“Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart,” (Psalm 51:6).

Just a short post tonight. I learned something about a friend who I deeply care about and only want to see the best for. My heart honestly aches for this friend and the poor choices that have been made. And since this discovery I have been convicted to pray for this friend. I have never had to deal with something of this magnitude and I am seeking and asking for wisdom to approach this friend in a loving, non-judgmental way. I know I am writing in vague terms, but it is important that I protect my friend as well. If you think about it, will you say a quick prayer for me so that I may have the words to share and that healing may be found? I would appreciate that spiritual support.

i want to punch you in the kidney.

Wow. I need to take a major chill pill.

Do you ever have one of those days when everything is delightful, you are in a crazy awesome mood and then someone takes their terribly pissy mood out on you?

I realize that I just need to step back and not allow something so trivial to frustrate me. So I figure I will share the situation with you as some sort of therapeutic expression of emotion. Because really, I want to act un-Christian-like and punch these two people in their kidneys. But I wont.

To set the scene, a co-worker and I were wrapping up our sales presentation – an account that could be worth literally millions of dollars. Yeah. We were sitting in a lounge and the group was becoming talkative. Nothing out of the ordinary. There is a reception desk near the lounge. Two individuals motioned to me that they were angry that the group was “loud.” Granted, these two people are not typically very friendly. I half should have expected this encounter. They motioned me over and told me they were having difficulty answering their phones. I could understand their complaint (though the noise was not that excessive – they just wanted to have something to complain about) and I said, “the group is about to leave, they are about done, so have patience as they prepare to leave.” They responded to me by mouthing, “I can’t hear you” and “what did you say?” Of course they could hear me perfectly, they were just being childish. And these department “operators” (as we will call them) are probably age 33 and 72 (I’m judging how they look).

What’s worse is that I would expect a little grace within a Christian organization. But there was no grace from this department. I repeated myself that we would appreciate patience from them as we were transitioning. And right before we were preparing to leave, one of these cronies came and kicked the group out. Not the best way to end a presentation or close a sale.

Now I know that this is so silly and that it shouldn’t upset me. Something like this shouldn’t bother me at all. Maybe there is something else under the surface that has also been bothering me? I am trying to figure that out. But I didn’t by any means lose my temper, but I did feel jaded by these two individuals. I just had to remind myself that “life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it” (Charles Swindoll). My life quote.

Needless to say, my punching bag is going to take the beating of it’s life tonight as I punch-dance my rage out!

my anchor is love.

“Though he slay me, yet I will trust in him” (Job 13:15).

I will not doubt, though all my ships at sea
Come drifting home with broken masts and sails;
I will believe the Hand which never fails,
From seeming evil worketh good for me.
And though I weep because those sails are tattered,
Still will I cry, while my best hopes lie shattered:
“I trust in Thee.”

I will not doubt, though all my prayers return
Unanswered from the still, white realm above;
I will believe it is an all-wise love
Which has refused these things for which I yearn;
And though at times I cannot keep from grieving,
Yet the pure ardor of my fixed believing
Undimmed shall burn.

I will not doubt, though sorrows fall like rain,
And troubles swarm like bees about a hive.
I will believe the heights for which I strive
Are only reached by anguish and by pain;
And though I groan and writhe beneath my crosses.
I yet shall see through my severest losses
The greater gain.

I will not doubt. Well anchored in this faith,
Like some staunch ship, my soul braves every gale;
So strange its courage that it will not quail
To breast the mighty unknown sea of death.
Oh, may I cry, though body parts with spirit,
“I do not doubt,” so listening worlds may hear it,
With my last breath.

-Richard Fuller

These words rupture joy in my soul every time I read them. They are a reminder that when I am facing a fiery trail, God’s timing, His answer to prayer will come when He sees fit. And I have learned to be content with that.

I understand that the Creator of the universe has an infinite amount of knowledge and any insignificant wisdom that I may hold was given to me by Him. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be times of struggle. That doesn’t mean there wont be times of hurt or pain. And that doesn’t mean there won’t be times of weeping. But despite any difficult situation or circumstance I face, I am assured that He is faithful.

Over these last few years I have struggled with a circumstance, a cross I have carried. I have continued to pray and, even at times, plead for the circumstances to change. But despite years of unanswered prayer, I clutch to His truth and I hold to His promises. I am confident in His abounding grace and mercy. And it His love, which will continue to be my anchor.

the furnace of affliction.

“I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction,” (Isaiah 48:10).

Does not the Word come like a soft shower, assuaging the fury of the flame? Yes, is it not an asbestos armor, against which the heat has no power? Let the affliction come – God has chosen me. Poverty, thou mayest stride in my door; but God is in the house already, and He has chosen me. Sickness, thou mayest intrude; but I have a balsam ready – God has chosen me. Whatever befall me in this vale of tears, I know that He has chosen me.

Fear not, Christian; Jesus is with thee. In all thy fiery trials, his presence is both thy comfort and safety. He will never leave one whom He has chosen for His own. “fear not, for I am with thee,” is His sure word of promise to His chosen ones in “the furnace of affliction.”

– C.H. Spurgeon

This I share with you from my devotions. The words of Spurgeon spring forth a fountain of encouragement to my heart. As I face trials and struggles and persecution, I know that Jesus is not only with me, but God has chosen me to endure such hardships to strengthen my faith. I pray not that the fire to my feet passes quickly, but that I learn all that God wants me understand from this testing.

Similarly, I have had numerous friends share their burdens with me. My heart breaks for them. And I pass no judgement. I will continue to offer a listening ear and uplift them in daily prayer. But I am reminded of our frail humanity and our need for the world’s only solution, which is Christ’s redemptive work on the cross.

America! America! / God shed his grace on thee / And crown thy good with brotherhood / From sea to shining sea!

The Fourth of July is a reflective day of celebration for citizens of the United States of America. Patriots of this great nation pay tribute to the adopted declaration by the Continental Congress on July 4th, 1776. It is a day colored by red, white, and blue. It is a day sketched with iconic traditionalism – the Star Spangled Banner, apple pie, baseball, parades, flags, barbecues, family, and friends. Of course the day wouldn’t be conclusive without an exultant firework display.

Just thinking about Independence Day myself, so many phenomenal memories flood my mind. When I was young my family always went downtown Grand Rapids to see the firework display over the Grand River. I actually used to hate the sound of the fireworks and I remember curling up close to my father and making him cover my ears with his hands! As I grew tradition changed and we began spending the day in Grand Haven. We would soak up the sun, walk the pier, and at the end of the day join thousands of people as the largest musical water fountain displayed patriotic anthems to a choreographed H2O musical before a firework display lit the sky with fervor. Over the years there have been a few obscure memories. One spent in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and one spent in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. What I loved most of each of these experiences was the fact that our perched vantage point allowed us to see neighboring fireworks in surrounding cities and towns! Fortunately, like the majority of Americans, the celebration doesn’t cease with the impressive show of sky-fire, but instead we head home to celebrate with our own firework displays. Some even resort to their pistols and shotguns to signify the resounding battle won that birthed a nation. The cracks and pops and booms can be heard until the morning light.

This sense of patriotism is a display of who we are as Americans and the history that brought us to where we are today. Americans are sons and daughters of immigrants. Many of us are muts – an ancestral makeup of diverse backgrounds. I for one am part Native American, German, English, and Dutch. We were born of tough people. People who fought for freedom. People who fought to give their children freedom. We defeated the British’s cruel tyrants and unrepresented taxation. And a nation was founded that is accepting of all people. A nation was founded that allows individuality, grants opportunity, fights for liberty, and allows religious freedom. The toughness, the love of country, the fight to protect our land is in our blood. It is who we are.

It was George Williams Curtis that said, “A man’s country is not a certain area of land, of mountains, rivers, and woods, but it is a principle; and patriotism is loyalty to that principle.” Our principle in the land of the brave is truth. And “we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, they they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

And in honor of this nation’s 236th birthday, I have selected a few quotes by our founding fathers that signify love for country, love for freedom, and a love for Jesus Christ.

“It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.” 
The Trumpet Voice of Freedom: Patrick Henry of Virginia, p. iii.

“Resistance to tyranny becomes the Christian and social duty of each individual. … Continue steadfast and, with a proper sense of your dependence on God, nobly defend those rights which heaven gave, and no man ought to take from us.” 
History of the United States of America, Vol. II, p. 229.

“I am a real Christian – that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus Christ.” 
The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, p. 385.

“While we are zealously performing the duties of good citizens and soldiers, we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of religion. To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian.”
The Writings of Washington, pp. 342-343.

May God continue to bless you and may God continue to bless the United States of America!

Let freedom ring.