Coping with Problems – Faith Part 3

Coping with Problems: 7. Faith (Part 3) / Solutions

Each day, we have faith that the sun will rise. When it comes to spiritual matters, do we trust God just as deeply, especially in times of trials? Join Steven Lloyd and Don Ruhl in this lesson as they look at Biblical examples of faith discuss how we can maintain a strong confidence in God.

Length: 38:00

Coping with Problems – Faith Part 2

Coping with Problems: 6. Faith (Part 2)

God is the perfect counselor. He understands us completely and has the solutions to living a happy life. When people do not have faith in Him and reject His counsel, they are forfeiting the hope that God offers. In this lesson, Steven Lloyd and Don Ruhl discuss how we should trust God in every aspect of our lives and not look to worldly wisdom.

Length: 38:07

Fatherhood: The precious, complex decisions that make a great person

 

I consider it a blessing that our nation marks one Sunday a year to honor fathers.

Bailey McBride | The Christian Chronicle

June 12, 2017

I knew my father was a good man, but I had to be a father myself before I valued all he was to me.

He was very quiet. He never made small talk. He tried to teach me to throw a baseball and a football, but my coordination made those impossible tasks. We had better luck with fishing and golfing, but his greatest contribution to my life was encouraging me to study and get as much schooling as possible. He only finished the eighth grade and always felt the handicap of not having education to advance his career.

My dad was a hard worker. He helped me get through college. He was 75 before he was a believer. I really only got to know the heart of my father after he retired and had traveled for two decades. He lived in a retirement center near me, and we had meals together and talked about life.

The births of my three children were among the happiest events of my life. They all gave me endless joy throughout their childhoods. All three look as if they were stamped out of the same mold, but the differences in their personalities were an education for me. All three were strong enough to challenge my patience and my judgment. They helped me grow socially as I saw them face life and change. They enlarged my world by introducing me to new books, new people and new spiritual depths.

(PHOTO FROM PIXABAY.COM)

Although I have always considered myself a person of faith, having children expanded and enlarged my faith. All three children were born by caesarian sections, which forced me to trust in God’s guidance for the doctors caring for my wife. In those days, fathers did not touch their babies until they were going home from the hospital.

For seven days with each child I watched, admired and wept over their new life, depending on God to guide doctors and nurses.

My children helped me learn how to have fun and enjoy the simple things. Then they became adolescents. Learning when to direct, when to advise and when to step back taught me how complex each human being is and how precious decisions are in making a great person.

Although I have always considered myself a person of faith, having children expanded and enlarged my faith.

The stage of dating and marriage was the stage where I learned the most. The friends my children brought into my life caused culture shock. I found it hard to remain neutral. Some of them I wanted to keep as friends even after my child moved on. Some confused me. I am thankful my children were wise and understood what they needed and wanted. My sons-in-law (Phil Roe and Patrick Brown) and daughter-in-law (Karen) are amazing, godly people that I love almost as much as the children born to us.

The best part of being a father is that it leads to being a grandfather. That is the greatest truth about family. My eight grandchildren range in age from 13 to 32, and they are the most precious lives I can imagine. Some of the most joyous times of my life have been spent with them. The memories from baseball games, soccer matches, high school graduations, college graduations and international trips are treasures that enlighten my life every day.
Many of you were earning a living for the family while your wife worked at home and devoted most of her time to the children.

Even more of you shared parenting duties while you wife worked and improved the financial strength of the family.

Many fathers devote most of their time to rearing and training children. Fathers have great opportunities and responsibility to help their children become faithful, loving, serving people. Being a father encourages dependence on God. The complexities of guiding physical, social and spiritual growth are too much for mere men. We need God and his guidance every day.

Contact: bailey.mcbride@christianchronicle.org

 

Magic Johnson inspires students at Lipscomb University

A former basketball star and his wife address students about faith. Plus, a huge donation is made to the university by another big name in the NBA.

PHOTO BY KRISTI JONES, LIPSCOMB UNIVERSITY

Magic Johnson and his wife, Cookie, talk with Lipscomb’s president, L. Randolph Lowry during the Imagine 2017 event.

After he was diagnosed with HIV 25 years ago, it was Magic Johnson’s Christian faith that saved his marriage, the basketball legend told the Lipscomb University community during a Monday visit to the Nashville, Tenn., campus.

Johnson, who dominated the court during his 13 seasons as point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers, and his wife, Cookie, spoke to students, faculty, staff and donors at the 4,000-student university associated with Churches of Christ. The visit was part of the university’s Imagine 2017 series, titled “Nashville: Prosperity for All Corners of the City.”

Magic Johnson — now president of basketball operations for the National Basketball Association team where he once played — stressed the importance of education and faith as he addressed Lipscomb students, Nashville’s NewsChannel 5

Thank you for sharing your time and story of faith and redemption tonight @cjbycookie & @MagicJohnsonpic.twitter.com/hqKl1J2aV0

— Lipscomb University (@lipscomb) April 4, 2017
“I grew up poor, but I never had poor dreams,” Magic Johnson told the students,  WKRN reports. “Never let anybody define who you will be, and it’s very important.”

Cookie Johnson also spoke about faith and forgiveness during the event. She recently released her memoir, Believing in Magic: My Story of Love, Overcoming Adversity, and Keeping the Faith, which focuses on her marriage, motherhood and Christianity.

The HIV diagnosis, she said “changed the course of our lives forever.”

tnsports: Magic Johnson visits Lipscomb https://t.co/gLSZ3SPDGC #Titans

— MegaTitansFan (@TitansLavaFan) April 4, 2017
For Lipscomb, the Johnsons’ visit wasn’t the only exciting news connected to professional basketball.
 

Magic Johnson (holding a picture of himself) and George Shinn at the Imagine 2017 event at Lipscomb University
George Shinn, former owner of the Charlotte Hornets, gave the university a gift of $15 million — an investment in the university’s College of Entertainment and the Arts.

The gift, the largest in the university’s history, will fund a new events center and other initiatives.
Shinn told the audience, “I love what you’re doing at Lipscomb, and I want to thank all of you (donors in the audience) for what you’ve done to support and lift up this university… Be proud of it and please continue to support it.”

 

Chellie Ison | The Christian Chronicle

April 04, 2017

http://www.christianchronicle.org/article/magic-johnson-inspires-students-at-lipscomb-university

When our hearts break, God’s words fall in by Jackie L. Halstead

T

his is a reprint of an article from The Christian Chronicle.

http://www.christianchronicle.org/article/when-our-hearts-break-gods-words-fall-inL. Halstead | The Christian Chronicle

Jackie L. Halstead is the founder and CEO of Selah (selahspiritual.com), a nonprofit dedicated to providing renewal and sustenance for church leaders, offering a Spiritual Direction certificate program and services in spiritual formation, relationship enhancement, body spirituality and wellness and emotional/psychological health. She teaches at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tenn., and online for Abilene Christian University in Texas.March 2017

Pain often is the best teacher. We are most open to God’s teaching when our hearts are broken.

I have had a number of teachers. One of the most important lessons I learned about my relationship with God was in the aftermath of losing a baby in stillbirth. How could God let this happen to me, a faithful servant?

I chose to punish God by turning away from him. But after three years of hanging on to my anger, I realized in my loneliness that having a relationship with God was more important than understanding God’s ways. I learned that the only thing worse than going through the loss of my baby was going through it without God. I learned to cling to God.

A few years later, my husband was working with a church that became embroiled in a political battle. I watched as my husband and the other minister were mistreated and wounded. The church was in turmoil, and I could not understand why God did not intervene. So many good people were being hurt.

But in my struggle, I remembered the lesson I had learned after the loss of our baby. I remembered to cling to God. He is faithful to give us what we need to endure.


How could God let this happen to me, a faithful servant?


A gift in this particular struggle was that God opened my eyes to the Psalms. Previously, I viewed it as a long book that slowed down my annual reading through the Bible. But now I saw my words and heart expressed by the psalmists. The words jumped off the pages and gave me immeasurable comfort. They were a balm to me.

And I needed them as I experienced another time of struggle. I was recruited by a retreat center and was thrilled to have the opportunity to pour myself into the oversight of its department of education and programming. I wondered why several of the long-term employees had left, but there were reasons given for their departure. Teaching our children how to pray gives them a ‘connection to God’ A few months later, the real reasons emerged. Our treatment at the hands of the executive director was brutal. I was belittled, told I was worthless, discredited. I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt but soon realized that it was her style of leadership.

Unfortunately, the situation continued to escalate. Eventually, I resigned. Those were dark days as I struggled to do my work, grow professionally and live in a Christlike manner. As time passed, I began to internalize some of the negative messages and doubted my worth. I again asked the question, “God, why don’t you intervene?”

God was not responding in the way I wanted and thought would best solve the situation. All I could do was again cling to God and plead with him to change the heart of my employer. It took a toll on both my family and on me.

When God’s people, the Israelites, lived in slavery, they pleaded with God for 400 years. Finally, God answered, “I have heard the cries of my people” (Exodus 3:7). Had he not heard them every year, every day, since they were enslaved? Was this the action of a loving God?


God was not responding in the way I wanted and thought would best solve the situation.


Another of God’s children, Job, cried out to God as he attempted to get his mind around the multiple tragedies he experienced. He wrestled to understand the physical pain, the overwhelming loss of his wealth, his family. I imagine he especially struggled to understand why his children had to die.

Job’s friends had the answer for him. It was clear to them that Job had sinned and was being punished. Job did not accept that answer, and God certainly did not.

PHOTO FROM PIXABAY.COM


God ultimately challenged Job on his attempt to understand the ways of God, whose ways are so far beyond us that he cannot explain them in language we can understand. God told Job to let go of his desire to know and instead to simply trust that God was with him.

During my struggles, I began to learn to trust God. I don’t know why he allowed these terrible things to happen. What I do know is that what I gained during these times was much more than what I lost. I learned to pray fuller and deeper than I had before, and I learned to lean into God’s loving embrace. I learned that, despite the external chaos of my life, I can have internal peace — a peace that transcends understanding, a peace that only God can give.

The questions we ask of God remain, and a part of us yearns to have every situation wrapped up with a neat little bow. But we accept that God is God, and we are not. His ways are above our ways. We learn to be content in every circumstance, following Paul’s words in Philippians.


What I do know is that what I gained during these times was much more than what I lost.


When I wrestle with the pain and hurt in this world, I cling to the fact that God came to earth to show us how to live in this hurting world and serve as his instruments of love.

Jesus was abused, rejected and ultimately killed. He understands the pain we experience. He showed us how to live in this broken world and triumph. He did not give us a pass on the pain of this life. He gave us the gift of the Spirit to be our counselor, to live in us and to pray for us when we cannot pray. And Jesus promised to teach us — to open the eyes of our heart to see ways that we can continue his work in this world. God is faithful and does hear our cries.

There is an old Jewish tale about a student who asks a rabbi, “Why does Torah say we lay these words upon our hearts? Why does it not say we lay these words in our hearts?” The rabbi replies, “Because God knows that our hearts are closed, so we lay the words upon our hearts. When our hearts break, the words fall in.”

 

 

News of faith in the age of post-truth

 

Erik Tryggestad | The Christian Chronicle
“Honestly, I don’t trust the news all that much. … I think it’s mostly because of stuff like this, how there is no real truth in anything anymore.”

That’s some brutal honesty from Sarah Sparks, one of the students in a class I taught at Oklahoma Christian University this semester, Writing Across the Media. We had just spent the hour lamenting the preponderance of fake news, which spread like a virus across our social media feeds during the 2016 campaign.

Outrageous claims against both presidential candidates — conspiracy theories mired in nonsense, without a shred of truth — got forwarded and shared indiscriminately.

A lot of folks didn’t make it past the clickbait headlines before they posted comments of rage. “See, I told you so. The other side seeks to destroy our country.” Far, far too many of our brothers and sisters in Christ did this, too.

I asked the students to jot down their thoughts on what we talked about.

Basically, I let them rant.

A recent headline from the satirical website The Babylon Bee.
“We’re not looking for actual truth anymore. We’re looking for positive affirmation,” wrote Jeffrey Edwards. “If the truth angers us, we simply spin it in such a way to support what we already believe.”

It’s a long-held theory of mass communication that he’s voicing. We bring our preexisting beliefs into what we read. If the information doesn’t fit those beliefs we learn to accept that not everyone thinks exactly as we do or we disregard and discredit the source of the information.

The latter, unfortunately, seemed to happen more frequently in 2016 than in years before. The amount of information we have easy access to is enormous, yet we pick and choose the messages we want to hear — regardless of the amount of accurate information they contain.

Things are so bad, in fact, that the Oxford Dictionary selected “post-truth” as its 2016 word of the year. It’s an adjective defined as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Sad.

It’s easy for me to point fingers at partisan, fake news sites as the cause, but those of us trained in journalism, working for respected publications, are not without sin.

In mid-2016, I got to hear one of my journalistic heroes, Carl Bernstein, address the Oklahoma Society of Professional Journalists at its annual awards banquet. Bernstein, the Washington Post reporter who, along with Bob Woodward, uncovered the truth behind the Watergate burglary in 1972, had this to say about the current state of our profession:

Carl Bernstein says that the picture of society rendered in media, too often, is “illusionary and delusionary.” (PHOTO VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)“Today, and for some time now, the picture of our society as rendered in our media and our politics in America is too often illusionary and delusionary, disfigured, unreal, out of touch with truth, disconnected from the true context of your lives and all of our lives, disfigured by … celebrity worship, by our gossip, by sensationalism and by a discourse in which the people of the country — the politicians and the press — are turning into a cacophony of easy answers to tough questions, shortcuts, intolerance and the inability to have a fact-based debate in this country.

“It’s the job of the press to report on real, existing conditions of a culture — a society, a government, a sports event, an election campaign, a candidate — not to bring about the desired result of the reporter or newspaper editor or owner.”

So how do we fix it? What role can a Christian in journalism play?

And how can all of us, regardless of what role we play in society, be better news consumers?

I put those questions to the students. A few of their responses:

Mercedes Ducat
 • “As a journalist, your job is to seek truth and get it out there — and it is supposed to take work,” wrote Mercedes Ducat. “Let your beliefs come from personal exploration, not the opinions of others.”

 • “Read from more than one site,” Paige Fisher wrote. “More work is required to find the truth now, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be found.”

 • “Check the facts,” Brielle Koelsch added. “Surprise, surprise — not everything on the internet is true.” (I appreciate her sarcasm.)

 • Ian Jayne urged us to “relentlessly ask questions of everything we read. Ask yourself about the author’s intent, the potential biases of the outlet, and for the piece’s general purpose.”

 • Morgan Boling, a journalism major, said, “We are stepping into a field that is damaged. What are we going to do, contribute to the fanatical falsehoods or change the mold?”

It was a real honor to work with this talented, thoughtful group of students, to impart what small measure of wisdom I’ve gained in nearly 20 years of reporting (plus a moderate measure of my Gen-X cynicism). Despite the immense challenges our profession faces, I’m encouraged by what I’ve seen in these young truth seekers.

I keep a photocopy of a column by Olan Hicks taped to the side of my computer monitor. Hicks, the founder of The Christian Chronicle, penned these words for the June 9, 1943 edition, the paper’s second issue:

Olan Hicks (1907-1963), founder of The Christian Chronicle. (PHOTO VIA WWW.THERESTORATION MOVEMENT.COM)
The Christian Chronicle is to be built on character. It means to stand for right and truth, for zeal according to knowledge. It is a newspaper and is to be conducted on the principles of news reporting We mean to maintain not only the highest ethics of the newspaper profession, but also of Christianity.”

I do my best to live by those words.

I still believe that Christian journalism is not a subset of journalism, but rather journalism as it was meant to be — accurate, truthful creativity in service to the Creator.
Going back to Jeffrey Edwards’ essay, I leave you with these final words. Consider it a charge for 2017:
“It’s time for us to start asking questions and stop taking things for granted. We need to put aside our preconceived notions and dig a little deeper into the news. Also, we need to stop distorting the nature of truth.

“I am still under the impression that there is a universal truth in this universe. Jesus didn’t say, ‘You believe what you want to. There are many ways to follow me and go to heaven.’

“Instead, he said, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’

“Rant over.”

CONTACT erik@christianchronicle.org