Video selections: Jantezen Franklin- The Quit Option

This is an excellent teaching/sermon on perseverence and endurance of faith. Take time to view and be blessed. For more go to www.jantezenfrankin.org.

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Post-birthday Personal Musing: On not shrinking back and moving ahead

On Wednesday June 1st, I turned 46.  For me, this day was one following and extended vacation and rest. Now usually the time before my birthday is spent in personal evaluation and examination.  This year it was simply just disconnecting and recharging. 

This was something definitely needed. Since last September I have been in a place of feeling stuck and trouble getting going again. There have been Blog posts about re-engaging, setting goals, and the like. Usually those efforts have been followed by a brief restart and then a sputter back into silence.

 Thinking things over there have been some key areas leading to the silence and retreat. One area is the ongoing concerns for those around me and the burdens for others.  I have faced my mother losing her vision, the death of step-mom to cancer, and the varied struggles the wife encountered including a period of intense hives. 

 The other aspect is the varied responsibilities. There are things and goals have set for professional development.  Yet, in those goals there is only so much time and energy I can put into things.  There are certainly also areas of fear and other elements that help facilitate reluctance and withdrawal. 

 Upon returning back, there is a realization that at some level all that is rationalization and an empowering self not to move ahead.  Each day is an important day to be moving toward that which God calls. Either I am being obedient in moving forward or looking after self and engaging in withdrawal.

 I know that there is a lot of responsibility ahead of me. God has specific things for me to engage in.  I can either shrink back and falter or move ahead.  These are the only choices, advancing or shrinking back which results in retreat. What is a head results in a lot of felt weight that was evident upon return.  There is also some real felt pain some of which is of self, and some in the weight of what others are going through.  My call is always to come along side and step in amidst the pain and encourage growth and change.  It all starts though with me.  And with that being said, the words God has for me is that I need to be engaged in moving forward each day in submission to God and attending to and meeting up to my responsibilities.

 A verse that kind of fits with what God is stirring in me is:

Hebrews 10: 32- 39 (ESV) 32 But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For, “Yet a little while,and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith,and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.

Just even know looking at those words and thinking about endurance the realization strikes me of there being at least two types on endurance. One of which is enduring the difficulties and hardships. Standing up in the midst and not giving in.  The other is that of perseverance. The moving a head in spite of weight, difficulties, or any perceived progress. Taking steps in faith to endure with what God leads until such time as God brings forth the fruit.  So it is clear God is pleased when we stand up under struggle and continue to move ahead. Pulling back, disengaging, and shrinking back does not please God.  It is response to fear and self then depending on God and acting in faith.  Sobering and challenging thoughts for me personally.

Musing on the Passing Storms of Life

The storm this writer has been under has passed. My lungs are free and clear. My energy level has returned. So now to get back to doing the things God has stirred within me to do. One of which is writing this blog on a regular basis. So with the task of getting back on track and getting back to writing, a good starting point here is to start with reflecting on the nature and aftermath of storms in our life. God does direct us that we will face varied “storms” in life. Storms just happen. They are in essence part of the times of trials and testing in our life. Storms come of varied types and sizes but they all have impact. Storms impact us both during the time we are enduring the storm and in the aftermath of the storm. Now the number one question that comes to a persons mind when the trials and testing come is why does God allow this to happen? Now the basic answer to the questions is God is God and we are not as found in Job. Yet, God has given us more than that fact to understand the storms and trials of life. There are three key passages in scripture that help us to understand:

1 Peter 1:6-7 (ESV) In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith–more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire–may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

James 1:2-4 (ESV) Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Romans 5:1 – 5 (NIV) Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

So the basic principle is that the storms and trials and testing periods of our lives help us to grow and develop. Rain and storms are part of the life cycle of fruitfulness, the same in our lives. The storms and testing in life lead us into the process of ongoing purification. There are examples God has given us of this process. The making of a diamond for example is a prime example. Carbon is turned into a precious gem known as a diamond by the being exposed to ongoing pressure and heat. The same it is for us, we are brought from common to a glory reflecting God in the process of the pressures of life. Another example is the process of refining metal from impure to pure. The refinement process is again some form of pressure and heat to bring impurities out of the metal. God uses the storms in our life to bring us into greater likeness to him. Note it is not our work, but God at work in us through the storms and trials.

God works in us through what the storms or trials he allows us to experience. We are all tested in many ways. One preacher, Tom Shepard, has a sermon from Job about seven ways we are tested in storms. In examining what God was worked in my life and heart during the recent storms, I have found that there is a distinct revealing of my own limits that occur. Often times, during storms we can rely on our own strength to endure or keep from seeking help. It is a matter of self and pride and own strength. God wants us to turn to him and rest in faith. There is the story of Jesus sleeping in the boat during the storm found in Mark 4:35-40. The disciples reached their limit. They could not understand how Jesus could be at rest on the boat in the storm. They woke him up and he calmed the storm, but Jesus was perfectly content to rest through the storm. He asked the disciples why they had such little faith. So the storms and trials really show us how much we trust and depend on God regardless of appearances. God wants our focus on him. Previously, written on this blog is the article: Seven Principles for Transcending Suffering that points to ways we can grow in the midst of storm. The testing a storm brings also reveals the ways we fall short in those principles and move us to draw from the deeper. And ultimately, at the core of it all, it is about growing up more and more in God and reaching deeper relationship and maturity.