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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Not So Black and White


So recently I was just spending time in prayer and I realized that I had been approaching God in such a way for so long, that was not the appropriate way to be viewing Him. What I mean is the way in which I tried to learn about Him or get to know Him, was a very silly approach. I prayed about it some more, and I realized that many people take the same approach that I did, or rather continue to do, but am trying to overcome. In short, what I mean is that we approach Him and trying to understand Him the same way we would approach trying to learn how the world around us works. What I mean by this, is when things don't make sense, or don't go or work how we assume or feel they should, we doubt their truth. Think about it, natural disaster happens, what is your first thought? Mine usually go along the lines of: "God, how could this happen? If you are good, why do you allow these kinds of things to happen?" Maybe you have a similar experience or similar experiences.

For me though and how I have seen this more recently is how we view learning about God or understanding how he works. I know as a theology nerd, aka someone who loves studying theology, I love to delve into scripture or other Christian readings and spend time in prayer and all sorts of different ways in order to discover more about God's personality and His relationship with us. The problem comes though when something happens like a situation similar to what I described before, such as a natural disaster, death from illness or other accident, or something along these lines. Scripture tells us repeatedly God is good and that Christ came to redeem and defeat sin and death...so what's up? Is what is actually happening contradicting the promises of God given to us in the Bible? Some may say "yes", but I say definitely "NO."

We are viewing things in black and white. Well if it's not this, then it must be that. Well I say that is a very close minded and simplistic mindset. I am just as guilty as every single person on this planet of thinking that way too, but I challenge us all to take a step back, take a deep breath, and take another look and rethink what is going on here. Here is an example for you: there is a colored sheet of paper on a table and two siblings are arguing over what color it is. It appears to be a shade of gray. One sibling argues "that is most certainly black!" While the other retorts "Of course not you goofball, that is obviously white, black is way darker than this!" This goes on for hours until finally the father sees the problem, comes over and explains to the children that the color is actually orange, but their colorblindness has prevented them from understanding that there is a broader range of colors than just black and white, which of course is beyond their understanding since all they can see is black and white.

Of course I realize that colorblindness doesn't always work like that, but you get the point I am making here. As far as the spiritual world and how things work in the universe that God has created, we are colorblind, we see in black and white. Meanwhile God is working in colors that we could never even fathom. God is painting a picture that if we could see and understand the whole picture in every detail, it would make us faint probably. God gives us the basic outline: He created something good, we broke it in sin, He is fixing it through Christ. Outside of that, we don't always understand how or why he is using different brush strokes or colors. You know what, sometimes he doesn't even use a paintbrush like we expect, sometimes he uses markers or crayons or tools we don't even know about. The point here is, just because we don't understand it, doesn't mean God isn't still fulfilling His promises. Is it not a little arrogant of us to assume we should always understand EVERYTHING the creator of the ENTIRE UNIVERSE is doing? Think of how small we are in this universe, think of how minuscule and insignificant we are in comparison. Then think how God created and controls every tiny atom of the entire thing....and we are upset that we don't understand how HE works and when things don't go how WE expect, we doubt Him....it is a bit silly I think you will agree.

Obviously, changing this mindset is way easier said than done, but it isn't something we need to change after you click off of this webpage to go back to Facebook or wherever else you will go from here. It is something to pray about. It is a process you will need help with from friends or mentors. Ask God to help you have peace with the things we inevitably will not understand and trust in Him that those things are still working for our good just as He promises in Romans 8:28.

I encourage you to pray a prayer similar to this:

"God, help me to understand the things about you that are difficult to comprehend. Help me to see you more in this world that is full of sin and doubt. However, for the things that are beyond my understanding, I pray for peace and trust. I ask you to give me the strength to trust that you are who you say you are and that you are working out all things for our good and for the good of the Kingdom. Bring peace to my heart and help me to get rid of anxiety when things don't go according to how I feel they should because I know that you are always in control and nothing is beyond you. I love you and I thank you for loving me."

So now, I pray that you guys will go out tomorrow and the next day and the next, find peace and trust in God, and just maybe, you will discover a new color God is using to paint His story and decorate His Kingdom.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Trust


Well, it has been a really long time since I wrote on here, but this summer I got some encouragement to start writing again. Someone I did not know, told me an encouraging story about how someone he knows really enjoyed reading my little writings, and even he too was able to use them as a tool and get something out of them. So here I am, feeling called to write on here again. I want to start out though by making sure that the focus is on God, only through Him do I have the freedom to be bold enough to post in a forum for the whole world to see, confessing my belief and love for Him.

I don't really know what I want to write about, but I know that after a lot of prayer and consideration, I do know that I feel like I feel called to write again. So what I plan to do, is just to talk about what is on my heart and trust that God will use it to speak to you where you are at, wherever that may be. Right now, I am struggling to decipher where on this big blue Earth God is trying to lead me. I keep feeling good about where I am at and where I am with Him, and then I feel called to another ministry, place, job opportunity, set of friends, etc.

Recently I have all of a sudden been the subject of some interest from multiple churches to become a youth pastor, some part time, others full time. I am definitely qualified in some aspects, but in other ways, I am a long way off. Nevertheless, it's super exciting and encouraging seeing as how I love working with youth in ministry (3 years as a summer camp counselor should speak to that) and I hope to one day go into full-time Christian ministry. Some days I feel as though God is really leading me to these opportunities and is blessing them and will help me to land myself in one of these churches and find a home working with the youth there. Other days I wake up and feel the weight of the world and of my inadequacies and it makes me really focus on how I need to improve to be "qualified" for the positions.

Another situation is with my schooling. I am about 80% done with my bachelors degree, but I have had to take a hiatus from finishing for one reason or another. I fully intend to finish, but it is yet to be seen when that opportunity will arise. I fully believe God's plan includes me finishing and one day even getting a degree from seminary as well, but at this point, I can't see when or where any of that will happen. I feel not only the desire to get back soon and finish this up, but also the pressure from the world around me.

All this is to say, how does God and His plan come into this all? Or rather, how can we allow God to help us and be in the situation with us? God, being relational with us, I believe wants us to come to Him with everything and is definitely willing to field the questions of who, what, when, where, why, how? Who am I supposed to be applying with? What field of ministry are you calling me to? Where do you want me to go? Why is this not working how it feels like you want it to? How am I going to do this?

For me, its: What are you trying to tell me in all of this? When am I going to be able to finish school? Why am I feeling a call to these ministries and being lead to them, only for them to be dead ends? How are you going to rescue me from being lost?

Is it bad to ask those questions? I mean, they kind of sound like doubt don't they? Well, if you ask me, asking those questions and admitting that you need God to comfort you and answer those questions says a lot more about your faith, than pretending you are simple-minded enough to not question the world around you. When things don't seem right in life, don't we tend to ask someone "Hey, whats up with that?" Same deal with God, only difference is He actually does have all the answers. Crazy, I know.

So I guess, talking to myself here and maybe to you, don't be afraid to go to God with your questions/fears/doubts/concerns and ask Him to answer and guide you. He wants to comfort you, He wants to answer your questions and calm your fears. However, not everything can be answered immediately or at all. Just keep praying for guidance and peace for when no answer comes. One of my favorite songs has a line that says that God answers every prayer for "grace and faith." I think that is a huge line. We ask for a lot of things that we feel we need, that are spiritual things, but we don't always need. Grace and faith may not be the first things that pop into our heads, and they may seem broad, but that doesn't mean they aren't what we need. Ask God for grace from our doubts and our tendency to wander, and faith to keep from wandering anymore so that we can trust Him even when things don't seem on track.

I pray that each of you can find more trust in God and His plan for you, especially in times where it may be a little foggy and the path is hard to find. I pray for each of you that you have peace and understanding when it is hard to follow His path, because we realize that it is not at all the path we hoped it to be.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Blessings


So in this time of year when we are giving and receiving gifts from each other, it made me think about blessings and gifts that we receive from God. I want to address something I have noticed in myself and others around me that goes a little deeper than the usual message to Christians about "counting your blessings."

Sure, we can always use the reminder to remember that God gives us everything we have and that we have nothing by our own doing completely. Everything that we have, every gift, every possession, every cent in our bank accounts or secret drawers, EVERY thing, is from God. That is something we do all need to be reminded of often, especially this Christmas and Advent season. However, I want to tackle something else entirely.

I admit, I need the same reminder I just mentioned, but not that often. The reminder I need daily it seems goes a bit deeper and I think that it will ring true in your hearts as well. It is not that we don't believe God will bless us, but sometimes we don't see them always coming to fruition. We think, "why am I not finding a job? I am looking so hard and praying about it, why won't it work out?" Or, "I am praying for my relationship with so-and-so, yet things are still tense and not getting any easier." Or maybe something like "why is my vacation time still so stressful? I have been praying for it, yet I am still burdened."

Before I go any further, I want to point out that in every scenario, I included that the person was praying about the thing that was troubling them. This is essential. If we aren't asking God for something, he still will provide for us, but its a relationship, he WANTS us to ask and look for counsel in him. Anyways, back to the blessings...

We tend to think we know the areas in which God will bless our lives. We think, well, the biggest deal in my life right now is unemployment/relationships/stress and so God will obviously take care of that right away or at least make that his priority as well. This is not always the case though. I know, it seems crazy that we might not know exactly what we need and exactly when we need it, but we don't. God does though and we need to remember that as we keep our eyes open for the blessings he IS providing.

There is a book titled Walking With God, by John Eldredge and he talks about this very issue. He talks about his struggle with not receiving the blessings he expects from God, that he misses out on the ones God is still giving us. Eldredge is a man who lives in Colorado and is a HUGE outdoors fan. He has a really big passion for hawks and just really loves collecting their feathers and watching them in person out in nature. He has a cabin up in the mountains he frequently goes to. He tells a story about one time he was up at this cabin and how God showed him to see and appreciate the gifts God does give. He went out one afternoon to look for elk antlers from where the elk had shed them. He was very excited to find them and spent a whole afternoon scouring the mountain sides for some. He tells how he was continually in prayer for God to guide him and help him to find some. He said he kept feeling like he should go certain directions, but never came across the antlers feeling that they were JUST over the next hill. Never found them though. He was about to give up when suddenly he came across a beautiful red-tailed hawk. He got to watch it for 10-20 minutes, seeing it spread its wings a few times to keep its balance on the branch during the gusts of wind. Finally it spread its wings one last time and flew away. He said it was the biggest hawk he had ever seen and it was the closest he had ever been to one. He recognized this event as a huge blessing from God allowing him to see one of his favorite things in nature and to enjoy its beauty and Gods beauty, power, and majesty in it. He never found the antlers he set out to find, but he was given something much more valuable to him that he did not even expect to find when he woke up that morning.

I wonder how often we all have this happen to us, but we are too focused on the blessing we have not received that we don't notice the awesome gift God has set aside for us that day. I am going to make it my goal, and I encourage you to do the same, to be more active in allowing God to give you the gifts he wants, rather than have your list of blessings you demand of him. Yes, still ask him for things. Everyday. However, still be open to the fact that maybe God has better things for you than what is on your Christmas list.

I encourage you to pray and ask God what he has in store for you that day and to bless you in ways that HE sees fit, and to allow you to be open to seeing and appreciating those blessings. I also ask you to pray for me to be able to do the same as I will be praying for you all.

Thank you for reading, you all are truly a blessing to me for caring enough about what I say to read and encourage me to keep up writing and studying and sharing with you all my thoughts and feelings on the things I see and how I see them.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Political Confusion


OK, so I must write a preface for this post before getting into the observation that I have made. First of all, this topic has the potential to be quite controversial and it might hurt your feelings. Maybe because you think I am a fool, maybe because you realize I have a great point, but you don't want it to be true. Regardless, just wanted you to have a heads up. On the subject of being a fool, I have very little political knowledge or interest. I don't really concern myself much with political affiliation or worrying about the goings-on of the political world. I see it's value, but it is not something that I care enough about to have an extensive knowledge on the subject. That being said, I am still going to point out something that I seemed to notice about the correlation between political affiliation and our religious identity. Again, PLEASE understand my very shallow understanding of political views when you read this. I only hope to BEGIN to shed a light on something I think might be flawed about our connection of political and religious identities.

First off, I will explain my understanding of the two major political stances so that you can better understand what I am seeing and why I am seeing it. Conservatism to the best of my understanding is mostly about traditional values. From what I have seen, it does not agree with giving extra support to the poor, homeless, those without insurance, and whatever else you may lump into that category. Something I have often seen from the conservative side is "this country was founded on fending for yourself and individual liberties, if they can find a job themselves, too bad. I am not giving up my hard earned money to help someone who isn't helping themselves." That is a completely fair and valid point. I agree with that to an extent. However, the Christian in me feels weird about it. That is a very selfish stance if we really think about it, regardless of how logical it may be. Funny thing is, most traditional Christians relate to the conservative side of the political spectrum.

I am closely connected with two different denominations, both Methodist and Presbyterian. One is more traditional than the other and one is more liberal for sure. In the Methodist church, I do find a lot of liberal thinking people. However, I think if we look at the amount of conservative Christians to the amount of liberal Christians, the difference is clear.

The point I am making here is that Christianity does not teach what traditional conservatism seems to be teaching. In reality (this is going to upset some folks) Christianity is very much a system closely related to Socialism. I am not calling Jesus a "Commy" or anything here, take a deep breath. Look at his teachings though and the teachings throughout the Bible. We are taught to make sacrifices for others. To give to the poor. We are taught to not only make sacrifices, but to serve others. We are called to be a community, which the IDEA of communism is about. The problem with communism is that our human nature can't support it because we are corrupted and we cant make it work because instead of making it all about helping everyone, the people who have been rulers in charge of socialist societies have been incredibly corrupt and taken everything for themselves instead. THIS is why we have such a negative connotation for a system that was designed to help EVERYONE live a successful and fruitful life by working together and supporting each other. AGAIN, not saying the previous attempts of socialism were good. In fact they were warped and manipulated by the rulers. The fact is though, the teachings of our Christ are EXTREMELY similar to the idea of what the ideal socialist society and economy would look like.

Why is it that Christian conservatives are so against plans that tax us more in order to help the less fortunate? "DUH HUNTER! It's because they are not trying to get a job or help society!" Did Jesus care about what THEY did? Did Jesus care about what others did for him in return? Nope. I don't blame this mindset. I fall into it often, but the more I read scripture, pray, and try (and fail) to be like Christ, the more I understand that most of these staunch conservatives who also attend church very devoutly every Sunday are leading separate lives. They seem to believe one thing on Sunday and a different thing the other six days.

Liberals though often seem to be "of the world." Most of the non-religious friends I have tend to connect with a liberal view. Liberalism, as I see in what they say and feel, tends to be leaning towards helping the poor, in socialistic ways. It seems as though these ideas are more closely related to Christian ideals. If you don't understand, it is the opposite of everything I have previously said about the conservative outlook. Including acceptance of alternative lifestyles. This is going to cause a little stir...get ready....

Christianity is clear about gay marriage not being what God intended. Conservatives are fighting it seems very hard to keep marriage between one man and one woman and I think that is good. However, I think that the derogatory to which it has come to, is not good. In this case, it seems that liberalism ALSO takes a valid Christian stance in not condemning people who live alternative or even sinful lives. We are all sinners, judgement is not ours to pass. Regardless of political stance, to my understanding as Christians the view we are to take with something such as homosexuality is to understand that it is a sin, just like lying, murder, or not having faith in the Lord. We are to not agree with the sin, but since we all sin, we are not to say that the homosexual individual is somehow worse than anyone else. It seems that homosexuality has somehow become a more potent sin, which is ludicrous, but that is a whole different topic...

Anyways, I feel like we are circling now. I hope that the point that our political views tend to not agree with our religious beliefs was made or at least planted in your mind. I pray that you reflect on this. Maybe you will realize I am a blabbering fool. Or maybe you will see that I have a valid point. Better yet, I hope that some of you have already noticed this and we can talk about it sometime. Again, I am no political expert and I never will be. But in hearing different discussions from supposed Christians, it caught my attention and worried me a little bit. Just food for thought.

God bless you all and you are all in my prayers. Until next time...

Monday, October 31, 2011

Tough Love Is Still Love


I am sure most of us are familiar with the phrase "tough love", but for those of us who have not been familiarized with this concept, "tough love" is essentially where we give constructive criticism to someone who means a lot to us. It can be by any number of mean, direct conversation, the silent treatment, forcing/encouraging us to do things we don't want to do, but we need to do to better ourselves, etc. Some people take tough love as being a way just to be abrasive or tell the person how wrong they are. In other words, instead of being constructive in their criticism and calling out, they forget the "love" part, and they are just "tough." Tough love though is an essential part of the Christian life, and I will explain what I mean if you are confused how it could possibly be good.

I think this tough love concept is something that we need to hone and perfect in all of our relationships as Christians. We need to be able to show tough love with other believers in our Christian community and also realize, and this is going to startle a few of you I think, that God is going to show us tough love. The thing to keep in mind with that, is that tough LOVE is still LOVE. If you tell me that "oh, Hunter, there is no way you know what you are talking about now. God is only the lovey dovey kind of love with unicorns and butterflies." I would challenge you to show me where it says that in scripture. I am not claiming to know exactly how God works, but to me it should make sense that as we are created in God's image, we can look at how we tend to love, and that is just merely a SMALL glimpse of how his love works.

If we understand that in truly loving someone, we have to call them out when they are hurting themselves or others, I should think that the creator of the universe would notice that too and the difference with his love is that he will actually always step in and help us. God is truly involved in our lives and loves us. In his love, if we are not doing things right or are down a wrong path, he will help us, but he doesn't just pick us up and put us on the right path. God will guide us and lead us back to where he wants us and where we should be. How he does this can be any number of ways, but don't you think that showing a "tough love" to us would be an efficient way to get us where we need to be and also break us of the bad thing we were doing or to help us learn a lesson to stay on the right path? I just want to make sure that we all understand this, me included, that just because God isn't making us feel all warm and fuzzy inside 24/7 does not mean that he isn't showing us the love he has and getting us to become the creatures he intended us to be.

I think I have gotten the point of God's tough love across, but now I think it is also important to make a quick note about our use of tough love with each other. I encourage tough love, but make sure like I mentioned before that you don't forget the "love" part of it. Using it effectively can be very beneficial for those around you, but if you are just plain mean to them, it can make things infinitely worse. An example would be when someone is struggling with some issue, and instead of just coddling them and telling them it's going to be okay and blah blah blah, you are real and honest and just tell them that it's not okay what they are dealing with and they need to do something about it. Explain to them that this thing they are struggling with is hurting their relationship with God and with others and that they need to rely on God to help them get back on the right track. Don't forget to mention to them that although you see their need to fix things, you and the rest of their friends are there to help and to pray for them. A support system isn't worth much if we are only their for each other to tell each other how great we are and not to let each other know when we are slipping down the into places we shouldn't be. In short, it is all in the approach.

I hope and pray that this has somehow helped you guys to better understand how and what tough love works. This is just what I understand of it and how I see it after much prayer and reflection about it. I have wanted to write a post about this for a while and after much prayer and thought, this is what I felt called to write. I hope God has spoken through me so that you feel more comfortable with the concept.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Hearing Problems?



Before I start this post, I want to remind everyone, that in no way are my posts necessarily the official stance of any branch of the church or any denomination or anything like that. They are merely my understanding of God based on experience, scripture, and other theologians.

So this is kind of a continuation of the post about prayer. This is more directed towards the hearing from God aspect of prayer. I am not going to take the usual approach of looking at ways in which we DO hear from God, but instead look at ways in which we hinder ourselves from hearing God speaking to us. Some of these are things that we don't realize are hindering us, but some are things we do because we want to be secure in ourselves and not have to be completely dependent on our Father in Heaven.

First of all, is when we don't take time to stop and listen. This is so obvious, yet we often don't think about this. How are we going to be able to hear from God if we are not stopping to listen for his response and guidance for us? That's like asking a question to an academic adviser, then getting up and walking out of the room before they tell you what classes they feel you should take next semester. Don't ask God to guide you to your perfect spouse, to help you make a financial decision, or to help you pick a college, then not listen for his response. We tend to fill our lives and our schedules to the brim that we have no time for our relationship with God. Make some time in your daily schedule to both pray to God, but to also listen back.

People often find the issue that when things are going well for them, and even sometimes when things are just alright, we have the tendency to think we are not in need of anything anymore. "We have everything we need." This is not true at all and will not be until we are in Heaven. We always need God and we always need him to continue providing us with his grace and his blessings. We need to fight against this mindset and always remember our need for him.

Along with the taking time in our schedule to listen to God, we need to take time to rest. I know more than enough people who are burnt out and just physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted. We live in a time and society where we feel like we always need to be on-the-go and doing something. What about taking care of ourselves though? Sure, exercise is good and you should do that, but maybe some days of the week, use your exercise time to take a nap. Or go to bed early instead of staying up to watch the ball game. Trust me, that's a hard one for me. Rest is important and vital. Even God rested. Maybe he didn't need to, but in doing so, he showed us that WE need to. If we aren't rested, we can't be the creature God created us to be and can't worship him as he intended.

I am sure that we all can relate to the feeling of wanting God to fit how we need him or want him to be. We want God to fit OUR lives rather than fit our lives to what God has for us. Doing this is essentially telling God that we know better than he does what is best for us. Does that even sound remotely like a good idea to be living your life in that way? Didn't think so. I know we feel like we know ourselves well enough to know what's best for us, but I promise you, God knows you infinitely more intimately better than you will ever understand yourself. Trust him with your life, rather than making him fit your expectations and desires. In this mindset, even if we do somehow let God speak to us, it could upset us and what we ourselves are trying to gain in this world.

The next thing is to be "religious." What I mean by this is like the Pharisees. Religion in this sense is being overly committed to the law and having the mindset and tunnel vision to think that you can find all the answers. We have to realize that we are saved by God through Christ, not the laws and scriptures. We are told about this salvation and father through the scriptures and guidelines, but they themselves are not the source of salvation or grace. When we find ourselves putting our faith in the Bible itself or the laws, or theologies, or philosophies of Christianity rather than Christ, we are missing the point and will never correctly hear or interpret God's guidance or voice.

Spiritual warfare is real and we have to acknowledge it. If we ignore it, it could be fatal. We are told in Ephesians chapter 6, verses 12-13, that we are not fighting wars against flesh or other people, but rather a more vital war against spiritual evil and darkness. We are to suit up with the armor of God and go to battle with that, rather than wage war on Earth with each other. By focusing on our Earthly battles, we are not keeping ourselves open to God's command as our spiritual general.

Lastly, and this may sound silly to you, but we can not tolerate sin in our lives that we have yet to confess or are unwilling to confess. As Christians, I feel we often think that since we believe in Christ and the grace we are given through him is enough and the rest will take care of itself. However, being a Christian is a whole new lifestyle and it is something we must work at and build upon for our whole existence here on Earth. Psalms 66:18 tells us that if we keep sin in our hearts without confession, God will not hear us. Hebrews 10:22 tells us we are to draw near to the Lord with clean and pure hearts free from an evil conscience. How to get rid of that evil in our conscience is to confess.

These were in no particular order, but just different ways that we are hindered from being close to God and hearing him speak to us. I hope and pray that God has made his way into your heart in reading this.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Keep your chin up



So everyone in this world experiences highs and lows in life. Its inevitable and if you think otherwise, you need to stop kidding yourself, or come out from under that rock you have been living under. Life in this world is a roller coaster emotionally, physically, and most importantly spiritually. We go through periods where things are going great in our personal lives like we have a great boyfriend or girlfriend, our job is really great (or we find a job), our grades are good, and our relationships with our families are great. However, there are also periods where we go through crap. Pure crap.We are lonely and feel as though no one will ever love us, we are financially in trouble and unemployed, we have familial struggles, and so on and so on. Those times can feel hopeless. I am here to tell you though that in any situation, bad and good, we can have hope.

If there is one thing that I think most Christians can agree on, its that God is here for us no matter what. That right there SHOULD be all I need to say about this. I should be able to just leave it at that, wish you all a good evening, and let you all look forward to the next time I post something. However, its easy for us to accept that as a good enough reason to cheer up for about 5.38 seconds, then we feel insecure again. We humans are so focused on the tangible things. God is with us always? Oh well that's GREAT! ....Where is he? I don't see him....

However, if you read the Bible, and you might have to go skim through what it says again, it teaches nothing BUT hope for us. There are tons of stories about people who literally went through Hell on Earth. They experienced pain and agony and fear and abandonment. However, they were never left on their own and in the end, God would rescue them. Job I think is a great example of this. He was utterly destroyed. Everything taken away from him. His family, is property, everything he owned was taken from him. HOWEVER, Job remained faithful knowing that God does not back down from his promises and will always bless his people and deliver them. Pretty great example of how we should face the hard times in our life too.

I want to point out though as well that we are to have hope still in the good times as well. "Hunter, its so easy to do that." Sure, you might think that. Hope in God is very closely related to your faith. Our hope is in Christ and by having faith in him, we are to remember him in all things, good and bad. However, I have seen in both my life and others, that when things are going well in our lives, we tend to forget where these blessings come from and even sometimes that they are blessings, not anything we earned by our own doing. When things are going well, we need to understand that God is giving us the blessings and giving us a time of prosperity, and we therefore need to keep hope in God that his promise of giving us infinitely more in Heaven is still true. It may seem like you could be perfectly happy living like that in those times, but comparatively to Heaven, you have no idea what joy even means! So continue to have faith that God's promises of eternal joy are more than just the happiness we can find on Earth.

We are to keep finding our hope in God through Jesus Christ both in the hard times by knowing that God redeems his people and calls them out of the darkness, but also we are to keep seeing the hope in him in the good by knowing that his promise means so much more than temporary earthly joy. As Christians, it is so important not to get complacent in the good times or to feel as though God is not a part of our good times. Everything we have is from him. We have done nothing to earn our blessings or good fortune. Keep the hope that he will stick to his promise of eternal joy in his presence.

My prayer for you is that your hope in God is renewed today and that you recognize your worth. God will never forsake you, and he will never let you settle for the earthly happiness when he has so much more prepared for you in Heaven. I pray that you seem him more and more each day and feel him guiding you more and more along his will.