Monday, April 24, 2017

“I Believe, Help My Unbelief”
“During my junior year in college, I took a butter knife from my mother’s kitchen and scraped the Christian fish decal off the back bumper of the Plymouth hatchback I’d inherited from my older brother. Stripping off that sticker foreshadowed the day, a few years later, that I would walk out of church.”
These are the first sentences of an article I read a few years ago by Andrea Palpant Dilley, entitled, “MY FAITH: RETURNING TO CHURCH, DESPITE MY DOUBTS.” For years, Dilley wrestled with many faith questions, such as: 
“Why does the church seem so culturally insulated and 
“Why does God seem distant and uninvolved?”
“Why does God allow suffering?” 

Years later in her faith struggle, Andrea Dilley found peace in the following insights: 1) her doubt belonged IN church, and 2) her doubt was actually part of her faith!  She goes on to say…
“With all its faults, I still associate the church with the pursuit of truth and justice, with community and shared humanity. It’s a place to ask the unanswerable questions and a place to be on sojourn. No other institution has given me what the church has:a space to search for God.  In Mark 9:24, a man says to Jesus, “I believe, help my unbelief.” ..... “I  pray that prayer often and believe that God honors my honesty.”
What are your doubts? 
What questions are you asking God?
The ancient prophet, Habakkuk, complained to the God who allowed the devastation of his people at the hands of the Babylonians: "Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?" (Habakkuk 1:3). Jesus cried from the cross,"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46).

We are called to “walk by faith” but that doesn’t mean we will never doubt.  We are called “to be strong and courageous” but that doesn’t mean we will never be afraid.  The church is a community of souls, set aside for God’s holiness and good work -- to bring Him glory, even in our times of fear and doubt.  God can take your questions.  He is in the business of growth and transformation!  “I believe, help my unbelief!”                           God is good all the time and all the time God is good. Mr. Steve

Monday, January 23, 2017

“CONTINUING TO DISCERN THE WILL OF GOD”                                                                            
     She was only six weeks old when she was mistakingly mistreated for a minor eye inflammation that left her blind the rest of her life.  Without any eyesight, you and I might have grown up bitter, but not her.  At the age of eight, she wrote the following 2 stanza poem:
Oh, what a happy child I am,              How many blessings I enjoy
Although I cannot see!                         That other people don’t!
I am resolved that in this world          So weep or sigh because I’m blind
Contented I will be.                              I cannot, or I won’t!

     Frances Jane Crosby, better known as Fanny Crosby, wrote more than eight thousand songs in her almost 95 years!  Donald P. Hustad, an authority on hymnology, called Fanny Crosby, “the most prolific and significant writer of gospel songs in American history.”  

     Fanny’s father died when she was very young, but like Timothy in the Bible, she was greatly influenced by her mother and grandmother. By the time Fanny was ten years old, it is recorded that she could recite the first four books of the Old Testament and the four Gospels!  She also could recite numerous poems from memory.

     As far as hymn writing, Fanny said, “I could not have written thousands of hymns if I had been hindered by the distractions of seeing all the interesting and beautiful objects that would have been presented to my notice.... and....  I never undertake a hymn without first asking the good Lord to be my inspiration in the work that I am about to do.”  

     A few of Fanny’s hymns many of us have sung for years include: “To God Be the Glory,” “Blessed Assurance,” “Praise Him! Praise Him!,” “Redeemed,” “Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross,” “Rescue the Perishing,” “All the Way My Savior Leads Me,” and many, many more.  Plus, hundreds of Fanny Crosby’s poems are still in their files at the Hope Publishing Company waiting to be set to music!

     In her autobiography, “Fanny Crosby’s Life Story,” Fanny wrote the following: “It seemed intended by the blessed Providence of God that I should be blind all my life, and I thank Him for the dispensation.... If I could meet him (the doctor who destroyed her sight) now I would say, ‘Thank you, thank you’ -- over and over again -- for making me blind.”                 

                                                               God is good all the time.  Mr. Steve