The Mystery of Christian Suffering

Christians believe that God is sovereign in the affairs of life and death—no one or nothing is more powerful and absolute. This belief can help us find hope in times of trouble because God’s purposes are never threatened or thwarted by anything… not even suffering. Yet, let’s not confuse such confidence in divine sovereignty with a naive faith. Towards this end, two clarifications are needed. Continue reading “The Mystery of Christian Suffering”

Quiet Time and Sacred Space

A lifestyle of distraction is not learned in a day… neither is reversing its trend. We concluded last week by introducing “baby steps” as a way to begin standing against the power of distraction. Such efforts may initially seem insignificant—30 second prayers, 60 seconds of stillness, or short walks unplugged from technology. Nevertheless, with persistence we can find the freedom we seek. But, how can we stay motivated for a freedom we haven’t yet fully experienced? We need a foretaste. Continue reading “Quiet Time and Sacred Space”

Lifestyles of Distraction

I am prone to distraction. Such is frequently observed by my family every time I attempt to walk past the television. How about you? Distraction is embedded into the very fabric of our culture. Google, video games, cable television, bill boards, commercials, and myriad other sights and sounds daily call for our time and attention. Our economy even depends on it. Every day, businesses and institutions vie for our interest in buying their goods and services… each one trying to convince us we need what they have. Sadly, we’ve become so used to the noise, we rarely even recognize what we’ve lost. Continue reading “Lifestyles of Distraction”

Surrender

Last week we emphasized the importance of knowing the purpose and limits of cultural Christianity. When Christians fail to gain such knowledge, they set themselves up for great confusion and disappointment… expecting something of their faith it isn’t able to deliver. This week we consider the vast difference between cultural and biblical Christianity. Continue reading “Surrender”

The Eighteen-Inch Dilemma

This week we discuss the first of two challenges often preventing Christians from choosing holy desperation. Today we introduce The Eighteen-Inch Dilemma. This challenge refers to the seemingly infinite span between the head and the heart and the difficulty we have trying to bring them together. For us, this has to do with the difference between merely knowing about God and knowing God. Continue reading “The Eighteen-Inch Dilemma”

Wounded Healers

We have talked a lot about rightly choosing our desperation and how critical this is for cultivating hope. Yet, we must also understand that the impact of this choice extends beyond our own immediate circumstances. When we respond rightly in our dark night, in that very moment God is already beginning to redeem our loss. He not only brings us hope but he intends to do the same through us for others. Continue reading “Wounded Healers”

Faith as Knowing Beyond Knowing

There was a time when I used to think God made perfect sense. This was before I understood that sometimes his ways seem totally reasonable while at others they utterly defy the rules of logic. If there is one thing about God we can always count on, it is his faithfulness. If there is one thing about God we can never count on, it is predictability in how he acts. In light of such uncertainty, how can we ever hope to have an authentic and reliable faith? Continue reading “Faith as Knowing Beyond Knowing”

Suffering and the Gift of Presence

My earliest memories of Christian faith are when I was eight years old. I remember experiencing the presence of God in times of prayer and worship. Those were special years… my faith was pure and simple. By the time I was eighteen I had a strong Christian foundation, though with one exception—my faith had no context for suffering. I honestly can’t remember any teachings that seriously addressed the topic of theodicy. Continue reading “Suffering and the Gift of Presence”

In Search of Joy

Human beings are emotional creatures and this is both a blessing and a bane. We have all experienced their ability to carry us to the highest heights and plummet us to the lowest depths. And so, we have developed our own ways of dealing with emotions… of managing our passions. Yet regardless of how we feel about emotions, we all hold one emotional behavior in common—we are most excited about those beliefs to which we are most committed. In fact, we even tend to question whether somebody truly believes something if they are not moved by it. Continue reading “In Search of Joy”