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  1. Jean says:

    “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4 NIV)

  2. Michael says:

    I hate that verse.

  3. Michael says:

    I’ll expand on that.
    The verse is true…sometimes.
    Sometimes though, the trials suck all the joy out of life and people abandon hope and then the faith.
    Too many times, they abandon this life altogether.
    Too many funerals have left a bad taste for proof texting in my mouth…

  4. Michael says:

    I understand the “God said it, I believe it, and that settles it” school of thought.

    Reality says “Paul wrote it, there’s some truth in it, God is good, and the mystery continues”.

  5. Dan from Georgia says:

    Trials suck.

    I understand what you are saying Michael. I have really not attained the ability to “count it all joy” in trials.

    Being married, I have had some tough times, and have really never been “joyful” per se. But I would like to say that I have noticed some differences at times in myself when trials come as compared to trials from years past. So there is that.

    lastly, and as an aside, for all the time I was single (got married at 42 years of age), I never really attained that “contentment” that so many Christians and popular Christian books say I am supposed to arrive at before I can get married. I still got married despite never really having been content as a single person.

  6. Jean says:

    That was James, not Paul.

    Paul is the apostle who wrote, “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance….”

    I think James may have had Jesus in mind. It is written of Him:

    “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.”

  7. Michael says:

    Dan,

    I think at times we can grow in sanctification and spiritual formation can take place through trials.
    When they keep on coming over years…not so much…

  8. Michael says:

    Jean,

    Thanks for the correction.
    Same concept.

  9. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Isn’t James just saying there are 2 ways to handle life’s issues – 1.) Count it all joy and move on with life or 2.) Have a bad attitude and get nothing out of your life.

    To suggest that sometimes the scripture is right and sometimes the writer doesn’t know what he is talking about – blows.

  10. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Aren’t we all appointed a funeral?

  11. Michael says:

    “To suggest that sometimes the scripture is right and sometimes the writer doesn’t know what he is talking about – blows.”

    Only for some.
    Others of us understand that life is a lot more complex and nuanced than proof texts…

  12. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    So the counsel of Job’s wife, ” curse God and die” is of equal advise benefit —- depending on the circumstances?
    I’ll drop it at that, I have a feeling this will turn weird.

  13. Michael says:

    “So the counsel of Job’s wife, ” curse God and die” is of equal advise benefit —- depending on the circumstances?”

    Only someone without any desire for real interaction and a perverse desire for strife would suggest that.

  14. Michael says:

    “What discredits great theology is not bad theology. What discredits great theology is orthodox people who demand great theology of others in an ugly, haughty, fault-finding, finger-pointing manner, with no tears, no gentleness, no humility. Orthodox people can ruin orthodoxy.”

    Ray Ortlund

  15. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    To the Ray Ortland quote – as your mentor would remind us, some think differently.

    Jean’s initial quote is a promise from God of persevering strength adversity – God’s promises are true and certain. You said you hated that promise and then went on to say that we either can’t always count on God’s promises or that God does not always come through on his promises.
    I find this troubling coming from a Christian minister and it has nothing to do with holding others to orthodoxy with no compassion.
    At least that’s the way it seems to me as I personally thought Jean’s post was one of joy and promise to a world set in pain, suffering and ugliness.

  16. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Persevering strength through adversity.

  17. Michael says:

    “You said you hated that promise and then went on to say that we either can’t always count on God’s promises or that God does not always come through on his promises.”

    If all of the “promises” of the Scripture have been completely true for you in this life, you’ve lived a radically different life than most people I know.

    I choose to believe there will be a day when they are all fulfilled…but that day may not come here…

  18. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I didn’t say that they have all come true, yet or as I may expect (versus what God actually meant) – but I don’t hate any promise and I don’t tell others that God coming through is a coin toss.

    But to each his own.

  19. Michael says:

    MLD,

    Your theology doesn’t allow for God not coming through.
    I get that…I used to share a version of the same theology.
    However, I live in a world where sometimes the child dies, the house is lost,healing doesn’t happen, things stay broken, and the pain is unbearable.
    The promise is for another time.
    God is good, but much is inexplicable.

  20. Xenia says:

    If St. Paul wrote it, it’s true. Period.

    Our understanding is what is lacking.

  21. Xenia says:

    “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4 NIV)<<<

    This verse helps us get through life.

    I generally don't read theology books but I do read a lot of lives of the Saints.

  22. Xenia says:

    Your theology doesn’t allow for God not coming through.<<<

    Neither does mine, although God comes through in ways I don't always understand at first.

  23. Michael says:

    “Our understanding is what is lacking.”

    This may be the answer to the conundrum…but it isn’t really helpful in the fire.
    Still, it may be true.

  24. Xenia says:

    but it isn’t really helpful in the fire.<<<

    Many have found it helpful while in the fire.

  25. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael, the promise is not that your house won’t burn down or the child will not die, it’s to keep your trust in God through the crisis and chaos.
    When the person is dying a terrible death by cancer, I always remind them of promises. I do not say, “wow, and to think we have a 50 / 50 chance God comes through on that resurrection thing.”

    If I translated the Bible, all those verses would just say “hang in there – love God.”

  26. Michael says:

    I have no issue trusting in God for the resurrection and the redemption of creation, nor do I ever preach or teach anything contrary to that.
    My translation would be appreciably different…”hang in there- God loves you”.

  27. Em says:

    Considering that the human race lives at God’s pleasure on the crust of a ball of fire, i don’t question His sovereignty, but….
    If you have raised a child, you know that there are times you stand back and let them work through a dangerous situation, even though you are there to rescue, if it goes wrong
    To paraphrase – the joy of the knowledge of the Lord brings strength… and focus
    In his humanity even our Lord petitioned the Father for a way to avoid the cross … There wasn’t…
    Right now i am trying to focus on God as another fire season starts. I really don’t want to stand in the yard and watch the hills engulfed in flames 300 feet from the house again… Guess i am a city “girl” at heart

    Praying for those who have felt terra firma shaking under them in So. Calif.

  28. Michael says:

    We all have different ways of trying to parse these things out…I’m still looking for one I can live with for a while…

  29. Em says:

    Michael, in my experience and FWIW, when one is going through an intense trial about all a human can do is cry, “why?” – hopefully, the Church is doing what it should and has your back in prayer
    God keep

  30. JoelG says:

    Amen Em. I’m prayer and in presence. We should be with those who suffer and be a comfort to them as best we can. Just like Chester 😊.

  31. Michael says:

    JoelG…amen, indeed.
    I miss the old boy terribly today…this too shall pass…

  32. JoelG says:

    I know you’re not a hugger and neither am I. But hugs anyway. I believe Jesus is with us, holding us and weeps with us in the midst of heartbreak.

  33. Michael says:

    God bless you, Joel…thank you.

  34. Michael says:

    I do need to recognize the accomplishment of one of my others cats, who at the age of 20 something killed a massive rat and left it in my chair yesterday.
    Mommacat still has a little something left…

  35. Jean says:

    Linked below is a presentation on Spiritual Warfare by Dr. John W. Kleinig, the author of Grace Upon Grace and Commentaries on Leviticus and Hebrews.

    Beginning at 11:40 and continuing through 21:00 is a fascinating exposition of Revelation Chapter 12. For anyone interested in what’s going on in Revelation Chapter 12, I recommend taking a listen. However, the entire presentation is worth a careful listen.

  36. Sue says:

    A few months ago, I heard an Anglican priest say something to the effect that western Christians are more “Good Friday” Christians, while eastern Christians are more “Easter” Christians. I have been pondering the meaning of this ever since. was he saying that in the west, we focus more on the cross (substitutionary atonement?), while in the Eastern Church there is more focus on the resurrection and ascension? I am thinking of this as I pray one of the collects from Morning Prayer today on thetrinitymission.org…..

    “O God our King, by the resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ on the first day of the week, you conquered sin, put death to flight, and gave us the hope of everlasting life: Redeem all our days by this victory; forgive our sins, banish our fears, make us bold to praise you and to do your will; and steel us to wait for the consummation of your kingdom on the last great Day; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

    “Redeem all our days by this victory….”

    So different than what I have heard in so many non-denom evangelical churches in my lifetime. Hmmm. I really need more study on the Eastern Church.

  37. Duane Arnold says:

    Sue

    The Orthodox Way by Kallistos (Timothy) Ware…

  38. Sue says:

    Thank you, Duane, yes, I have it and am about a third of the way through it! Wonderful so far.

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