Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tears In A Bottle

“You have taken account of my wanderings; put my tears in Your bottle.  Are they not in Your book?  Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call; this I know, that God is for me” (Psalm 56:8-9).
Life isn’t much fun at times.  Perhaps you can relate to some of the struggles listed by the author of Psalm 56.  Oppressors are treating you like a sidewalk, leaving their boot prints all over you.  They are proud of their efforts to make your life miserable (vv. 1-2).  They take pleasure in twisting your words as they dream up new ways to attack you (v. 5).  They lurk around every corner, seeking an opportunity to destroy you (v. 6).
But maybe your struggles are different.  Your battle may be with a health condition that is painful and debilitating.  Perhaps your trials result from the fracturing or destruction of a relationship.  It could be that you are overwhelmed with grief due to the death of beloved family member or dear friend.  These are all different life issues than the psalmist was experiencing, but no less real or painful.  Life can hurt.
Where do you turn in times like these?  The psalmist turned to God when life got rough.  It wasn’t because God magically made everything alright.  It wasn’t because God took away all of the pain and difficulty.  The author of Psalm 56 took solace in the fact that God was there in the midst of it all.  It was a source of comfort for him to know that none of what was happening was escaping God’s notice.  I especially love the imagery of God collecting the psalmist’s tears in a bottle (v. 8).  The writer trusted that no tear of pain or grief is missed by the One who loves His children.
God knows your pain and grief as well.  None of your tears are overlooked in a world of hurting people.  When life’s experiences tempt you to think otherwise, remember that God is for you, not against you!

God loves you!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Amish Issues

A recent speaker I heard referred to what he called “Amish issues.”  What are “Amish issues”, you ask?  The Amish are a religious group known for retaining many old ways of doing things regardless of the advance of the society around them.  From an outsider’s point of view, some of their choices seem a bit odd.  The speaker illustrated his point by referencing something he saw during a visit to Pennsylvania.  An Amish farmer was using a new or nearly new John Deere corn planter.  This corn planter was a modern, state of the art corn planting implement, costing thousands of dollars.  But instead of using a modern tractor to pull the planter, the farmer was using a team of horses!
The purpose of this article is not to ridicule the Amish.  No doubt they have their own reasons for availing themselves of some modern technology and avoiding others and they don’t have to defend them to me.  They can pull modern corn planters with a team of horses if they want choose to, regardless of how odd it appears to someone else.
My purpose in thinking about “Amish issues” is to consider if I have any of my own.  It’s easier for me to point out what appears to be foolish traditions in someone else’s religion and casually overlook the traditions of my own religious practice that appear to be outdated and inconsistent to others.  Am I guilty of clinging so tightly to the traditions of my religious past that my witness for Christ has become irrelevant or obsolete in the present?  If I am honest, it’s likely that I have “Amish issues” as well.
While the core principles of the good news of Jesus are unchanging and valid in any culture, the methods for sharing it are more fluid and adaptable.  The motto of the apostle Paul is still applicable: “I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some” (I Corinthians 9:22).  I must be prepared to engage culture rather than retreat from it.

God loves you!