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Over the years, my children, when they were little, often demonstrated a mastery of articulating what I have found myself thinking or feeling when words would fail me. When having to navigate my way through the midst of difficult or trying times, I have sometimes been tempted, deep down in the recesses of my heart, to be somewhat less than spiritual and would get dangerously close to becoming bent out of shape about my circumstances. There have been moments when it has seemed to me that there were simply no words that could describe the emotions swirling around inside of me. But then there have also been moments when I have been astounded with how well one of my children would sum up what I was prone to overly-complicate in my own thinking, muddling, as it were, what was really a very simple truth or fact.

My youngest son, for example, once encapsulated in six words the very issue that tends to weaken and wear down most of us at some season of our lives or maybe even many seasons of our lives. In a moment of brilliant imagery, he left me feeling a bit stupefied by the succinct way he captured my tendency for frustration when God doesn’t answer my prayers on my time table.

One afternoon, when feeling a bit impatient for his supper, he asked my wife when it would be time to eat. “A couple of minutes, honey,” was the reply. He gasped and with a distraught look of horror, clasped his face and moaned, “Oh, Mom! For me minutes seem like years!” Of course, it really was a matter of only a few minutes, but for a six-year-old, minutes do indeed seem like years.

Minutes and years header

“With the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” 2 Peter 3:8 ESV

 

I’m convinced that this really is a problem for all of us, whether we’re six-years-old or ninety-six. There are times when we simply can’t understand why we must wait and why the Lord doesn’t just do something quick. We drum our spiritual fingers and our souls sigh with impatience as we wonder what in the world could be taking God so long. On the one hand, we talk about “waiting on the Lord”, while on the other we are perhaps busily rationalizing our impatience with soothing excuses for doubting God. “Well, I was in a tight spot and just had to do something!” “Oh, God doesn’t hear me and so I just gave up!” “But everyone else was doing something and I thought I ought to do what they were doing!”

We have a knack for trying to run God’s blessing for our lives on a stopwatch. But whatever we may expect for the Lord’s timing for us, we must simply remember to “…not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8 ESV).

What you now do with this truth will have tremendous impact on whether or not you’ll really see God’s power at work in your life. Whether it takes God ten minutes or ten years, your holding fast to an unswerving confidence in Him will dictate to you the measure of how much you’ll experience His workings in your life.

“Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him, and He will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for Him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices” (Psalm 37:5-7 ESV).

What appear to be delays in God’s answers for your life are in fact seasons of preparation and building that take place out of sight so that the Lord’s blessings might be realized more fully than you had ever hoped. Not only that, but what may often appear to be as a lull in divine activity very often turns out to be a season of grace, as God throws open windows of opportunity for people to turn from self-will and sin and turn instead to the forgiveness and cleansing that only faith in Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection offers us.

“The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9 ESV).

Are you waiting expectantly on God? Are you facing needs in your life that you try to give to Him while trying not to grab them back because He doesn’t seem to have noticed? As you wait on Him, does doubt gnaw at you and black thoughts of discouragement seep through your veins?

“Why do you say… ‘My way is hidden from the LORD, and my right is disregarded by my God’?  Have you not known?  Have you not heard?  The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable.  He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might He increases strength.  Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:27-31 ESV).

If you are waiting on God, don’t give up and throw in the towel, taking yourself offline for downloads of blessing that God has ordained for you. No… instead do what His Word would have you do in the cultivating of your relationship with Him. Read the Bible, seek God’s face faithfully in prayer, learn to worship Him among a community of Believers in a local church, serve Him in the myriad of ways He provides you each day of the week, and search your heart under His leading so that He can work inside of you to make room for His blessings for you, in you, and through you.

In the end, staying faithful to the One, Whose name is synonymous with faithfulness, keeps your heart in a spiritual posture that remains ready to be blessed… whether the timing is only a few minutes or even a lifetime.

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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In a world as ravaged as is ours by the bitter winds of hate and hate’s awful offspring, cruelty, we long for the sweetly perfumed airs of good news. Not only is the terrain of the world largely barren of peace and hope, but even into our own homes come the rancid fumes of fear and the fetid stink of selfishness, suffocating us with clouds of despair. Families struggle and break apart, whole communities polarize and divide, and even churches bicker and split into fragments.

With such realities surrounding us and compelling us to either engage them or succumb to them, two questions arise. First, where can one turn for good news? It’s very hard to find good news that offsets the avalanche of bad news cascading into our lives all day long, every day. Much of it is due, no doubt, to our compulsive fascination and addiction to hearing and seeing bad news. Humanity seems to collectively find scandal and tragedy much more interesting and worthy of attention than it does good news as evidenced by our glut of (pseudo) reality shows and amusement over Hollywood stars’ misfortunes.

But there IS good news in the world. The good news is that God loves you and that He loves you so much that He spent His own Son in order to draw you out of despair and into a living hope that cannot be overcome.

The second question follows the first one and assumes that we have answered it. The question is how can we know that the good news of the Gospel is indeed the very thing it claims to be: good news? I have known very intelligent people to look at the Good News of God’s love and laugh, claiming that it is overly simplistic and is ineffective in its assessment of the world’s condition. Some have said that it is little more than a crutch for those who simply can’t face life on their own and need something a little more.

But the Good News of Jesus turns such words on their heads. There is no other, nor has there ever been a philosophy or teaching in the world, that so thoroughly recognizes the tragic condition of the world, the corrupted nature of the human heart, and the awesome essence of God’s own holy and omnipotent benevolence all at the same time. Secular science says, for instance, that human beings are not spiritual creatures, but are only biological ones, just another link in a chain of accidental mutations that have (luckily) adapted to ever changing environments. So we are reduced to things no more morally advanced than frogs or tapeworms in a world where all things live according to the blind rules of natural selection.

Meanwhile, Eastern religions (and their Western protégés) make the claim that all humanity is good and that all things are god, or rather a god-force (this is called “pantheism”). Hardly capable of adequately explaining real evil, it leaves the human soul totally unprepared for such atrocities as genocide in Nazi Germany, Kosovo, Cambodia, or Kurdish Iraq (let alone the perpetual problems of poverty, corruption, oppression, and aggression in our own backyards).

Even the religion fueling radical terrorism today across so much of the world leaves one cold. It is partly right in recognizing that there is a law given by a divine Creator and that it is given to all of the human race. But it is totally wrong in thinking that we can achieve a holiness that is acceptable to the most Holy One of all apart from His divine work on the cross: no matter our best efforts, we will always fall below the required mark if we trust merely in our own abilities or sacrifices. And so its presumption has sown the seeds of destruction and heaped upon itself an even more contemptible unholiness.

But the Good News of Jesus fully recognizes the capacity for evil of men and women and yet does not resign us to despair while we wait for self-destruction. Nor does it white-wash the fence, pretending that evil is something less than evil. It faces it and stares it down with the power of the goodness of God: what we may plan for evil, God can turn towards good (from Genesis 50:20). This is in fact why the Good News of the Gospel (which means, “good news”) is such good news!

Even so, I suspect that the greatest source of disdain from Christianity’s critics is the frequent attempt to isolate individual claims of Christianity and apply them according to these other worldviews. An unfortunate mistake – for if one cannot conceive of a natural propensity for sin in the human being, then the idea of a Savior is irrelevant; if one cannot shed the image of God as an impersonal force, redemption (as in the Christian idea of reconciliation with God) is alien; and if one can only imagine God as punitive judge, then the ideas of “Heavenly Father” and “Good Shepherd” are unfathomable.

“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18 ESV).

Thus, for us to see the Good News of Jesus for what it is, the wisdom of God, then we must be willing to relax our grip on our preconceived notions of what the world is really like, what people are really capable of, and Who God really is.

“For it is written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.’ Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Corinthians 1:19-25 ESV).

The Good News of Christ grants me peace within though the world may war without. The Good News of Christ gives me a well-spring of joy though sorrow may fill my cup. The Good News of Christ is a shelter of hope though storms of despair may hammer at my spirit. And the Good News of Christ is a balm of love and forgiveness though I may suffer cruelly from the hands of my enemies.

No wonder it seems like foolishness to someone who doesn’t yet know God personally… such a one does not know the boundless and amazing grace of an infinitely transcendent God who sees our world wracked with the pain of selfishness and sin. But He brings His grace to bear upon our woes and beckons us to release our fears and prejudices so that we might have life – real life that has no end. Let’s dare to trust Him. Let’s risk losing ourselves in Him. If we dare not, then we’ll lose in the end what we thought we had as it crumbles into nothingness. But if we do reach out for Him, we’ll find that He gives us far more than anything that we can lose as He daily gives us Himself.

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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Summer nears its end with a collage of sights, sounds, and sensations that flood the experience. The lush green of late summer (when it hasn’t been a drought year) is unlike that of any other time of year; flowers gardens are glowing and bugs are buzzing with their busy, end-of-summer drone.

Of course, bugs are not the only things buzzing about. The yearly phenomenon of fall sports also starts afresh with the energy and zest that those who are bored with summer enthusiastically embrace. As football practice and fall soccer in particular prepare to get underway, children and their parents (who are often much more passionate about the games than are their kids) will just in a few short weeks once again line the bleachers to cheer and jeer with passion their way through the season.

Passion… a word so riddled with various meanings that it can be used almost as a dirty word and yet signifies that remarkable quality by which we summon up untapped energies, reorient our minds with new dreams and ambitions and then begin the whole-hearted pursuit of our heart’s desire.

Passion can be an amazing thing; amazingly fruitful when it rockets us towards helpful and fruitful goals; amazingly destructive and dangerous when it drags us into the pits of lust, greed and proud ambition.

Christians must continually guard their own hearts in this regard. It is easy for our eyes to be drawn by the activity of “winning teams” and the overly-inflated luster of “beating out” other kids (by which we determine that our own children are superior to others).

In recent years, it has repeatedly occurred that fans of sports react to losing (or winning) by resorting to extreme violence and destruction. Nothing new I suppose, but I wonder sometimes if it has been escalating, especially when I hear more and more incidents of parents assaulting other parents at their children’s sports events. What is wrong with us that we would let it get that far?

And it should be clear too that this isn’t really about sports. Playing sports is a great source of exercise, fun and excitement, the learning of teamwork, and an opportunity to develop initiative. But, although athletic events are sometimes an obvious forum in which some folks make spectacles of their misplaced passions, this is really about anything that supplants God’s place of preeminence as Lord of our lives. Things like career achievement, financial affluence, physical ecstasy, and social approval (to name only a few) too easily and too often become our hearts’ desires.

Misplaced passions always reap bitter harvests though. Whether we’re talking about getting swallowed up by the lightning-fast pace of the corporate world, keeping up with the Joneses right on into Chapter 11, chemical addictions or STDs or even co-dependent relationships that repeatedly fail and leave us heart-broken, whatever we allow to come before God comes to nothing in the end. This is why it is time right now to seek after God. This is why it is imperative that we begin to passionately pursue the most important thing of all before the setting of another sun.

“Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all My purpose’” (Isaiah 46:8-10a ESV).

Are we willing to live with the “end in mind?” I hope so. It’s a shame to think that we might pursue all our own purposes, not believing perhaps, that only His purposes and plans will last for eternity.

“The path of the righteous is level; You make level the way of the righteous. In the path of Your judgments, O LORD, we wait for You; Your name and remembrance are the desire of our soul. My soul yearns for You in the night; my spirit within me earnestly seeks You” (Isaiah 26:7-9a ESV).

 

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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Okay. I admit it. I am tempted sometimes to feel troubled by the times. From the point of view of someone who believes that there is such a thing as “truth” and that such truth has as its basis and origin a Creator, our culture seems to be waging war against the idea of a divine standard and, therefore, the One Who upholds that standard.

I am troubled that our society’s “drift” from God is now a complete freefall from any consciousness of Him and all conviction of moral uprightness. I am troubled by our government’s ongoing rabid support of anti-life (pro-abortion) legislation. I am troubled by the notion that Christianity has become culturally marginalized as if Biblical values have no place in public policy and are therefore interpreted as being irrelevant and now “offensive” and bigoted. I am troubled by the saturation of unrestrained sensuality that constantly surrounds our children, the reckless and senseless “normalization” of violence as being nothing more than entertainment (particularly when slash-and-gore movies make their rounds this fall), and attitudes of rebellion and dishonor to parents that are popularized in music and popular television. I am troubled by churches that claim to belong to God on the one hand and yet shrug off His Word on the other. And I am troubled by apathy and powerlessness that often characterizes Christians in general.

But although I may feel troubled, the promises of God have a way of reining my anxieties in. This is not the only occasion in which God’s people have lived in disconcerting times and have faced disconcerting circumstances. In fact, Christians today need to remember to Whom they belong, Whose blood was spilled for them, and Whose promises never fail.

We need not be afraid of the times, nor of policies that are contrary to God’s Word, neither do we need fear increasing disfavor in our society’s eyes. Instead, we ought to continue to fear the Lord Whose hand still governs the nations and holds the entire universe in its grasp.

“The LORD spoke thus to me with His strong hand upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying: ‘Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. But the LORD of hosts, Him you shall regard as holy. Let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread. And He will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling… And many shall stumble on it. They shall fall and be broken; they shall be snared and taken.’ Bind up the testimony; seal the teaching among my disciples. I will wait for the LORD… I will hope in him” (Isaiah 8:11-17 ESV).

For many today, the Lord is very much “a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling” (see verse 14) because a genuine faith in God that compels people to make radical choices for their lifestyles and values is just too much to ask for some. True disciples that establish boundaries for what is acceptable and what is not, choosing obedience to His Word over comfort and convenience, are rarer and rarer in a world that worships freedom from restraint and responsibility. Many have indeed stumbled (see verse 15) and live now only a watered down spiritual life. And so they have become snared (also in verse 15), taken by the whims of society and fearful of taking a stand for the values of God.

“For wickedness burns like a fire; it consumes briers and thorns; it kindles the thickets of the forest, and they roll upward in a column of smoke” (Isaiah 9:18 ESV).

Nevertheless, if you are His child, then do not fear. It may seem that the shadows of our times have lengthened to a twilight of hope. But if you walk a life that is humbled before the Lord, trusting His promises, and strive to be obedient to His Word, then you can expect the light of His love being shed abroad in your experience.

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined” (Isaiah 9:2 ESV).

Be reminded that the light of Jesus Christ is greater than the darkness of human sin. Be comforted in knowing that the willful and wanton rebellion of a nation does not trump the grace of God which covers His people for all eternity. Yes, we continue to proclaim and hold fast to the truth of Christ. Yes, we continue to seek godliness in our homes, for our families, and even in how we conduct ourselves at work or in school. Yes, we will frequently be derided for faith in God and godly conviction. But our eyes are not on our circumstances, they’re on God. Our ears are not open to the public opinion, but to the voice of God. Our hands are not quick to win the favor of those who do not know God, but are ready and available to serve the One Who not only always speaks truth but IS truth.

“The LORD loves justice; He will not forsake His saints. They are preserved forever, but the children of the wicked shall be cut off. The righteous shall inherit the land and dwell upon it forever. The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and His tongue speaks justice. The law of His God is in His heart; His steps do not slip. The wicked watches for the righteous and seeks to put him to death. The LORD will not abandon him to his power…. Wait for the LORD and keep His way, and He will exalt you to inherit the land; you will look on when the wicked are cut off” (Psalm 37:28-34 ESV).

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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