Category Archives: worship

How Can You Trust God After He Allows Evil?

How can you trust God after He has allowed evil and suffering to tear through your life?

My friend Joanna has known pain that I cannot even imagine. She experienced horrific abuse for many years of her childhood. Today, she says that she loves God–and I know that she does–but she wonders how she will ever be able to trust Him.

Perhaps you have wondered the same thing. Perhaps your suffering causes you to feel confused about the goodness of God. If so, then my letter to Joanna is also my letter to you:

Dear friend,

You have experienced incredible pain.

These painful pieces of your journey are like holy ground to me, and I take my shoes off here. I do not speak flippantly to you. 

I do not know the why’s of this evil. There are things in this battle that we do not understand. But I do know this: God will redeem everything that is given to Him. It is certain that this was egregious evil, but it is even more certain that the judgment of God will not fall short or be lacking.

These were awful things, but God will turn them inside out one day. He will satisfy the cry for justice, and He will satisfy your bewilderment. He knows something that we do not know.

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How can God tolerate such incredible evil? I do not know how He can stand it. But I am confident of this: He is more tenderhearted than we are. He is more compassionate than we are. Our protest of evil is nothing compared to His.

Your suffering has exposed enemy territory—territory which God now purposes to overwhelm with His forces of victory. As you declare His ownership of these areas, God will push back the forces of evil and will powerfully advance the Kingdom.

Every hurt is a place for a promise, and ashes are the seeds of great beauty. You have many hurts that you can redeem for promises, and you have ashes that you can bring to Jesus. When ashes are allowed to smolder, they bring destruction and deformity. But overshadowed by the Spirit, those same ashes can be exchanged for beauty and glory.

We can pray, “God, I cannot imagine how You can do anything with this—it is such total devastation and heartbreak. It is death. It is beyond my ability even to speculate how You can transform any bit of this. But as Your covenant partner, I am holding on to Your promises. I do not know how You can create anything beautiful from this, but I am asking You to do that, all the same.”

God’s commitment to justice will include these very things from your life, dear friend—the specific deeds of darkness and the specific acts of evil that you have experienced. God’s desire and power to heal are greater than the deepest wound. He knows how to bring water from rock, and how to make the desert bloom. He knows how to bring life from death.

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God has made immense promises to you. You see no way in which He can keep His promises, but that is okay. He will keep His promises. It will be more glorious than you ever hoped or imagined.

“For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17, HCBS).

God is up to this. That’s how big He is. Marvel at Him. You do not have to know how He can do this. God just wants you to trust that He will do something bigger than you can imagine. He longs to dazzle you.

God promises you this, dear friend: whatever you give to Him, He will transform. The things you suffered will always be evil, but they will lose their power to destroy you. They will lose their power to make you destitute in spirit: God will make you rich.

The enemy “intended to harm me, but God intended it for good” (Genesis 50:20, NIV).

It is easy to see how the enemy intended these things for destruction. But what does God intend? He intends to redeem! 

The LORD God turns curses into blessings for you because He loves you (Deuteronomy 23:5).

It is far too trite to say, “You will learn some good things from this.” That would not be sufficient, would it? There must be more.

This is an evil that we cannot really measure; I know I can’t. It is too much. In the same way, I can’t imagine a “good” that would be good enough to redeem such pain. I can’t imagine a “glory” glorious enough to outweigh that suffering. But God can!

We can trust God because we are convinced that He knows something that we do not.trust God

You do not need to settle for pat answers and trivial assurances. Wait with expectation and confidence for something much greater. God promises something so incredible that it will be more incredible than the pain. We do not know of any such glory, so we are deeply grieved and we despair of the goodness of God.

But listen: God does know. He does know of a glory that will satisfy your soul. He knows something that will be bigger and deeper, something so GLORIOUS—we do not have big enough words, but something so AWESOME—that it will cause you to fall at His feet and worship Him and adore Him and marvel at Him and love Him like never before.

You will not be disappointed. You will not say, “Lord, this glory—it isn’t enough.” You will say, “Lord, I didn’t know! I could not have imagined this! Yes, Lord, my soul is satisfied!” You will be well satisfied, fully satisfied, completely satisfied. You will never come to the end of your delight in Him.

“The LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes” (Psalm 118:23, NIV).

For God to do such a thing would be an absolute miracle, wouldn’t it? It would completely amaze us and take our breath away, wouldn’t it?

Just wait.

Love,
Tami

The Purpose of Your Body

We can spend a lifetime living in our bodies without once asking ourselves this simple question:

“What is the purpose of my body?”

Amazing, isn’t it?

We can invest a ton of time, money, and emotional turmoil in dealing with our bodies. Maybe it would be good to stop for a moment to think more deeply about where we are going with all this body busyness.

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Misunderstood Purpose

Many believe that the purpose of the body is to attract attention, hoping that attracting attention is the same thing as gaining value.  Sometimes we want to attract attention (in general) in order to attract love (in particular). Massive quantities of marketing assure us that if we can just manipulate our bodies correctly, we will receive the affection and cherishing that we crave.

Wow. No wonder we are obsessed with our bodies! We believe that they are the tickets to our self-worth and our emotional well-being.

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No Purpose

Some people believe that there is no inherent purpose for our bodies. Our bodies are flukes of natural selection. They may be amazing and interesting flukes, but they are meaningless, all the same. The best we can do is devise purpose and meaning for ourselves, and then cross our evolved fingers.

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Divine Purpose

According to the Bible, God created our bodies with fantastic purpose and meaning. The triune God made human beings in His image as body, soul, and spirit. We are not just spirits: we are embodied spirits, able to relate physically, socially, and spiritually.

Society says that                                                      God says that
the purpose of the body is to:                             the purpose of the body is to:

  • attract attention to self                                ♦ create attraction to Christ
  • make me look good                                       ♦ make God look good
  • worship self                                                       ♦ worship God
  • attract love                                                        ♦ give love
  • please myself                                                    ♦  serve others
  • earn value                                                          ♦ celebrate God-given worth and dignity
  • pursue pleasure for self                                ♦ enjoy God’s gifts as a way of enjoying Him

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We tend to think that our bodies belong to us. But God says that our bodies belong to Him. Not only did He create them, but then He bought them with His own lifeblood:

You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.
(1 Corinthians 6:19-20, NLT)

This means that our bodies are significant! What we do with our bodies is important to the Lord. Through our bodies, we either honor God or dishonor Him.

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We are stewards of these bodies, which belong to God. They are not ours to mistreat, neglect, or demean. We have the privilege and responsibility to use our bodies to serve Christ and to promote Him.

Sacred Honor

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple. (1 Corinthians 3:16-17, NIV)

What an amazing honor to be the sanctuary of God! Knowing that we are temples of the Living God prompts us to be reverent of our own bodies. This multiples again the sacredness of our bodies and lives.

A beautiful friend and I were discussing these concepts over tea one morning recently. She made these great comments: “I love 1 Peter 3, which teaches that I shouldn’t focus on outward beauty but on adorning myself with a gentle and quiet spirit. And for me, exercise and food can become enslaving, creating a vicious cycle. But in Christ, I am set free! Praise the Lord!”¹

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Awesome Design

I  sometimes thought that I would be happier with different body parts. But then I realized that if something would truly make me happier—would truly bless me—then God would be the first to give it to me! God is eager to pour out good gifts to His children. His generosity is lavish, and His wisdom is perfect. I can trust His engineering.

I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well. (Psalm 139:14, HCSB)

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We are His masterpieces, both physically and spiritually (Ephesians 2:10, NLT). As we yield our spirits to God’s Spirit, we then obey Him in our bodies. As a result, our bodies and spirits can harmonize in rich, full worship.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. (Romans 12:1, NLT)

Ann Swindell sums it up beautifully:

Your body’s main purpose is not to attract others to it. … Your body’s  main purpose is to worship the God who created it. …Your body is primarily a means of worshiping God—through service, through love, through acts of praise and mercy.²

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¹Romans 6:17-18
²Ann Swindell. August 16, 2016. http://www.relevantmagazine.com/life/whole-life/what-i-wish-i-knew-about-my-body-my-twenties

 

Loneliness and its Surprising Cure

We are all so much together, but we are all dying of loneliness.
—Albert Schweitzer

We have all experienced the ache of loneliness.

It can cut to the deepest core of our being. It can be intensely painful.

Relieving our loneliness is much harder than we expect. Just being surrounded by people does not cure loneliness. Having crowds around us can sometimes make our loneliness feel even more intense.

loneliness

And being married does not necessarily cure loneliness. In fact, the loneliness that can occur within marriage can be especially painful.

When we can’t cure our loneliness, we try to distract ourselves from the pain. Many people hope to gain relief through alcohol, drugs, immorality, or other unhealthy choices. But these are only temporary escapes, and they often cause even greater loneliness.

World-renown apologist Ravi Zacharias¹ points out that there is only one lasting cure to loneliness:

worship.

What an incredible truth!

Loneliness is separation. We can experience separation physically, socially, and spiritually. This loss of connection can be devastating and crippling.

This explains why resentment is toxic to us. When we are bitter, we experience separation from another man or woman, as well as from God. Failing to forgive brings the pain of loneliness and isolation.

Image a relationship spectrum. At one end of the spectrum, there is complete isolation, total separation, and all-consuming loneliness.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, there is ultimate relationship. This is the place of true worship.

Presentation1True worship is not a one-way activity. Pursuing false gods, such as pleasure or status, is one-way, false worship. Words of praise spoken without interaction are empty.

True Worship

This is relationship at the fullest. As an expression of knowing God in spirit and in truth, we worship Him, and we yield to His knowing us fully.

There is no loneliness in that.

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¹Ravi Zacharias on “Just Thinking”

The ABC’s of Worship (Part 2)

Have you ever used the alphabet to spur your responses of worship to the Lord?

Last fall, I shared with you several graphics that used the letters of the alphabet to structure a prayer of praise to the Lord. (Click here for “The ABC’s of Praise.”)

Today, I would like to share something similar. However, instead of an alphabetical listing of the attributes of God, this is an alphabetical listing of our responses to the Lord. (Of course, as you worship through the alphabet, you will think of other responses to add to this collection.)

Before each of the phrases listed below, insert the word “I.”

Lord, I …

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Honor You

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Savor You (1)

Worship You

May each day of this New Year be filled with sincere worship from our hearts.

 

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Photo credit: “Daffodil Blooming Through The Snow” by Serge Bertasius

The ABC’s of Praise

the ABC's of praise

On the Thursday prayer call recently, we “entered His courts” by thinking through the letters of the alphabet in order to list praiseworthy things about God. I like to use this simple method because it quickly brings to mind many words that I can use to express my gratitude and adoration. You might like to try this, too!

the ABC's of praise

ABC's of praise

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Seen Any Pictures of Worship Lately?

How can we best understand the essence of worship? There may be no better illustration of spiritual worship than physical marriage. What marriage is between a man and woman is what worship is between God and His people. Although marriage and worship are expressed in and enhanced by activity, both marriage and worship are primarily matters of relationship.

In marriage, I choose a man to be my husband, I commit to belonging to him, I celebrate him, and I value him above all else. This tells me what it means to worship God! To worship God is to choose Him to be my God, to commit to belonging to Him, to celebrate Him, and to value Him above all else.

In our marriages, we love by eagerly serving, by giving ourselves for another’s delight, and by delighting in another. We live lives of worship as we serve God eagerly, give ourselves to Him for His delight, and delight in Him.

Marriage is how we participate in an intimate covenant relationship with another human being; worship is how we participate in an intimate covenant relationship with God.

 

How to Change Your Marriage … Right Now

How do you see your marriage–as a power struggle? a fight for your rights? a duty? a trap? Let me suggest a radically different perspective. What if you saw your participation in your marriage as an act of worship? If you will see your “wife-ing” or your “husband-ing” as an act of worship, your marriage will become a whole new thing to you.

Romans 12 tells us to present our bodies to God as acts of worship; we can do this with our marriages, too! We can offer to God our involvement in our marriages as acts of worship. With each action and each thought toward our spouses, we can say to God, “I present this as an offering to You.”

Worship involves choosing and valuing. Husbands can worship God by saying to Him, “I will love this woman by sacrificing myself for her because I choose You as my God and because I value You above all else.” Wives worship when they say to God, “I will respect this man and prioritize his needs because I choose You as my God and because I value You above all else.”

When we “do marriage” as an act of worship, nothing is ever wasted; nothing is ever lost; nothing is ever in vain. Even bitter circumstances are fully redeemed in the sweetness of worship. Ugly hurts are transcended by the beauty of holiness. Acts of love which cost us deeply become the expensive perfume which we are pleased to pour on the feet of Jesus. Every act of genuine worship enriches us; every time we love our spouses as an act of worship to God, we are enriched.

In our marriages, we want “love as worship” to be a consistent lifestyle, not sporadic incidents. We are committed to this worship whether or not our spouses join us in this perspective. Yielded to the Spirit, we embrace our marriages as sacred places of deeply profound worship.