Sunday, November 21, 2010

Singleness

Most everything I've read or heard about Christian Singleness has left a bad taste in my mouth so, having encountered two refreshing blogs about Christian Singleness recently, I simply had to share them.

The first is from the Gospel Coalition and was shared with me by a friend who recently remarried. It's entitled Singleness with a Purpose. I'm especially thankful for his second point. I've never heard anyone cast a vision for the way Singleness uniquely portrays Christ and the Church (if I have, it has escaped me and if you're the one who shared it with me...I apologize :}).

The second is from my friend Laura Roberts. She's a single gal a few years my junior. Her post from earlier today is titled A Thought or Two on Singleness and Sanctification.

I find that I am inspired when I have a vision before me. These blogs both work to cast a Biblical vision of Singleness. So often I've felt the vision set before me as a single woman was simply "prepare yourself for your future husband" (who, incidentally, may or may not exist and who, if he does exist, will only be my husband for at best 50 or so years).

The vision of these posts is "prepare yourself for Christ" (my now and eternal bridegroom).

Singles, be encouraged and challenged. Marrieds, encourage and challenge your single friends with the vision of these posts.

Ephesians 5:15-16
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

Let us be careful not to waste our days, be they single days or married days.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Recommended Reading

I just finished a quick read through Invitation to Solitude and Silence by Ruth Haley Barton and am going back to sink in and practice the exercises in each chapter.

If you're new to silence and solitude (or to spiritual disciplines in general), let me suggest Richard Foster's Celebration of Discipline as a primer. There's even a study guide that goes with it.

Lastly, if you're not sure about the place of Spiritual Disciplines in the Christian life, I'd suggest checking out the chapter on Sanctification (ch. 38) in Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology. He only just mentions it, but the chapter gives a nice framework for thinking about practicing Spiritual Disciplines. This chapter is part of a larger section on The Doctrine of the Application of Redemption. The chapters are all pretty short and, for a theology text, it's an incredibly accessible read.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Camping!


I returned home today from my first camping trip this year - the first of several I hope. We camped in Hoosier National Forest. It was gorgeous. I'm just a novice camper but I really liked their camp grounds - cheap, plentiful bathroom facilities (which were pretty nice for camp bathrooms), good site layout, good proximity to hiking trails and lakes (open for swimming after Memorial Day, I believe), etc. Plus it's just over an hour outside of Louisville (no matter what Google Maps tells you).

Laura Short, a fellow Sojourner, camped with me and she brought along her 1yr old St. Bernard, Arthur. He was our great protector over the weekend :}



I got to build my first fire all-by-myself!! Laura gave me some pointers Saturday night and then, since I got up first today, I built this morning's fire.



We cooked our fancy (for camp meals) over the open flame Saturday night - skillet roasted fajita veggies and Italian sausage for me, roasted veggies with hummus and veggie soup with Quinoa for Laura. Laura actually brought a cutting board and prepped her meal from scratch. I just bought a bag of pre-seasoned fajita veggies from Kroger :}.





And, of course, chocolate-covered cream-puffs for dessert.



Between building my first fire all-by-my-lonesome, cooking my own meal over the open-flame, and setting up my tent so it actually stayed dry despite the rain Friday, I'm pretty proud of myself :}

I made a few camping supply purchases before I left town Friday and got to use all but one of them. I felt like a pro using my camping skillet and swiss-army-knife-style utensils. The tarp I purchased to put under my tent is ginormous! I think I could tarp my house with this thing. And I think my favorite purchase is my little LED lantern. It came in very handy...plus it's cute :}

Now that I'm home, I've started a "Camping Gear Wishlist". First item? Air Mattress. Me + Hard ground = Uncomfortable. Second item? Larger tent. I slept diagonally in my tent and I still didn't really have room to fully extend my legs and keep my sleeping bag and pillow from touching the edge of the tent.



I'm really looking forward to my next trip. I hope to try and camp during each break between Theology class sessions.

Friday, March 12, 2010

A Bibliography of Non-Fiction

I was realizing yesterday that I've been diving deep into the non-fiction this past 6-9 months - well, deep for me :}. At any rate, I'm about to get another book (and I'm quite excited about it) and so I thought I'd share a list of these books that have been blessing and encouraging me lately.

1-Depression: A Stubborn Darkness, by Edward Welch
This book was a huge encouragement to me over the last year and I've been recommending it like crazy.

2-Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Bible Doctrine, by Wayne Grudem
I've been studying through this with some other women and it's been a huge blessing. We'll be reaching the half-way mark in a few weeks. Woohoo!

3-Worship Matters: Leading Others to Encounter the Greatness of God, by Bob Kauflin
I've started reading through this with a couple other ladies on our worship team. So far I've found it very accessible and it has been encouraging a right and renewed heart toward what we do as servants in this ministry.

4-Transformed Into Fire: Discovery Your True Identity as God's Beloved, by Judih Hougen
This is the one I just ordered so I don't have a personal endorsement at this point. But, it was recommended to me by the person who hooked me up with the first book so I'm optimistic :}. Hopefully I'll have more to say about this one soon.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Is that a light I see at the end of that tunnel?

How am I feeling? Pretty excellent, thank you for asking. And you know what? I've been in that excellent mood pretty consistently since Friday night. Yep, that's right, Friday night.

Consider this my "Praise Ye the Lord" post.

Seriously.

I praise the Lord for the gift of this excellent mood. I can't remember when I last felt this good for this long.

(Note: I'm coming off an 11hr+ stint of programming. My thoughts are a tad...gelatinous...so please forgive me if I wander into incoherency)

Thanksgiving 2008 marked the beginning of a long, dark journey with that new flavor of depression I've been blogging about here. And I think I was dealing with a bit of depression even before then.

There are a few landmarks that stand out in my mind since that Thanksgiving:
- December 2008 is a blur
- January 2009 marked the onset of my anxiety issues
- I believe it was in March that I visited the doctor to see if there was a physical cause behind my fatigue, short-term memory & concentration issues, depression, and anxiety
- Around April I talked with Mike Cosper about what I was going through and he challenged the sorry state of my spiritual disciplines & got me the Depression book I've been raving about ever since
- In August, at work, I felt like I had suddenly awakened and wondered what had been going on for the last 6 months - I believe this was the result of my fatigue and concentration issues beginning to abate - I thanked God for this since I had started facilitating the Women's Systematic Theology class during the summer and was about to see what it looked like when I tried to do that while co-leading a CG; I also began to notice a cycle of anxiety issues
- Around the holidays (Thanksgiving - New Year) I had a set back into numbness; the fatigue returned but the anxiety issues temporarily abated
- Around January 2010 the numbness began to lift again and the anxiety returned but without the most dramatic episodes
- Since Mid-February I've started to feel more...capable...that's probably the best way to put it
- Sometime last Friday night, during the DPR CD release show, when I was mentally exhausted from a 47+hr week of programming, something shifted and I slipped into an *excellent* mood

I don't know what all God has used to bring this about, or how long it will last, but I will praise Him for this excellent mood as long as it's here. And I pray I grow in praising Him through the not-so-excellent moods as well.

Here are a few of my guesses as to what God's been using to bring about the shift I've seen just since February:
- I've had a couple good "clearing the air" conversations where I was able to talk out, with the relevant individuals, things I'd been suppressing for months. Even the thought that I could talk about those things was a change from before and I consider it a gift from God.
- The first of those "clearing the air" conversations came with an epiphany that shed significant, helpful light on my ongoing struggle with identity and contentment.
- I've been soda-free for almost 2 weeks now and have, therefore, broken the sugar-high cycle
- I've been enjoying my work more and more (which is itself a gift from God: Ecclesiastes 3:13)
- I've been feeling astonishingly free of fear (which also traces back to those "clearing the air" conversations and the aforementioned epiphany)

I thank God for these things.

Since I've shared my depression with you, O anonymous people of the internet, I wanted to share my joy with you as well. Please join me in saying "Thanks be to God!"

And let me also say "thank you" to those who have been journeying with me through this season. I'm so relieved by this good mood that I'm finding it easy to forget all the hard work & struggle that went on through the dark season (which, for all I know, will return tomorrow, but let us praise the Lord for the sun as long as it shines :}). I believe, by the grace of God, that I've grown in my ability to suffer well and a lot of that has been because of the help, encouragement, wise counsel, and accountability of the friends God has blessed me with. If this season had come a few years ago things would have looked much different.

Thank you God. Thank you for your faithfulness through this season. Thank you for growing me through it. Thank you for the *incredible* blessing of the community you have built up around me. Thank you for the moments of brightness along the way. Thank you for all the lessons I've learned (and am still learning). And thank you for this moment, for this excellent mood, however long it lasts.

Praise Ye the Lord.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Lest we forget

I needed to remember & reflect on this today, so I thought I'd share it with y'all:

Romans 8
Life Through the Spirit
1Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.
5Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. 8Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.

9You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. 10But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.

12Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. 13For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." 16The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. 17Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Future Glory
18I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 20For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.
22We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

26In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 27And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.

More Than Conquerors
28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
31What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36As it is written:
"For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." 37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

And the winner is...

The winners of the Happy 50th drawing are:

1) Depression: A Stubborn Darkness by Edward Welch

Winner: Dawn Michelle

2) Sandpaper Dolls Live @ 21c CD

Winner: Courtney Wright

Congratulations ladies!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Hello, Anxiety

In the last year or so I've begun struggling with anxiety. I'm not talking about worry (I've always dealt with that to some extent, we all do), I'm talking about anxiety - mind racing, fixating on things with an intensity that you know is *well* more than what's merited, maybe a bit of trouble breathing, definately trouble sleeping, etc. I don't know that I've had any full-on panic attacks, but I've had a few panicky sob-fests that freaked me out pretty thoroughly :}

Yesterday I woke up with my alarm and couldn't get back to sleep. (Normally I'm one of those "hit snooze and I'm back to sleep before my head hits the pillow" kind of gals.) And apparently the thing keeping me awake was what I would pack to wear for the conference I'm attending later this week.

Really??

Yep. I praise God for extending His mercy and giving me some outfit ideas - and I promise you I know how silly it sounds that I was this stressed about "outfits".

But after that I was still feeling anxious. My mind just wouldn't stop picking at me. I eventually went into the room across the hall (where I've set up a little "den" for myself...it's quite cozy). I think I wound up praying. Eventually I realized my anxiety had lifted and left exhaustion in its place.

Then last night as I was trying to go to sleep I realized my anxiety had returned. I don't think it was as stressful as what I'd experienced in the morning, but I still couldn't get to sleep. The "outfit" thing was still bothering me a little as were a few other things - all pretty small or unlikely things.

Around 1 (an hour after I went to bed) I got back up and returned to my "den". I pulled out my guitar and a couple worship tunes and sang through those. Then I emailed a friend to tell her what was going on and ask for prayer. I doubt she got the email then but I wanted her to know what was going on and, given that anxiety and I are becoming good friends, assumed I'd still need those prayers by the time she did see my email.

After that I decided to journal what I was worrying about - maybe I just needed to see things on paper so I could look for truths that countered the lies that had me feeling so anxious.

I was still feeling stressed and it was about 2 at this point so I decided to go ahead and get a shower. I'd been putting that off for the morning but I decided that, with as little sleep as it looked like I'd be getting, I wasn't likely to have time in the morning. Plus I thought the hot water might be soothing.

Nope, still anxious and awake :}

I was back to sitting in my den again, preparing for one last go at putting myself to sleep (and if that failed to give up and try to get some work done) when God, in His mercy, provided the truths I needed to remember in that moment:

God has promised to never leave me (Hebrews 13:5, Deuteronomy 31:6)
He has promised to always love me (Romans 8:31-39)
He is a God who keeps His promises (Hebrews 10:23)

Those truths cut through the anxious thoughts and, reciting those 3 things to myself, I went back to bed and finally got to sleep.

Those truths aren't some kind of magic formula for fighting anxiety, but they were what God used last night to silence mine.

If you struggle with anxiety, can I encourage you to keep fighting the fight, to keep praying, asking for prayer, worshipping God (who is always worthy of worship), hiding His word in your heart, etc.? For our battle is not against flesh and blood ( Ephesians 6:10-18).

Lord God, please grant us the grace & strength, in you, to keep on fighting and encouraging one another in the fight.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Haiti

I received this email from some friends of mine who work for a ministry that is currently organizing relief efforts for those affected by the recent earthquakes in Haiti.

One of their big needs at the moment is a cargo plane capable of hauling 15,000 pounds or more. If you have one, or know someone who might, please contact Jeff at Jeff.Rogers@go-ministries.org.

One easy way to help is by attending the BreachBent benefit show/silent auction tomorrow night at the 930. I'll be supporting Jamie Barnes. It's going to be a great show and it's a *really* easy way to lend support to these relief efforts.

You'll find other ways to help listed below. Here is a concise list of their needs as of January 20th.


Email from the Rogers:

First of all, this is lengthy and worth your time so please abide!

Secondly, forgive us, due to time and our urgent work w/G.O. Ministries in responding to the current crisis in Haiti you may have received this email more than once. In an effort to get the word out quickly we compiled data as fast as we could to get the word out.

I, Jeff, was in the Dominican Republic last week when the quake hit. While leading an Exploratory trip we were visiting w/friends from one of the churches we work w/in the impoverished community of Halto del Yaqui drinking coffee when we felt the quake. We joked about it b/c it was nothing major as far as we knew. Our return to Santiago and reports from Haiti shocked and grieved us. G.O. has been responding like mad since the quake. God has opened doors for us to respond in areas that previously had no aid coming to them. We’re staging relief from an airport in Santiago where we have a hanger at our disposal. Through a near overnight partnership w/volunteer pilots and small planes we are landing relief aid on stretches of road and modest airstrips. While larger efforts have been bottle-necked due to traffic, we have been able to supply aid by air, land and sea (I mean, It’s ridiculous how God has equipped us through the strangest of partnerships). Meanwhile, I have returned to the states as of last Friday and Vicki and I are coordinating relief efforts from Louisville where our international headquarters is located. We have been too busy to stop to update our ministry blog. God has provided media attention here stateside and we are in the search for cargo planes and pilots who are willing to move relief aid from our warehouse in Louisville, KY where we are gathering relief aid to Santiago, DR where it can then be delivered to help meet the need in Haiti. If you have a connection to a cargo plane capable of hauling 15,000 pounds or more, please contact me. This is an urgent need!! If you know someone w/an old air show WWII bomber we can repurpose that sucker to get supplies down to Santiago!! We’re praying about a possibly c-130 connection right now! Join us in that.

In the meantime…

Vicki and I wanted to invite you to the Breachbent Benefit show this Saturday the 23rd at the 930 Listening Room if you are close to Louisville. Proceeds from the show go to help fund our work with G.O. Ministries as well as the G.O. Help Haiti relief fund G.O. has established in response to the terrible crisis in Haiti.

We will also be hosting a silent auction during this event.

Please consider coming out in a show of support for us, for G.O. and for our friends in Haiti.

Visit www.go-ministries.org to see how we are currently responding to the Haitian crisis

P.S. Here’s the latest specific updates as to what’s going on in terms of relief w/G.O.:

I am privileged to tell you the following:

On Tuesday, 12 Jan 2010, a 7.0 earthquake rocked Haiti. G.O. Ministries happened to have a team in Santiago at the time. Here is a video clip of what it felt like: Moment of Earthquake You see people laughing because it was an unusual occurrence. As news reports came in, we began to realize how serious the situation was and began to prepare to help. God can do immeasurably more than we can imagine, and we never imagined this past week! But God is good and gave us the opportunity to aid in relief of this tragedy. Several of our staff members were featured on their local news. Michael Jeff and Wilby

On Wednesday, we began to understand the extent of the devastation. People immediately began to call and offer their help. Brook Brotzman, president of G.O. Ministries in the US, was already scheduled to travel to the DR that day. After he was on the ground in Santiago, we began to analyze how we could help. We were contacted by several short-term mission teams that were stranded in various locations in Haiti. A group from Eastview Christian Church had been in Pilatre, trying to get home to Normal, IL. Their flight, which would have placed them in Port-au-Prince at the time of the quake, had been cancelled. They were able to get a bus to the border between the Dominican and Haiti, where Tim Krauss, one of our full-time staff members in Santiago, was able to meet them. We then gave them overnight accommodations and got them on a flight Thursday morning. Another group was stranded at a orphanage in Jacmel, southwest of Port-au-Prince, but closer to the epicenter of the quake. To get to them, we found a boat from the Dominican town of Pedernales to the coastal town of Jacmel. The boat was very small but we crammed in as many supplies as would fit and sent Tim to go retreive them. Due to engine problems on the boat, the team returned across the border the next day by land. We were also taking supplies in via the border town of Jimani when possible. In total, we helped 5 different mission teams evacuate from Haiti. Here in the office, we set up ways for people to help by donating and with their prayers. Here is a video with Tim and John preparing to depart: www.vimeo.com/8754211

We obtained warehouse space in the hanger at the Santiago airport in order to store supplies. We used five five small planes to fly supplies in and out of Jacmel and Leogane daily to drop relief supplies. We continued with boat trips as well. We were able to recruit several pilots in order to keep flights going into Jacmel non-stop. You should check out the view of the airport on Google Earth. It is just a runway with a place to turn around. Landing Strip

On Friday, Romano and Wilby, G.O. partnering Haitian pastors, headed out to Port-au-Prince separately. Here is a video that Jeff made of Romano prior to his departure: http://www.vimeo.com/8754093 They left to search for family they had not been able to reach. Wilby found his family members alive but Romano learned that his brother is dead. He leaves behind 9 children. We continue to pray for the orphans created the day of the quake.

Over the weekend, the opportunities to help did not stop. Our staff in Santiago helped assist a UN peacekeeper and his team of volunteers who stayed in our dorm. They were stranded on their way to Port-au-Prince. They assisted us in setting up our relief efforts. We were able to use our warehouse and the hangar space we obtained at the Santiago airport to collect supplies. We have some pictures of our staff buying supplies and the planes. http://www.flickr.com/photos/gohelphaiti We also helped a reporter from the Wall Street Journal with lodging and helped him into Jacmel to report on the conditions there.

On Monday, we began to realize that supplies on the island of Hispaniola were running out. We now need to collect the needed supplies here in the US for transportation to Haiti via the DR. A friend, who is the director of a Haitian orphanage, asked how would she distribute the baby formula she had available? It could mean the difference between life and death. My heart breaks that anyone would find themselves in that position. We are working to get needed supplies as quickly as we can to alleviate the desperate need on the ground in Haiti. We were also able to help get needed pain medicines into Haiti. Pfizer had made a donation to go via a non-governmental agency. We worked with the UN to coordinate the transport of these medicines into Haiti. What a great God we serve!

Tuesday, we began to organize collection of supplies. We have obtained warehouse space in Louisville at 7325 New LaGrange Road. We are contacting the churches in this area to begin collection of needed supplies. Please review the list attached to this email. We can only accept the supplies listed as the need for those items is the greatest. We will ask for additional items in the weeks to come, so please limit donations to what is listed. We are arranging cargo plane transport to take these items to Santiago for distribution into Haiti. It takes 100,000 lbs. to fill the plane. We are again asking God to provide in a big way through His people.

Medical supplies are an immediate and overwhelming need. There are doctors on the ground who cannot treat those sick and injured because they have no supplies. If you are able to secure a donation of medical items, especially orthopedic supplies such as casting materials, contact us right away. We would also be able to purchase these items if a large donation were made.

Your donation has made an immediate difference to the people of Haiti. Please continue to keep the people of Haiti and GO Ministries as we assist in the relief effort in your prayers. We have spent every donation as quickly as they have come in. As of yesterday, we had received over $150,000 in donations. We are spending the money as quickly as it comes in. Please consider giving again or passing this information on to other people who may be interested in what we are doing here.

Many thanks for everyone's support.

Grace and Peace,
The Rogers

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Happy 50th Post, little blog

To celebrate the 50th post on the blog I thought I'd have a little give away, something to draw out all you lurkers :} The goodies are based on the things I typically blog about (which seemed logical).

1) Depression: A Stubborn Darkness by Edward Welch
2) Sandpaper Dolls Live @ 21c CD

In order to "enter to win" one of these goodies simply comment on this post with which goody you would prefer and how I should contact you if you win. This latter point is expecially important if I will need to get your address to mail you said goody.

If I get lots of responses I'll give away one of each thing, otherwise I'll just pick one commenter at random and they will get the goody they chose.

I'll select the winner next Wednesday morning.

Okay...go!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Hope, Hoplessness, and Pain

I'm finally, *slowly* finishing Depression: A Stubborn Darkness. Welch's point about hopelessness and pain and where our hope should rest really struck me:

Some hopeless people who anticipate only death cite Scripture that says "I desire to depart and be with Christ" (Philippians 1:23). But Christ is not what hopelessness people really want. The God-talk is misleading. The goal of hopelessness is to end the suffering, and if God happens to be here when it happens, fine. But God's presence is not essential....

What is your story? Your goal is to accept Scripture's telling of it and make it your own, but too often we add personal edits and devise alternate endings....We leave the Father's house and embark on our own journeys, and we foolishly hope in this life rather than in Jesus. We make our story about pain, and we climax it with the release of pain rather than with Jesus....

Most people believe that eternity will be better than the present. This, of course, is true for those whose hope for Jesus' return. When we see Jesus, "there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain" (Revelations 21:4). But there is something that is arguably even better. Therefore, if you are going to look forward to the gifts God gives us when we see him face to face, hope for this: when we see Jesus, we will no longer be people who sin (I John 3:3)....

Given a choice, a sinless eternity with the loving God is much preferred over a pain-free one where sin still bedevils.