Foul. That is the one and only way to describe my current mood. I’m snappy, grumpy, annoyed, testy, short-fused, but these are only the outcome of my mood which is, in a word, foul. OK, perhaps “man cycle” could be used, as has been a recently coined phrase in my circle of friends to describe when a male exhibits symptoms reminiscent of PMS. Though there are those that would adamantly argue that men do, in fact, have a monthly cycle (I have even thought this of myself in the past and prescribed 2 “man-prin” to resolve it) I have realized a very sad and embarrassing trigger for this behavior within myself: faithlessness.
I did not intentionally set out to write a blog today. Rarely, if ever, have I set out to research a subject with the express purpose of writing here. It usually springs forth from some unfortunate muse. Be it that I heard a biblical misstatement or misrepresentation, there is an error or misunderstanding that many in the church fall in to, or there is something that I am passionate about that others do not seem to be, so I seek to light a fire or two. Something like that. There is usually a burr in my saddle, and this is my way of, constructively, working it out. Irony at its best, I am my own muse today. I am perched at my laptop with the purpose of studying for my sermon Wednesday night. My mood is foul. I was attempting to gather any semblance of “attention” for the subject matter at hand…and I was just seething.
I have been on a rampage since I was awoken this morning by my 3 year old attempting to serve her own breakfast before she should have even been out of bed. Unlike normal, the tornado-like mess of toys and clothes and shoes and crumbs scattered through the house was unbearable. I was jabbing at Hannah about things that don’t really even matter at that moment, except that I am (say it with me now…) in a disgustingly foul mood.
A dangerous practice to be sure, I took my hands off the keyboard, closed my eyes, lifted my face upward and prayed,
“Jesus, help me!”
Now, I neglected to mention what it is that I am studying. For a few weeks now I have been (while failing miserably) attempting to dive in to a series on faith, with its root found in Heb. 10-12, and the implications of it on our daily Christian life. You know, faith that if we’re lacking that God will supply, if we’re attacked that God is our protector, if God gives us a direction He will be true to His word and we will accomplish what He set us out to do. It’s the simple belief that we can have faith in God because we know who He is, what He does and how He operates in our lives because it’s clearly laid out in scripture. These examples obviously hardly scratch the surface of the wonderful truths contained in the above mentioned chapters, but I mention them just as a small point of reference to understand its importance in this story.
So, I prayed the prayer, “Jesus, help me!”, and proceeded to jump into my study with both feet.
Heb 10:36-39 -
For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise:
“For yet a little while,
And He who is coming will come and will not tarry.
Now the just shall live by faith;
But if anyone draws back,
My soul has no pleasure in him.”
But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.
My process is that I take a passage, simply reflect on the contents therein and draw from it truths on which to expound and then go from there. Let the scripture create the sermon, not me having a “point” to prove and finding scripture to support it. I managed to get three points when I realized God answered my prayer.
1) Faith spurs you on, when nothing else can
2 Living in Faith is the will of God for us
3) Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6)
Here I am, my muse.
My family and I are going through an unrivaled trial that has implications in every aspect of our earthly security. Home, job, wellbeing, family and ministry. Nearly everything of importance is in limbo, and the answers escape me, in my current position, view and mindset. God, ever so gently, just revealed to me that THIS is the root of my “man cycle” foul mood (and likewise is the root of all the other times I get in this funk). Nothing the kids did, though they shouldn’t have done what they did, nothing the wife did…I am inappropriately dealing with what amounts to a lack of faith in ways that take it out on others. This is a tendency I would imagine many deal with. I am guilty of a lot of these I’m about to mention.
1) Run to the refrigerator for “comfort” when you’re frustrated after a hard day at work
2) Drop everything and shop, spending money unwisely because you “ need to do something good for yourself” when things aren’t going right
3) Turn to alcohol, smoking or drugs to “deal”, “relieve”, “de-stress”, “cope”, “manage”, “release”, “mellow”, “unwind”, etc.
4) Pick a fight with someone over something irrelevant, due to frustrations about something else
5) Seek solace in the arms of him/her when you need to feel like “everything’s OK”.
What is the root of all of this type of behavior? Faithlessness. That’s right, a lack of Faith in God has caused my foulness. “How does one follow the other” you ask?
God, knowing the heart of every man, clearly knows mine. I prayed for help in preparing a sermon for church, but God knew that’s not the help I really needed. As I’ve mentioned the last few weeks in my study through the Gospel of John, Nicodemus didn’t come asking for what he got. The Samaritan woman at the well didn’t get what she asked for from Jesus. He gave them what he knew they REALLY needed. In my case? The preacher needed a dose of what he was trying to preach about.
My actions and attitudes are a direct and blatant denial of God’s sovereignty, authority, power, provision, promise and an assortment of other “p” words that escape me right now. I am, in the flesh, facing many real and serious trials, there is no doubt of this. Yet, I am not responding to them in a way that a Christian should be doing.
I am not practicing what I’m preaching.
Out of one side of my mouth (I’ll get to the other side of my mouth in just a minute) I encourage others, “have faith in God for ____”. I don’t say that based on a fanciful whimsy or “when you wish upon a star” hope. I said it with the backing of specific scripture that promises God WOULD deliver an outcome in a specific life circumstance. Heb 11:1 says that faith is the substance of things hoped for. Faith in that passage intimates “a strong and welcome conviction or belief that Jesus is the Messiah, through whom we obtain eternal salvation in the kingdom of God”. So, faith isn’t an “abracadabra”, “something out of nothing” type of thing. Our faith is rooted in Christ, and nothing else! EVERYTHING stems from that, you see. If your faith is in anything other than Jesus, it’s not faith, it’s blind hope. Why is this an important distinction to make? Because look at the word “hope” in that same passage. Hope, in the original language, means “something that is certain, but not yet realized”. How can you be certain of something, in “blind faith”? You cannot. So, stated another way, “There is something I have yet to see, but I am certain will happen, because my belief in its happening is founded in Christ.” The end of that verse says, “the evidence of things not seen”. The “evidence” spoken of is, again, a conviction. Something that is not a guess, but a firm belief rooted in fact. “Things”, in the Greek, is descriptive of an accomplished fact. Did you catch that? It’s ALREADY been done! It just hasn’t been seen with the physical eye! Because God spoke it, it’s already fact! We just have to put our FAITH in him that He will do what He has already said He would do.
It’s important before I draw this to a close that I offer an important warning on the application of this well known passage, and I’ll do so with a question. Is there anywhere in scripture that promises you the biggest house, millions of dollars, perfect health, the best job(in your opinion)? I can assure you there is no scripture to support this. Further, anyone that tries to convince you there is has sadly deceived themselves. Faith, being only rooted in Christ, can only expect with certainty to see the things which have been promised. In other words, you should never expect “in faith” that you will win the lottery because there is no scriptural promise to coincide with that belief. That’s the distinction between faith and “blind faith”. Again, that is the basis for our faith.
I was not putting my faith in God, resulting in a foul mood.
Here I was having all this great faith for other people, but not applying it to my own life. Truth is truth no matter what. If it’s only true part of the time, then it’s not really true. So, when I tell someone that in times of attack that God is their strength, rock, fortress and defender (Psalms 18) and instead of attacking back, leave it to God to fight the battle for you (Rom 12:19), that applies to me, too. When I admonish someone to give out of their lack and not their abundance (Luke 21:1-4), because God has promised that you will have enough for both what you want to give (2 Cor. 9:8), as well as what you need to live (Matt. 6:31-33), I need to stand on that same promise.
My attitude and thought process was rooted in faithlessness. It found its power in a lack of belief in the truth of not only God’s word, but who He is, and the reality is that those two things are inseparable (John 1:1).
The exhortation I have for everyone is this: If God has said something (and how do we know this without reading His word) you can put your faith in Him to fulfill that which He has spoken. John 14:6 doesn’t say that Jesus KNOWS truth, but rather that He IS truth. God IS truth! If it’s been spoken you can be assured it will come to be! Not because it “contains” truth, but because it IS truth. What’s more, not only SHOULD you, but you HAVE to! Heb 11:6 clearly says “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him”
And with that I simply pray, “God I want to please you”.