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5 Reasons for Hard Times (part 3)

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In my last two posts, I've covered four out of five reasons for difficult times in our lives. Since I've had so much to say about each reason, what was meant to be one article turned into a three-part series. Well, I hope you haven't become annoyed with my wordiness. The last reason for adversity is...

5. Suffering Gives Us a Story to Tell

Now, when I say, “suffering gives us a story to tell,” I don't mean the kind of story where the victim of life's circumstances complains to drum up sympathy from others. What I mean is that our story may someday help others. 

The difference is in our motives: when we complain, chances are, we're doing it for ourselves. We may want to look like the victim, point fingers, and drum up sympathy from others. On the other hand, when we share our story in a beneficial way, we do so for the good of others, not out of selfish ambition. It helps us to empathize with them so they can feel understood and validated.

"I stopped venting and…

5 Reasons for Hard Times (part 2)

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In my last post, I began a list of five reasons for hardships. I mentioned the wrong ideology that our relationship with God is a way to take the easy route in life. Some televangelists and other pastors promise that faith is a definite ticket toward financial success, physical blessings, and illness-free living.

This growing belief, most commonly known as the "prosperity gospel," is sweeping the nation.

This doesn't make it right.

In fact, being perfectly honest: the prosperity gospel is dead wrong.

If we view God as only the means to an end, that says something about how much we value Him compared to how much we value the world. This attitude reveals that God isn't our God; earthly prosperity is. The prosperity gospel is idolatry with the word "Jesus" sprinkled in a few times. It is not the Gospel.

Anyway, since this topic could (and possibly will) turn into a whole blog post, I suppose I'll get back to the point.

We aren't promised a shower of physical…

5 Reasons for Hard Times (part 1)

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Oftentimes, the Gospel is advertised as a ticket out of hard times.
We may say things like, "If you believe in God, He will heal your body." Or, "If you have enough faith, God will take away your financial struggles." 
Some say that God wants you to chase your dreams. While He often does use our desires for His glory, our number one goal should be to chase Jesus.Whatever gets us to that end, we can be willing to endure for the sake of worshiping, enjoying, and exemplifying Christ. After all, I don't think it was Paul's dream to go to prison. However, he learned to be content in all circumstances (Philippians 4:11) through the joy that Christ brings.
Although we serve a healing, delivering, all-powerful God, we aren't promised that life will be a bed of roses.
In fact, quite the opposite is true.
The Bible promises hardship (see John 16:33, Hebrews 12:5-8). However, there is hope.
One thing that you won't hear me say is that God will take away your financi…

Praying for People's Spiritual Needs

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If you keep a prayer journal, I'm sure your list of prayer requests is very long. In whatever local church you attend, you are sure to find countless needs: people going through sicknesses, deaths, job losses, financial struggles, and more. The list goes on and on with all kinds of physical and emotional needs. However, we often forget about the most important needs of all: spiritual needs.
How often do we (myself included) pray for our friends in the good times? Not just when they are facing a difficult diagnosis or going through financial problems, but when life is going well. I assure you, even when someone's physical, emotional, and financial health is flourishing, their spiritual health could be withering.

A Different Kind of Integration

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This afternoon, my parents and I had one of those great, deep discussions. I love it when that happens. It's an impromptu conversation (or an occasional debate) where we express our views on political or theological topics, discern the truth, and I pay absolutely no attention to the fact that I'm still a teenager.

You may have been surprised that a discussion between a teenager and their parents could follow all of the following:

1. The discussion includes the teenager (not just the parents).
2. The discussion is not a lecture.
3. The topic is deep, mature, and meaningful.
4. The teenager is actually interested (and participative)  in what is being discussed.

This is exactly the kind of integration and unity that I want to write about today.


More on Hymn Memorization

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In my last post, How to Memorize Hymns,I mentioned that I might do a hymn study on 'Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery." However, I feel God leading me in a different direction. The words speak for themselves, and I just wanted any excuse to share the lyrics.

So, I decided to just share the link for them and also a lyrical music video for the song. The reason I wanted to share the music video is because that is part of how I learned the words. Lyrics are much easier to memorize when you know the tune of the song. Also, it is a great song to get stuck in your head, because the lyrics can replay over and over in your mind.

How to Memorize Hymns

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One day, as I was sitting and reflecting (one of my favorite hobbies), I began to write down goals I wanted to achieve and things I wanted to do. Specifically, I wondered, "What things should I start doing (or doing more) that will grow me spiritually?"

A question came to mind that changed my perspective and flipped my priorities upside down. 

I asked myself, "If I were stuck in a prison cell for the rest of my life, with no personal possessions, what spiritual sustenance would I want to have stored up in my mind and heart?"

In other words, what would I want to have memorized?