Lord, save us! We’re going to drown! – Matthew 8:25

When Jesus awoke, He rebuked them for their lack of faith. Then He proceeded to calm the storm. Through this dramatic demonstration of His power, He showed Himself to be Lord over all creation. It was also a clear lesson about where we are to turn when storms arise in our lives.

Sometimes people think their challenging circumstances mean that God isn’t paying attention. That’s what the disciples thought—until Christ rose to calm the turbulent waters. Nothing is beyond the control of our sovereign Lord.

Anchor me, anchor me
As the compass turns
And the glass it falls
Where the storm clouds roll
And the gulls they call

Anchor me, anchor me, anchor me, anchor me
In the middle of your deep blue sea
Anchor me, anchor me
~ Anchor Me by the Mutton Birds (click to listen)

When the world—or even just our own personal “world”—seems out of control, Jesus is still Lord of all. So what should you do when you think He is sleeping? The answer is simple: Thank God that He is in the boat with you. And then look at your situation through eyes of hope and trust.

So this week, may you come to know and understand more deeply the hope that anchors you. May this hope centre you and surround you.  May you walk in this hope, knowing that it goes before you, behind you, is above and beneath you.  May you come to know that the hope is closer to you than breathing, and is the very air that you breathe.

Anchor of the Soul

Anchor me
In the wildimage
And raging sea

Anchor me
Through the storms
In my cup of tea

Anchor me
On the truth
That sets me free

Anchor me, anchor me
Anchor me

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Behind the Eyes

Behind your eye there is a place where your optic nerve connects to your retina, called the optic disc. Unlike other cells in your eyes there are no photoreceptor cells on the optic disc, so when an image hits that part of your retina, you just can’t see it.

This is your blind spot. Generally you don’t notice this blind spot in every-day life, because your two eyes work together to cover it up.  Our brain is wired to compensate for the part behind our eye where we just can’t see things.  It’s a fairly impressive part of human design when you think about it. Even more impressive that latest iPad retina display! Actually, not even close.

I’ve heard people say that it’s impossible to believe in something that they cannot see – God, for example.  It takes faith, sometimes a lot of faith to believe in God when you can’t see Him, and also when you can’t really see Him take action when you would expect it, or even not expect it.  For us to believe, we need to have faith, but we also need hope, because faith is what makes more certain and less doubtful.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. ~ Hebrews 11:1

Now I have also heard people say that doubt is the absence of faith or that doubt weakens faith.  I’m not sure that it’s that simple. Doubt can also be useful for us to test faith and to give us hope.

Doubt for me is my blind spot, it’s the one thing that really makes me question my faith.  Sometimes it helps build my faith by making me test and question. Sometimes this gives me more hope and more faith. Other times it erodes all the faith I ever thought I had.  Still it returns, faith, doubt and hope – it is a bit of a cycle really.

I’m glad I’ll only ever need faith as small as a mustard seed.  This is all I’ll ever need to move the mountain of doubts I have sometime.

Knowing I have this blind spot helps me to remember that I need only look to Jesus – the author and perfector of my faith.  In this I have no doubt.  We all have blind spots.  I wonder what yours is? Have you named it?

May you, this week, embrace faith, doubt and hope and rediscover how this cycle helps you to come back to Jesus with your questions, your fears, and your dreams.  May you name and embrace your own blind spots, and by faith, be confident and certain of what you hope for. May the God of hope and glory fill you with all joy and peace in believing so that you may abound in this hope.

Behind the Eyes

Behind the eyes
Forgotten by my mindEye
There is a growing doubling doubt
The persistent nagging kind

Behind the eyes
Not known here today
The doubt of many ages past
Light and dark at play

Behind the eyes
The battle lines are drawn
The enemy marches closer
In the darkness before the dawn

Behind the eyes
The war is already won
In the radiance of the sunrise
By the bloodshed of your son

Behind the eyes
God help me clearly see
That though my battle may be lost
Through you I claim the victory

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Beyond Belief

Everybody is following somebody. Everybody has faith in something and somebody. We all believe in something or somebody.  Even atheists believe in something which they call nothing, if indeed that is actually possible. 

Why is it then that we find it so hard to talk about what we believe in or, God forbid, share our beliefs?  What is it about our beliefs that is so personal, so sacred, and so mysterious that we are reluctant to share them with others? Perhaps that is just it.  Our beliefs are personal, unique, our certainty of what we hope for and what we do not see – our faith.

I was chatting to a friend of mine last week about an experience he had a few years ago when he met someone who he didn’t know.  This man said he could see my friend’s aura – a presence around him and that he had a heart problem.  Sure enough, after getting a check up with his doctor, my friend did have a heart problem, went on medication and now lives a normal life. 

My friend asked me how this could be.  I don’t much about auras, but what I did share with him was what I had experienced as giftings that some people have, and how God uses people to speak to and heal them.  This is what I believe and I felt comfortable sharing this.  I felt comfortable because I had built up a relationship with my friend.  He is not a Christian, maybe one day he will look at his beliefs and make a choice, maybe he won’t.

Knowing what we believe and sharing our belief is important and it should be a really natural experience.  It takes courage, and confidence but it is so important.  It also takes a decision and a resolution to decide to believe.

I have decided,
I’m gonna live like a believer,
Turn my back on the deceiver,
I’m gonna live what I believe

And when the world begins to see you change,
Don’t expect them to applaud.
Just keep your eyes on Him and tell yourself,
I’ve become the work of God.
~ Amy Grant

So what can you expect when you decide to believe and then go beyond belief and share them?  You can expect no applause, no standing ovation, and no bouquets of flowers.  You can expect some silence, some hostility, some confusion and some significant discussion.  You can also expect God to call you on your beliefs. 

It’s easy to sing the songs, to pray the prayers, to do the random acts of kindness – these are all important.  However be prepared to be called by God on your beliefs and challenged to believe more.  This will take you deeper into knowing God, loving others and walking together. 

Those who believe that they believe in God, but without passion in their hearts, without anguish in mind, without uncertainty, without doubt, without an element of despair even in their consolation, believe in the God idea, not God himself. ~Miguel de Unamuno

Recently I felt called to re-express my beliefs and have started a Facebook Group – i believe.   It’s really just a place to remind myself of what I believe.  It helps me challenge myself.  I hope that it is useful to others too. Have a look and join if you want.  It was easy to start a group – too easy – now I need to start the conversation – want to help spread the word?

So what about you my friend?  Have you decided that you are going to live like a believer, you may be doing this already.  What is it that you believe, will you share it here or somewhere this week.  You may just help someone to express their own belief.

i believe

You sing your carols
How you believe
In my Son
On Christmas eve

So I called you
On what you believed
Did you hear me
On Christmas eve

I heard you pray
Down on your knees
To my Son
On Easter’s eve

So I called you
On what you believe
Did you hear me
On Easter’s eve.

I know your heart
What you believe
What will you resolve
On New Year’s eve

This year I’ll call you
On what you believe
Learn from my resolve
Seek to receive

Images: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul, and sings the tune without the words, and never stops at all.  This is the first verse in the poem Hope by Emily Dickinson.  I really like the metaphor of hope as a tiny bird – a thing with feathers.  It’s also a great description of how we can approach faith, through hope and be certain of something that we really cannot see.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
~ Hebrews 11:1

Faith and doubt have often be described as two opposites, one cannot exist without the other.  Doubt can build or destroy faith.  This is not a bad thing or something to be ashamed of, it’s just what it is – being human.  We are a mix of doubt and faith, good and bad, light and dark, spirit and flesh.  It is the just the way God made us. 

God did make us different though. He made us spiritual and physical.  In this way I believe we are unique, special, and made in his image.  So what does this mean about our faith?  How should we hope to have faith in what we cannot see?  Maybe, what we cannot see is physical, and what we have hope in is spiritual.  Maybe.

I have the privilege to live in Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city.  With the exception of a remote part of Iceland, Wellington is the windiest city in the world.  Yes – even windier than Chicago!  To me, God is like the wind, I cannot see the wind, but I can feel it.  I really don’t know where the wind comes from, but I believe in it.  I have faith that when I fly my racing kite on a windy day, the wind will lift it and it will soar to great heights.  I believe God is in the wind.  It’s what I hope and what I cannot see, but I know it’s true.

Jesus Culture in their song, How He Loves Us describes it this way:

He is jealous for me
Love’s like a hurricane, I am a tree
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy

That image has stuck with me.  That’s my God, my King.  A mighty and powerful wind and, oh my God how he loves us.

So what about you my friend?  What do you hope for through faith?  How are you certain of what you do not see?  This is what faith is all about.  Sometime this week will you share your story here, or somewhere.  Let’s rest a while and soak up this truth.  We may just be able to help someone see a bit further, and release their faith, through hope.

What I Cannot See

Full of questions
At the end of your rope
Stay and rest a while
With faith comes hope

Full of confusion
Just think you can’t cope
Stay and rest a while
With faith comes hope

Full of yourself
Awash in your opera of soap
Stay a rest a while
With faith comes hope

Full of fear and doubt
Just step out of your boat
Walk towards my rest
Your faith – My hope

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