Friday, March 15, 2013

When You Are Troubled


The following is from the Great Experiment blog, posted on March 13th. It’s a reflection on John 14:1 – “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.”

Like the Scripture from my last post on Friday, this Scripture was also part of a funeral I officiated last weekend. It’s one of the most frequently used passages at funeral services. Jesus speaking with his disciples offers them comfort and reassurance as the time of his death and departure grows near. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me,” is his calm reassurance.

It makes sense that we would use these words when we are facing the death of our own loved ones and struggling with the significant lose that their departure represents for us. We’re troubled. Our hearts are stirred up. We are unsettled and unsure of the future. Jesus says, “You believe in God; believe also in me.” Jesus says, “Trust me. I have it all under control.”

It may not occur to us to meditate on this Scripture as we contemplate prayer. However, in all circumstances of our lives - large and small - this should be a calming and reassuring message. Whenever we are troubled, unsettled and unsure, we need some rock to hold onto and we find it in Christ. When we call out in prayer because our family is dealing with death or long-term illness – our hearts do not have to be troubled. When we pray and ask God for answers to problems that seem insurmountable – we can have peace. When we seek guidance and discernment for the direction of our lives – we can be sure that God is in control.

Don’t let your heart be troubled. Instead, believe. In believing, we find peace and reassurance. We are reminded that he is faithful. That the Lord is with us. That He is on our side. And our hearts are not troubled.



Tuesday, March 12, 2013

In Season and Out


The following is from the Great Experiment Blog, posted on March 8th. Reflecting on Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1.

This Scripture from Ecclesiastes was one of the passages used in a funeral I officiated last weekend. “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heaven …”

I’ve used it in a number of contexts over the years: funerals mostly, but also sermons, memorial services, welcoming new pastors or saying goodbye to old ones, even weddings. We are mid-way through the Great Experiment and I’m thinking about it now in the context of prayer. There is a time for everything, and all that we bring to the Lord as we pray.

Sometimes we will bring to the Lord our tears, mourning, scattering, tearing, silence, hatred and war. At other times we will bring the Lord our life; planting, healing, laughing, dancing, embracing, mending, love and peace. All of life, good and bad, belongs before the Lord in prayer. There is no sense in holding anything back; he wants to be Lord of it all!

At times, I try very hard to put my best foot forward. I want to give God excellence. I want God to know that what I’m offering is nothing short of the best of me. I think that’s a laudable thing. But there must also be times when I bring God the foot that drags along behind me. There needs to be a time when I give God my failures and my unworthiness. I need to acknowledge before God (God, of course, already knows) that my best is nothing but filthy rags. For each of these extremes there is a time, and a season.

Prayer is a must in all times and in every season of our lives. We must avoid the pitfall that believes a life of prayer is only for some seasons and during certain times. It is always a good time to turn to the Lord. Prayer is never out of season.



Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Trouble I’m In


The following is from the Great Experiment Blog, posted on Monday, March 4th:

“Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. For your hands are stained with blood, your fingers with guilt. Your lips have spoken falsely, and your tongue mutters wicked things.” – Isaiah 59:1-3


We underestimate the impact of sin in our lives and its impact on our prayer life. I underestimate the impact of my sin in my life and its impact on my prayers.

I have a lot of excuses for my sinfulness and a lot of ways to minimize the impact of my sin. “It’s really not as bad as it seems.” “It doesn’t have the impact that you might think.” “It’s just a little thing, compared to some of the really bad things that people do.” I’m not a bad person. I generally get it right. When you weigh the good against the bad it’s pretty clear that the good wins out [at least I like to think that it does].

God has a very different perspective. Sin is sin. The distinction we make between “big sins” and “little sins” is not a distinction that God makes. It’s all just sin. It’s not about the sins that have a big impact or the ones that have a small impact – all sin has the same impact. It separates us from God. Separated is separated. Hidden is hidden. Out of earshot is out of earshot (see verse 2).

When we struggle with our sin, we don’t need to do a little better. We need a complete makeover. We need our hands, and the rest of us, washed clean. We need a Savior. We need Jesus.

The hope we find is revealed in verse 1: “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.” The Lord will save, the Lord will hear. He is waiting for us to call.



*The Great Experiment is a 40-Day Journey of Discipleship that the people of First Saints are participating in during Lent. It involves prayer, scripture, small groups, tithing, ministry and acts of service. If you’d like to know more, leave me a message in the comments.