Musings on Christianity 15

Musings on Christianity 15

Am I Saved?

For an embarrassingly long time, I felt that the mere fact that I sinned meant that I wasn’t saved. I had this idea in my head that the saved don’t sin, and that’s just not true (1 John 1:8). I lacked the Biblical knowledge to understand the relationship between Christ and the redeemed.

I’d encourage any to read John MacArthur’s Saved Without a Doubt. That book is a much deeper analysis for people who ask themselves this question. For the purpose of this work, I’m going to focus on issues I faced and realizations I’ve had.

I’ve been formally baptized at least three times. The first was because everyone I knew was baptized. It was the thing people did at church. The second time was (if I remember correctly) because I went to a different church. The third was when I finally understood what baptism represents.

Baptism is not the means by which one is saved. Here’s what should be the sad part. In my trials of faith and sanctification, I’ve had some sins that took a long time to turn from. If you can believe it, several, several, times I’ve gone into my own bathroom and baptized myself.

On one hand, I could say that this was extremely charming but completely unnecessary. You see, I mourned my sin. I hated it and the hold it had on me. I mistakenly thought each time, “This time will be the last.” 

On the other hand, I was just being silly. Nothing about what I did was Biblically sound. My heart may have been in a good place, but no amount of bathing was going to keep me from sinning.

It could have been the last time I committed whatever sin it was. Each time I faced temptation, I clearly remember ways the Lord provided me an escape (1 Corinthians 10:13). I imagined myself the rope in a tug of war between Christ and sin.

I think that idea is what gave sin power over me it never should have had. We are not ropes in a tug of war. If we have faith in Christ Jesus, if we confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead, we will be saved (Romans 10:9-10).

When we accept Christ as our savior, sin loses its hold on us. We become dead to sin and alive in Christ (Romans 6:11).

But over and over again I tried to free myself with my own power. I was under this impression that I had to help Christ somehow. The brain-twister is the fact that, that just isn’t how it works. Christ has overcome sin (1 Corinthians 15:55-57). Each time I thought I’d do something, each time I tried to stand on my own, I fell, and I fell hard. But when I turned to Christ, when I gave myself to him, sin lost its hold on me. Not all sin, but one of the larger sins in my life that I felt particularly convicted of. For some it might be lying. For others it might be addiction. The sin is less important than the breaker of sin’s chains.

So, the circular reasoning then says, “But that means I shouldn’t ever sin again.”

Well, we shouldn’t, and we don’t have to. Sin has no dominion over us (Romans 6:14).

However, we’re still living in the flesh. Have you ever felt that all you tend to do is what you hate about yourself? Have you ever felt that all the good things you want to do, you never seem to do? This is the war that wages in your own mind (Romans 7:16-24).

This sort of turmoil can lead one to believe they are wretched and cast out, forsaken because you persist in the sin you mourn (Romans 7:24).

This, is the salvation that Christ gives! His grace covers our sin and frees us from our iniquity. He gives us comfort when we mourn our sin (Matthew 5:4).

The trick is how sin is overcome because those who believe and long to follow his law and seek his righteousness will have it (Matthew 5:6). It is Christ who overcomes (1 John 5:4).

What I think happens is we forget this. We turn from Christ seeking to defeat temptation ourselves. We can’t. We were born in sin (Psalm 51:5).

All of these thoughts led me to a statement I still sometimes think to myself: “I wish the decision to do the right thing removed the temptation to do the wrong thing.”

For those of us who live in the flesh (which is everyone), temptation isn’t removed. In the resurrection, we’ll have perfect, sinless bodies, but only after that resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:35-38). 

In the mean time, stand strong, and we stand strong not by our own power, but in the power of Christ and the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-20). Another book by MacArthur Standing Strong, goes over this in great detail. I’m going to focus on the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.

If I had only known about that one tool, if I had only sought to study that weapon, the only weapon we use against temptation, my struggle would have been much easier. You see, we don’t deny temptation by our power or our will. We’ll lose every time. And that’s the mistake I kept making. I made promises to myself (promises I never really intended to keep because they were only deals with myself).

Our savior taught us how to use it, but I didn’t read the Bible until just a few years ago, so I was hopeless.

Just after He was baptized, the Spirit led Christ into the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights to be tempted by Satan himself. (Documented in Matthew 4.)

And so Satan attacked. Christ didn’t simply cast Satan out. Christ didn’t speak some new command or special phrase. He didn’t resist by simple refusal. What he did, was speak the Word. This is how one uses the Sword of the Spirit.

When Satan dared Christ, who hadn’t eaten in 40 days and nights, to turn rock into bread, Christ quoted Deuteronomy 8:3 (Matthew 4:4), using the Word of God the way an expert swordsman uses his sharpened blade. 

One would think that’s all there is to it. But just as someone can misinterpret the Bible, Satan can flat out manipulate it. Just look at what Satan does next:

He took Christ up to the top of the temple and quoted Psalm 91:11-12. If we don’t study, we can actually be more dangerous with the Word than if we didn’t read it, just as an untrained swordsman is especially dangerous to himself.   

Christ however, an expert in the Word because He is the Word (John 1:14), knew how to counter that false use of the Bible. He countered that promise of Psalm 91 with a more important, and relevant verse, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test (Deuteronomy 6:16).” 


A third time he was tested, and again Christ went to the scripture, quoting Deuteronomy 6:13-14.

This, my friends, is how we defend ourselves against temptation. We turn to the Word of God. My friends, if you believe and proclaim Christ, you are saved. If you mourn sin and yearn for righteousness, you will be comforted and satisfied. These things are guaranteed. If you stumble, you will be protected because once you belong to God, nothing, nothing, can take you from him (Romans 8:38-39). 

Your salvation is assured in Christ, so this means your question is how to withstand temptation. My question, was how to resist. The answer is simple: Study the word. Read it. Read it the way you’d eat healthy to grow strong. Read it the way you’d exercise to be fit.

Then, when temptation comes, seek the word. This isn’t a thing I can do as readily as Christ. Sometimes I know a verse right away. Sometimes, I have to look up parts of the Bible until I find one that helps my heart, and even the process of searching the Word for help is help in itself, and the verse you find then becomes another pass of the whetstone to sharpen your sword.

Doing so will also give you assurance in your salvation. As you read and study, you’ll learn more about Christ, and what He does for you.

For our panel: What verses can we study to learn more about salvation? What are some great, basic verses someone very young in the faith can memorize to start with? What are some verses we can turn to if we stumble? Would any of you care to speak more in depth about the other components of the Armor of God?

Hope to see you at MarsCon!

Hope to see you at MarsCon!

Greetings all!

My 2020 tour is up and running! I’m hanging out at MarsCon in Williamsburg, Virginia! That’s right, Weech is expanding his horizons!

This is my first time at the event, so I don’t really know what to expect.

What you can expect though are some 99-cent deals!

Three_Book_99_Cent_MarsCon

From now until around midnight on Monday, Repressed, Stealing Freedom, and An Unusual Occupation are on sale for the convention. If you haven’t tried one of those books, this is a great time. If you have read one, maybe recommend it (or gift it) to a friend you think would like it.

As usual, I’ll do a post with some photos and information about how it went in terms of a business trip.  For now, I just wanted to let you all know what I was up to.

If you’re in the area, please stop by and say hi!

Thanks for reading,

Matt

 

Story Review: Another Day, Another Dollar by Juleigh Howard-Hobson from Alien Days Anthology

 

AlienDaysCover
Cover image taken from the book’s Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Spoiler Free Summary:  Another Day, Another Dollar by Juleigh Howard-Hobson is the sixteenth story in the Alien Days Anthology. During an alien version of a zombie apocalypse, one man finds a way to make a few bucks.

Character:  I re-scanned the story a few times and didn’t even find a name. So he’s got a “House, M.D.” sort of jerk-face appeal to him, but other than establishing he hates people and likes money, there’s no real character development in this story. 

Exposition: This story was told in first person, so that will always increase the amount of exposition, but I still feel there was a lot more exposition than necessary. I think if this were the first chapter in a story with character development, I’d love it. As a stand-alone story, it’s just a guy complaining about things while he kills alien zombies. Some people will love that. I’m just not one of them. 

Worldbuilding: This story takes place on an alternate Earth. There isn’t much more to it that that. We get some details on how this world came to be, but even that was buried in the aforementioned exposition.

Howard-Hobson
Image of Howard-Hobson was taken from her Amazon author page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine. 

Dialogue: This is not applicable as it’s just an internal monologue. 

Description: This is probably the best part of the story. Howard-Hobson’s description is very good. It’s detailed without being overwhelming. It’s strongest in describing the action and the aliens, but there is attention paid to all the senses, and that’s a positive. 

Overall: So this was a decent zombie scene. If you like a bit of zombie-killing mayhem, you probably won’t regret picking it up. It feels a bit out of place in the anthology, but it’s a nice little character scene. It drags a bit here or there, but it wasn’t boring. I personally need a bit more from the character than I got (or more of something), but it was ok. I’d say this is sort of like a pop-corn movie for readers.  

Thanks for reading

Matt

 

Musings on Christianity 14

Musings on Christianity 14

What Good is Faith?

Some people seek faith in times of trials. Some times that faith is proven true, and sometimes that faith is proven false. What happens is that people associate, “God gave me what I want” as confirmation of His existence, and they associate, “God didn’t give me what I want” as confirmation of His rejection or even that He doesn’t exist.

The trouble with that metric is that people forget He’s sovereign. Our God, the creator of the Earth and the fullness therein, our God, the creator of the universe, has a perfect plan. For us to hang our belief in Him on a desire, no matter how important, is to forget that he is wise beyond measure (Romans 11:33).

That doesn’t stop us from doing it, and when we don’t get what we want, we cry out in anger, “What good is faith!?”

I have to reply to that question with another question. What was your faith in? Is your faith in God? If so, trust Him. He may deny your supplication. It doesn’t mean He’s abandoned you or that He doesn’t love you. It doesn’t mean that you’re not saved. If He gives you what you want, that’s not exactly confirmation of your salvation either. At best, it’s evidence.

But we constantly use our own trials as a test for Him rather than understanding that 1) we should never test God (Deuteronomy 6:16 and Matthew 4:7) and 2) those trials we face are our tests. I don’t believe they are unkind tests done just to hurt us. Instead, they are trials that allow us to strengthen ourselves and glorify God. That doesn’t make our trials fun, but this is the crux of this chapter.

The good of faith isn’t so that we can get what we want, and that’s how most people perceive it. The good of faith is so that we know that no matter what happens, God is with us (Psalm 23:1-6).

When my mother was diagnosed with cancer, I had all the faith in the world that God would heal her. From my point of view, He did. He healed her of every pain and sadness and called her to Heaven. That’s not exactly what I had hoped for, but the good of my faith wasn’t to keep the person I wanted to keep, it was to have hope that the God I serve knows what I need. Everything He does is for my good (Jeremiah 29:11-13).

If we make our faith conditional on the idea of what we want, then our faith will be in vain. This is because if our faith is based on obtaining desire, we’re not showing faith in God; we’re showing that we feel He exists to serve us rather than the other way around.

That’s not to say faith isn’t rewarded in the graceful, generous granting of prayers. In the last chapter I showed you just how wonderfully God grants prayers. Those who pray to Him, He hears (Jeremiah 29:11-13). 

Too many people though consider their faith a test, which is an insult to God right off the bat (Deuteronomy 6:16). People think, “God, if you do this for me, I’ll believe!” 

There’s just not a lot of evidence that thought is true. “God if you get me out of this bad situation, I’ll be yours.” That’s exactly the sort of thing the Israelites said while they were slaves to Egypt. God answered the prayer, and they grumbled every step of the way to the promised land and beyond.

Let’s take this back a few levels of infinity. Have you or has your child ever said, “Dad, if you do this for me I promise I’ll … “

Did you keep that promise?

If you’re like me, you answered “… sometimes?” And you know what, sometimes we prove true to our word to God. Gideon was a coward. He wanted to have faith, but he truly needed signs. So he asked for some. They were very specific signs too. God graciously, patiently answered those prayers, and Gideon became a great hero because of the courage God gave him (Judges 6-8).

But even a casual search of the Bible shows just how quickly people forget that they cried out for God, got what they wanted, and then turned away from him.

On the same token, even the most devout servant might pray for something hoping God will grant his supplication. That prayer may be denied. The point of faith is that we trust God has a reason. On the eve before his crucifixion, Christ, our Lord and Savior, God in flesh, the son of God, prayed that God would, “let this cup pass from me (Matthew 26:36-56).” 

That’s a powerful verse to me. The son of God asked if it were possible that he not be crucified. I’ve never heard many people preach or speak on this, but it is so important and so telling. Here is the point of faith.

It’s not the request. “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me;” it’s the trust in whom one’s praying to. “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”

And that is the answer. The point of faith isn’t getting what you want. It’s knowing that even if you don’t get what you want, your father in Heaven knows what’s best not just for you, but for all.

Still, we see the denial of our supplications as rejection. But is it true? Have you ever asked your earthly parent for something and was told no? Does your parent not love you? Sure, there are some who actually think or even know their parent doesn’t love them. It’s a sad truth in this world, but on the whole, most people I know have at least one parent they know loves them. And that parent did not in any way give them everything they wanted when they wanted it. Heck, my mom actually came pretty close. I struggle to think of a single thing I wanted that she didn’t eventually give to me, but they’re out there. I remember once wanting to join the chess club (or some such club). My mom said no. Oh was I mad. I was a selfish, spoiled little brat. I gave my mom hell for denying me this one thing. I’d have to work darn hard to think of another example, but I flipped when this one stupid thing was denied me. I was somewhere between 12 and 13.

What I deserved in that moment was punishment. She didn’t. But even in my selfish, childish tantrum, I knew she loved me. Even when being denied what we want, most of us know our parents love us, and God is infinitely more loving, infinitely more compassionate.

Our faith isn’t for the sake of obtaining what we want; it’s for the sake of holding on to the only real hope we have. God’s will be done, not our own (Matthew 26: 39). If we trust His will, we can know that whatever happens, whether we like it or not, it’s all part of a perfect plan.

For our panel: What are your favorite Biblical examples of faith being rewarded?  What do we do, or how to we stand strong, when our most heartfelt supplication is defined (the death of a loved one)? Why do we so easily fall away so quickly after we get the very thing we begged God for in our time of need? How can we guard ourselves against doing that?

My Top 3 Reads of 2019

My Top 3 Reads of 2019

It’s a new year, which means it’s time to share my top three reads of 2019 with you all.  Goodreads says I’ve read 21 books in 2019. I know I’m reading less and less. I’m hoping to find more time to read, but I have to find a balance between reading and writing. I’m also reading much larger books. This list was made without regard to publisher, format, or author.

How I did it:  I kept track of books I liked and mentally compared one to the other. Without further delay, here’s my list.

Skyward#3 Skyward by Brandon Sanderson: You can find my review for that book here.  Sanderson is probably going to be on my list every year I reads something from him. He’s my favorite author in the business. Skyward was a charming story that had a universe that intrigues me. Spin is fun. It probably fell because it’s YA. It’s a great story that I enjoyed, but I tend to be drawn to a bit more drama than YA goes here or there. Still, this book’s pages flew by as I read.

 

 

Rebellion

 

 

 

So that’s my top three. What are yours? Why? Do you have a review you can link it to? I’d love to reblog it for you.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Story Review: A Mission of Mercy by Mark Lynch from Alien Days Anthology

Story Review: A Mission of Mercy by Mark Lynch from Alien Days Anthology

 

AlienDaysCover
Cover image taken from the book’s Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Spoiler Free Summary:  A Mission of Mercy by Mark Lynch is the fifteenth story in the Alien Days Anthology. Christopher Taylor, struggling with memories of his time as a POW, is about to investigate the most unusual crash ever. But when faced with putting a creature through treatment he’d previously faced, Taylor has to make a decision on what to do.

 

Character:  Taylor is sympathetic and absolutely proactive. The author did a fine job of helping us understand Taylor’s motivation, which is a step up from most of the other stories in this anthology. 

Exposition: This is still a big area of improvement for Lynch as well as for a lot of the other authors in this anthology. There was a lot of telling in this story. I’ll concede this exposition at least established something important, but the story dragged because I read a lot of backstory. 

Worldbuilding: This story is historical fiction. There’s not a lot of world building other than scene and location.

Dialogue: The dialogue in this story was also limited (another reason the story dragged for me). What dialogue I remembered and reviewed seemed at least natural, but it was a very small aspect of the story. 

Description: I think the reader gets what he needs, but even I didn’t get as much as I wanted. There was attention spent on sight, but little other senses, so the story lacked a visceral quality for me. 

Overall: A readers opinion on this story is going to depend entirely on what they think of the ending. I didn’t like it, but I did understand it. I would have preferred a different decision for the same motivation. The story wasn’t bad, but it did drag a lot. Taylor makes the story worth checking out if you like character studies. People who both understand and like the ending will think much more highly of it. 

Thanks for reading

Matt

 

Musings on Christianity 13

Musings on Christianity 13

How Can I Hold My Faith In Times of Sorrow?

I was barely in junior high when my family was divorced. My biological father did something terrible. He was abusive in several senses. His verbal insults to me were cruel. Name calling and slapping were common things. He’d flick middle and ring finger at my lips for speaking against him. He did more, and he did worse, but the worst thing he did wasn’t to me, so it isn’t for me to speak about.

What he did broke my family for a very long time. I wish I could tell you we moved away, and everything got better, but it didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, there was plenty of love and laughter, but it seemed those times were interrupted with abuse that struck generation after generation. From the time I was a boy until now, I felt like a failure as a man because I couldn’t protect my family from the harm that came their way.

I constantly wondered why. You see, I have always believed in God. So I constantly asked why did this happen? Then came 2013. Yet another member of my family faced an abusive past. To say I was struggling at work would be a drastic understatement. It felt as if I couldn’t do anything right.

I spoke to a coworker a few times that I was tempted to even deny God’s existence, but I couldn’t. I knew he was there. I just couldn’t understand why I felt such pain. I couldn’t understand why I felt such helplessness.

A lot of things started happening then. In that conversation with my coworker, I said that I understood there was a reason, I just didn’t know what it was.

This is a brief story on the truth that there is a reason. His plan is perfect.

It started, with a dog. My sister Rosa and I spent pretty much every evening together with her daughter watching television. I’d hang out with my niece while she worked on an online college course. I let her dogs out, and realized at nine or ten at night that one dog was gone. The time I had with my sister and niece was perhaps the only place I had at that point in my life where I truly felt I was “right.” I felt as though I was competent. I felt as though every decision I made wasn’t some sort of epic failure, and then I lost my sister’s dog.

I told her, “I’m going to find her.” I wandered around in the rain, calling out her name, and, in between calling her, praying. “God, please reunite Rosa with her dog.” I was careful with the prayer. I wasn’t looking for God necessarily to make me look good. Instead, I was just asking God to reunite a person with her beloved pet. For perhaps a few hours I searched. The rain pounded me, but I held onto my faith. I desperately needed to see something.

Then I heard a voice, “You’re looking for that little white dog aren’t you?”

Standing outside in the pouring rain was a man smoking a cigarette. I wasn’t even sure how he was doing it. This was a real man. My sister knew him. They’d spoken. But there he was standing outside in the rain at that moment, at that time. So I called that little white dog the Miracle Dog.

In a lifetime filled with the abuse of so many people I loved, that little answered prayer (we found the dog a few minutes later) was this sip of water when I had felt like I was dying of thirst.

Perhaps you’re wondering how that one little thing could make up for at least four different instances of abuse in my family? Readers, that was a preview. It was God showing me, “Look how carefully I place people. Look how minute the details of my plans are.”

You see, he had to put me in a house I really didn’t have any business being in. He had to place me with a family that didn’t need to accept me. Rosa isn’t my sister by blood. We adopted each other. There wasn’t really a reason. It just happened. But there I was. Then he had to have a lost dog. I think the rain might have been just a flash of dramatic effect, but who am I to question God. Then he placed that guy outside at that exact moment just when I looked in that exact area to tell me something he’d briefly noticed hours before.

“Oh the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways,” Romans 11:33.

The Bible is full of these stories of faith paying off. The birth of Isaac. Abraham’s testing with Isaac. But the one that sticks out to me the most, the story that I affiliate a bit more with now than I had previously, is the story of Joseph in Genesis. He was sold to slavery, imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit, forgotten in prison, and then, just when it was time, made the second most powerful man in Egypt.

There really are several stories of what some may call coincidence, and one might feel the Bible can have those because it was written to give faith. I’m not actually ready to present my case for why the Bible is real, though there are several books out there that address that question. All I need you to see is that the Bible has these stories. But I’d never thought in all my days that something like that would happen for me.

But that was just a dog. I mean, you keep looking long enough and you’ll find anything, right? Right! But why? Why keep looking. Why not give up? I had something to hold onto. Christ. It’s hard to explain the concept to you. There is no physical thing keeping me from denying Christ. Nothing is stoping me from turning away or letting him go. Nothing physical at least. Any non-believer could say, “Oh, just watch. If his life gets bad enough, he’ll turn away.”

Again, I was tempted. But that silly dog was the exact amount of encouragement I needed to begin a journey that strengthened me for even stronger trails, particularly the death of my mother.

But today is about how meticulous God’s plan is. Here I was, a man who was surrounded by horrid examples of what a father was, constantly feeling like he was failing his nieces and nephew. Here I was, a man helping to raise children that were never his. “Why!?” I wondered.

Then I met Julie, and then I met my sons. Three wonderful boys who fill my life with love and joy, and they needed me. I wrote that correctly. They didn’t need someone. They needed me! This isn’t arrogance. You see, my sons are struggling with their own feelings of loss and confusion. They’re struggling with a divorce of their own and trying to understand. I lived a life where I saw so many perfect examples of the worst a father could be, but I was also shown so many wonderful examples of what a father should be. The man who raised me. The comic shop owner who literally caught me trying to steal from him, and then forgave me, and then allowed me to take care of his shop when he went to get lunch. 

I met those boys and saw their need, and never felt more certain that I’d perfectly understood a very important verse of the Bible.

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today,” Genesis 50:20

God’s plan is perfect. In that moment I realized that every trial I faced and every hardship I encountered wasn’t necessarily punishment. I was unworked metal that needed forging for His use.

I was custom forged to be the father my sons so desperately wanted and needed, and now, looking back, I wouldn’t wish those I love to go through what they faced, for it was far harder than my own struggles, but if I could go through it alone, if I had to feel that pain again, I’d do it in a heartbeat if it would make me a fraction of a better father than the clumsy, well-meaning man I am now.

When we hold onto our faith, when we trust in His plan, in time, in His time, we understand why. The incident with the Miracle Dog was years before I met Julie, but God knew I needed just the smallest bit of light. I needed to find a stupid dog lost in the rain. I needed to see His perfect plan in that moment, just to get me by for a few more years until I could truly get it.

I have to tell you that not every suffering is made to forge you, but it can. It can prepare you. It can sanctify you. It can focus you. It can rebuke you. When you endure that suffering and maintain your faith, that comfort does a lot. But when you come out of the other side of the trial, I can tell you the blessings are far greater than the suffering was painful. One hug from my sons, and all of that pain and abuse just melted away. One smile from my sons, and I feel like the most blessed man in the world. One “I love you” from my sons, and I feel like the most loved man on earth.

And to think, it almost never happened. I could have chosen what many called, the wiser path. I could have stayed in the Navy. I could have gotten back into the Navy when I learned I’d been selected to be promoted to chief petty officer. I might have stayed in if the job at DINFOS wasn’t available. You see, even there is the meticulous work of our God. I wanted a job there as a civilian, but there weren’t any openings, not until a dear friend of mine got promoted, right when my time in the Navy was ending.

When we focus on all the bad that happens to us, we will only ever see our suffering. This is how we become convinced we’re alone. We’re looking at the punishment rather than our offense, or we’re looking at the fire rather than the blacksmith. But when you choose to focus on God, no matter what, you see the hope. At least, I did.

It might take hours, while you’re looking for a little dog in the rain. It might take years, while you’re working on getting a book published. It might take decades, while you’re looking at abuse and hate and hoping you’d get the chance to show love and compassion. The time it takes forges you. And when it all comes together, it’s more wonderful than you could imagine.

I’m still alive, so my trials aren’t over. I’ve had this time of joy in my life, and I mean to enjoy it. I mean to praise God for every minute of it. In times of need he is there. In times of plenty, He is there. Those times of need are when I know, after these days I’ve had, I can lean on Him harder. He is the secret to being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength (Philippians 4:11-13).

For our panel: What else does suffering do for us? What other value might there be in holding on to Christ?  How, can we hold on to Christ when we feel lost? Would you be willing to share a story in which you felt lost, and holding onto Christ helped you? How does holding on to Christ help us in the moment of suffering, before the relief comes?