Faith (Rough Ride)

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Faith is hard to define and, I think, becomes evident not by what we say but how we live. Our life demonstrates what we really believe in.

I see that Justin (who has chosen FAITH as his one-little-word for 2016) has added the modifier “blind” to it. For me, faith is rarely completely “blind” in that buried somewhere in my history is an experience or conviction that what I put my trust in is trustworthy. And yet another way to look at it is that faith is always blind to a degree. That’s what makes it faith.

I have found that my spiritual faith in a God who is all good and all powerful is tested when bad things happen to me and those I love. A TV speaker I enjoy (Dr. Charles Price) talked about this very thing last Sunday. He pointed out that in  the story of Martha, Mary and Lazarus, Jesus delayed coming to their home until Lazarus, his friend, had died. How uncaring—how bad—that looked. Yet this apparently callus response worked all kinds of good in the lives of Mary, Martha, and the onlookers. God was in the temporarily bad situation working something good.

As Dr. Price put it, “There are the physical visible events that we see, and there are the spiritual events that we do not see, that are running parallel. We live in the first of these two but need eyes for the second, the realities that we cannot see that God is working out. There was more going on in this story than the health and life of Lazarus.” (Read the story in John 11:1-44; listen to Dr. Price’s talk: “I Am the Resurrection of the Life”.)

And, I would submit, there is also more going on in our lives than just the physical realities we experience each day. I believe that God is in all of them and works out all of these things for our eventual good.

This is the bottom line of my faith, expressed in Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

However, in my human state, and from my earthly vantage point, I still feel stretched when circumstances aren’t going well. My faith is challenged. At such times I often discover that what I say I trust in I don’t really, at least not to the extent that I thought I did. Otherwise, why would I be so anxious?

Image: Skeeze / pixabay.com

Image: Skeeze / pixabay.com

Rough Ride

“You have covered yourself with a cloud
That prayer should not pass through” – Lamentations 3:44.

My need is the rodeo’s
pitching bull.
With one hand I clutch
the saddle horn of Your word
while the other is raised
in pleading.

My faith is the 747
on automatic pilot
buffeted by circumstances
whiplashed and tossed
by the turbulence.

© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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Join us each week at Spiritual Journey Thursday

Join us each week at Spiritual Journey Thursday

This post is linked to Spiritual Journey Thursday hosted each week by Holly Mueller at her blog Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Despite Doubt (review)

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Despite Doubt: Embracing a Confident FaithDespite Doubt: Embracing a Confident Faith by Michael Wittmer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In his book Despite Doubt: Embracing A Confident Faith, Michael E. Wittmer sets out to counter the popular myth that faith is stepping blindly into the unknown. Real faith, he says, is based more on what we know than what we don’t. He makes his argument about faith and doubt within the realm of believing in the Bible and the tenets of the Christian faith.

Wittmer tackles this challenge in a two-pronged way, dividing the book into two parts. In Part One—“Belief In God”—he analyzes skepticism and shows how a belief in the existence of God is not only credible but that it is virtually impossible to live consistently as if no God existed. Some of the titles of chapters in this section give us a sense of his range of topics: “God,” “Jesus,” “Bible,” “Belief,” “Disciplines,” and “Faith.”

Part Two—“Following God”—deals with the nitty gritty of living out one’s faith. In chapters such as “Trust,” “Faithfulness,” “Promise,” “Call,” “Assurance,” and more, he deals with issues like how do we know we’re hearing from God? What sets us apart as people of faith? How can we have assurance of Salvation? Who are heroes of faith?

Wittmer says much that is practical and applicable to everyday life. Here are some of his useful insights that I underlined:

From the chapter “Unbelief” (Part 1):

“We must always be at least a little suspicious of doubt, for while not all doubt is sin, all doubt does come from sinners. Sinners have an ax to grind. We are not morally neutral. We have a vested interest in disproving Jesus, for if He is Lord, then we can’t be” – p. 86, 87.

“If we plan to continue our rebellion, we’ll need to conceal our sin beneath a thick smoke screen of intellectual problems” – p. 89.

From the chapter “Trust” (Part 2):

“Every act of willing obedience comes down to trust” – p. 109.

From the chapter “Jump”:

“Faith starts from assurance and proceeds to risk. … Counterfeit faith starts from uncertainty and leaps for assurance” – p. 115.

From the chapter “Fruit”:

“Faith means to commit to what we know and what we know for sure is what God has revealed in Scripture” p. 145.

Though I did enjoy the book, at the deepest level it left me unstirred somehow. Perhaps that’s because it downplayed the possibility of hearing from God personally and glossed over the Holy Spirit-empowered lifestyle pictured in the early church of the New Testament. Rather, Wittmer seems content with a towing-the-line, status quo faith that plods on dutifully following the Bible but lacks the warmth of personal friendship with God:

“Comfort can easily become an idol that we pursue above God, but a comfortable, middle-class existence is not necessarily an indication of sin. It may simply mean we’re prudent. Paul never commanded Christians to take radical risks for God … Rather than focus on how much we’re risking for God, we should concentrate on God’s promises and commands” – pp. 169,170.

Despite my reservations, I would say Despite Doubt is a worthwhile read. It would be a valuable addition to the library of apologists, pastors, teachers, and anyone dealing with seekers, especially if they’re of a philosophical bent. A study guide with three questions per chapter is included at the end of the book, making Despite Doubt a good choice for study groups.

I received Despite Doubt as a gift from the publisher for the purpose of writing a review.

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