Trusting When It Counts

Most of my married life has been one of uncertainty.  I’m not talking about my marriage, specifically, but rather the circumstances we have been in most of our life together.  Two years after Karen and I were married, we were called up to New England, uncertain of what we were to do, why specifically we were going or for how long we would be there.  I know that sounds strange, but it was a very Abrahamic experience: go and I will tell you later where and why.

As things turned out, it was the most incredible character-shaping and building eight-and-a-half years of either of our lives.  We were involved in so many different types of ministries and had opportunities to learn so many different things, that I can’t imagine life without that experience.  It’s where I finished my Master of Divinity degree and where, as a church-planter, I was specifically called as a pastor (though I was called into ministry at age 15).  New England is where I fell in love with cross-cultural missions and apologetics and worldview studies.  It’s where I began to understand what it means to be a real friend, investing in people for years in order to reach their hearts (New Englanders aren’t called the “Frozen Chosen” for nothing).

Our time in New England is also where we were the most financially challenged.  In spite of Karen and I working throughout these ministry years in the northeast, we were often wondering how we would make our next house payment, how the bills would be paid, and how God was going to see us through.  We didn’t always know…but He always did.  There were times when, literally, money would come through the mail the day before a bill was due to be sent (one with the exact amount plus the exact change for the stamp!).

The point I am making is this: Faith isn’t faith until it’s put to the test.  We never know, fully in our own hearts, that God can be trusted until we really need to trust Him.  That isn’t to say that we don’t believe God is faithful in our hearts and heads prior to experience, but it is still theoretical until we experience it.  Sometimes, we walk into those experiences knowing that God will have to deliver us if we’re going to make it while other times, God does the pushing and prodding until He gets us to a place where we have no choice, only to teach us what it means to trust and to allow us the blessing of experiencing His all-sufficiency.

Most of us are in a situation right now, where it seems hard to see where things are going, economically, in these downward times.  After years of plenty (which, ironically, was when Karen and I were experiencing the least we’ve ever had), the economy has taken a dive and it is affecting everyone.  The question is how is everyone responding?  More importantly, how will I respond and how will you?

Here is where the rubber of your faith meets the road of your experience.  Is God to be trusted?  Are you going to trust Him when there is no safety net?  Our we going to declare with the Psalmist, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’” (Ps 91:1-2)?  Is He still God when the 401K dries up and the stock market ebbs and flows, when the savings runs out and when the bills continue to increase?

Sorry...couldn't resist. dp

Like John Piper recently expressed, I’m not one who puts much (read: any!) stock in the prosperity Gospel.  I don’t believe that God simply wants to punch your financial ticket so that you never have to experience want.  It is exactly those experiences that God most often uses to shape us into what He wants us to be.  Why would He short-circuit the process of preparing you for eternity just so you can experience the lap of luxury in this temporal environment?

So, should we expect more difficulty?  Probably.  Is God still in control? Definitely.  Will we learn through it? Hopefully.  I am praying for myself, my family and my friends and my church, that we will trust God when there is plenty and when there is uncertainty, just the same as though there is no different.

Paul said in Philippians 4:19-20, “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.”

Look at what that says:

God will supply (HE is the source and the provider).

all your needs (with the exception of nothing that you NEED, not necessarily want).

– according to HIS riches in glory in Christ Jesus (He has all of the resources that flow through our relationship with Christ)

– God gets the glory!

– Amen…so be it.

Trust is not easy.  I don’t like to put my hope in what I cannot see, but I’ve seen that that which I can see cannot always be trusted and God has given us His glorious promises to reveal to us that He will not drop us.  He can be trusted.  The question is will He be?

On Integrity

The topic of integrity is something that has been coming up a lot in our circles here both in my teaching, as we’re walking through Acts, and in circumstances related to our overall community. The following are simply thoughts I have on integrity, so as you read, please don’t think I’m trying to be exhaustive and say all there is on the subject.  As a matter of fact, when you’re done, I’d love for you to add your thoughts on the subject in the comments section.

I am big on integrity because, not only does it define you, it’s what defines those whom you represent.  For instance, I am a Jesus-Follower.  That means that in all I do, I carry His name.  My level of integrity can affect how others see Him.  I am also a Price.  As such, I carry the name of my mother and father.  My Dad once told me when I was a teenager (probably just after I had asked to borrow the car), “David, I have protected my name by living a life of integrity.  A good name is one of the best gifts I have to give you. Protect it.”  I take that seriously. So, I also carry that name and what I do with it, reflects on him.

Now, as we talked about in Journey Groups on Sunday, integrity isn’t necessarily the same thing as reputation.  Sometimes we can live a life of integrity yet we can be misunderstood or opposed by someone who has a different view that, when spread, can lead to a “bad reputation.”  I know in my own life, I have been confronted by people in the church who havintegritye just wanted to pick a fight.  Rather than choosing to be a doormat (which is NOT a quality of Jesus, despite popular opinion), I tend to stand my ground and defend what I believe is right.  As a result, I have been labeled by some as “unapproachable.”  For those who choose to believe it without actually finding out for themselves, that becomes reality and affects my reputation.  Does it define me?  It might to them, but that is not who I am.  If you ask others who have approached me with genuine concerns, they will give a different perspective (and that doesn’t necessarily define me, either).  The point being, it may be impossible to always maintain a good reputation (which is subjective), but you can always be a person of integrity (which is objective).  Jason reminded us in Journey Groups that integrity is who you are when no one else is looking. Are you authentic? Do you look the same in private and public?  Are your desires, thoughts and actions consistent?

Further, being a person of integrity doesn’t mean you are perfect.  It simply means that when you are wrong, you own it, admit it, and (when possible) apologize for it.  Sadly, there are those who may not allow you to be fallible which means the moment you hurt them (which you inevitably will!), you are tarnished in their eyes and they just can’t take that.  You then are no longer a person of integrity to them.  The truth, though, is that your willingness to admit error and your desire to be forgiven speaks volumes of your integrity.  What is hard is when that happens and they never tell you.  They are angry or hurt with you and you have no idea.  That happens way too often…can I get an ‘amen’?

I have found in my life that those who have integrity don’t have to prove it.  They  don’t spend their lives explaining and defending all of their choices and decisions.  People who are faking integrity always seem to have to try and convince people that they have integrity.  They spend all their time trying to chase people down to make sure they don’t think badly of them.  It is their utmost concern and the thing that provides their self-worth.  Being unconcerned about the rep doesn’t negate the need to approach someone if there has been a wrong, but if people know you…really know you…they’re going to give you the benefit of the doubt.  Look at Jesus.  He had a terribleseuss reputation among the religious people.  He spent time with the worst of the worst and was regularly accused of some pretty unflattering stuff.  But his greatest concern was not a good reputation among the religious lost, but that His Father was pleased and the people who really needed attention were getting it.  Those who knew Him understood.  Man, that I can be more like that!  That at the end of the day, when you’ve done all you can and know you are living a life of integrity, to have the attitude of that great philosopher, Dr. Seuss:

“Those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind, don’t matter.”

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