We Are Family

Last night, I was thinking about my family. I have five younger siblings. As I’ve watched them grow into adulthood, it’s been interesting how different we all are. We have different music interests, movie likes, convictions, etc. And yet we also share memories, stories, private jokes. I think deep down we also have a commitment to not allow things to become so mountainous that it negatively affects our relationship. Sure, we might strongly disagree with each other but most of our disagreements are not worth losing the friendship we have.

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This is how the Body of Christ should be as well. If we really understood that “we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another” (Romans 12:5), maybe we would cherish each other more. If you were in an accident and lost your hand, you would no doubt try to find it and take it to the doctor to see if he could sew it back on. Yet, when a Brother or Sister cuts himself or herself off from the Body, we hardly notice. We may even think “good riddance.” I wonder if we would see more people come to know the Lord if they saw genuine love and care from God’s people.

This coming year, let’s ask God to give us greater hearts of love. Ask Him to give you His heart for those around you. I believe you would begin to look at people differently than you ever have before. God doesn’t look on a person’s outward appearance. He looks at the heart. We must learn to do that as well. As we draw near to Him, I believe He will help us to do so.

Desiring to Change

My “must watch” Christmas movie the last few years has been A Christmas Carol with George C. Scott. I realize that it can be spooky and a bit scary for some, but it is thought provoking and has a great message if you can get past the eeriness.

I’m sure almost everyone is familiar with this classic about Ebenezer Scrooge, the mean, selfish, wealthy miser who cares nothing for anyone but himself and despises Christmas as a day when people want to deprive him of his hard-earned money. The thing that makes this story great, however, is that it does not end on that note. By the end of the story, Mr. Scrooge realizes that, “If those courses be departed from, the end must change,” and he becomes willing to make those changes. The next morning (Christmas day), no one recognizes him as the man they had seen the day before. Sure, he looks like himself, but he does not act like Mr. Scrooge at all. He is a new person, and it is noticeable to everyone he comes in contact with.

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Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone changed that easily? We all have roots of pride and selfishness but, many times, we choose to ignore them and fail to see what effect those things are having on others.

“We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we might be enslaved to sin” (Romans 6:6).

“And he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Corinthians 5:15).

When we come to know the Lord, Christ begins to live in and through us. We become a new creation as old things pass away (2 Corinthians 5:17).

My prayer this coming year is that people see more of Christ and less of me. I don’t want to hang on to any “sin that so easily ensnares” (Hebrews 12:1). This week, as the year winds to a close, I encourage you to take the time to look at your life. Are you doing what God wants you to do? Are you impacting people for His Kingdom? Are you walking in faith and victory, full of anticipation for what God is doing in your life, or are you depressed and downhearted? These are questions I am asking myself. It’s not easy but I am making myself be quiet and trusting that God will continue to speak to me this week. I hope you will take time to do that as well. The world desperately needs to see God’s people walking differently than the rest of the world. God, help us to desire to change!

Billy Graham’s Gospel

Many people have benefited from Billy Graham and many of those never examined what Graham has been teaching these many decades. We read in the Word of God this brutal judgment:

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.  But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.  As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. 

Here is a 40 minute review of Billy Graham’s gospel and how it compares to the biblical gospel. Contrary to those who consider Billy Graham to be their pope, may this sermon open your eyes. (Note – the preacher errs in thinking law is part of the biblical gospel – that is as wrong as Graham’s gospel.) http://www.sermonaudio.com/playpopup.asp?SID=86111517593

My Strength and My Portion

Psalm 73:25-26 Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.

As I look back over my life I am struck by the many times I’ve failed the Lord and others. I’m also struck by the many times family and friends have failed me. Each thing that I do is tainted with sin even when I think I’m doing things for the right reasons.

Whom have I? I think I have friends and family that will love me and never let me down but they let me down. I think I will be able to move forward and never let the Lord down or my friends and family yet I continue to do so. The reality is that I have no one except the Lord Who never lets me down. He is the only One!

Whom have I in heaven? Everything in this life points to the Lord Jesus Christ no matter what it is. The look of love from your sweetheart, the great fellowship within the church, the time of rest given where you recuperate from the cares of life, a wonderful day in which everything goes right, etc. are all pointers to the Person Who made all these things possible. Each gift we receive is from the Lord and should point us to the Lord. Our response should be total and complete adoration of God, the Giver of all good and perfect gifts. James 1:17

Whom have I in heaven but Thee? People will fail you so you cannot keep your focus on them, it must be on the Lord. Leaders can fail and preach something that is contrary to the Word of God but we are to study God’s Word so we know God Himself. This will keep us from falling into the trap of false teachers. How do I know which teacher is false and which is true? The Word of God gives me discernment as I study it. I don’t study the Word of God just to gain discernment. I study it so I will know God and, in knowing Him, I discern who is teaching truth and who is teaching lies.

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So the question is, Whom have I in heaven but Thee? This leads into the answer, there is no one but the Lord. Not only in heaven but on earth. There is none upon earth that I should desire beside Thee. If anyone or anything comes before the Lord then we are in sin against God. Our love, worship, and adoration of Him should be such that everyone and everything we care about is like hate compared to our love for Him.

There is none anywhere whether in heaven or on earth that should be so adored as our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. No one should be so desired as He. As we struggle through each day what can we find that is so desirable? Can the world satisfy us? Can our flesh satisfy us? Can others satisfy us? Can addictions satisfy us?

No! A thousand times no! My flesh fails me all the time. When I think I found something that makes my flesh happy and satisfied, it crumbles like the dust and soon I have nothing but bitterness and sin. My heart fails me, as well. The Bible is clear that my heart is wicked and sinful. Jer. 17:9. It is totally corrupt and nothing good about it. My flesh and my heart fails me continually but….surely something satisfies?

Yes, God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever! So, in finishing up contentment we find that only the Lord can satisfy. When I was a child, a song came out that we sang a lot at church and home.

Only Jesus can satisfy your soul.
Only He can change your heart and make you fully whole.
He’ll give you peace you never knew
Sweet love and joy, and heaven, too
For only Jesus can satisfy your soul.

The Lord is the only way to true satisfaction and contentment. He’s the only way to be able to change and grow, whether physically or spiritually. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life! Nothing and no one can live apart from Him because, in Him we live, and move, and have our being. Acts 17:28. Praise God that He is the strength of our hearts, those who are true believers, and our portion forever to make into the image of the Lord Jesus Christ! Amen!

Bending Our Will To His

As we pray to the Lord, His power changes our lives. I can’t remember who said it but someone made the comment that when we pray to God we don’t pull Him to us to do our bidding but He bends our will to His. This is similar to anchoring a ship to the land. You don’t pull the land to the ship. Instead, the land holds the anchor and the ship is then pulled to the land. I like this analogy as it reminds me that prayer is one of God’s means of changing me to become like Christ not changing Christ to do what I want. As we pray, the Lord changes us and gives us a view of Him that we wouldn’t otherwise see.

In this body of sin, it’s so easy to forget Who is in control of all circumstances and think we have to be the ones controlling the situations to force everyone to do what we think is right. It’s like the little girl, who is a master controller and manipulator, going into the kitchen and telling her mom, “I’m making up the food today and you will sit down.” That, instead of asking her mom if it would be alright for her to make the food and would Mama like to sit down and rest awhile? That is fine between adults but a little child has no business demanding that her parents obey her anymore than we have the right to order God around, even if we think it’s for a good cause.

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We should be so contented with the Lord’s dispersion that our hearts go out to Him in worship and praise through each situation. Of course, we cannot simply sit there and say, “Que sera sera!” We are commanded to pray and do it fervently. James 5:16-17. We are commanded to be kind to our enemies and pray for them who despitefully use us. Matthew 5:44. We are to do many more things because we love to obey the Lord’s commands but our contentment should be found in Him and not in ourselves or this world.

May our hearts be so overwhelmed with the Lord that we can say with the Psalmist, “Whom have I in heaven but Thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever!!” Psalm 73:25-26.

Growing Old With Grace

When I was young, old age never bothered me. In fact, I would be hard pressed to even remember a time when I wondered for a fleeting moment what it would be like to grow old. It was other people that grew old – like grandparents. However, it is amazing what almost five decades will do to one’s perspective.

Yesterday, I was reminded again of the passing of years as someone I really did not know passed away and went to be with the Lord they loved. This individual was quite elderly and known to others I love. This brother in Christ had spent years sharing and teaching the Word of God. Despite being racked at times with pain, the main diseases that was eating him away was not what ultimately took him from this life of toil and pain. He closed his eyes in sleep as his heart gave out and woke up in a place where he would never sleep or be in pain again.

When I heard the news, I was reminded again that time is creeping up on us and flies back so quickly. James put it so succinctly when he said in James 4:14, “Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”

vapor

As I write this, it is a special day for another reason. Forty-four years ago today, in the cold, wind-swept, bone-chilling landscape of the country of Iceland, a healthy young boy was born. Almost from the first day my brother was brought home from the hospital, he was happy. He was the life of the party and often the clown. Yes, we had our ups and downs, but John David made the most of whatever oppositions got in his way.

In late 1995, John had just left the USAF with an honorable discharge and was making a home for himself in North Carolina. He had found a body of believers that he dearly loved and he had spent time with the men on a retreat where his heart was stirred to be more like the Lord Jesus Christ.

However, all of that changed when he went to work one cold November morning. I received a call that I should meet at the hospital. Arriving, I found out that my brother, who was less than 5 years younger than me had passed away at the young age of 22. He had acquired an infection in his heart and when his heart exploded, he was gone before he hit the floor.

That was 21 years ago. There are still times the pain and loneliness of not hearing his voice or the endless jokes is emotionally difficult. Even back then, we spoke of him lovingly at the funeral and afterwards, but old age was still a long ways off. I didn’t really dwell on the reality that it was still going to come for all who are left to face the world.

Far from this maddening world, my brother no longer has to walk the dark paths of these Shadowlands, as C.S. Lewis called them. John’s path led him to a promotion that is far better than anything he could have experienced in this life. In fact, the moment he crossed from death into life, the joys he would have known would have been crowned by meeting the Lord Jesus Christ face to face. That is not something that any true believer would want to take away from another believer. Yes, we miss those who have gone before us, and we can hope that others will miss us when it comes time for us to depart this life.

However, until it is time for us to close our eyes to sin, death, and the grave, we must focus on living our lives in such a way that we will hear, “Well done, you are a good and faithful servant! Enter into the joy of the Lord!” We have no reason to fear the door of death. For the believer, the door is only the opening to the wonders of what eternity holds and the half can never be told this side of heaven.

To me, this world is not really my home. I grow tired of the pain and the struggles that assail the flesh and the heart. If I should be left another 10, 20, or 30 years, I struggle to accept that more illnesses and heartache may well be my lot in life as it has been for much of my life.

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Each year that passes, I strangely find that growing old is something that did not really sneak up on me. Each year was filled with memories that resonate in my mind and heart. Each memory, whether good or bad or indifferent or sad or happy, was created as I lived the path that God had ordained for me to walk. One day, those memories may be forgotten as I get even older, but it will not diminish what I have been allowed to do by a gracious God who has been more merciful and gracious to me than I have or will ever deserve.

We live from minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day, month to month, and year to year. The time is precious and should be spent without regrets before the Lord. I do not fear the age I have become, but I welcome it because it puts me closer to the day when I will see the saints who have gone before me. I will see my grandparents, my brother, and friends who loved the Lord as well.

Growing older does have both advantages and disadvantages, but knowing what comes next makes the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. As believers, we are called to endure this race. Whether we are called to go at a young age or at an elderly age, our race is being encouraged on the sidelines of heaven by the great cloud of witnesses who have gone before us. Therefore, it behooves us to run the race while looking to Jesus Christ alone!

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:1, 2

Power Of Prayer

Having looked at contentment in general and thankfulness, I think we have to be careful that we don’t forget about prayer. This is a fantastic way of coming to know the Sovereign of heaven. We really cannot be content or thankful without the Lord giving us that ability. As it says in Acts 17:28, “For in Him we live and move and have our being.”

Prayer is the power of the true believer but not in the way people think. We don’t pray to God and expect answers as if He were our genie…you know, rub the magic lamp and He will grant all your wishes. It is beyond that! Think of it like this: when I have a relationship with someone I don’t just give them my wish list and say, “This is what I want. Give it to me.” On the other hand, I don’t hide away from them and pretend I don’t know them. if I truly want a relationship with someone I will go out of my way to work on that relationship.

As we pray to the Lord, His power changes our lives. We grow in the Lord just as a baby grows. We wouldn’t expect a baby to stay little the rest of his/her life and neither should we stay a babe in Christ. Somewhere in the middle of that growth we stop fretting and our contentment in Him grows. The peace that passes all understanding fills our hearts which allows us to guard our hearts and focus on the Lord instead of things around us.

prayer

Does this mean it will happen overnight and we will never fret or worry again? Of course not! For some it will be a steady growth uphill and a believer who grows strong quickly. For others it might be a slower pace with lots of ups and downs, then for others it could be very slow growth but each true believer will grow. In 2 Peter 3:18, he tells us, “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and forever. Amen.”

This is just one reason for our thankfulness towards our Heavenly Father, Who loves us so much that He sent His only Son to die on the cross for our sins. What a lovely picture this is and how appropriate that each thing we are commanded to do fits so perfectly together! Let us show Him our love by spending time with Him.

I love Romans 11:33, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” He is beyond our understanding, yet how beautiful He is and our praise towards Him should fill the heavens!

Being Thankful In Everything

One of the comments in response to my previous post shared another aspect of contentment that is vitally important in our lives. Robert kindly pointed out the aspect of being thankful in everything. Contentment is not just a matter of not fretting; although, it is important that we not fret when things don’t go our way. Contentment is also a matter of being thankful for what we have and what we don’t have.

We live in a culture of ungrateful people. You can help someone and never hear a thank you from them but end up being treated as if you caused them problems and they are entitled to what you gave them. This attitude permeates our culture but we, being true believers, should not have this attitude. When someone helps us out our very attitude should be gratefulness towards that person and we should let them know it. Even more importantly, we should be thanking the Lord that He moved their hearts in that direction.

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When the Lord takes something from us, we should be thankful for His loving ministrations. It is very possible we didn’t need whatever it was taken from us or not given to us. Maybe the thing we want will end up a stumbling block to us, maybe we will put that before the Lord in our worship, maybe we need to spend time with the Lord before He is willing to give us anything extra, and who knows what else could be the reason for Him to deny that specific thing to us. That is His peculiar knowledge that He may or may not reveal to us in time.

Charles Spurgeon was known to pray that if something he wanted was not good for him then he would rather the Lord keep it from him. This should be our desire, as well. Even the Lord prayed, not My will but Thine be done. Who are we to think that God has to give us something just because we demand it or deem it to be in our own best interests?

Contentment is not based on just one thing we receive or don’t receive in our lives. It is based on the whole of our lives. 1 Thess. 5:18 is very clear in that in everything we are to give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning us. It’s based on no matter what happens or doesn’t happen, whether things are good or bad, whether evil is being done to us or good is being done to us…let us thank the Lord for all things. Is this easy? No, of course not but it’s the will of God and, as true believers, we are responsible to obey God. We should do it joyfully not just because it’s our responsibility but even more so because we love Him and want to obey Him in everything.

Wherever the Lord has placed us, let us be content in whatever situation we are and with whatever He deems necessary in our lives. Let us give ourselves wholly to being “content with such things as we have because He said, I will never leave you nor forsake you (Heb. 13:5).”

Speaking Graciously

Truth in grace. I love the new blog title. I’ve said for years that some people have no problem “speaking the truth” (or what they perceive that truth to be) but they forget the “in love” part.  If we love each other, our words will be “gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Col. 4:6).

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People complain about the internet being a place where some say things that they would never say to a person’s face. I personally love this mode of communication because it gives me time to think through how to respond to a person or situation. Not that I always do it perfectly, but I have the opportunity to slow down and allow God to speak through me as opposed to speaking off the top of my head words that might be full of pride and ignorance.

Whatever we do, whether in word or deed, we are to do it to the glory of God (Col. 3:17). I pray that I will never lose sight of that truth.

 

Contentment

Contentment…this can be a difficult subject both in learning and in life. This is something the Lord wants each of His children to learn, it is also something we should be willing to take great pains to learn. What is even harder but should be concerning to each of us who are the children of God is contentment in the midst of trials. You see, contentment in the Lord seems to be simple enough.

The Lord uses each situation for us to learn dependence on Him and a desire to fulfill His will. Yet, in the midst of that, as the backdrop of life, the trials we face are there for us to learn to be contented in the midst of that specific trial knowing Who is in control and the plans He has or us is not only for His honor and glory but also for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

The Lord clearly told His disciples that the servant is not above the Master and if the world hated the Master and treated Him horribly then it would treat His servants just as bad, if not worse. As we grow in the grace of the Lord we find that life does not get easier but harder. Each trial or tribulation we face is that much harder than the last but, for each one, we are given the grace and strength to get through.

contentment-newlife

When we fight the Lord, instead of gracefully letting Him have His way, we find that the way is so much more difficult than it should be. Fighting only brings anger and frustration our way instead of the peace that passes all understanding. It becomes easy to fume and fret about what we have to face in life. Instead of having a quiet spirit that comes from the Lord, we then have a complaining and fretful spirit. This brings us to a point of having to be disciplined by the Lord.

As the trial or tribulation comes into our lives we begin fretting and fuming that we don’t want it to happen. We were content for things to be as they were and yet it takes those trials to make us more like the Lord Jesus Christ, to grow in faith.

Many times we are like the child that grows impatient and demands their own way when things are not done exactly the way they want them. They sulk and throw temper tantrums because they think that all should be exactly as they would have it, not as the parents know is best for them. They want the candy, the fruit, the dessert, the sweets, the play time, the whatever the case may be instead of spending their time studying, or wanting to eat the proper and healthy foods the parents know they should have so they will grow up strong and wise.

The Lord knows exactly what we need in our lives to make us wise and strong believers. To fret against His wise bestowments (wise even in the midst of our trials) tells Him that we love this world more than Him. How can we desire the world above Him? Is wealth, comfort, life, health, friends, entertainment, sports, family, or anything else more important than Him? To put anything before Him is to worship the created thing more than the Creator, who gave His only begotten Son for our worthless souls.

As each trial comes into our lives let us be willing to thank the Lord for what He taught us already in the past trials and be willing to trust that “God is good all the time and all the time God is good.”

Moving Forward

Hello Brothers and Sisters,

Of recent times, I have been doing much soul-searching in particular as it applies to Defending Contending. I have seriously considering everything from closing it down to transferring ownership to another person. However, the more I have considered this, the more tense I became. This was not because it has been mine for so long, but because this has been an opportunity that the Lord has used to help me to grow and to be able to share with others. I have been writing at Defending Contending for 9 years come the end of January 2017.

During that time, there have been things I have both read and written that I have cringed. There are posts written that have caused my heart to break before the Lord and I have had to seek repentance for my own stubbornness and lack of Christ-likeness. We have gained many viewers and lost more than we have gained. I believe that we are in a state of flux within evangelical Christianity and my heart has long been to reach out to our readers in a way that still point out the truth without being hateful, spiteful, or vitriolic in any manner even when we disagree with others.

With that in mind, I believe for the time being that a change in direction will be a profitable move. I want to lay these out just briefly.

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1. A new name – Truth In Grace — Reason is simply because we are truly called to preach and teach truth, but I believe we are called to do so with grace. The new picture on the website says, “Truth without grace is a prison; Grace without truth is chaos.”
2. A new tagline – “Sharing truth and faith in a spirit of love and grace.”
3. A new direction with posts
4. Additional contributors — I have just this evening reached out to two people that I believe could be a blessing to our readers.

I believe that this new direction, name change, and tagline are still very much in line with where The Pilgrim was going with the blog when he started it. Yes, we have all had to learn and I pray this will continue to reach others with a gracious spirit years in to the future.

However, I know that with the additions and changes, there will be other differences to deal with which is another reason for writing. Not all of us, even now, are in full agreement on every aspect of doctrine. I have no doubt that our differences are not salvific in nature, but I also understand that can be debated by some if they choose a hard line on some points.

For example, through the ages, men like Spurgeon, Sproul, MacArthur, Wilkerson, Conway, Baucham, Lloyd-Jones, etc. would have all agreed on many points of foundational truths that are unassailable, but they would have disagreed on some doctrines that, in my humble opinion, do not make a difference in whether a person is a true believer or not. Another example would be where Lloyd-Jones stood on the work and role of the Holy Spirit as compared to say Sproul or MacArthur. Yet, I have no doubt that they would have been gracious to each other and would have learned from each other.

Many of you know that I hold to the doctrines of grace, but it is not a drum that I have ever made a point of beating others up on. I can respectfully agree to disagree with another and still call them my brother or sister in Christ. I can disagree on things like family integrated or Sunday school, or in the style and meaning of missions, or in the version or music styles I choose to use and still call the other side of the coin a brother or sister in Christ.

Not everybody who has or who will write at DefCon are staunch Calvinists. Each of us are at different points in our Christian walk, and even one who is mature in the faith in many areas can still have much to learn as though they were a new believer. Brothers and sisters, as I get older, my heart’s desire is that my mind would be brought into closer communion with the Lord of glory. We will not be found in glory based on or divided into groups according to what we believed on certain issues. We will be in glory because of what Christ alone has done for us.

I know that each of you will have to make decisions as to what direction you will go into the future. As for me, this is where I believe the Lord would have me to walk. My issue will be that every post provides encouragement, edification, or exhortation according to the principles of God’s Word. Simply put, my intention is not to linger on one issue, one doctrine, or even appear as though we are nothing but a discernment blog. The new blog will be so much more, as the Lord blesses and is glorified.

If you have any questions, thoughts, or concerns, please feel free to reach back out to me.

I am so thankful for all we have been through down through each season that you have been part of our readership. My prayer is that this will continue for a long time, but it needs to move in a new direction effective immediately. You are my brothers and sisters in Christ even if we do not ultimately agree in the end. Thank you for your understanding.

In Christian love and grace,

Mark Anthony

No Disappointment

Disappointment is defined as “the feeling of sadness or displeasure caused by the non-fulfillment of one’s hopes or expectations.”

There are many things in life that can and do cause disappointment. Disappointments are like storms that can threaten to overwhelm your heart and soul. It could be the loss of a promotion when you feel that you were qualified for the position that was given to another person. Maybe the disappointment brings sadness when holiday times do not measure up to your hopes or expectations.

What about when your children do not follow your commands? We say that they have disappointed us. Simply put, our minds and hearts are sad or displeased because our children failed to live up to our hopes or expectations.

As we grow older in life, we find that our hopes or expectations of a good long life free of health issues produces disappointments. We realize that life is not easy and that our hopes continue to be dashed with each advancing year and trip to the doctor. One day they take tests and reveal a life-threatening illness, or maybe they are just not able to determine what is causing the severe pain. Either way, we have feelings of sadness because this is not what we could have imagined when we were young and in excellent health.

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Life is full of times that cause sadness and displeasure. Life is full of sadness because we are fallen creatures. Sin has caused our minds and hearts to run from what is perfect or ideal in each situation. Our chosen paths do not reflect the image in which we were created and thus we end up with more sadness and displeasure.

Our hopes and expectations do not come to fruition and then we try to make sense of the aftermath. What do we do with that disappointment? Do we allow it to overwhelm us or do we strive to rise above the clouds of despair and set new goals?

The Scriptures are full of times when disappointment was the order of the day throughout different periods of history. Adam and Eve must have been disappointed when they learned the news of Cain killing his own brother. Despite having prepared for 120 years, Noah must have felt a keen disappointment that there were only seven other people in the boat with him while the remainder of the world perished.

Surely, Joseph was disappointed when he was sold into slavery by his brothers and realized that he would probably never see them again. Yet, there was a ray of hope, grace, and redemption at the end of the account. Joseph and his brothers were ultimately reconciled and Joseph revealed the answer to life’s most poignant disappointments.

Are you ready for this? In this answer, you too can understand what many cannot or will not grasp. The answer to all the disappointments is a full recognition of who is in charge of every aspect of your life. Without taking full knowledge of this answer, you and I will long struggle with what happens to us from day to day. We will continue to be filled with sadness and displeasure when our hopes and expectations flee from us like dew before the morning sun. As James 4:14 puts it so eloquently, “Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”

Joseph had to go through a great deal of disappointments in order for him to finally learn the truth. Life was not about him. It was not about his brothers. In fact, life was not even about the hardships that he had endured. Was his life full of various disappointments? Yes, of course, but those disappointments are not ultimately what made Joseph such a wise person.

His point of wisdom is found in Genesis 50:20.

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”

The Hebrew word for evil is also translated in other verses as wickedness, mischief, hurt, trouble, affliction, adversity, harm, or sad. In other words, it is not just the evil out of the heart of man that God means for good to us. There is a reason why you are going through the disappointments of life.

To take the cue from Joseph, maybe we should memorize this verse in Genesis 50. When the disappointments of life come, then we should be learning to say:

“As for you, you meant hurt or trouble or affliction or adversity or disappointment to or against me, BUT God meant it for good.”

joseph

Understanding this will enable us to put aside feelings of sadness and displeasure when it seems like our lives are falling apart. Instead of allowing disappointment to overwhelm us like shadows in the valleys of life, we can appreciate verses like James 4:15 where the apostle continues by sharing with true believers, “Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”

Or, we can even appreciate opening up the wonderful passage in Romans 8 where we learn that all the things that God is working together in our lives is for the express purpose of making us more like His Son, Jesus Christ. This is the total sovereignty of God in action. Our biggest problem as true believers is that we fail to note this every day. Disappointments come and go, yet one thing remains sure –

There’s no disappointment in Jesus!

*****

There was a hymn written before World War 2 that is rarely heard anymore, but I leave the words for you to consider. May they be an encouragement to your heart and mind.

There’s No Disappointment in Jesus

1) There’s no disappointment in Jesus,
He’s more than my tongue can tell;
His love is so sure
And so steadfast,
His friendship divine will not fail.

Chorus
There’s no disappointment in Jesus,
He’s all that He promised to be;
His love and His care
Comfort me everywhere;
He is no disappointment to me.

2) There’s no disappointment in Jesus,
Tho’ sorrows may press me sore.
He comforts with tender compassion,
His love cheers my heart evermore.

3) There’s no disappointment in Jesus,
He satisfies me alway;
So strong and so willing to help me,
In Him I find comfort each day,

John C. Hallett © 1940 Renewal 1968 Word Music, LLC

Southern Baptists Beginnings and Path Forward

A wonderful table discussion between Tom Ascol and Tom Nettles (I care not to use honorific titles for brothers in Christ) about how the SBC was formed, where it ran off the rails, what the obstacles are, and how we negotiate the way forward. I do not see conventions and denominations in the Scripture, but these men give me some hope for life within the SBC.