Faith

People talk about faith a lot.  Especially people of faith.  True Christ-followers understand the concept of faith better than anyone else, yet find it difficult at times to exercise that faith in certain situations.  James said it would happen [James 1:2-3].

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.

Recently I had the chance to exercise my faith in a real life experience, and I gained some valuable insight into the concept of faith.  Here is a little history of the Capilano Suspension Bridge, in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada:

In 1888, George Grant Mackay, a Scottish civil engineer and land developer, arrived in the young city of Vancouver in Canada. Mackay purchased 6,000 acres of dense forest on either side of Capilano River and built a cabin on the very edge of the canyon wall. In 1889 he suspended a footbridge made of hemp rope and cedar planks across the canyon with the help of August Jack Khahtsahlano and a team of horses who swam the ropes across the river. The ropes were then pulled up the other side and anchored to huge buried cedar logs.

for more information click here.

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This 153 yard bridge took me to the other side of the river, where we walked on other bridges up into the tops of the trees and looked down at the river flowing below.   I’m not a big fan of suspension bridges, holding at any given point more than one hundred people going back and forth.  The only bad thing about going all the way over to the other side… you have to cross the bridge again to come back.

Placing my faith in the cabling, wood, and design of this bridge was very challenging for me.

I suspect that for people far from God, who always want to believe they can handle everything on their own, they might have some difficulty believing Jesus really is the only BRIDGE worth taking.  They probably doubt His ability to be the Savior He claims to be.  They dispute His authority and claim to be the ONLY means (way, truth, life) of right relationship with God.

Nevertheless, it is true.

What it takes to act on this truth… is to take a step of faith into Jesus.

Hebrews helps us here [11:1]:

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

If I wanted to see the river from the tops of the trees… there was only one way to get there… stepping out in faith.

If you want to know the joy of eternal life with the Creator of the Universe, there is only one way to get there… taking that step of faith into Jesus.

Merrily We Droll Along

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I’ve always liked the “holiday” season.  With the coming of winter, the festive ways people adorn their homes and hearths, the abundance of food and friends gathered to give thanks, and a few weeks later give gifts in celebration of the Best Gift… it’s a great time of year, and it is upon us.

There are those around the world who don’t feel this way at all.  Caught up in relationships where conflict and strife are abundant, tends to taint the festivities.  Facing a newly diagnosed illness or disease will pretty much put a person in a dour mood, evident to anyone who engages them.  Additionally, not everyone will have enough to eat on Thanksgiving, much less a Christmas Ham.  For each person in one of these situations finding the merriment of the “holidays” is just like finding the Panda in this picture.

Yes, there is a Panda in this picture, and once you see it, you can never un-see it again.

This paradigm is also true for those who seek the real meaning of the “holidays.”

Because Thanksgiving is not about watching football on the “big” screen, or eating from a buffet fit for kings, to feed a family of five.  Thanksgiving is about “giving thanks.”  Right? And just like the image of the Panda, being truly thankful is elusive sometimes.

Pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. [1 Thessalonians 5:17-18]

I realize you may think I’m doing the typical preacher platitude thing again.  However, by quoting this verse, I’m NOT suggesting that you give “thanks” for whatever has robbed your “holiday” spirit this year.  I’m saying this because I’m pretty sure, from personal experience, that this is not what Paul is teaching in this verse.

There is a big difference in being thankful in the middle of the stuff of life that attacks when you least expect it, versus being thankful “for the attack itself.”  I’m suggesting that you consider it a joy, when God gets you through it, and act thankfully for God’s strength and power to deliver you, redeem you, and encourage you through it all.

I don’t thank God for everything.  Not everything is “thanks” worthy.  But what I do is, I thank God in everything I face.  This verse also doesn’t say to put on your happy face, when you don’t really feel so happy.

Back to the Panda in the image for this article.  If you haven’t found it yet, I’ll give you a clue.  The Panda is the only one without a smile on its face.  Why would he smile?  The Panda is in this herd of snowmen.  He’s probably feels a little out of place.

While all the snowmen merrily droll along, the Panda is out of its element, not happy, not joyful, and not thankful.

Even James isn’t saying be “thankful” [James 1:2-3]   Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.

Joy is not necessarily a synonym for thankfulness.  Joy is a separate attitude all its own, fueled by a knowledge that nothing in our lives escapes God’s notice.  So I can be joyful in times of sorrow or loss, and in the middle of it all, I can be thankful for God’s love for me.  I can know that I am His and He is mine.

You don’t have to wear the smiling mask all the time.  You don’t have to be like the hundreds of smiling people who droll along through life, pretending everything is ok, when it isn’t.

However, we know what God’s will is for us.

  • be thankful … IN (not for) … the life issues you face
  • consider it joy … when you face these life issues
  • pray without ceasing

Pray for what exactly?

God’s glory to fill the earth?
God’s kingdom to come soon?
God’s will to be done in your life?
Daily food supplements?
Forgiveness?
To have the strength to forgive others?
Deliverance from temptation?

Sure, all that; it’s what Jesus Himself taught us to pray [Matthew 6:9-13].

And when you pray, don’t just spew meaningless spiritual verbiage in God’s general direction.

Or in some way offer droll statements in an attempt to diffuse your own pain.  Just be real, be genuine, be authentic as a true believer.  Stand out among the others around you who wear a smiling mask while they merrily droll along without hope.

If you haven’t found it yet, look hard for the Panda.  In that same way, through you prayers to God, while being thankful and joyful, look hard for God’s grace, and you will find it.  Nothing in your life escapes God’s notice.

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