A Closer Walk: The Idolatry of Approval

I never thought of family as an idol.

I mean how could wanting your family’s love and approval be idolatry?

For many years I longed to be loved and accepted by my family—but loved and accepted for myself.

Unfortunately, it was that longing to be myself that created a great many of my family problems.

I was an introvert born into a family of extroverts so instinctively I felt it. I just didn’t fit with everyone else’s idea of how I should behave.

The others in my household were life-of-the-party types—outgoing people-lover’s who hated being alone.

But rather than loving the stage and it’s limelight, and being the center of everyone’s attention, I often craved solitude. I didn’t fear solitude. Actually, I was serenely at peace with my own company. I loved doing simple, quiet things, which was good, for I often found myself in our house alone.

This sent the message,”What’s WRONG with you? You don’t fit with us unless you are willing to become, like us.”

"Going Along" for approval

“Going Along” is often the price to avoid rejection.

I wanted to feel a part of the group, but the price for their acceptance was to increasingly become someone I was not.

While I blamed my family for their pushing and pulling, badgering and bullying, one day I finally realized, they were not my biggest problem I was!

I had traded who I wanted to be for their approval.

finding peaceEven in my adult years, many times I surrendered who God was calling me to be, for the “love and approval” I thought I could not live without.

It took me a long time to face the truth. Paying emotional extortion is not love, it’s slavery.

I began to see that I could vainly attempt to please my family for the rest of my days, and hope for a few grudging crumbs of approval and affection, or I could accept myself exactly the way God had created me to be, and obey His vision for my life.

I knew what “the price” would be.

I’ll confess, I did everything in my power for years to earn my family’s acceptance first… but in the end I think I always knew that their rejection, and the pain that went with it, would be the price for obeying God.

Inevitably, my choice was no choice at all, God would not relinquish His demand to be my FIRST love. (He made me no apologies for it.) And, I knew my choice would be all on me, no matter what I decided. So, I prayed for the courage to let go of my family’s approval.

It has been painful and difficult living with the price of isolation and no family to connect with, but Jesus has always been brutally honest.

With no apology at all He reminded me,

Anyone who wants to my follower must love me far more than he does his own father, mother, wife, children, brothers, or sisters, yes, more than his own life, otherwise he cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:26Luke 14:26
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26 “If anyone comes to me, and doesn’t hate his own father, mother, wife, children, brothers, and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he can’t be my disciple.

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SURPRISED?

I see you there mourning for what is lost.

(You think, it’s over, all over.)

Child, Am I over?

Have I abandoned you?

(Sometimes, you feel I have.)

But feelings are not facts; no.

I AM here, right beside you.

(Remember?)

“Shammah,” honey, “Shammah.” I AM beside you in your tears, beside you in your confusion and pain. I don’t leave when things get tough. No, dearest.

Lift your eyes, your lovely tear-filled eyes, to Me. I have comfort for you; encouragement for your fear, and HOPE.

I would say, “Trust Me.” but I see your trust for the moment is buried beneath your grief.

(I know.)

But, Sweet Heart, I have heard your prayers! I know you thought My silence was disdain and disapproval, yes? But to listen, truly listen, you must be silent, yes? I have heard you, never fear.

Forgiving and moving onYour Father has not forsaken you though others have; forgive them. It is the only way.

Leave your family to Me.

Meanwhile, let Me lift that chin of yours because, “Yes, I AM the One who lifts your head.”

Your tears are ever before Me. See… I have kept them all!Comfort yourself child, your answers are on the way. Why, before you were done speaking? I was in motion!

Surprised? (You shouldn’t be.) I AM always listening.

(Love does that you know.)

a closer walk

 

“…Don’t cry any longer, for I have heard your prayers…” Jeremiah 31:16Jeremiah 31:16
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16 Thus says Yahweh: Refrain your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; for your work shall be rewarded, says Yahweh; and they shall come again from the land of the enemy.

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Believing Is Not About The Outcome

I used to struggle a great deal about this believing business. Mostly because my expectations and outcomes didn’t always match up with what I was believing for.

It is easy to say to someone, “You need to trust God.”

Oh yes, that part is easy!

building trust and believingBut, if our trust is tied to our beliefs for a certain kind of outcome, and then things seem to go haywire?

Then what are we supposed to do?

Was our believing at fault?

Should we have prayed more fervently?

Isn’t my faith supposed to move mountains?

I used to stumble over these questions wondering if there was something faulty with my faith, or my praying, or my believing, until I realized one day that I kept making a very strategic wrong turn in my understanding.

I began to see that if my beliefs were based on my expectations for a certain outcome, and if that was the foundation for my trust, I would always struggle—because my expectations were so often wrong.

I needed a better basis for my trusting.

And then I saw it!

The “wrong turn” I kept making was right here:

Jesus said in John 6:29John 6:29
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29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”

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, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

I needed to put my confidence and trust in who Jesus had proved Himself to be, not in what He would do for me—or not do for me.

My trust couldn’t stand on my outcomes.

No, my trust had to be based on who Jesus said He was—period.

The Bible says over and over, “We live by faith, not by sight.” [2 Corinthians 5:72 Corinthians 5:7
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7 for we walk by faith, not by sight.

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]

walk by faithThe reality of this world is that sometimes bad things happen even if all of our faith is in good outcomes.

Therefore, if my faith and trust are to survive the storms of this life, then there will be times when I must trust in what I can’t see.

walking with JesusI must learn to “walk” with stability in the unseen with my trust based solely in the One God sent.

He is my Cornerstone.

If my confidence is in Him, and my trust is built solely on the character of God’s goodness, then no matter what the outcome to my faith, prayers, and believing—my TRUST will stand on a firm foundation.

Seeds for Trust #2:

believing for God's outcome

 

Foundation Stones for Trust

Before we begin our journey through the Psalms we must talk about the foundation stones for trust.

You cannot have a trust that will weather all the storms of life if it is built on the “sand” of what you see and feel.

Your eyes will deceive you and your feelings often shift and change with each passing storm that blows.

Therefore let us address ourselves to some of the basic truths from the inerrant and infallible word of God.

foundation of trustTo start with, the Bible doesn’t say there might be trouble in this world. On the contrary, it assures us that we absolutely will have trouble.

Jesus said, “I have told you all this so that you will have peace of heart and mind. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows; but cheer up, for I have overcome the world.” John 16:33John 16:33
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33 I have told you these things, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have oppression; but cheer up! I have overcome the world.”

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TLB

The Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” [3:12]

So, since we know we shall have trials, sorrow, and persecution, and since our life will not be trouble-free, we can’t base our trust on the hope that we should have a painless journey.

Often our trust falters or fails because it is based on the false hope that the promises in God’s word can be manipulated to suit our own wishes. We believe  by praying fervent prayers, or  “claiming” this or that Bible verse for ourselves, or our loved ones, we can have whatever we want.

But no matter how heartfelt those wishes and desires may be, or how sincere our hopes, even in the word of God we must face all of the truth. We must acknowledge that God knows what we don’t, and we must put our TRUST in Him, and His will on any matter. Then our trust can not only weather the storm, it can also flower and flourish in it.

Anyone who reads my blog, knows by now, I love to quote from the works of C. S. Lewis. So, in closing, let me add a few more of his wonderful encouraging words.

Remember, though we struggle against things because we are afraid of them, it is often the other way around—we get afraid because we struggle. Are you struggling; resisting? Don’t you think our Lord says to you, “Peace child, peace. Relax. Let go. Underneath are the Everlasting Arms. Let go, I will catch you. Do you trust me so little?”

— C. S. Lewis

SEEDS FOR TRUST #1:

trust God's love for you

Never Losing the Light: Illumination for The Future

“… without one ray of light.” that’s where you’ve been for months now, and yes, I have deliberately kept you ‘in the dark’ regarding your future.

walking in darknessI wanted you to grow accustomed to the darkness of ‘not knowing’.

It has been difficult to “adjust” your eyes to walking purely by faith and not by sight, yes?

It is necessary.

Very necessary.

Do you hear Me child?

(I’ll say it again.)

Very necessary!

I want you to become so accustomed to walking this way, that darkness or light?

Neither make any difference.

I want you to develop a highly tuned sense of “night vision”.

I want you to walk according to what I tell you, not what you see.

Your eyes will deceive you at times.

(Have you not already discovered this?)

How things “look” and how they “are” are often two very different things. Ah, but you know, the darkness and the light are both the same to Me.

I AM not bound by any such limitation.

I want you to be as comfortable walking with Me in darkness as you are walking with Me in the light.

Think of The Wisemen of old—they could not find Me in the bright light of day—in the rush and throng.

I led them by night… by a star.

revelation for the dark“Who among you fears the LORD and obeys His Servant? If such men walk in darkness, without one ray of light, let them trust in the LORD, let them rely upon their God.”

Isaiah 50:10Isaiah 50:10
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10 Who is among you who fears Yahweh, who obeys the voice of his servant? He who walks in darkness, and has no light, let him trust in the name of Yahweh, and rely on his God.

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Challenge of Jesus In A World of Brokenness

If not us, then who?“What we are faced with in our culture is the post-Christian version of the doctrine of original sin: all human endeavor is radically flawed, and the journalists who take delight in pointing this out are simply telling over and over again the story of Genesis three as applied to today’s leaders, politicians, royalty and rock stars. And our task, as image-bearing, God-loving, Christshaped, Spirit-filled Christians, following Christ and shaping our world, is to announce challenge of Jesusredemption to the world that has discovered its fallenness, to announce healing to the world that has discovered its brokenness, to proclaim love and trust to the world that knows only exploitation, fear and suspicion. So the key I propose for translating Jesus’ unique message to the Israel of his day into our message to our contemporaries is to grasp the parallel, which is woven deeply into both Testaments, between the human call to bear God’s image and Israel’s call to be the light of the world. Humans were made to reflect God’s creative stewardship into the world. Israel was made to bring God’s rescuing love to bear upon the world. Jesus came as the true Israel, the world’s true light, and as the true image of the invisible God. He was the true Jew, the true human. He has laid the foundation, and we must build upon it. We are to be the bearers both of his redeeming love and of his creative stewardship: to celebrate it, to model it, to proclaim it, to dance to it.

“As the Father sent me, so I send you…

…receive the Holy Spirit; forgive sins and they are forgiven, retain them and they are retained.” That last double command belongs exactly at this point. We are to go out into the world with the divine authority to forgive and retain sins. When Jesus forgave sins, they said he was blaspheming; how then can we imagine such a thing for ourselves? Answer: because of the gift of the Holy Spirit. God intends to do through us for the wider world that for which the foundation was laid in Jesus. We are to live and tell the story of the prodigal and the older brother; to announce God’s glad, exuberant, richly healing welcome for sinners, and at the same time God’s sorrowful but implacable opposition to those who persist in arrogance, oppression and greed. Following Christ in the power of the Spirit means bringing to our world the shape of the gospel: forgiveness, the best news that anyone can ever hear, for all who yearn for it, and judgment for all who insist on dehumanizing themselves and others by their continuing pride, injustice and greed…

The gospel of Jesus points us and indeed urges us to be at the leading edge of the whole culture,

…articulating in story and music and art and philosophy and education and poetry and politics and theology and even–heaven help us–Biblical studies, a worldview that will mount the historically-rooted Christian challenge to both modernity and postmodernity, leading the way…with joy and humor and gentleness and good judgment and true wisdom. I believe if we face the question, “if not now, then when?” if we are grasped by this vision we may also hear the question, “if not us, then who?” And if the gospel of Jesus is not the key to this task, then what is?”

—  N. T. Wright, The Challenge of Jesus

You’ve got a smile
That lifts me out of here
When I’m all tripped up
And turned around
Down in the trenches
Where you lift me up again
My heart and mind so far away

For the longing, the aching and the call
There is no denying her at all now

Beauty leads the way
Beauty leads the way
To the glory of the world
We were made for
Beauty leads the way

Look in the spaces
Where the separation thins
To dislocated cracks of light
Under the surface
Up above it’s all the same
You’re everywhere but hard to find

For the longing, the aching and the call
There is no denying you at all now

Beauty leads the way
Beauty leads the way
To the glory of the world
We were made for
Beauty leads the way
[x2]

our brokenness

Take you by surprise
Go right into the flames
Measures the sacrifice
‘Cause beauty leads the way

She’s like the morning sun
The answer to your shame
Rescued from where you were
Beauty leads the way
Beauty leads the way
Beauty leads the way
Beauty leads the way

Tears, brokenness & broken hearts

“Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts. I was better after I had cried, than before–more sorry, more aware of my own ingratitude, more gentle.”
― Charles Dickens, Great Expectations


 

A Closer Walk: Escape to An Awesome Savior!

I grew up with condemnation and criticism. It was well meant (sometimes) but still, it’s tough to breathe in that world. Tougher still, to grow into the decent and kind person, you want to be. All you can “think” in that atmosphere is, escape… I have to escape.

I am slowly learning...Yeah, rejection is a powerful toxin—and verbal abuse a stone killer.

When will we learn that?

Why do we believe that we can control, and own others, by battering another’s poor heart into a million, shattered, and broken pieces?

I didn’t understand the power of bitterness as a child, but I could feel it.

I used to think that kind of enviornment was normal. (It was all I knew.) Then later, I knew I had to find something different, because I was becoming like my abusers. My “normal” was corroding my heart into something I no longer recognized—into a someone I didn’t want to be. I knew if I wanted to breathe, if I wanted to love and be loved, I had to get away.

I had to lay down the dead hopes that my family would magically change and choose something better than their old and bitter verbal artillery.

So, I laid down a dead dream, and picked up His cross.

For a time, I believed all that “broken stuff” was wasted debris. That, not only could it NOT be fixed, but the dead weight of it had to be jettisoned from my life. (And there is some truth to that.) Some toxic relationships, no matter how much sweet water gets poured into them, will by their own heart’s choices, choose to remain bitter.

Your are priceless!Yet, even though the people we had hoped would love us, reject our love—even those difficult experiences can be wonderfully useful for His Kingdom.

It is His M.O. in us, after all!

He is: A Ransom-Redeemer, A Reviver-Restorer. The Royal-Resurrecter!

It has taken me six decades, count them, SIX long-n-dusty… bloody-n-broken… rocky-road-decades, but I have finally learned these Kingdom Truths:

God wastes NOTHING.

Our SCARS and DEBRIS are someone else’s HEALING and HOPE.

Forsaking ALL will lead us straight to HIS REDEMPTION PLAN.

And His plan?

Will BLOW destiny’s doors off their JOY-HINGES!

He rebuilds shattered lives into bridges—strong sturdy bridges that will carry other shattered hearts straight into His loving arms of Redeeming Grace.

Yahoo, what an awesome Savior!

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THEN… YOU WILL KNOW

There will be times when you will do your best, you will pray, you will believe, and still things will seem to go wrong. You may even be tempted to think, all you’ve done is worth nothing; only empty space.

This is where the wheat and the chaff go their seperate ways.

It is easy to work when all are pleased and the applause abounds. I have many in My Kingdom who will serve under such circumstances, many.

Ah, but when the wind is contrary, how those “easy-chair-followers” scatter!

Following ChristAnd, you? What about you now that you see what is really in their hearts? Will you leave Me, too?

I tell you, building this Kingdom of Mine is not for the faint of heart. The day is quickly approaching when the enemy will come in like a flood. There will be testing and trying like My Church has never seen! Many will forsake their friends and betray those they called “brother.”

I AM coming to do away with these easy-chairs, and all who cling to them! (But you?) You are My First Fruit! You will show the way to those who remain. You will encourage their hearts by your words of comfort.

No turning back

Then, “Ha, then!” it will not seem in vain. Then, you will see your Teacher, and you will know how wise were your appointed lessons.

Yes, then, your work will stand.

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“…but my work for them seems all in vain;”

Isaiah 49:4Isaiah 49:4
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4 But I said, I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely the justice due to me is with Yahweh, and my recompense with my God.

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The Ultimate Final Exam, Dr. Howard Hendricks

The Life of Howard G. “Prof” Hendricks

Our beloved Dr. Howard G. Hendricks went to be with the Lord early Wednesday morning. Dr. Hendricks’s memorial service from Saturday, March 2 is now available to watch online.

A Lasting Legacy

“You’re looking at a completely fulfilled human being. If I died today having produced some of the people God has given me the privilege of shaping, it will have been worth showing up on the planet.”

—Prof Hendricks to the Dallas Morning News, 2003

Dr. Howard G. Hendricks, known simply as “Prof,” directly or indirectly touched millions of lives in the evangelical community and beyond. For more than sixty years Prof served on the faculty of Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS), where he taught more than ten thousand students. He also ministered in person in more than eighty countries. Through speaking engagements, radio, tapes, films, the sixteen books he authored and coauthored, countless journal and popular-market articles, his service on numerous boards, and his work as a chaplain to the Dallas Cowboys (1976–1984), his reach was and is worldwide. His legacy, in partnership with Jeanne, his wife of more than sixty-six years, includes four children, six grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

Holding large audiences enthralled at venues such as Billy Graham’s conference center or Promise Keepers’ stadium rallies, Prof would confide, “It’s wonderful to be here with you, but I have a group of delicious students waiting for me back at the seminary.”

“I don’t believe a word of it”

Howard Hendricks was raised in a broken home. He recalled, “My parents separated when I came along. I split the family.” His father’s mother reared him, and he described himself as a “troublemaker” during his elementary school years, “probably just ‘acting out’ a lot of insecurities.”

“Most likely to end up in prison” was the assessment of his fifth-grade teacher in Philadelphia. Once she even tied him to his seat with a rope and taped his mouth shut. Yet everything changed for that boy when he met his sixth-grade teacher. He introduced himself to Miss Noe, and she told him, “I’ve heard a lot about you. But I don’t believe a word of it.”

Those words would change his life. She made him realize for the first time that someone cared. “People are always looking for someone to say, ‘Hey, I believe in you,’” he said. And in his more than sixty years as a professor, he believed in his students.

Carpe DiemHundreds of Christian organizations were created as a result of Prof’s ministry to his protégés. In the words of one DTS graduate, “He impacted more lives personally than anyone I’ve ever known.” Prof once said, “I think the reason God has used me is that, by His grace, the Holy Spirit has developed in me an incurable confidence in His ability to transform people.” Prof went beyond communicating what students should do to convincing them that they could. According to a 2003 Dallas Morning News article about him, the combined ministries of just eight of his former students, a veritable Who’s Who of Evangelical Christians, reach close to thirty thousand people in the pews every week. Add radio programs and books to the number, and the audience expands to millions.

“If you don’t have a wife, get one!”

What greater tribute to Jeanne Hendricks than her husband’s adamant entreaty, “If you don’t have a wife, get one!” The two met in Philadelphia after Prof became a Christian, and they attended Wheaton College near Chicago as undergraduates. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in 1946, Hendricks and his wife moved to Texas, where he enrolled in classes at DTS. After earning a Master of Theology degree in 1950, he planted a church in Fort Worth.

Though he was a pastor at Calvary Presbyterian, the words in 2 Timothy 2:22 Timothy 2:2
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2 The things which you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit the same to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.

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stuck in his mind: “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful people who will be able to teach others also.” So when Dr. John Walvoord, at that time the theology department chairman, asked Hendricks to join the seminary faculty part-time, he agreed. His reasoning: instead of pastoring only one church, he could train ten students to pastor ten churches.

A year after Hendricks joined the faculty, president Lewis Sperry Chafer died suddenly, and the newly appointed president Walvoord implored Hendricks to fill the full-time teaching vacancy. Prof accepted—on one condition: a Christian education course had to be included in his teaching load. He was twenty-eight years old with a passion for teaching and mentoring students. And in the years that followed, that passion never changed.

“You never graduate from the school of discipleship.”

Even more than his wonderful teaching, the time Prof took to mentor students is what most emphasize when they talk about his influence on their lives.

authenticityIn the days before air-conditioning, a certain campus bench between Stearns Hall and Mosher Library was known as “Prof’s bench.” He kept “office hours” there; students could stop by. Their questions drew on Prof’s wisdom. What students remember more than his answers was his availability.

Eventually bench time gave way to early-morning discipleship time. Tuesdays and Thursdays at six a.m. brought two groups of twelve men and women each semester. And whether one-on-one or in a classroom, Prof taught. He was known to stand on a chair while teaching if that’s what it took to captivate a bored-looking student. Before those in his classes, he served as “stand-up comic, cheerleader, personal trainer, encourager, and super teacher,” observed a student who cringed at the recollection of her professor’s favorite gesture, wiping his sleeve across his nose. Hendricks often mimicked the nearsighted cartoon character Mr. Magoo, by scrunching his face, squinting his eyes, and sniffing. Students too young to remember Magoo considered the gestures “pure Hendricks.” But Prof’s creativity had a purpose—that students might center their lives in Jesus Christ and live according to His Word. Prof was known to say that if he had his way, every student would memorize one thousand Bible verses before graduating.

In 1986, at the request of then seminary president Dr. Donald Campbell, Prof founded the Center for Christian Leadership. Its first program, Spiritual Formation, continues to build Christian identity, community, integrity, and diversity in DTS students through weekly small-group meetings. The program presents a model of discipleship intended for replication.

DTS chancellor Dr. Charles Swindoll, a 1963 graduate, whose Insight for Living radio program reaches across the world, recalls that Prof “is the one man who has had the greatest impact on my entire life. And there is no doubt in my mind that since the late 1950s to the present day, no other teacher at DTS has been more influential to more of our graduates, or more magnetic to more potential students than Dr. Hendricks.”

“Few have marked as many lives or have multiplied ministry passions like our beloved Prof,” said DTS president Dr. Mark L. Bailey. “Prof was a friend and a colleague who has marked us deeply for the cause of Christ.”

When Don Regier as a student told Prof, “I can’t preach. I don’t know what I am going to do,” Prof Hendricks convinced him that he had creative gifts. Regier has now invested those gifts for more than four decades of service as a professor at DTS.

Retired professor Dr. Eddie Lane remembers when he and now Dr. Tony Evans were the first African-American students on campus. “Dr. Hendricks made it clear that he was glad to have us in his classroom. As a student, I majored in Howard Hendricks.” DTS’s first women students echo the same sentiments.

Dr. Howard Hendricks“How big is your God? The size of your God determines the size of everything.”

The sixty years spent mentoring students held their share of pain. Seventeen years ago, Prof reported to the doctor’s office for removal of a small skin cancer. Eight hours later, more cancer cells remained. Eventually invasive surgery into his skull endangered Prof’s ears, eyes, and brain. Holding Jeanne’s hand, he said, “Either God is sovereign or He is not. And, if He’s not, we’re in deep trouble. But I’m coming down on the side that He is.” The mail brought a stack of cards six feet high from people around the world whose lives he had touched.

After the operation, the doctor reported, “It’s obvious that God is at work in your life. This cancer went as far as it could go toward your ear without affecting your hearing, as far as it could go toward your eye without affecting your eyesight, and as far as it could go toward your brain without affecting your mind.”

“If God had said to me, ‘I’ll give you another course [in trusting],’” Prof quipped, “I would have said, ‘Let’s make it an elective.’”

“Spend the rest of your life doing what God prepared you to do.”

During his years of service Prof received numerous honors including an honorary doctorate from Wheaton and the 2003 Tom Landry Excellence of Character Award from the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. In 2010 Prof added to his long list of honors the National Religious Broadcasters’ (NRB) Board of Directors Award, given to a Christian who “demonstrates integrity, displays creativity, and makes a significant impact on society.” While he appreciated such accolades, for Prof the greatest reward came in mentoring. At that time, he repeated what he had told the Dallas Morning News ten years earlier: “For me, [mentoring is] very important because I think it’s really my fulfillment,” he said. “I tell people, ‘You’re looking at a completely fulfilled human being.’ If I died today having produced some of the people God has given me the privilege of shaping, it will have been worth showing up on the planet.”

Dr. Howard HendricksDrawing on wisdom gained through experience, Prof wrote a journal series on aging for Bibliotheca Sacra. In it he argued that there is no such thing as retirement from service in the body of Christ. Consequently, he continued teaching for as long as he was able. But he did believe in making room for the next generation. So in the spring of 2011, in his sixtieth year at DTS, he retired from faculty responsibilities and formal classroom ministry. At the time of his retirement he was distinguished professor emeritus of Christian Education and Leadership.

About that time Prof described aging as a “quiet, ill-defined blur that steals up on one with little advance warning.” He said, “My body refuses to cooperate with my mind, as if it were a stranger. Mysterious little aches and odd moments of forgetfulness pop up. Birthdays become irrelevant. The surprise is that I no longer seem to be quite the ‘me’ I have always known.”

Even after he no longer had teaching responsibilities, Prof could be found on the Stearns bench. And though his presence was not required, he would make it a priority to attend the annual faculty retreat, to be present and available as long as he was able.

In one of Prof’s last chapel messages, titled The Ultimate Final Exam, he drew on the text of 2 Timothy 2:152 Timothy 2:15
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15 Give diligence to present yourself approved by God, a workman who doesn’t need to be ashamed, properly handling the Word of Truth.

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to emphasize three passions every believer should have: The Lord well pleased, the work well done, and the Word well used.

He alluded to a constant argument over whether Michelangelo was greater or the teacher who trained him. At one point the teacher perceived that his student was resting on his talents rather than dedicating himself to excellence. So he batted Michelangelo’s sculpture, breaking it into a thousand pieces. The teacher insisted, “Talent is cheap. But dedication is costly.” Prof’s conclusion: “If you and I are going to serve and be approved, our service is going to cost us. If you want success and significance, both will cost you. But it will cost you more not to have made the investment.”

From the earthly perspective of those who mourn his loss—and the DTS family feels this pain acutely—Prof made that costly investment. He was content to be the teacher behind many great communicators of our day, modeling a passion for his Lord, a passion for the Word well used, and a work well done of investing in lives for the glory of Christ.

Karen Giesen and Sandra Glahn contributed to this story.  They gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Kelley Mathews, and Julie Cramer.

DTS Dr. Howard Hendricks tribute

©  Dallas Theological Seminary

 

Never Losing the Light: Showers of Blessing?

Your time of blessing is quickly approaching now. Things that seemed withered and dead will begin to become green and supple again. Resource will water every part of your life.

Streams and brooks will form and it will be as I told you, “I will give you much so that you will have much to give away.” [2 Cor. 9:112 Cor. 9:11
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11 you being enriched in everything to all liberality, which works through us thanksgiving to God.

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There will always be stormsStill… there will be storms.

Actually, there will always be some sort of storm.

We are in the final days of My church. The storm and conflict in the heavenly realm is constant thunder and lightening.

There is much to do.

Do not fear the storms… accept. I AM with you. That is all you really need to know.

I cannot make your barreness like Eden without the ministry the storms bring.

Accept!Accept.

Receive.

It is all part of My plan, remember?

Receive ministry from the storms that blow across your life.

I promise you, it is there if you will be willing, and receive.

Take each one and know that I AM there—behind the scenes—blessing you.

You know already that blessing sometimes comes in strange packages.

showers of blessingNevermind… just receive.

All is well child.

To be like Eden, a well-watered garden, the storms must come.

It’s all part of the plan.

Accept. Receive. It’s Me.

There shall be showers...“And the LORD will bless Israel again, and make her deserts blossom; her barren wilderness will become as beautiful as the Garden of Eden. Joy and gladness will be found there, thanksgiving and lovely songs.”

Isaiah 51:3Isaiah 51:3
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3 For Yahweh has comforted Zion; he has comforted all her waste places, and has made her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of Yahweh; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.

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A Closer Walk: Victory Over Depression

I had been told for years that depression was simply part of my family’s DNA. I had accepted those statements as fact, without questioning, so the depression I was experiencing didn’t surprise me. Indeed, I had almost expected it. It was part of our family history, like some genetic trait that couldn’t be escaped; could only be feared and endured.

That is what I had always believed.

I was wrong.

Neil T. Anderson quoteGod was beginning to dismantle my erroneous beliefs and this one wasn’t going down without a fight. The battlefield? My mind. My thinking. The grid-system, where all of God’s truth got filtered through my beliefs, to get to my heart.

Somewhere in that crucial 18-inch-journey, truth was getting severely twisted, so that by the time it reached my heart it had no power.

You have probably heard it said, God takes us where He finds us, but He loves us too much to leave us there.

True, true, true.

The love of God through the Holy Spirit, began to tear down my faulty beliefs to show me, the reason I kept losing these battles with depression was because I was trying to fight them in my own strength.

truth vs. lies

I had “carried” the responsibility for my own self-care all of my life—but it was time to lay that burden down—time to let go of the crushing weight of my own self-protection.

  • Letting go of the belief that weakness was a bad thing.
  • Letting go of the belief that surrender to Christ’s Love was to be feared.
  • Letting go of the belief that I was helpless to change for the better.
  • Letting go of the belief that I had no hope of overcoming enemies like fear, abandonment, doubt, and depression.
  • Letting go of the belief that Christ’s Kingdom Power would come without battles.

It was time to embrace The Truth, and let His Truth, embrace my depression.

It was time to start believing in A Conquering King whose Light always, always, wins, no matter how deep the darkness.

It was time to believe that I was dearly loved.

It was time to trust that He could get me through any storm.

It was time to accept His Kingdom Truth when thinking about myself.

I WAS: a child of The Most High God, born into His Kingdom and given an inheritance with power, authority, and might. I was infinitely valuable. I was deserving of love, kindness, and respect. I was loved without limits. I was worthy of being cherished—and I was! ALL that was His, (Christ’s) had been bequeathed to ME!

He had always said it.

Now it was time for me to believe it!

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REPENT AND I WILL RESTORE

Why are My children so afraid of surrender?

Can a drowning man save himself by fighting and thrashing against his Rescuer? (Of course not.) But when you decide to go out in your own strength to fight your own battles?

Haven’t I taught you?

Are you still not clear as to this Kingdom Law?

Sometimes child, I AM so disappointed in My children.

Yes (even you) because you know better than this!

Your battles are not yours; never have been. But the choices, they are yours; always have been!

Truth Encounter

What have I told you over and over again?

“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;”  2 Cor. 10:42 Cor. 10:4
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4 for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty before God to the throwing down of strongholds,

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When you insist on fighting for yourself and with the world’s weapons?

Why are you surprised at the meager outcome?

I AM your strength—I AM!

Come, remember what you have been taught. You are in a war to end all wars! There are cannon flash and explosions in the heavenlies. Great is the storm and conflict between LIGHT and DARKNESS… great is the cunning and stealth of the enemy’s agents.

Victory Over DepressionCome, forget the past—repent and I will restore.

The battle rages, and we (My forces and I) have great need of you. I have created you for just this hour. Put on your armor. Surrender your will and your ways. The battle is Mine ~ I AM your strength! Nothing can defeat My will (except your own willfulness).

Lay it down—surrender all to Me.

Then, you can’t lose!

a closer walk

 

“I will love thee, O Lord, MY STRENGTH.”

Psalm 18:1Psalm 18:1
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18 For the Chief Musician. By David the servant of Yahweh, who spoke to Yahweh the words of this song in the day that Yahweh delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. He said, 1 I love you, Yahweh, my strength.

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REPENT: Original Word: “greek” metanoia.

Short Definition: I repent—I change my mind.

Definition: I repent, change my mind, change the inner man (particularly with reference to acceptance of the will of God), repent.

 

A Cup of Hope: Resting in the Promise of God’s Faithfulness

A Cup of Hope Emilie BarnesA Cup of Hope by Emilie Barnes is just one of those books you stumble upon, and you suddenly know, “This one is going to change everything!”

I blog about hope.

I can’t breathe in this busted broken world a single moment without it—but sometimes—the candle of hope in me burns low. And, when it does I beg the LORD for a fresh infusion; a fresh outpouring from His Spirit to mine.

Thanks Emilie, for being His conduit.

I’ll let Emilie speak for herself for the rest of this post. Her words shine still in this dark world. They come to us straight from the shores of heaven, to all of us here today, to light our way.

~  FAITH FOR THE CLIMB  ~

You just can’t see as much when you’re climbing the mountain as you can from the top.

I guess that’s obvious if you’re hiking in the Rockies or the Smokies or the Himalayas. But it’s not always so evident when you’re just trying to get through life.

Sometimes it’s hard to tell which of the two tempting directions is the best to take. Is it better to take the meandering trail or the steep climb over the rocks? Should you push on harder to reach the top? Should you rest and take your time and risk bad weather later on?

A Cup of HopeAnd sometimes you get so confused and discouraged and downright weary, you’re tempted to just give up hope altogether.

But it helps to keep in mind exactly what’s going on.

You’re climbing a mountain, remember, and one day you’ll reach the top. One day you’ll be able to stand and look out over all the valleys—even look back at the winding path that brought you to the top—and it will all become clear.

I try to think of that on the days when I’m fatigued or in pain or just discouraged, when I’m confused and worried about what will happen next.

I’m still on the mountain, so I’ve got to remember that my perspective is faulty. I just don’t have the whole picture the way God does, the way I will have it someday.

Oh, I have some pretty good hints. I have instructions from the One who created the mountain. I have stories from climbers who have gone on the path before me and companions who are climbing with me. (How I depend on their help and encouragement!) And of course I have those moments along the way when wonderful vistas suddenly unfold before me, when I round a corner to see the checkered valleys spread out below and the summit shining whitely up above.

A Cup of HopeI have all that to enable me as I climb up this mountain called Life. You do, too. I really believe that the God who created us and redeemed us has equipped us with what we need to make it to the top.

Still, we have to face the fact that some of the time, maybe most of the time, we won’t be able to see exactly where we’re going.

But that’s where faith comes in. Faith always travels hand in hand with hope—it’s what enables us to keep our hopes up when the way becomes rockier and more obscure. Faith is what we need to keep moving on, moving up, trusting our Guide, trusting it will all be worth it.

Trusting that if we continue on, we’ll make it to the top and everything will all be clear.

And yes, I know that’s hard to remember when you’re stuck on the mountainside. But it might help to follow this brief checklist for keeping your hopes while you’re climbing hard or when you think you might be lost:

  • Trust the climbing map—God’s word—and pay attention to your Guide. You’re not expected to make this climb without help.
  • Pace yourself—you don’t have to make it all in one day. Without adequate rest you’ll never make it to the summit.
  • Remember where you are and where you’re going—but try to accept that your perspective is limited. (That’s why you have the map and the Guide!)
  • Refresh yourself by remembering the goal—and those moments when it was all clear to you.
  • Look back to where you’ve been and be grateful for your progress.
  • Help and enjoy your fellow climbers.
  • Take care of your equipment—your body, mind, and spirit. They’ve been issued to you by God , and they’ll help carry you to where you need to be.

A Cup of Hope Emilie BarnesA Cup of Hope is out of print but used copies are still available on Amazon at the link below:

https://www.amazon.com/Cup-Hope-Resting-Promise-Faithfulness/dp/0736907726

A Cup of Hope Emilie Barnes

© 2017 Martha (Molly) Gibbons blog text. All rights reserved.