PSA: Psalm 42 & Prayer

Today I’m taking a break from my Pastoral Corrections series to share a written piece from a sermon I preached last Sunday. I pray it is a blessing to you!

Psalm 42 begins with the famous lines, “As the deer pants for water, so my soul longs after you.” These words from Psalm 42:1 are a beautiful phrase to start off a passage that addresses the opposite extremes of our faith experience.

The Christian faith is filled with many wonders, riches, and joys as we walk with God. These moments make it easy to say, “As the deer pants for water, so my soul longs after you.” However, life is filled with difficulties that oppose our love for God. There are moments that seem as puzzling as some of the lines in Psalm 42. Lines such as verses 9-10:

“Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about in sorrow
because of the enemy’s oppression?”
My adversaries taunt me,
as if crushing my bones,
while all day long they say to me,
“Where is your God?”

These lines appear to stand in direct contrast to the psalms opening line that compare a deer panting for water as us longing for God. Yet, they are not in contrast to another; no, they are complimentary.

Most of us would prefer our view of God that matches the initial perceptions we have of Him. We love the idea of a Candyman God who gives us what we always want. But, life is filled with ups and downs that are unavoidable. As a result, we should embrace these inconveniences because they create unique opportunities to deepen our faith in God. Opportunities that will grow our love and trust who is present in every hope and adversity. Such depth then lets us truly long for God like a deer panting for water because we see His goodness in every circumstance, even when life is difficult.

The question then becomes, “How do we move from a shallow faith to one with depth?” Continue reading “PSA: Psalm 42 & Prayer”

Photography Fridays: The Step to Greener Pastures Is Closer Than We Think.

Today I begin an ongoing blog series called, “Photography Fridays.” Each Friday I will publish a reflective-inspirational style post from photographs I have taken, which is a recent hobby I’ve adopted as an attempt for of artistic expression. So I anticipate this will be a work in progress. In the meantime, these photos will involve organic images within creation that I have found to be inspirational, and I want to share their inspiration with you. Together, my hope is that we can visibly see the Creator at work, enjoy His beauty, and appreciate that His creation is indeed glorious and filled with works of art each day. With this brief explanation, I’ll now share my first picture.

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Originally this random set of steps led to a pier on Smith Lake in North Alabama, and to some could serve as an eyesore. But as I reflected on them I realized they still had meaning left in them. I felt the rocks and the grass around the steps provided a contrast between hope and despair. They reminded me of the typical conflict between “being in the valley of the shadow of death”[1] and resting in “green pastures.”[2] Also, the steps themselves may look like a barrier between the two landscapes at first, but in reality they are bridge between the two areas. Therefore, in our lives the path to rescue from our adverse times to moments of contentment are just a few steps away. They key is to acknowledge that our obstacles in life may actually be paths of opportunity than walls of imprisonment.

Continue reading “Photography Fridays: The Step to Greener Pastures Is Closer Than We Think.”

God CAN & MAY Put More On You Than You Can Handle

God CAN & MAY Put More On You Than You Can Handle

Many of us have heard the phrase “God will never put more on us than we can handle.” A friend of mine asked me about this phrase this morning. His concerns were, “Can someone please give me a solid biblical understanding of the statement?” My friends question was very appropriate. The answer I provided him I have updated and provided below because I think it is time we start facing the fact that in our churches we believe a lot of things that really have little to do with scripture.

The phrase “God will not put more on you than you can handle” is one of those instances and is not anywhere in the Bible. Rather it is an inaccurate rephrasing of I Corinthians 10:13, which says, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” (NASB). Often people latch onto the part of I Corinthians 10:13, which says “But with the temptation will provide the way of escape.” This is true, but it does not mean the escape consists of a means based on our own strength.Stress

Therefore, I believe the phrase “God will never put more on me than I can bear” is an unbiblical interpretation and application of I Corinthians 10:13. This is because it misrepresents the Lord of scripture by making Him a get out of jail card genie for our life. Faith in Christ is NEVER about what we can do. In fact in 10:22 Paul also writes, “We are not stronger than He, are we?” It should always be about the power of God and what He can do first, not after our own efforts have been depleted. Without Him we can do nothing. If we were able to save ourselves even from temptation then Christ’s death on the cross was in vain.

Rather in I Corinthians 10:13 “the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it” is dependence on faith in Christ Jesus. It is resting in His power, the same power that brought victory over the grave. In fact in chapter ten Paul refers to how ancient Israel did not depend on God. Rather they turned to idols, which God continually became frustrated with them over. We must then be careful that we do not repeat the same mistake. This mistake is that we should not make ourselves idols believing that we have the power to overcome things that were meant for us to depend on Christ to perform. So the next time you hear someone say, “God won’t put more on you than you can handle” inform him or her that the Lord may actually put more on us then we can handle. This way we will have to depend on the strength of Christ and not boast in ourselves.

In closing, as Christians we may believe things we have learned in church, but that are not truly represented in the Bible. This provides a whole host of problems. The greatest is that it turns the Gospel into something that is man-centered and not God-centered. The point of the Gospel hope is about everything the Lord does and only what we receive. Let’s know our Bibles and what God teaches so we can give others the hope of the Lord and not the continual fall of man.