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”

Faith, A Radical Mindset

So, are you addicted to answers? To not be, is the exception because we live in a culture that depends on this addiction. In the fields of science, business, finance, education, and the like, answers are essential for success. Answers to problems and challenges serve as road maps to accomplishment and wealth. Therefore, answers are cherished resources and to be without them jeopardizes ones success. Continue reading “Faith, A Radical Mindset”

The Gift of Disillusionment

I was a 23 year-old youth pastor feeling the winds of transition blowing across my life. Not knowing the “what” or “where” of my new season, I began praying for direction. Soon afterwards, I met a missionary who invited me to join him in some exciting work he was doing in Mexico. Believing this was an answer to prayer, I accepted the invitation, said goodbye to my family—not knowing when I would return—and boarded a plane for Monterrey, Mexico. Continue reading “The Gift of Disillusionment”

Emoticon Spirituality

400551-610x610-1369060605-primary.EmojisEmoticons… at the click of a keystroke emotional transparency has never been easier! 🙂 If only this were true. ): Unfortunately, humans struggle with emotional honesty. Not unlike the use of emoticons, we can be too quick or slow to admit our true emotional state, especially in our relationship with God. Today we’ll look at what it means to be honest with God about our emotions and how this directly relates to hope. Continue reading “Emoticon Spirituality”

Choosing Your Desperation

How can theodicy questions lead us closer to God? They foster desperation because the answers to such questions will never be fully grasped this side of the grave. Our suffering and others’ suffering will always be shrouded by the mystery of “Why”? It is at this dead-end where our response will take us either to a place of earthly desperation – resulting in hopelessness, depression, and exasperation – or to a place of holy desperation – resulting in faith, hope, and confidence in God. Desperation (earthly or holy) always involves the feeling of hopelessness. Continue reading “Choosing Your Desperation”

Rethinking Desperation

Desperate for God? Why the word desperate? It’s so… extreme… intense… emotional. In American culture, “desperation” stirs up images of emotionally distressed individuals pleading with another to give over something craved. One is also struck with images of desperate poverty, hunger, or overwhelming hopelessness. Often such desperate ones are the butt of jokes, avoided in social settings, and seen as socially unstable. What good could possibly come from such a belittled disposition?

Despite these impressions of desperation, I will recast this attitude from the perspective of faith and show how it is actually critical to our renewing of faith and restoring of hope. Continue reading “Rethinking Desperation”