Entering a new decade with God


Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Ephesians 3:20 (NLT)

It was early fall; I shared lunch with a fellow teacher about 15 years older than me. “How did you cope with turning 40?” I asked.

Her response startled me: “Have you ever heard of Bible Study Fellowship?”

Intrigued, I joined as soon as I could.  And God changed my life.

At 50 I switched schools. Summit Christian Academy in Yorktown, Va hired me, a French teacher, to teach civics, US history and LOGIC!  My qualifications?  An initial BA in Foreign Affairs from UVA.

I had to google ‘Logic’.  And God changed my life.

Sweet 60 is my soon-to-be demographic.  A new decade.  I ponder this significant celebration. It feels different. I know God so much better now.

Over the past 20 years, He has taught me to live by some fundamental facts. (Does that make me a ‘fundamentalist’?)

  • He does all things well (Mark 7:37)
  • He is good
  • He is sovereign
  • I belong to Him, for He has given me His Spirit. (Romans 8:9)

Those truths settle me.  His holy gift of peace permeates.  Being one of His sheep is enough.

No, I don’t know what my Father has in store for me as this new decade dawns. But one thing I do know: I trust Him.  And He promises a happy future for every son and daughter, liberated by Christ. (Matt 25:34)

But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day. Proverbs 4:18 (ESV)

The sin of fear – the illogic of fear

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Fear!  What would it be like to live with NO FEAR whatsoever (except for the helpful internal-adrenaline- provision in case of real saber-tooth tiger threats)?

I asked my 8th grade Logic class on Thursday – “What is the absolute worst act of evil ever committed in the history of the world?”

The fifth student’s answer was correct!  – the murder of the son of God.

But if THAT crime was planned by God before the creation of the universe, and it was meant for our good, then what does logic say about all the lesser horrid acts/ disasters/ mistakes and problems?

Those Roman logicians called this the ‘a fortiori’ argument – reasoning from the greater to the lesser.

I think this logic is the answer to my very-well-practiced groove of fear and anxiety. A good friend knows that I struggle with the sin of unbelief when I fear for the road safety of my kids.  (She has her own inner battles of unbelief and fear – just not this particular one).

 In a further aside, since it is Mother’s Day, I will tell you, that this FEAR ABOUT ROAD SAFETY is the one negative bad habit I learned from my mother.  Kids DO absorb our outlook and patterns of thinking and reacting.

Here’s how this thinking goes:

·         God is sovereign over every molecule in the universe

·         God planned the crucifixion for His good purposes

·         Good came out of it then and keeps ensuing

·         The lesser bad stuff I could potentially fear is also planned by God for my/our ultimate good  (this doesn’t make evil/mistakes/ calamities any less  grievous or painful when they happen)

·         Eventual good for me and others is the purpose of everything that happens

·         What God means for good comes WITH His loving care and control of every detail

·         Therefore, if God promises that He will withhold NO good thing from me, then what happens, no matter HOW it comes packaged, is meant to be the vehicle of good.  (I DO NOT mean that cruelty, disabilities and disease, theft, floods, indifference or my own sin, and a thousand other bad things are good in themselves)

Do I know and understand all the purposes of God?  No, that is risible to even think a human would or could?  But there are plenty of verses in the Bible to assure me that God is good and trustworthy AND in control of everything.

Pastor and teacher Dr. R.C. Sproul has said, “There is no maverick molecule if God is sovereign.” If He cannot control the tiniest bits of the universe, then we cannot trust Him to keep His word. The Lord vowed to bring Abraham’s sons out of Egypt (Gen. 15:12–16), but if Joseph was not the object of his father’s favoritism, his brothers would not have envied him. If they had not envied him, they would not have sold him to the Ishmaelites, Israel would not have gone into Egypt, and God could not have kept His promise to the patriarch (37–50).

So back to my fears:  I’m starting to think through the irrationality of fearing anything.  Fear and anxiety come from the mistaken double notion that

a)   I can control anything

b)   I know what is best for me and you.

In the next few days and weeks as God supplies me with plenty of practice in which to ‘test-ride’ this truth, I’ll collect some thoughts and write about them soon.

What about you?  How do YOU deal with the sin of fear and worry?

1 Peter 4:19

So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.

The Logic of Love


Logic won out the other day in our household.

My husband sometimes puts me up on a pedestal by thinking that I am ‘the more Godly’ of the two of us. (imagine THAT kind of argument:  “ No, I’m worse than you!  Here let me prove it to you….”)

He sometimes indulges in a kind of self-pitying spiral of feeling bad about himself. One evening last week, I nailed him with an undeniable deductive argument that was both valid and true.  He had to smile in spite of himself.  I was truly Holy-Spirit inspired, because I don’t think I would have come up with the proof myself.

My reasoning was this:

God only gives good and perfect gifts.

God gave me my husband.

Therefore, my husband is a good and perfect gift.

Now I’m not saying my husband is without sin.  I’m using the term ‘perfect’ to mean 100 % suited for me in every way, sent to bless me, to aid me in my sanctification.  I know, ‘sanctification’ is a fancy Christian-ese word. What it means is the process that is meant to “rub off the rough areas of your personality….train you in humility….give you practice in self-less living…..strengthen your submission muscle to make you teachable to God”

You see, learning to love Michael is helping me grow in holiness for, “….. without holiness no one will see the Lord.Hebrews 12:14b

So no matter how difficult it gets living with another person, knowing that my heavenly Father picked him out for me, from before the creation of the universe, helps me accept more easily all that happens between us as coming from the hand of God.  This reasoning softens my approach and keeps me praying in the midst of a disagreement,

Thank you, Father, for this painful encounter.  You mean this for my good.  May I see this as ‘gift’ and respond in the way you want me to.  Guide me. And bless my husband.  Thank you for him.”

I don’t always reason through like that.  In the heat of emotions, I can feel sorry for myself and get a chip on my shoulder with the best of you.  Remembering that God is in control of ALL that comes to us keeps my conclusions from veering off into ‘untruth’.   It’s also humbling and painful to think that God may be allowing my hurtful, sharp and ‘irrational’ remarks to wound my dearest friend for his own good.

Thankfully I can report, that the Holy Spirit is causing both of us to see and regret more quickly the pain we cause one another.  We are learning to repent and ask each other’s forgiveness within the same segment of the day, often within 30 minutes or fewer.

And more broadly speaking, why does God allow such sin?  One reason that I can see, is that the reconciliation Mike and I experience after hardness of heart is the sweetest sensation we have ever felt.  I think we are meant to taste and see in those moments the wonder of reconciliation with the Creator of all things, our Father and Eternal Logos.

So on this start of Thanksgiving week 2012; I give thanks to God for His gift of Michael Francis Cochrane.  “Je t’aime fort, mon petit ours!”

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