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A few weeks back, I wrote a few words about how I often struggle with doubt.  I’ve been wanting to follow up with one about faith, but it just wasn’t right until now.

Last night in small group, one of our discussion questions was asked: What has God been teaching you?   I admit I didn’t answer, because my answer was “I don’t know.”  I feel ashamed to say this, because it means either (1.) I’m not listening, or (2.) God’s not trying to teach me anything.  I don’t think it’s #2.

I’ve been reading through the Psalms (slowly), and each day I pick one verse from the Psalm that really speaks to me.  This morning I was amazed to go back and see all of the verses I’ve written down.  Most of them say things about how good God is to us, how great He is, and how right it is for us to follow Him.

I’m not sure if I could verbalize what God wants me to learn (there is probably alot),but one thing I want to learn was summed up nicely in the verse I picked for Psalm 37:

Psalm 37:3  “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.

In the sub notes in my Bible, it said that “cultivate faithfulness” could also be translated as “feed on His faithfulness”.  I like this verse because of it’s simplicity.  Sometimes I get overwhelmed with all the things I have to do and be, and when I clearly don’t measure up, I doubt that God would still love me.  But He does!  Jesus is the perfect example of His love for us, not to mention all the blessings he gives us now.  Sometimes I am overwhelmed when I really think about how good God is.  I don’t understand His love.  It is above me.

When deciding names to name our son, Caleb was the first one we agreed on.  It was important to me that his name have a special meaning.  Caleb means “faithful”.  I hope that he is a reminder to me of God’s faithfulness, a reminder to me to strive to remain faithful, and something to teach Caleb about as well.

Matthew 17:20 “I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

In another part of the Bible, Jesus also compares the kingdom of God to a mustard seed, “which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade.” (Mark 4:31-32)

I think faith might be like that.  Small at first, but able to grow.  So, I guess what I really want to learn is how to grow in my faith.  It just might be that this is also what God wants to teach me about, and that would be a good thing.

Sometimes I don’t really think that God always hears me when I pray.  But then things happen in my life that tell me I’m pretty wrong on that one.

Yesterday God answered a very personal prayer of mine in a very big way.  It was something that had been eating away at me for a little while now, and He clearly took care of it.  It was such an act of love, and He so clearly answered EXACTLY what I had been asking for.  It made me cry.

God answers prayer.  And even if you don’t always believe it’s true, keep praying, because someday you’ll know.  Maybe even today.

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What is it like to meet God?

Mackenzie Allen Phillips, creation of author William P. Young, finds out for himself in this heart-warming novel.  It’s been three years since Mack’s youngest daughter was abducted and murdered.  Still wallowing in grief, his world turns upside down when he receives a note from “Papa”.  Haunted by the invitation to go back to his daughters murder scene, he secretly packs his car and heads out to the middle of nowhere.

Reaching “the shack”, Mack’s anger boils over as he curses God for the pain He’s caused.  However, instead of a dilapidated old cabin, he finds himself in another world full of beauty and wonder.  It is here that Mack meets Sarayu, Jesus and Papa.  For two heavenly days, Mack communes with the Triune God, changing his perspective and letting go of the weight load he’s been carrying for so long.

Though a bit slow in the beginning, this story picks up about half-way through.  I found myself thinking deeply about the true nature of God, wondering at His gentle love which is portrayed in this novel.  The message of relationship is clearly the intent, as Young weaves together the four main characters of the story.  I also appreciate the comforting reminder that God works all evil for “the good of those who love him”, as he did in Mack’s life.  My guess is that Young suffered his own personal tragedy during which God tenderly cared for him, allowing him to create such an amazing path through doubt and faith.

I would recommend this book to someone facing a difficult situation, perhaps to those who question God’s love in the face of significant pain or loss.  I’m not confident all will love this book, though; I sometimes felt as if I was an outsider looking in to something I didn’t quite understand.  The nature of the book was deeply intimate, yet transparent in a way I cannot express.  Perhaps the intimacy built with God in midst of suffering and anguish can only be experienced.  It was clear to me however, that it was not Mack who called, but God.  I think that’s true, and it’s what I’m waiting for.

To read another more lengthy review of this book that touches on the theological implications of this book, click here.

With the upcoming election, politics have been on everyone’s mind.  I have friends saying things like, “Should I vote for the person that lines up with me morally, or should I go for what makes sense politically?”  Good question…I guess you can’t have both good morals and good policy.  Hmmm….

What I’m really wondering is: Is it better to have a government without any religious influence at all (ie: no moral code, aka: chaos), or is it better to have a government that is biased and favors one religion over another (ie: dictators, oppression, and “cleansing”)?  Take religion out of government, and you get scenario #1.  Let religion control government, and you get scenario #2.  Either way, you’ve got problems.

On one hand, it makes sense to have some morals governing-you can’t have people running around killing people and molesting children.  (These are extreme examples, but who’s to say where to draw the line?  There’s got to be a line of right and wrong at some point.)  On the other hand, how could a government stand where one moral-or religious-code was set in stone?  Pretty soon you’d have complete intolerance, and one people group would then be right, and everyone else wrong.  (But in America…where everyone has equal rights?!!)  Something has to give.

I guess I’m just wondering where the balance is.  I’m not sure if there is even a workable solution.  The way I see it, this issue goes back much further than 1776.