Blog: Proof in the Perseverance

PerseveranceBlog

By Dr. Emily Dean, Coordinator of Women’s Programs

“In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ…” 1 Peter 1:6-7 NASB

I love how this passage discusses being distressed by various or all kinds of trials. Isn’t that true of life? Aren’t we often distressed by all kinds of things? Each season of life brings new trials. Peter was writing to persecuted Christians scattered throughout the Roman Empire. These Christians were indeed experiencing various trials and having their faith tested daily. While we may or may not ever experience persecution to that extent, as believers we all face times of having our faith tested. We all want to give up and quit occasionally when our assignments in life get hard. In this passage are several reasons Peter gives us to keep on going:

1) Trials are Temporary

Though it often seems like a trial will last forever, it won’t. In pursuing a Ph.D. several years ago I had to remind myself that this is only a season, even though at times it felt like I would never finish! Sometimes our trials last longer than we would like, but they are temporary in light of eternity.

2) Perseverance is the Proof

Our perseverance through trials provides the evidence of our faith. Jesus never said being one of His followers would be easy. In fact, He pretty much guaranteed we would experience trials (John 16:33). The proof of our faith is found in those moments when we want to give up or run away from a hard assignment and Christ’s love compels us to keep going.

3) God Gets the Glory

While not always our first thought in the middle of a difficult situation, ultimately God is glorified when we persevere through the hard stuff. It’s easier to see how this works in hindsight, but in the meantime, we can rest in the fact that somehow God is working out our difficulties for our good and His glory.

As we head into the summer months new challenges and trials may come your way, but be encouraged that they do have purpose. Recently in reading one of my favorite devotional books, My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers, I came across this quote:

“If Jesus ever commanded us to do something that He was unable to accomplish, He would be a liar. And if we make our own inability a stumbling block or an excuse not to be obedient, it means that we are telling God that there is something which He has not yet taken into account. Every element of our own self-reliance must be put to death by the power of God. The moment we recognize our complete weakness and our dependence upon Him will be the very moment that the Spirit of God will exhibit His power.”  (Chambers, May 5)

May the proof of your faith be found in your perseverance.

God Asked Me to Write a Blog!

Typewriter

By Courtney Veasey, Director of Women’s Academic Programs

Imagine for a minute that in an encounter with Jesus, He tells you He has written down on a piece of paper that you can keep, a statement describing what His specific calling is for your life. He then pulls out another piece of paper and goes on to say that He is even willing to write out His daily instructions on a separate sheet for you, brand new every single day. In a state of excitement and relief at the thought of no longer having to agonize about what exactly you think God wants you to do in life, much less on a daily basis, you gladly embrace His generosity, and lunge forward to take the papers from Him. But Jesus pulls the papers back and away from your reach and says, “Not so fast…” “I knew it couldn’t be that easy,” you think to yourself. “I’m going to give you this one paper with the specifics of your life call written on it, and then this other with My daily instructions for you,” He says, “but I’m not going to include punctuation marks at the end of any sentence, I’m leaving that part for you to do.”

Fourteen punctuation marks are commonly used in the American English language. These are: the period, question mark, comma, exclamation point, dash, semicolon, colon, hyphen, parenthesis, braces, apostrophe, brackets, quotation marks, and ellipses. If you had to pick, which of these best reflects your reactions and/or daily attitudes towards the life and tasks God has called you to? Consider the difference a punctuation mark can make:

Jesus has called me to church leadership.

Jesus has called me to church leadership?

Jesus has called me to church leadership…

Jesus has called me to church leadership!

On any given day, our attitudes towards God’s work for us can fluctuate between any and all of these given punctuation marks! “You want me to give away this food I just paid for?” “You want me to go over and talk to her…” “God told me to work the nursery today.” But I have a hunch, there’s just something about that exclamation mark that our Lord is fond of.

In Genesis 1:26, the freedom language of the Bible begins when God announces that mankind is to rule over all else He has made. That word rule in the Hebrew, radah, can mean “to tread” as with grapes, with the idea being that “God gives us the grapes, but we make the wine.” You and I are left to choose how we will react to the life callings and daily tasks He gives us. Knowing this, I’ve lately been considering how my mindset and attitude in a way punctuates those sentences God writes out over my life. And though I’m not always there, I find myself wanting to finish each day, and ultimately my life, in exclamation over what He has said! “God has called me to teach!” “God has called me to lead!” “God has called me to pray!” What about you? Which punctuation mark will finish His sentences for your life?

Blog: Finding Beauty in the Small Things

2013 New Photos - 04 (1)Introduction

By Dr. Emily Dean

Ladies, spring is here! If you are feeling a touch of spring fever, be encouraged as M.Div. student Rebecca Hiner shares with us the importance of noticing the beauty in all things, especially in this time of year that naturally puts a spring in our steps.

 

Finding Beauty in the Small Things

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”   -Proverbs 17:22

by Rebecca Hiner

Spring has sprung and the Lord has allowed the world to come alive again with new birth. Each season holds its own set of promises, but there is something extra special about spring. Don’t you think? The Lord’s creation of the seasons proves to be a representation of humanity’s ever changing place on the earth. One thing that has always ministered to my soul is that no matter what may have happened in the previous year or even in the beginning of the new year, I still have hope for opportunity, blessing, and new birth each and every day. Spring is a reminder of this.

There are so many places in Scripture that the Lord gently reminds us of His faithfulness and His provision. Even if we think that where we are in life is stagnant, worthless, or dead, we can still cling to the promises of God. In the moments where we can see no hope, no light at the end of the tunnel, we will see the beauty that surrounds us if we can just learn to lift our eyes up and look around. It can be found in the smile of a stranger, a hug from our children, a gentle kiss from our spouse, the encouragement of a friend, or an afternoon spent enjoying the blooming of new growth in nature. As much as we wouldn’t think, it can also be found in the moments where we have an argument with someone we care about, we are running late for that important meeting, or we have completely burnt that beautiful dinner that we had planned because we wear too many hats.

Whether your moment is good or bad, please be encouraged that God is still good. He is so good. He is forever faithful and has given us the freedom to choose to embrace each moment or not. The choice is ours and I pray that we all can strive to embrace this beautiful, messy thing called life!

For the sake of Christ, then,

I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities.

For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

-2Corinthians 12:10

 

 

Confessions of a Helicopter Mom

Helicopter

By Dr. Emily Dean

There was a day in my ministry to students when I would inwardly chuckle at them. You could spot them from a mile away. They had to be everywhere and know everything their children were doing to the point of being obsessive about it. There’s even a name for it. In youth ministry world we call them Helicopter Moms because they are known for swooping in whenever any problem occurs. It seems to be a growing trend for Millennial parents. Of course, I would never be one of THOSE moms…that is, until I became one. It was easy to think I would not be tempted to hover over my child’s every move when she cooed at me from the infant carrier. At that point we had total control over her every move. Then she got older. And the rotors started spinning.

I’ve been on both sides, ministering to moms who were struggling with Helicopter Mom tendencies and as a mom struggling with them myself. If you find yourself ministering to parents, here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way.

1) Give Helicopter Parents a Break

One thing to remember is that you may not know the backgrounds of these parents. They may have had their own experiences as a child or adolescent where trust was broken with an adult. I have talked to many moms who come from a background of abuse and desperately do not want their children to have similar experiences. They may know of circumstances with friends or even in the news where adults broke trust with children. Just remember to be sensitive with parents. You really don’t know what drives their hovering tendencies. If nothing else, moms have an almost irrational sense of need to protect their own. Letting go and letting kids grow up is really hard. Be patient with them.

2) Encourage Them to Trust God

Fear is at the heart of most helicopter parenting. Fear of what could happen. Fear of the unknown. Fear of everything. I call it the “What If” syndrome, and I will admit that this diagnosis has characterized me far too often. Trust me…I’m married to a man who teaches risk management to ministers. Need I say more? I know at least 100 ways you could be harmed or injured, just at church. Did I mention recently our daughter ended up at an urgent care facility after an event? At church.

Sending your children into the world as they grow up is extremely scary. Instant access to the news alone is enough to want to keep your children inside your house. Forever. Not to mention they may have access to media outlets too. Remind parents of the importance of trusting God with their children. We are not called to give way to fear but to trust in the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells within believers (2 Timothy 1:7). The Bible talks a whole lot about fear. Over and over the Lord says throughout scripture, “Do Not Fear.” I think that’s because fear is such a common human experience. We need the reminders often. Parents are no different. They need all the help and encouragement they can get to trust that God is in control of their kids.

3) Help Them Navigate Culture

            I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but our culture is really toxic for children and adolescents, and navigating it as a parent is extremely difficult. I’ve been researching adolescent culture for over 10 years but helping my tween daughter walk through it is an entirely different story. You can help parents out by educating them on how to live firmly rooted in the Word of God in the midst of an ever-changing culture. Parents need to be guideposts for their kids, knowing what’s out there but guiding them on a different path of being transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. Staying ahead of your kids with regard to culture is tough. You can come alongside parents and teach them how to navigate its murky waters.

Not being a Helicopter Mom is a daily battle of faith. If you encounter these parents, don’t judge. Just walk alongside them and help them fight the battle too. In whatever circumstances we find ourselves, whether in parenting, jobs, marriage, or daily life, we all could use this reminder,

“The Lord is for me; I will not be afraid…”  Psalm 117:6 HCSB