Category Archives: God’s Character

What is Faith?

Here is a quote I came across a couple months ago: Faith is not believing God can, but that God will!

But what if He doesn’t?

I couldn’t help but look at those words and ask what about the people who have lost loved ones? Or parents who prayed and prayed for their child to live, but their child died anyway? Or the man who lost his job and eventually his home?

Did they not have enough faith? Did they not pray enough? Or is faith something more?

Last year I found my faith stretching beyond anything I had ever known. For the first time in my life, I believed God could do anything, not just with my head, but with my heart. That faith carried me through some of the darkest moments of my life… until nothing happened.

God didn’t come through.

I couldn’t believe it. It was the biggest letdown ever. I had prayed, prostrated myself before God, and thought for sure that God was behind us. But He didn’t show up.

I felt alone and devastated. Was my little kernel of faith just not big enough? Mentally and emotionally I felt like I was being sucked down into a vortex of darkness. Could I trust God anymore? And what is faith really?

It was the story of three men that made me start to think there is more to faith than just believing God will do something. The men’s names were Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Most people know them by Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They were three young men taken captive by King Nebuchadnezzar and sent off to Babylon where they served him.

In Daniel chapter 3, Nebuchadnezzar creates a statue of gold and commands his people to bow and worship it when the music starts to play. The music plays, and everyone bows… except for those 3 men.

They are brought before Nebuchadnezzar. He tells them he will give them a second chance. But if they fail to obey and bow down, he will throw them into the blazing furnace. “And then what god will be able to rescue you from my power?” (Daniel 3:15)

Here is their response: ”O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty.

But even if He doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18).

Did you catch that? These men knew God could save them. They had faith. But their faith wasn’t based on what God would do; it was based on God Himself. That is why they could say even if He doesn’t. Even if God did not save them, they would still follow Him and not bow down. They completely put their faith in God to do whatever God was going to do, even if God’s plan did not include saving them.


Do I put my faith only in what God is going to do? Or simply in God Himself? Do I trust God so much that I place myself in His Hands and know that no matter how dark the outcome, He has a reason for it?

That is a different kind of faith than the quote up above. A faith that has allowed Christians in the past to face torture and death. One that allows me now to see beyond my current circumstances. A faith in God alone, not in just the outcome we want from Him.


Dan left for Kansas for 7 weeks and what did I do? I put in a chic flick and watched Little Women. As I was watching, I thought about the human draw to romance. There is a verse in Proverbs that puts it this way, “There are three things that amaze me—no, four things that I don’t understand… how a man loves a woman.”

I love romance. I love to see a man and woman fall in love. I enjoy it in movies, books, and real life. Romantic love is a mysterious, power thing. It is what pulls us toward the opposite sex. And for many of us, it is what brought us to our spouse.

God is no stranger to romance. In fact, He is the inventor of it. He could have made Eve many different ways: hairy and muscled like an ape or round and prickly like a hedgehog. Instead, He made her similar to Adam, but also different: beautiful, feminine, inviting. Like a puzzle, each edge fit perfectly with Adam. And Adam’s response when first meets Eve? Wow!

The book of Song of Solomon follows the romantic love between a man and woman: their powerful draw to each other, but also reminders not to awaken love until it is time. The story reads like a poetic dance between the two, culminating to marriage and the night thereafter.

There is nothing wrong with romance. It is a beautiful thing to experience personally and watch unfold in the lives of others. That is why we celebrate weddings and anniversaries. The love between a man and a woman is a mystery, and an amazing one at that.


A Tale of a Kitty

Rosie’s life began as an abandoned kitten. She and her sister were found in front of a store, tiny and alone. Her sister had been hit by a car and had a broken leg. My friend found the two kittens and took them to the vet. There they received care for their wounds. Afterward, my friend took them home, provided them with food and began to look for a home for them.

At that time, Dan and I had begun looking for a cat for our home (I am a cat lover and firmly believe no house is complete without a purring machine :)). Months before we had to put down a kitten we had adopted. Tiger left a huge hole in our hearts, which we were now ready to fill. When I read Rosie’s story, I contacted my friend and said we would take the kitten.

Rosie came home and was immediately showered with love. Our dogs loved the feisty little puffball (they would actually sleep with her). She had toys, food, fresh litterbox, and any bed she wanted in the entire house. As I watched her play in the living room one day, I realized something: Rosie has no idea the life she was saved from. And neither do we.

Rosie was born a street cat. She was abandoned and left on the side of the road. Her life, if my friend and my family had not intervened, would have consisted of disease, hunger, and early death. But Rosie doesn’t know this. Even if I were able to speak cat language and tell her what she was saved from, she wouldn’t be able to comprehend this. She has a wonderful, loving family, plenty of food, and a place to lay in the sunshine.

In the same we, I don’t think we understand the life we have been saved from by God’s grace. Like abandoned children who lived in darkness, God came and rescued us. He bandaged our wounds, gave us hope, and brought light into our lives. Does that mean our lives are easy when we choose to follow God? No. But we have a loving Father who provides for our needs, watches over us, and will never leave us.

Funny how God uses small things like the life of an abandoned kitten to teach me about Himself :).

Walking on Water

The Christian life is like walking on water. We see Jesus and He beckons us to come out and join Him in faith. So we do. We get out of the boat and low and behold, we are walking on water! Amazing!

But then the waves of life start to pick up. They climb higher and higher as the sky grows dark and the wind whips the water into a frenzy. Suddenly Jesus looks small compared to the things we fear in life:

I just got my paycheck and its not going to cover the bills this month.

My husband said he met someone else and no longer loves me.

Its cancer and I only have 3 months to live.

The medical bills are more than I make.

My teen daughter is pregnant.

No one will hire me.

Fear grips us. All we can see is the waves, each one threatening to crash over us. Jesus, where are you? We cry. All we can see is the storm. And we begin to sink.

I’ve felt that panicky, drowning feeling lately. I’m looking for Jesus, and I know He’s there, but right now, my life feels like a hurricane. I’m having a hard time setting my eyes on the small image of Jesus walking towards me on the water.

Faith is easy when the waters are calm. But when lightning flashes and the wind howls and the waves of life are higher than my head, faith for me is very, very hard. And when I feel like I’m facing the waves alone, they can overwhelm me.

But I am so thankful that Jesus doesn’t leave us there to drown, even when we have very little faith. Like Peter, we cry out. And Jesus comes. Does the storm stop? The storm didn’t stop when Jesus reached out to Peter. And many times the storms in our lives don’t stop when Jesus reaches for us.

Instead, we find a firm hand pulling us up and a face to look upon rather than the storm. And in my case, a reminder not to have so little faith because even the winds and waves -and life- obey the one who can save me.


Jesus Wept

If you have been a Christian for any amount of time, you are told that all things work for good and God’s glory. The suffering that comes into your life will make you a better person. Just give it to God, you’re told.

Then you find yourself hit by life. The pain is far beyond what you thought it would be: it goes right to the core of your heart. And suddenly those platitudes you have heard uttered by Christians give no comfort whatsoever. You see no good in what you are going through. And you see God as a stoic being, moving around the pieces of life like a chessboard. You are only a piece to be moved around so God receives the glory.

I felt like this a couple weeks ago. I knew all things work together for good. I knew that my life is not my own, but for God to use for His glory. But I felt like God didn’t feel for me. That God was up above, moving around my life with a look of disinterest. I was only a means to an end. And my suffering meant very little in the grand scheme of things.

Then I read began reading the book of John. And God showed me a picture of himself. Yes, He is orchestrating all of our lives for good and yes, He does all of this for His glory (for when God receives glory, we bask in the warmth). But He is not looking down on us with a stoic expression. He is moved by our hurt.

Sometimes He weeps.

As a child, it was a contest to see who knew the shortest verse in the Bible. And in case you don’t know, it is “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35). But I never understood the full power of that verse until a couple weeks ago. As I read John 11, I felt moved by the story of Martha and Mary and their brother Lazerus.

Lazerus is deathly sick. So his sisters send word to Jesus. They know Jesus can heal their brother. They have seen His power and miracles. But Jesus never comes. And so Lazerus dies. Can you feel their shock, their feelings of betrayal? Why did Jesus heal so many others, but he never came to help them, His friends? They bury Lazerus, probably along with their hope.

Now let’s look at Jesus’ point of view. Jesus receives word that Lazerus is deathly ill. But He has a plan: a plan for good and God’s glory. So Jesus waits. And waits. Until Lazerus dies. Then he tells his disciples they must head back to Judea so he can awaken Lazerus.

However, you do not see an unemotional Jesus in this chapter. Look how He responds when he sees Mary and the others who are grieving with her: “When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled.” (John 11:33). The grieving he saw moved Jesus.

They head out to the tomb. And at this point Jesus weeps. He sees the grief and hurt of the people around him. My friends, God sees the hurt and grief of us too. He is not callous to our battered hearts and lives. Even while God is using us for good and for His glory, I believe He is also weeping with us. We have a God who has also suffered. “Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.” (Hebrews 2:18).

Jesus wept. What a powerful verse. Those two simple words opened my eyes. I no longer see God as a stoic being above me, moving around the pieces of my life with a calloused hand. Instead I see a God who weeps with me.

*On that note, I want to ask for prayer for a young family I know who is facing a very dark period in their lives. The father has been diagnosed with a strange kind of cancer. I have known this family for years and they have been a rich blessing to both Dan and me. They have two young children (about the age of my own). I know God can heal him. But I also know God might have other plans. I ask anyone reading this to pray for strength as they face the next couple weeks, months, even years. I pray that their hearts will find peace and love during this turbulent time. And I pray that they will know that they are loved and prayed for by many. Amen.

Contrasting God and Santa

You better watch out. You better not cry. Better not pout. I’m telling you why. Santa Claus is coming to town.

My children were watching the old claymation Santa Claus is Coming to Town the other night. As I listened to the story and heard the song, something struck me. I found myself grateful God isn’t like Santa.

Haha! Funny, right? Look at the lyrics. You better do this; you better not do that because Santa is coming! I have a suspicion that Santa was a means for parents to get their children to behave. “Susie, if you keep throwing a fit, Santa won’t bring you anything this year.” “Tommy, if you hit your sister again, Santa won’t bring you anything.” So for decades children have tried to behave during this time of year in hopes that if they are good enough, they will have presents under the tree.

But have any of us ever been good enough? I know I’ve cried. I’ve lost my temper. I’ve been a little less than loving towards those who cut in front of me in line as I try to get out of the store during the Christmas chaos. He knows when you are sleeping. He knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake! Oops! Santa saw! And now there will be coal for me in the stocking.

God sees too (much more than Santa sees). And he sees all the darkness inside our hearts. But did God leave coal for us on Christmas? Nope. Despite our crying, our pouting, our anger and hateful hearts, he still gave us a gift. The gift of his son Jesus. Jesus came so that we could be saved from our sin. You see, no amount of being good on our part could ever be good enough. So God himself stepped in, took our place, freed us from the bondage of sin, healed our hearts, gave us hope. God gives a us a gift apart from how good or bad we are. It is free for the taking. Jesus died for our sins. Will you accept his gift?

“’Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”  Luke 2:10,11

Is Theology Important?

The new thinking in Christianity is to fall in love with Jesus. I totally agree with that. In fact, God agrees with that (“love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind” Matthew 22:37). But at the same time, the concept of theology has become a bad word. Love Jesus, shun theology. Don’t talk about it, don’t bring it up. Only love.

My concern with this thinking is if you only love Jesus but never study him (after all, theology is “the study of God”), then you run the risk of falling in love with a Jesus that may not exist.

Without theology, we begin to shape a Jesus after what we want him to be. He is love, he is a good teacher, he is forgiving. Yes, Jesus is all these things. But as part of the Godhead, he is also holy, righteous, and just. I think sometimes those are aspects of God we are not comfortable with, so we choose not to associate them with Jesus.

It’s like saying you love your wife (or husband) very very much. But you don’t know her favorite color, her funniest childhood memory, or her deepest desire. You just love her, right? Can you really love your wife that deeply if you don’t know anything about her? I’d say go take your wife out on a date… nah, make that a month long vacation and get to know her more 🙂

In the same way, can we say we love Jesus if we don’t know who “he” is? Theology helps us understand who Jesus is. And love him as he is (God in all his glory).

Fall in love with Jesus. And through theology, discover him, so that you love him more.

Lessons learned from a Guinea Pig

Vanilla and Butterscotch

Butterscotch and Vanilla. No, they are not flavors; they are the names of two guinea pigs I own. Vanilla is very vocal, he squeals whenever the refrigerator opens because he thinks I am going to get him carrots. He also loves to be petted and purrs loudly whenever I do so.

Butterscotch on the other hand is a very quiet pig. He looks around with inquisitive pink eyes and never lets his guard down. I can count on one hand how many times he has purred for me (and they were very quiet purrs).

As I was petting them one day, I realized something: how such small creatures had such different personalities. And it made me think of God. God could have made the whole world with only a few varieties of animals and we would never have known. But no, he created a vast amount of life, each unique.

Then I thought about how God could have given each animal a bland personality. You know, all dogs the same, all horses the same, all mice the same. But instead, he infused each animal with its own personality and quirks.  He placed his fingertip on each one and left it unique and special, all for his glory.

I stopped petting Butterscotch and Vanilla. Butterscotch looked at me inquisitively while Vanilla tried to position his body under my hand again.  I looked at them and felt such awe at a God who is so connected with his creation. Even the smallest detail never escapes his eye.

Amazing how God used two little guinea pigs to reveal Himself to me 🙂