Free Chapter Download and Video: Different

Published on December 14, 2009 by CT in Blog, News

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Different

God is different.

I know, I know—where do I come up with this stuff? Well, this is the kind of brilliance you can expect from Crave Something More.  Wait, what do you mean this isn’t all that profound?  What do you mean of course He is different?

Well, I suppose you’re right.  It’s almost not worth saying.  But then again, brilliant or not, I think it’s something I need to hear—and hear on a regular basis.  I tend to fall into the trap of believing God is like me, and reacts like I react, and thinks like I think.  And nothing could be further from the truth.

This week’s chapter is titled “Different,” and I come somewhat close to being arrested in this story.  But the heart of the story is about exploring God’s supreme difference, and what it means for us to embrace a God who is more terrifying that we may expect and more beautiful than we can imagine.  It’s a chapter about finding the freedom to be different from the world, all because our Father is so different.

If you’ve ever put limits on your limitless God, I think this chapter might be worth your time.  You can go to the downloads page for more information, or you can download the chapter and watch the chapter video below.

Books are best experienced by the writer and the reader in community, so I would love to hear your thoughts about what you’ve read in this chapter.  You can share any comments or stories in the comments section below.  You can also send this chapter to friends or family using the email, Facebook, Twitter, and other icons at the end of this post.

May God grant us the grace to recognize His supreme difference, so we might be different like Him.

Embracing So Much More of God With You,

ct

Different (from Crave: Wanting So Much More From God) from Chris Tomlinson on Vimeo.

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See a Need, Meet a Need?

Published on December 9, 2009 by CT in Blog, Kindling

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See a Need, Meet a Need

When others’ words kindle my own flame:  Reflections on words by Jon Acuff @ Stuff Christians Like.

Jon Acuff wrote a pretty interesting article at Stuff Christians Like talking about an issue we all face:  How do we decide who merits, if that’s even a useful word in this situation, our charity.  One of the things Jon has done is to build a community at SCL, and the discussion on this post is all over the map.  Some feel we should always give freely; others feel our giving should be qualified.

This is one of the toughest issues for me to wrestle with personally.  My heart is bent towards compassion, but my training and study of Scripture provide me with the balance of discernment.  I’ve given in situations where, upon reflection, I think it was unloving to do so, because it was not what that person needed at the time.

I’ve taught financial stewardship classes and done budget counseling for years with families who are struggling financially.  I’ve given to help needs that come up and I’ve denied requests for help.  I’ve struggled with balancing a desire to love a person through free and generous giving and love a person through not giving.

I’ve also spent time in West Africa in one of the poorest countries in the world, so I have seen abject poverty firsthand, kids who literally share clothing, have no parents, no shoes, very little food, and no education.  It is hard to compare needs in the US to needs in Africa, but my time in Africa has taught me that there are certain basic needs (water, food, education, guardians, health care, shelter, Biblical instruction) that exist at a more fundamental level than some of the “needs” we tend to see in the West.

John tells to give to meet to meet a brother’s need (1 John 3:17).  This assumes two things:  it’s a Christian brother or sister, and the person has a need.  Paul tells us that a man who has not provided for his own family has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever (1 Timothy 5:8).  He also gives instructions that widows who have relatives to care for them should not burden the church, so that the church might care for those who are truly in need (1 Timothy 5:16).  Paul also denies assistance to the “younger widows,” so that they might not become “idlers” (1 Timothy 5:13).

So our primary concern should be to meet the needs of our Christian brothers and sisters in the church who are truly in need.  I’ve counseled families who did not have money for groceries while spending hundreds on cell phones, internet, TV, eating out, and other discretionary things.  I’ve bought groceries for some of these folks and have declined to do so for others.   Either way, I’ve counseled them on priorities, showing them how they were not using God’s money to provide for their own basic needs and were instead becoming a burden, rather than a blessing, on the church.  This is a hard message to give, and must be done so in love, but they often see the wisdom in it, and God often changes their hearts, and their situations, to put them in a place where they are free to be conduits of His blessing to others.

When we view the unbelieving world around us, our primary concern for those outside the church is to go and preach the gospel to them and make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20).  This can (and should) be accompanied by meeting physical and emotional needs, but when we make the social gospel our primary means of showing love, we do a disservice to the beauty of the true gospel, that while we were sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

Ultimately, Spirit-led giving is free and generous, but still Spirit-led.  The mind of the Spirit cares not only about mercy and compassion but also wisdom and discernment.  I can empathize with those who would rather err on the side of compassion, and there may be cause to do so (see Matthew 5:42).  And giving can mean so many things besides money; often, people just need a conversation, or a touch of our hand, or an expression of love, or wisdom from God through us.  So we should incline our hearts towards the poor, because Jesus does.

But above all, let us love the church enough to meet people’s needs, not their wants, so that they will be free to see Jesus as their greatest treasure.  And let us love the unbelieving world enough to meet people’s most urgent need, which is their need for redemption by a loving God, so that they will be free to see Jesus as their greatest treasure.

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Free Chapter Download and Video: Pager

Published on December 7, 2009 by CT in Blog, News

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Pager

“I have so much pain that I’m just holding on to.  I try to get away but everywhere I go my problems always catch up.  I’m so lost in this world.  Why can’t someone save me?”

These thoughts came from the little pink journal of a young teenage girl sitting next to me on a plane.  How did I know what she had written?  That’s a great question, and there’s really no way to spin it, so I’ll just tell you that I was peeking.  I peeked a lot, and I saw a lot more of that journal session, and it was pretty dark.  And I ended up having a very interesting conversation with her at the end of the flight.

This week’s chapter is titled “Pager,” and it has the funniest story in the book.  So I hope you have fun reading it, but it’s also an important chapter for many of us because it talks about something every Christian experiences:  what to do when God calls.  In last week’s chapter (Silence), we talked about the struggle with being silent before God so we can hear His voice.  This week we’re talking about hearing His voice and then actually doing what He says.

If you’ve ever ignored God’s call, I think this chapter might encourage you.  You can go to the downloads page for more information, or you can download the chapter and watch the chapter video below.

Books are best experienced by the writer and the reader in community, so I would love to hear your thoughts about what you’ve read in this chapter.  You can share any comments or stories in the comments section below.  You can also send this chapter to friends or family using the email, Facebook, Twitter, and other icons at the end of this post.

May God grant us the grace to respond to the call of His Spirit, not out of obligation, but out of a desire to know Him.

Resting With You In the Closeness of His Spirit,

ct

Pager (from Crave: Wanting So Much More From God) from Chris Tomlinson on Vimeo.

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Go Tell Him I Love Him

Published on December 6, 2009 by CT in Blog, Stories

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Go Tell Him I Love Him

This is Part 1 of the Unseen Fruit of Obedience Series (Part 2: “Unseen Fruit of Obedience;” Part 3: “He Didn’t Even Notice“).

“Go tell him I love him.”

That’s what I think God said to me in my car yesterday afternoon.  I was on the way home from some filming, and the city was blanketed with the first snow of the year, which is just about the best thing ever for a guy who has lived in LA for the last 9 years.  I normally would throw on the radio to pass the time, but on this afternoon, I drove in silence, marveling at the wonder of snow, and creation, and God.

I was exhausted, and within sight of my home, when I drove past the little neighborhood market.  Light gray surrounded the building, as sky and ground all met together in the off-whiteness of the snow.  The store was lit, a small burst of warmth in a cold winter scene.  Neon shone forth from the windows in the bright words of “Beer” and “Wine.”

I was so excited to nearly be home; I couldn’t wait to get into a warm home with warm food.  And just as I passed this market, glancing over at the neon signs and the man behind them, that’s when God’s still small voice came to me:  “Go tell him I love him.”

I’ve heard this voice before.  In fact, I’ve been hearing God’s promptings for months now, and I’ve been ignoring them.  I’ve also been rationalizing them, asking myself questions about why God would ask me to approach random strangers, and was it actually God speaking to me in the first place, or could it be my own flesh or Satan trying to prompt me to share the gospel with someone, knowing I wouldn’t do it and then feel guilty about it.

For some reason, I stopped this time, and I drove back into the parking lot, got out of my car, and walked inside.  I approached the man behind the counter.

“Hi, how are you doing?” I said.

“Fine,” he replied as he smiled.

I went on:  “This may sound a little strange, but I was just driving by, and I was praying, and I think God told me to come tell you that He loves you.”

He looked confused.  “What?”

So I repeated the same story, ending with “and I think God told me to come tell you that He loves you.”

He still looked confused.  “I don’t know what you’re saying to me.”

“God?” I asked, thinking I could start more slowly.

“No,” he said.

I waited, trying to figure out if there was any way to move on from “God…no.”  Nothing came to me.  “Alriiiight, well have a good day!” was my final statement as I turned on my heel to head out the door.

This week we’ve been exploring what happens when we’re silent before God, giving Him room to share in the conversation instead of simply talking at Him in prayer.  On this afternoon, I don’t know what God was doing, if anything, with that man.  It wasn’t quite the fruit I would have expected His Spirit to work in that conversation

But there was finally some budding once more on the branch of my faith.  It seems the Spirit has been inviting me to abide in the Vine once more, and I’ve been unwilling to come close for a long time.  So it feels good to hear God’s voice again and actually respond to Him.  And maybe I need to spend some more time in the silence.

Question:  what have you heard when you have been silent before God?

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Tiger…And The Prowling Lion

Published on December 4, 2009 by CT in Blog, Thoughts

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Tiger...And The Prowling Lion

Why pile on Tiger?

I’d say commentary doesn’t have to pile on; commentary can be cruel, or it can be full of grace.  But people are going to be caught up in the current events surrounding the world’s most famous golfer, so there’s an opportunity to for each of us to engage others, and our own hearts, as we consider how we are reacting to this news.

What was your first thought when you heard the news? I’m not surprised—just another celebrity fooling around on his wife?  How dare he—doesn’t he know he’s a role model to millions?  I wonder if I can find pictures of his mistresses?  If I were his wife, I’d leave him?  Who am I to judge; nobody’s perfect?

I think any one of these reactions would be normal.  Even when I try to consider my reaction in the Spirit, I still find a number of competing responses:  Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone; Judge not, that you be not judged; Judge with right judgment.

So it’s hard to know whether or not we should have an opinion, and it’s even harder to know if we should voice it.  More daunting than this is the realization that our enemy is feeding during a time like this.  Peter tells us Satan “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).  And this lion is certainly devouring Tiger, as Tiger wraps his apologies in a veneer of self-justification.

But he’s feasting on us as well when our words reflect anything other than the sweet-tasting fruit of the Spirit.  If Satan can get Tiger to cheat on his wife and try to cover it up, that’s great for him.  But if he can get tens of thousands of us arguing with each other, saying things like, “Who are you to judge?  Nobody’s perfect; we’re only human,” or “What’s the big deal?  Athletes do this all the time,” or “You know, it’s those women who are throwing themselves at him—they’re to blame,” then we’re just another meal.

This is where Jesus lays grace on the table, and when we feast on it, we’re no longer fit for consumption.  Satan has no stomach for grace; he can’t and won’t eat it.  So James tells us to “resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).

I think grace-filled humility looks like several things in this situation.  It means acknowledging that God is the ultimate and supreme judge, and that all of us will come under His judgment.  It means then taking every judgmental thought we have (and we have them all the time) to lay them in repentance at the foot of the cross, turning our eyes inward to remove the logs in our own eyes so we can see clearly to remove the speck in our brother’s.  It means we can judge righteously with clarity of sight, not passing over moral transgression as if it doesn’t matter, but not neglecting the knowledge that we judge in the Spirit so the body of Christ may be built up.  And it means praying for many, including Tiger and ourselves, to “repent and believe in the gospel…the kingdom of God is at hand” (Mark 1:15).

Ultimately, piling on Tiger really looks like joining the global heap of sinners in need of a Savior.  So if Jesus is our greatest treasure and delight, let us be grateful He has prepared a better meal for us:  the Bread of Life to be consumed for His glory and our joy.  And if Jesus is nothing more than a man, or even simply fire insurance, then let us fall at His knees, declaring Him the one true judge, asking that we may come to dine at His glorious table of grace.

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Free Chapter Download and Video: Silence

Published on November 30, 2009 by CT in Blog, News

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Silence

This week’s free chapter download is titled Silence, and it’s a chapter I need to read again myself.  When I lived the story in this chapter, it was a season of discovery—of trying to find a place to be silent before God so that I can hear His voice.  My goal was to improve my conversation with Him, because when we’d spoken, I had pretty much done all the talking.  But I haven’t been listening for a while now.

Looking back, I can understand why being silent is so hard.  On the one hand, there’s the fear of what we might hear in the silence, whether it’s from God or from Satan or from ourselves.  On the other hand, there’s the fear we might not hear anything at all, which can sometimes seem even worse.

If you find yourself needing to hear from God, I think this chapter might encourage you.  You can go to the downloads page for more information, or you can download the chapter and watch the chapter video below.

Books are best experienced by the writer and the reader in community, so I would love to hear your thoughts about what you’ve read in this chapter.  You can share any comments or stories in the comments section below.  You can also send this chapter to friends or family using the email, Facebook, Twitter, and other icons at the end of this post.

May God grant us the grace to hear from Him in the silence. I hope you are inspired by what you read to find a place to be silent with your Father, and that the conversation that ensues will be for your joy.

Listening With You For His Still Voice,

ct

Silence (from Crave: Wanting So Much More From God) from Chris Tomlinson on Vimeo.

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Tomorrow’s Phantom

Published on November 28, 2009 by CT in Blog, Thoughts

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Tomorrow's Phantom

I have always taken comfort in the future.  What I mean is that I’ve always been preparing for something, and that made me feel secure because I knew where I was going, which in turn gave me a sense of control, which in turn made me feel comfortable.

For example, when I was at the Air Force Academy, I knew I was going into the Air Force.  And when I was in the Air Force and going to grad school, I knew I was eventually getting out and going into a business career.  And when I was dating Anna, I knew I was eventually going to get married.  And when she finished grad school, I knew we were eventually going to leave Los Angeles.

It hasn’t been all that different in my spiritual life.  I went through a phase of teaching where I felt like that would be what I would do for God’s kingdom, and I finally felt secure with my place in the Kingdom.  Until I went into my evangelism phase.  And then my homeless ministry phase.  And now I wonder if it’ll be the same with writing.

You’d think by now that I would stop trying to gain so much comfort from what I think my future will hold.  And I think I’m starting to do so.  It’s not because I’m finally embracing Biblical counsel on the matter; it’s because this sense of security is a phantom—it never satisfies.

I suppose this is why James would encourage me:  “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring.  What is your life?  For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”

I think my failure to ultimately find comfort in the future was my failure to embrace my mist-ness.  Which is really a failure to embrace my place in the Kingdom—that of an obedient servant.  Which is why James follows his encouragement with this:  “Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’”

I think this is why we shouldn’t ever seek comfort in considering our future.  Hope is for the future; comfort is for today.  And the way to have both is the same:  faith in a God who has promised good for our future, and faith in a God who has promised to take care of us today.  Anything short of that will never satisfy.

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Dear Kayli Anneke

Published on November 24, 2009 by CT in Blog, News

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Kayli Anneke

Dear Kayli Anneke,

Since the internet will last forever, I feel comfortable putting this letter online, knowing you will read it someday.  Perhaps someday very soon, since you’ll be growing up in Cambridge, England, and everyone knows kids from Cambridge typically write their first thesis by age six.

I’ve never had a niece or nephew before, so I’m new to being an uncle.  Thank you for the honor you’ve given to me just by breathing.  Your Aunt Anna and I love you already, and we haven’t even met you.  But we’re coming to see you in about three weeks, and we’re very excited to meet you and have you throw up on us and that sort of thing.

I want you to know we’ve been praying for you for a while now.  Your mom is a Type-1 Diabetic, and she worked very hard last year maintaining her diet and sugar intake so you could be conceived in relative safety.  I’m pretty sure God was involved in making that happen too, but your mom did a great job caring for you before you even came into being.  And your brilliant dad has been waiting eagerly and prayerfully for your arrival.

You don’t know this yet, and you probably won’t realize it for many years, but you are already blessed beyond measure.  You were created in the image of God, who also made the whole universe, so He’s a pretty big deal.  He’s an amazing Father, Savior, and Helper, and your beauty bears some of His glory already.  You also have truly wonderful parents, and you will be the envy of your friends for years to come.  Your mom will teach you to laugh loudly and to keep a very full schedule, and she will also pour a passion for Jesus and compassion for others into your little soul.  Your dad will probably give you shin guards by your second birthday and will show you how to build structurally sound arches with legos, and he will also teach you to be a deeply grounded woman who loves people and loves God.

Your mom and dad will surely tell you this, but your name Kayli Anneke means Crown and Grace.  Your parents will probably tell you that Crown means you’re the princess of the home, and rightly so, for such beauty deserves no lesser title.  But I think your name Kayli also points to the King of Kings, and your name Anneke points to what this great King is like.  In fact, the crown He wore at Calvary sparkled with the jewels of blood He shed for people just like you and me.

So we are praying that you will meet this King as soon as possible.  We’re asking God to give you His grace so you might know that you are His and He is yours.  Choose Jesus, for the sake of His glory and your joy, so we can hang out together for eternity.

With Great Affection,

Your Uncle CT

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Free Chapter Download and Video: Comfort

Published on November 23, 2009 by CT in Blog, News

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Comfort

This week’s free chapter download is titled Comfort, and it’s the story of my realization that I am a comfortable Christian–and how much I hate being one.  When you come to realize this about yourself, there are many ways to react, and one of them is to go and do something risky for Jesus.  So this is what I did.

And there’s good cause for taking risks for Christ–He told us to pick up our crosses and follow Him.  But I think there’s something deeper going on that just charging the hill for righteousness’ sake.  There’s something God means to teach us about our hearts, about why we choose to step out in faith for Him, and it has nothing to do with summoning our own courage.

If you find your faith has become a little too comfortable, then this chapter may be an encouragement to you.  You can go to the downloads page for more information, or you can download the chapter and watch the chapter video below.

Books are best experienced by the writer and the reader in community, so I would love to hear your thoughts about what you’ve read in this chapter.  You can share any comments or stories in the comments section below.  You can also send this chapter to friends or family using the email, Facebook, Twitter, and other icons at the end of this post.

May God grant us the grace to value Christ over comfort. I hope you are built up by what you read and that your faith will be rooted in the knowledge that apart from Him, we can do nothing–including picking up our own crosses to follow Him.

In Pursuit of the Comfort of the Cross,

ct

Comfort (from Crave: Wanting So Much More of God) from Chris Tomlinson on Vimeo.

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The Multiple Means to Joy: Spurgeon on Suffering

Published on November 19, 2009 by CT in Blog, Kindling

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C. H. Spurgeon

When others’ words kindle my own flame:  Reflections on words by C. H. Spurgeon.

Mankind has said and written many things throughout the ages.  Some of it needs to be commended and retold throughout every generation so that others might benefit from the records of wisdom.  Some of it needs to be destroyed, or at least held aloft in public contempt so that others might not fall prey to its empty promises.

Here is some writing to be commended:

Does a man know any gospel truth aright till he knows it by experience? Is not this the reason why God’s servants are made to pass through so many trials, that they may really learn many truths not otherwise to be apprehended? Do we learn much in sunny weather? Do we not profit most in stormy times? Have you not found it so—that your sick-bed—your bereavement—your depression of spirit, has instructed you in many matters which tranquillity and delight have never whispered to you? I suppose we ought: to learn as much by joy as by sorrow, and I hope that many of my Lord’s better servants do so; but, alas! others of us do not; affliction has to be called in to whip the lesson into us.

If you ever want to evaluate something that someone else writes or says to see if it’s worth believing, always start with their assumptions.  Sometimes these assumptions are stated; other times they are implied.  Spurgeon builds this discussion on suffering on top of the foundation of the gospel—he means for us to believe that knowing gospel truth is our aim.  This of course presupposes other things, which isn’t the focus of our commendation.

When Spurgeon talks about stormy times and depression of spirit, He is retelling a truth that people have known for centuries:  that purity of spirit is formed by the presses of pain.  This is worth retelling to every generation.  But it’s not his focus.

His focus is on experiencing gospel truth—or knowing the truth of the gospel in our hearts and spirit as well as our heads.  John Piper says faith is not merely intellectual assent to the truth of the gospel; it’s also the affectional embrace of the object of our faith—Jesus—being our greatest treasure.  And this is the lesson Spurgeon means for us to see.

If knowing and treasuring Jesus is our life’s greatest goal, and joy and sorrow are means towards that end, then we welcome them both with open arms.  We may still wince at the pain and rejoice when suffering passes us by, but we embrace them both as satisfactory ways to gain our greatest joy:  Jesus.

So we seek to join Paul in saying, “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8).

Crave Something More Topic of the Week:  Suffering

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My Dog Has a Cone: Thoughts on Suffering

Published on November 17, 2009 by CT in Blog, Kindling

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My Dog Has a Cone

When others’ words kindle my own flame:  Reflections on words by Jenn Humphrey.

My dog has a cone on her head.  It’s kind of pathetic.  She’s a really cute dog, but she’s not terribly impressive on her own.  The cone takes her pitiable state to another level entirely.

She got the cone as a result of a recent surgery, and she’s going to have to wear it for about a week.  And she’s feeling really sorry for herself.  Anna said Bear just sits on the floor looking miserable; it’s as if she’s thrown a pity party for herself and won’t let anyone come.  When she goes in her cage, she can’t turn around, so she just sits there and whimpers.

I can empathize with her.  I haven’t ever worn a cone, and to be completely honest, I haven’t really had much worth whining about.  But I still whine.  It may not be as high pitched as Bear’s whine, but it shows up in different forms:  discontentment when I’m not getting what I want; self-righteousness when I’m not getting what I want the way I want it; impatience when I’m not getting what I want as quickly as I want it.

If you didn’t know me very well, you might not even notice, but the whining is there.  I can just feel it rise up within my every single day, because every single day I encounter things that don’t happen the way I would like.  And I think these little sins are rooted in a bigger sin:  unbelief.

Let me show you a picture of the grace of believing in the sovereign goodness of God in the midst of true, whine-worthy suffering.  My friend Jenn was diagnosed with uterine and cervical cancer about a month ago.  She’s gone through four weeks of chemo and radiation, and now she has to have a radioactive rod placed inside her body for three days on two separate occasions, and she can’t have any visitors during this time as she lays in isolation.

If I whine about unbelievably insignificant things, I don’t know how I’d react in a situation like Jenn’s.  But here’s what she has to say about it:

I have felt weakened and my voice small.  I have felt too tired to speak.  The fight in me was waning…I’m scared.  I am dreading [this procedure].  And that dread has not disappeared.

Tonight as my mom asked me what I was thinking and I told her it was dread it made me start thinking.  Another friend in Christ told me in an email that God doesn’t waste pain.  I had no idea what that really meant.  But I think I get it now.  I think it means that God isn’t going to allow us to experience pain for nothing.  It is not in vain.  It wasn’t in vain when Christ on the cross was crucified.  His pain was for a purpose.  My pain is for a purpose.

My mom mentioned Hezekiah and I looked up some verses on him. He was ill and was told by a prophet that the Lord said he would die.   But Hezekiah turned to the wall and prayed and asked the Lord to remember him and he wept bitterly.  And the Lord heard him and added more years to his life.

I am praying Hezekiah’s words [in Isaiah 38].  Surely, my pain is for my benefit.  I am living and I will praise him.  The Lord will save me.  I will continue to trust in the name of the Lord… I know that my situation must not be in vain.  That God will be glorified in all things and I will glorify him in my battle with cancer.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Here is a woman clinging to the word of God, not because it’s her last hope, but because it’s her only hope and because it brings life.  Which is what belief in the sovereign goodness of God brings.  My theology is as good as Jenn’s—I’ve studied this subject a fair bit and written about it several times.  But my practice does not match my theology, which renders it nearly useless.  It’s like starving to death with a sandwich in your hand.

So I’m encouraged by Jenn’s example and convicted by my own unbelief in God’s good purposes in my life.  May He grant me mercy for my sin of unbelief and the grace to rip off my spiritual cone and the whining that has accompanied it, so I can live like Jenn is living:  trusting in the sovereign goodness of God.

To keep up with Jenn, you can visit her care center blog.

Update (2/16/10):  Jenn is now cancer free!

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Free Chapter Download and Video: Suffering

Published on November 16, 2009 by CT in Blog, News

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Suffering

This week’s free chapter download is titled Suffering, and it deals with the implications that suffering has on the life of a believer.  Why evil or suffering exists is one of the hardest issues people have to deal with when they consider whether or not they can embrace the existence of God.  And it’s a hard issue for the Christian too, one that becomes even more difficult in light of Scripture which calls suffering a gift from God.

This chapter has one of the better stories in the book (I’ll never forget the spider bite guy), but more importantly, it challenges us to deal with our own definition of what a good gift from God looks like.  Thinking about these things has been transformational for my understanding of God, and I’ve been challenged to deal with the heart implications as well as the head ones.

If you’ve ever wrestled with how suffering fits in God’s purposes, this chapter may help give you a bit more to consider.  You can go to the downloads page for more information, or you can download the chapter and watch the chapter video below.

Books are best experienced by the writer and the reader in community, so I would love to hear your thoughts about what you’ve read in this chapter.  You can share any comments or stories in the comments section below.  You can also send this chapter to friends or family using the email, Facebook, Twitter, and other icons at the end of this post.

May God grant us the grace to embrace His sovereign goodness in all things, including suffering.  I hope you are challenged and strengthened by what you read.

Trembling Before His Good Gifts,

ct

Suffering (from Crave: Wanting So Much More Of God) from Chris Tomlinson on Vimeo.

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Free Chapter Download and Video: Light

Published on November 9, 2009 by CT in Blog, News

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Light (Modified)

This week’s free chapter download is titled Light, and it’s an exploration of all the small decisions we make each day that bring us closer to or further away from the light of Christ.  It’s as if we are wicks, and the only way we can burn is to draw near to the white hot flame of Christ.

When Jesus told us we are the light of the world, He was saying we should be set apart from others, to lives our lives in way that is different way from others around us; specifically, to be a light in a darkened world.  If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably done something just for the sake of being different, in order to be noticed or draw attention to yourself.  And, of course, this isn’t the kind of different Jesus was talking about.

If you’ve wondered how to go about burning brighter for Christ, I invite you to check out this chapter. You can go to the downloads page for more information, or you can download the chapter and watch the chapter video below.

Books are best experienced by the writer and the reader in community, so I would love to hear your thoughts about what you’ve read in this chapter.  You can share any comments or stories in the comments section below.  You can also send this chapter to friends or family using the email, Facebook, Twitter, and other icons at the end of this post.

May God grant us the grace to see and walk in the brilliance of the light of His Son so that we might become brighter lights ourselves.  I hope you enjoy and are encouraged by what you read.

With Gratitude,

ct

Light (from Crave: Wanting So Much More of God) from Chris Tomlinson on Vimeo.

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A Theology of Tears

Published on November 5, 2009 by CT in Blog, Theology

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A Theology of Tears

As far as I can tell, tears show up in at least two ways:  1. They well up from within during times of emotional longing, or 2. They spill over from an reservoir of sin that is inside of us.

I cry at the part in Remember the Titans where Julius comes to see a just-paralyzed Bertier in the hospital, and they grab each other’s hand in a moment of regret for all the hatred they had sown on the ground of their budding friendship and the brotherly love they feel for one another.  I also cry at any movie where a father is reunited with an estranged son.  I don’t know if this means anything for me psychologically, because I have a great relationship with my parents and family, but I get all worked up over moments of reconciliation.

I don’t cry over sin spilling out from within, but that’s not because the sin isn’t there.  It’s just because I don’t feel deep shame or grief over my sin, which is a problem in and of itself.  But I know plenty of people who cry when they become frustrated, or to release anxiety, or when they are deeply hurt and feel bitterness in the hearts.

I don’t mean to make crying out to be a bad thing at all; Jesus calls those who mourn blessed (Mt 5:4).  Jesus Himself wept twice that we know of, one the silent tears of grief (Jn 11:35) and the other the wailings of an anguished soul (Lk 19:41).  So the God-man cried, just like we do.  But He did so perfectly, crying righteous tears.

Even so, the Bible promises a day when there will be no more tears (Rev 21:4), and I think it does so because in the presence of Jesus there will be no more longing and no more sin.  We will drink in the glory of the Living Water who satisfies and creates deeper cravings for more of Himself.

Until then, I want to be more like Jesus, to weep over the cities that are blind to the things that make for peace and to comfort those who mourn with gentle hands and shoulders.  And I want to see the tears of this world as drops that remind me of the Living Water who will dry every tear in that glorious coming day.

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