Posts Tagged With: suffering

Perseverance Song

Why do I keep holdin’ on, holdin’ on to Jesus?

All around these things are slippin’ on and on away.

Both day and night are dark and gloomy, filled with drear.

Jesus’ Name, still makes me want to worship and to pray

‘Til he draws me close and draws me up so very near.

Cause He keeps holdin’ on, keeps holdin’ on to me!

And he’ll keep keepin’ on, keep keepin’ on with you!

 

Why do I keep walking on, keep walking on with Jesus?

Jesus seems to go too fast, and other times too slow

I want to run ahead, but then I got catch my breath with Christ

Where exactly do we plan to let the path to go?

But I’ll let Him pay my aweful, final price,

Cause He kept walking on, kept walking on for me!

And he’ll keep keepin’ on, keep keepin’ on with you!

 

Why do I keep lookin’ on, lookin’ on to Jesus?

I look beyond horizons when skies are lookin’ dim.

I gaze beyond the moonset, when mournin’ ain’t to fun,

But He looked beyond my frets, past the dark within.

He suffered on that cross, though there was no Sun,

Cause He’ll keep looking out, keep lookin’ out for me!

And He’ll keep keepin’ on, keep keeping on with you!

 

Why do I keep standing up, keep standin’ up for Jesus?

I face the roughest storms in the coldest, hardest days.

I’ve climbed the high old hills against the hottest harshest wind.

But he climbed a deadly hill against the hateful storm.

He stood again the third day, so I will stand with Him,

Cause He’ll keep standin’ up, standing up for me!

And He’ll keep keepin’ on, keep keepin’ on with you!

 

Yeah He’ll keep holdin’ on, holdin’ on to you.

Yeah He’ll keep walkin’ on, walkin’ on with me.

Yeah He’ll keep lookin’ out, lookin’ out for you.

Yeah He’ll keep standin’ up, standin’ up for me . . .

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Amid chaos, look to the God of order

God is not a god of disorder, but a God of peace.

He orders things and brings harmony. He doesn’t intentionally try to disturb us just to disturb us just to disturb us. Indeed, God desires that calm, quiet spirit in us that we find so sweet in wonderful friends we trust.

So why do we sometime go through the fire? Why must we face trials and tribulations if God wants to lead us in triumph?

Why did Paul say that soon satan would be trampled underfoot in his letter to the Romans and then get executed in Rome?

God uses our defeat to bring forth His victory. The Lord wants it totally clear that it is not this world that is the end, it is the world to come that we are to look for and pursue.

Yes, it is good to have joy while in this world.

But if our joy terminates in this world, then we are pitiful people.

Have you ever been to a funeral where some seemed at peace though they mourned and some seemed disheartened though they spouted off platitudes like “They are in a better place now.” One contains true joy, though the joy is decorated by tears of longing. The other is sorrow though it is paper mache’d over and sprinkled with glitter.

What is the difference between true hope and utter hopelessness?

Jesus.

He too faced a horrible death. He too did not want die, certainly not the way he did. But Jesus did want to bring many people into the Kingdom of God as children of God. The only way to open the door of death was to pass through it himself, so that others could triumph when they went through it.

And so too, when Paul, not fearing death, so opposed the evil of False Religions and False Justice that he was executed for his stand against worship of any mere man, he rejoiced in hope, knowing that the final victory is not in this world, but in the next. When we fix our eyes fully on the world to come and the joy that is awaiting us there, then we are free to endure hardship like good soldiers.

A soldier fights a battle for his allegiance to a better country. Christians stand firm in the faith knowing that a better world awaits when Christ returns.

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Love is at the Heart of Hard Times.

The Lord disciplines those He loves. (Proverbs 3:12)

Maybe you have been wondering if God loves you since you seem to be going through such a hard time. Maybe you are poor or sick or harassed. You know God is love intellectually, but you don’t “feel” love.

My friend, you have a wonderful opportunity to choose to trust God.

God is over all the earth. He is King. He is Greater than all your troubles.

But He is closer than your own mother. He desires to be your Father, not only by creation but by adoption and regeneration. If you would choose life, choose God. Choose to trust Him.

He put you where you are and set you in the times of your life so that you would reach out and find Him: the Giver of life. (Acts 17:26)

God loves you enough to let you suffer, so that you will look to the Lord of life beyond the gains and losses of life on this earth.

He won’t leave you. Maybe you feel that now as, “He won’t leave me alone. He keep watching me.” Remember, God intends to give you good. The reason God is paying such close attention is that he cares so much.

But just as a good leader leads his people through difficult times so that they might enjoy times of prosperity and joy, so for now for a little bit you may be going through difficult times so that later, perhaps only in the resurrection, you will have in your presence perfect and total joy.

Keep hating sin. Keep loving what is right. Keep seeking peace & pursuing it. You will reap a harvest in due season if you do not lose heart.

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Jesus came to give you a hard time … for now.

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn:
a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.
Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”

Perhaps you will disagree with the assertion in my title of this blog entry, but taken at face value, these words quoted above from Jesus’ sending of the 12 in Matthew 10 certainly do seem to agree with the title. The normal pattern of people on planet earth is to do other than what Jesus wants them to.

Oh, sure, people may be nice enough, they may participate in religious observances, even Christian religious observances, even often, but at their heart, people want to be comfortable in this world.

Jesus makes it clear: HE does NOT want you comfortable in this world. He wants you to find joy in the world to come. While the rage in Christian circles is to get people busy about their jobs, their careers, their families, their health, their ease and to enjoy this world and to share that joy in this world.

Jesus, being ever counter-cultural, calls us to get uncomfortable. “Leave your comfort zone,” is sometimes said to those going on short-term missions. However, we are to daily take up the cross and get uncomfortable for Jesus. We are no where in the Good News encouraged to be comfortable in the world. If you are comfortable in the world, you will be uncomfortable in eternity. That is a promise.

However, if you find your life right now uncomfortable, not just occasionally, but regularly, routinely, daily, you open up the way for the Kingdom of God. No longer is it about this world nor is it about you. Rather, it is about eternity. Your life is to be about God. 100%. Sold out, consumed with the vision of the Living Lord who guides and controls every moment of your life.

You are NOT your own. You belong to Jesus. You are no better than anyone else, but you do belong to Jesus. If you accept this as the mission for your life, you will have a reason to live and a reason to die. Jesus bought you with His life. Your life is now to be hidden with Christ in God. If you reject that, you reject hope, meaning, purpose, and a reason for living.

Oh, you will say, I am my own god. I define my own purpose.

Really? What happens when you die? All your efforts to define yourself will fall flat and you will be cast into hell. IF YOU define your purpose and YOU define your life and YOU define your destiny, the moment you get sick, the moment you die, your meaning is challenged and then extinguished.

However, because Jesus proved that meaning is not coterminous with one’s natural life by rising up out of the grave of His own accord, those who hide themselves in Jesus and accept Jesus Christ as the definition of their purpose suddenly have a life beyond this world.

Even if your own family members reject and crucify you and beat you and spit on you and persecute you, you will have meaning. God redeems your suffering if you let Him. However, you must look to Jesus Christ the righteous Suffering Servant when you are suffering if your suffering is to have meaning.

Notice, I do not merely say that you will feel good. There are many who feel good though they are ultimately going to be cast into hell. The wrapper on a fine chocolate may look and appear gorgeous, but the moment the chocolate is consumed and enjoyed and the chocolate reaches its fulfilment and the wrapper is cast aside into the trash, discarded, it is JUNK. People do not go to the candy store to buy wrappers, they go to buy confections. The wrapper is merely a transportation device for getting the goods from the factory to your home into your body so your heart will rejoice.

Likewise, our comforts in this body and in this world are merely means to an end. If we ever look at them as an end, we will be disappointed.

Yes, despise this world. Do not love it. Do not pursue a high place in the system of the present world. Your throne satan will be cast down and you will come to nothing.

Rather, if you want an enduring life, seek a low place. Seek humility. Seek poverty. Seek abandonment in the arms of the infinite Creator. You are not infinite. Anything you create has limits on how satisfying it can be. But if you look to God to create satisfaction in your heart, you will find it. Though the final peace waits many days and though you see not a glimpse of joy in this world, do not be discouraged: there is a resurrection.

Rejoice in the world to come.

Peace to all who heed these words.

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Pray for your Enemies to Make More Friends

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi needs to become a friend of Jesus.What I mean by the title is not merely that you pray that your enemies be winsome people who get more people on their side. Rather, that we must pray that our enemies would repent in order that they might become our friends. This is a risky way to pray.

It means you may have to leave the comfort of your home, your internet connection and go to meet someone you are scared of face to face. It may mean confronting your persecutors with the standards of the law so that they will be ashamed enough to repent … They may not necessarily repent, but if you pray, and pray faithfully, you may persuade God to persuade them to change their heart.

There is a risk you could lose a fortune on your new friends. You could lose the comfort of financial security. You could lose your health by going to people who are diseased or who intentionally infect you and seek to do you harm. You will at the very least have to spend time you could use making money and spending time with easy friends in order to represent the Kingdom of God in “hostile territory.” Indeed, you could die, without winning any new friends from among your enemies in your own lifetime.

Is it worth it?

Yes … if you do it on behalf of Jesus, completing the sufferings He suffered.

He promised that those who are persecuted for righteousness sake have the kingdom of Heaven which is peace, joy, and righteousness. You just can’t beat that deal. But first pray. Indeed, the beginning of the beatitudes is, “Blessed are those who are beggars in spirit, for theirs IS the Kingdom of Heaven.”

You have the treasures of heaven available, if only you will come before the Throne of God and beg, if only you will obey until you suffer. Wow!!

If you were to ask the Gazan Christians if this was easy, they would tell you that they count it all joy. If you were to ask the observers of the character of Christians who fled terror in Iraq, you would hear that the Christians did not respond in kind with violence, but with kindness. The saints violate the normal tit-for-tat way of doing things by forgiving enemies.

This sounds too hard, you say, too surreal. Let me ask you a question: Would you rather suffer a little in this life, or suffer for all eternity apart from the presence of God?

Take up the cross Jesus hands you, or suffer all loss because you do not understand Jesus.

I hope that as you count the costs, and consider the benefits in the long-term of following Jesus, you will follow Him with a glad heart.

Peace,
Mert Hershberger

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Why do the poor experience more of the Kingdom than the rich?

A. The poor need God very evidently. The rich think they have all that they need.

B. The poor are oppressed by the world but blessed by God. The rich exploit to get rich, but hoard their wealth, taking their blessings for granted.

C. The poor cry out to God, and he listens. The rich boast of being self-made people.

D. The poor are generous because they know what it is to need, so they are eager to share with others.

E. The poor are always looking up for help. The rich are helping themselves.

F. The poor must be patient. The rich can afford instant service.

G. The poor see God provide for them and give thanks freely. The rich think their wealth is a shelter.

=> To give to the poor is to lend to the Lord. To give to the rich is foolish.

Give down and look up.

Invest in the Lord’s work among the poor, share your whole life with Him & His people wherever you go this week.
If you don’t find His people, make friends and help them become part of the Lord’s people.

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Missionary of Hope

The resolution of morality based on force of will is why the Post-Christian culture is not very critical of Islam as the source of the problem (or when it does, it does so to accuse and excuse, rather than in a confessional manner): The west also adores power. Left or Right, few are willing to take up the cross. And when we must take up the cross, we are too often embarrassed.
 
Forgiveness is powerful. I need more power, the power of forgiveness that is.
 
I wonder how many times we just treat the trauma of abuse in Islam but never minister healing to the heart because the full power of forgiving and being forgiven is not understood.
 
Abuse is also present in America, even in the churches. But it goes by different names. In need of revival, the shame is the same. The guilt is the same in both cultures. It is just when the trauma gets so intense, as is the case in Islamic cultures of people clamoring for status, honor, pleasure, goods, etc., when the oppression intensifies, the only way to protect the soul is by being ashamed of being a victim and pretending to be a victor.
 
I must confess, I often feel beaten but not defeated. I think I can understand Paul the apostle in this regard. True victory comes in persevering in the midst of trial and difficulty because of what Jesus has already accomplished. I will be forever thankful for what I have learned from the persecuted church: to count it all joy and to be honest about the struggles-because otherwise I too would be a pretender. As it is, I am the worst of sinners, and the least of the saints, and …I am a missionary, a missionary of hope.
 
This much like telling a blind man that there is light … until the sighted saint sees that better glasses will not do. The blind man has no eyes. Only by faith can the blind be healed. Only by faith can Muslims be saved. So I am also a missionary of faith.
 
Because doubt demands power, but trust enables kindness to be given and received, I would suggest that we should also be missionaries of love and loving missionaries. This is an impossible task. In this life there is so much trouble, it is not funny. Yet we rejoice because the little love we show points to a Greater Love, a Perfect Love, revealed through what Christ Suffered. He knows what it is like to be in a power-conflicted society and to answer demons of abuse and isolation and arrogance and confusion with the wisdom and grace of His Word. Oh, how precious is His blood which speaks a better word than the blood of Abel!
 
Life is not easy for me.  So thank you for letting me pour out my heart. And thank you for praying with me in view of the redemption.
 
Peace in Jesus, the Fount of all hope,
– MertH., everyday saint
 
I believe in one holy universal-Christian church.
I believe in the resurrection.
I believe in the forgiveness of sins.
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What are the Costs & Benefits of Humility

Humility is something people praise.

Few will praise a proud person for their pride. They may praise someone for their accomplishments, and then the person may become proud. But pride is an ugly thing. Pride is deadly.

But what does humility cost?

1. Humility costs pride & dignity. Often, the humble have been shamed and insulted. The pain of this cost is such that it is not something that people go looking for it. Rather, God comes looking for the proud soul and humbles them like Nebuchadnezzar … so that they will come back looking to Him. Humility is willing to go unacknowledged.

2. Humility costs money. Humility, when matched with resources, becomes generosity. Not ostentatious giving, but practical, earnest, passionate, loving gifts flow through the hands of those who are poor in spirit. There is something about wealth or the prospect of wealth that puffs up.  The loss of that prompts humility.

3. Humility costs convenience & time. Pride rushes ahead to be first in line, humility lets others go first and is willing to be last … if only grace may last. Life is best enjoyed during detours. Pride may smirk, but is discontent, because those inconveniences come to all. Pride barges on, humility lets others procede first. Humility drives in the slow lane.

4. Humility can require physical suffering. This may be an injury that disables someone and so makes them unable to continue to compete in a sport they were highly recognized for. It may be a beating by persecutors when a saint in an oppressive environment fails to be watchful. It may be a Job-like seemingly meaningless torment that simply makes one more humble and takes away pride in humilty.

Now then, what are the benefits of humility?

1. God’s grace. God gives grace to the humble. Those who are humble can do God’s work with His help. Pride is crippling; humility enables.

2. Quiet respect by others who are humble. A leader who is humble is more likely to be honored with a higher position than an arrogant man who is wicked.  Pride puffs up; humility endears.

3. Strength. When one is not constantly striving to build up oneself, there is strength to serve and strength to endure. The simple strength of humility enables one to last when others cast him out. Pride lasts for a moment; humility endures.

4. Multiplication. Humility sees how others can be enabled to serve alongside of oneself. It is not content to do it all by itself. Pride isolates; humility equips.

If you read through the accounts of the Kings in the Old Testament, those leaders who humbled themselves before God were blessed with better endings. Even evil rulers were blessed to last longer if they humbled themselves. But a good but proud ruler was liable to lose his life.

Are you humble? Are you gentle? Are you kind? Are you patient? Do you love the unloving and unlovely? If not, what do you need to do to change?

When you vote, do you look for leaders who will make you more comfortable or for leaders who are humble? Sadly, the office all too often humbles the noble or the noble humble the nation. Leaders have a poor record of leading with humility consistently.

Categories: Humility, Leadership | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Making Disciples on the Go

Every day when I go out on the bus, I am forced by the words of Jesus to ask, “Who and how will I make disciples today as I am going about my daily business?”

This is not about flashy campaigns or buttons. Slogans fail me. But there is a compulsion coming from the command of Jesus: I must make disciples. I have made few, if any, converts in my lifetime, but I have discipled quite a few. If not all of them were baptized by me, I have taken them one step closer (or more) to Jesus. It almost routinely requires that I go. Teaching to obey Jesus is the stuff of life.

The most dangerous aspect of this is that I must obey Jesus. I must take up my cross daily. I must choose the path that is despised by the world. I must choose the hard road rather than the easy road. I must embrace suffering now as the means to later reward.

Yet the suffering I face is not all that hard: occassional misunderstanding, risking rejection and snubs initially, being despised by those I love, poverty, long hours, etc.

These are the kinds of suffering that are not absolute. They are accompanied by joy, even laughter and singing. With this suffering and joy a comradery is built with others who have taken the hard road. It is the bond of brotherhood (sisters are welcome too) that is shared by the saints, of whom I am the least.

And so continues the story of the international fellowship of everyday saints.

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