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Aletheia - (ἀλήθεια - "Truth")

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Growing Strong

 

I’ve always believed that difficulties have a unique way of strengthening people.  I still believe this is true, but I no longer believe it’s guaranteed.  In other words, I now believe that difficulties can have a unique way of strengthening people.

The difference may seem subtle, but it’s more than a minor nuance in a sentence.

Trials, struggles, and challenging life seasons present an opportunity for increased dependence on God and trust in His Word.  When the storms cause us to cling more tightly to Him, our faith is bolstered.  When we witness the firmness of our foundation, we grow stronger spiritually.

This strengthening, however, can’t be taken for granted.  While hard times have strengthened me, I have also experienced the difficulties hardening me.  Resilience and perseverance are not synonymous with callousness and resentment.

When our view of God shapes our understanding of our circumstances, we grow strong.  When our view of our circumstances shapes our understanding of God, we grow hard.

My bad day doesn’t make God a bad God.  But if I choose to look at God through the lens of my circumstances or emotions, I will inevitably become hardened and bitter.  Projecting my situation on God causes my confidence in Him to wane.  If, on the other hand, I choose to look at my circumstances through the lens of God’s character and His promises, I will find myself trusting Him more deeply.

A clue that I’m growing hard is when my sensitivity to God’s Word decreases and I am bitter about my circumstances.  But when I have a tender heart toward the Bible and I embrace life with confidence in God’s goodness, I am seeing evidence of increasing strength.

The difficult circumstances of life can, to borrow a phrase, make you bitter or make you better.  Trials can cause you to grow hard or grow strong.  Strength is developed through the constant, humble acknowledgement that God is God and God is good, no matter where I am or how I feel.  As David put it in Psalm 16:5-6, “Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure.  The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.”

God’s work of strengthening us is demonstrated by our ability to honestly say, regardless of circumstances, “The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places.”  Pleasant, not necessarily because of where we are, but because of Who goes before us.

Written by: Abbey Le Roy, MA in Theological Studies from CIU's Seminary and School of Ministry

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Blessings in the Desert

 

If you’ve been a Christian for any length of time, I’d be willing to bet you’ve experienced a “dry” season in your spiritual life.  Lack of spiritual enthusiasm, a sense of merely going through the motions, and unperceived growth are a sampling of symptoms of the spiritual desert.  These seasons can be brought on by sin and decreased sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, but just as often – if not more often – they are characteristic of the natural ebb and flow of life in a fallen world.

As I recently contemplated the reality of the spiritual desert, I was reminded of the unexpected blessings found therein.  In my experience, the greatest blessing of the desert is that it creates a renewed thirst for the Living Water.  Additionally, these seasons increase my satisfaction in the Living Water.  Not only do I thirst for Him; nothing else will quench my thirst but Him.  It’s the spiritual equivalent of running a marathon in the summer heat and then being offered a cup of coffee at the finish line.  I love coffee, but running a race creates a thirst which can be quenched by water alone.

Another blessing in the midst of the desert is that the discomfort is actually a sign of life, often a much-needed reassurance.  Only living beings thirst.  It’s tempting to feel dead in the desert, but the thirst is a timely reminder of an existing spiritual pulse.

I’ve been prone to resent the dry seasons in my spiritual life, but I am reminded afresh that God is both willing and able to use every situation and season for His glory and my good.  I never desire the desert, but as God would have it, there is priceless Treasure to be discovered in the least likely of places.  As Charles Spurgeon memorably wrote, “In the deserts of affliction the presence of the Lord becomes everything to us.”

In the place I never want to go, my heart draws nearer to its Prize.  What a gift!  What a God!

Written by: Abbey Le Roy, MA in Theological Studies from CIU's Seminary and School of Ministry

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The Eyes Have It

 

One of my least favorite parts of playing sports in middle and high school was the requirement to stretch before practices and games.  The most difficult stretch for me to execute was the standing quad stretch.  You probably know the one.

I would balance on one foot, grab the opposite foot and bring it up behind me, while bending the knee.  The reason this stretch was so challenging was that it required balance.  I remember spending the duration of the stretch wobbling back and forth just trying to stay standing.

Everything changed one day when I learned a helpful trick.  Someone taught me that I could stay balanced by picking one object and staring at it for the length of the stretch.  It sounded easy enough, so I gave it a try and was amazed with the result.  No more wobbling.

My eyes were more powerful than I realized.  The influence of the eyes is a consistent theme running through all aspects of life, not just athletics.

That which captures our attention becomes the subject of our contemplation.  The mind follows the eyes.  That’s why the author of Hebrews says to fix our eyes on Jesus before he tells us to consider Jesus (Heb. 12:2-3).  Our gaze sets the stage for our meditation.

Life often feels chaotic.  Schedules are routinely hectic.  Busyness can threaten to take over.  While the world spins incessantly around us (and perhaps inside us), a steady gaze on a fixed point will keep us on our feet.  Focusing on Jesus, the immovable Cornerstone, is the only way to make sense of, and stand firm in, a world that is anything but stable.

Trying to stay balanced while chasing distractions doesn’t work for long.  But as I learned in a simple stretch, the key to balance is all in the eyes.

Written by: Abbey Le Roy, MA in Theological Studies from CIU's Seminary and School of Ministry

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One Simple Question

 

In a world full of uncertainty, the value of absolute truth is hard to overstate.  Life is comprised of a wide range of emotions.  Circumstances are always prone to change.  But there’s a simple practice that has served as an anchor for my soul.

When time are tough, when I have doubts, or when I’m feeling overwhelmed, I have developed a habit that brings unspeakable consolation.  I ask myself one question: What do I know to be true?

My answer to the question is simply a list of Bible verses – as many as I can recall at the given time.  Sometimes I recount the truths verbally, sometimes I write them down, and other times I just recite them silently.

I cope with the reality of life in a fallen world by constantly reminding myself of the timeless truth found in the Bible.

God is faithful to His promises.

All His ways are perfect.

He doesn’t abandon His people.

He is with me.

He sees.

He knows.

He cares.

He is coming back.

He is making all things new.

The healthiest investment I can make in my life and in the lives of those around me is knowing and proclaiming the truth.  The truth should always inform my feelings, opinions, and circumstances, but all too often the opposite is my modus operandi.

Feelings are a shaky foundation on which to build a life.  Conversely, the truth of Scripture provides a firm and lasting foundation which can withstand the storms of life on earth, no matter how severe.

Today, let the truth govern your view of reality as you ask yourself that one simple, yet profound, question.

Written by: Abbey Le Roy, MA in Theological Studies from CIU's Seminary and School of Ministry

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Why Wait?

 

We live in a society that’s accustomed to instant gratification.  Take fast food or Netflix, for example.  We want what we want when we want it.  And advertisers know it.  They appeal to consumers on the basis of ease and speed, and our culture eats it up.

It’s no surprise, then, that in a culture such as ours waiting on God can be incredibly difficult.  Waiting challenges the impatient and controlling tendencies of our humanness, and the difficulty is amplified when we’re used to immediate results.  As I’ve contemplated this topic recently, I started to wonder what it really means to wait on God.  Here’s what came to mind:

Waiting on God is living with a settled confidence that God will do the right thing at the right time.

When we truly wait for God to answer specific prayers or guide our decision making, we aren’t just letting time lapse as we look for opportunities to take matters into our own hands.  True waiting on God means having a deep, abiding assurance that God’s timing and ways are perfect.  Waiting on God acknowledges His goodness, power, and wisdom.

Inability to wait on God reveals a lack of trust.  Sometimes we doubt His goodness, other times we doubt His power or wisdom.  Often it’s a combination of the three.  Our impatience brings our heart’s questions to the surface: Will God actually get this right?  Will He come through in time?

Psalm 145 answers these questions and more.  God doesn’t just do things well; He does them perfectly.  As you read through the Psalm, notice the all-encompassing nature of David’s statements: The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made (Ps. 145:9).  The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does (145:13).

God is good, powerful, and wise.  As we wait for Him to act, we can go on with life trusting that all His ways are perfect.  We don’t know more than Him, and we can’t do better than He can.  Waiting on God is an affirmation that God is God.

God knows what He’s doing, and He is able to use our waiting to accomplish His purposes for His glory and our good.  As Aaron Keyes sings, “You are working in our waiting, sanctifying us, when beyond our understanding, you’re teaching us to trust.”

Your waiting will never be wasted.

Written by: Abbey Le Roy, MA in Theological Studies from CIU's Seminary and School of Ministry

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Not in Vain

 

Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm.  Let nothing move you.  Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58).

This is one of those verses I go back to over and over again – especially when I feel overwhelmed. 

It’s incredibly encouraging to be reminded that my work is not in vain.  Sometimes just being told that what I’m doing isn’t pointless is all the motivation I really need to keep going.  Although I read 1 Corinthians 15:58 often, I realized something I’d never thought about when I read it on Sunday.

1 Corinthians 15 is all about resurrection – the resurrection of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, and the resurrection body.  Paul’s argument is basically that if Christ rose from the dead, we too will rise from the dead (15:21-22).  The other side of the argument is that if Christ didn’t rise from the dead, we won’t be raised from the dead – we have no eternal hope, our faith is futile, and we are still in our sins (15:17).

His point is the centrality of the resurrection to the life and message of the Christian – Christ’s resurrection means that our faith not useless (15:14).  It also creates in the believer a longing for eternity – it is not only for this life we have hope in Christ (15:19).

Reading 15:58 in the context of all that sheds light on the reason why our labor in the Lord is not in vain.  15:58 is the practical, daily application of the Easter message in the Christian’s life – it’s usually called having an eternal perspective.  Walking in the confidence that Christ has been raised from the dead speaks to both my present and future – the confidence I have for the future gives purpose to my present work.

Christ has indeed been raised from the dead (15:20), therefore our labor in Him is not in vain (15:58).

Written by Abbey Le Roy, MA in Theological Studies from CIU's Seminary and School of Ministry

"Give us this day our daily bread." Matthew 6:11

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Music and Truth

 

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I probably don’t need to comment on the power of music. It’s used therapeutically and motivationally in countless ways on a daily basis. Is there a certain song you listen to or station you flip to on a bad day? What playlist is your favorite when you want to exercise? Those are just a couple examples, not including music that gets played in stores, music for relaxation, and music to create a comfortable atmosphere.

Most recently, I find myself gravitating to music to remind myself of truth. Particularly, the song “One Thing Remains” has been a continual reminder of God’s constant, unfailing love – a relevant source of encouragement in a world full of change and disappointment. As I listen to it, I am both proclaiming and reminding myself of the reality of God’s love – it’s an “I believe; help my unbelief” sort of experience (Mark 9:24).

I don’t know the role music plays in your life, but I encourage you to let hymns and doctrinally-sound contemporary worship songs remind you of truth and encourage your heart today.

Written by Abbey Le Roy, MA in Theological Studies from CIU's Seminary and School of Ministry

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A Simple Reminder

 

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“This day will bring me nearer home.”

Sometimes the simplest statements are also the most profound.  Sometimes the most obvious concepts are also the most overlooked.

When I read the above quote in Valley of Vision (a book of Puritan prayers) this morning, it was like the thought had never even crossed my mind.  I stopped, reflected on it, re-read it, and haven’t stopped repeating it to myself all day.

There’s not much to say as the quote can certainly stand alone; however, I am thankful for the reminder that though world is not my home, each passing day here brings me closer to the moment when God, by grace, welcomes me into my eternal Home.

I can’t wait.

Written by Abbey Le Roy, MA in Theological Studies from CIU's Seminary and School of Ministry

"Give us this day our daily bread." Matthew 6:11

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Before You Witness, Witness

 

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“‘Witness' is a noun before it’s a verb.”

It took a minute to sink in, but once it did I knew exactly what Mr. Tom Henry was saying.  Mr. Henry works with an international outreach ministry and shared a perspective on missions in chapel that I’ve never heard before. 

His point was simple – before we tell people about Jesus, we need to see Jesus. The prerequisite to bear witness is first to be a witness. For example, if my testimony concerning a car wreck is going to have any significance to the police, I have to have seen the wreck. If I didn’t see it, who cares what I say?

Similarly, a continual gaze upon Jesus will inform and refine me as I passionately share what I have seen. Seeing Jesus not only makes me a credible witness, but an accurate one, and both are necessary in today’s world.

So before we witness, let’s witness.

Written by Abbey Le Roy, MA in Theological Studies from CIU's Seminary and School of Ministry

"Give us this day our daily bread." Matthew 6:11

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A Promise Kept

 

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J. Robertson McQuilkin served as the third president of CIU from 1968 to 1990, when he resigned to care for his wife Muriel, who needed full-time attention due to Alzheimer’s.

When McQuilkin had to decide whether to care for his ailing wife full-time or to continue serving as president of CIU, he said it was a no-brainer. The decision had been made 42 years prior when he promised “in sickness and in health…till death do us part.”

More than just “a matter of integrity,” it was the only “fair thing” to do. “[Muriel] sacrificed for me for forty years to make my life possible,” said McQuilkin in his resignation speech in 1990. “So if I cared for her for forty years, I would still be in debt.  However, there is much more. It’s not that I have to; it’s that I get to…It’s a great honor to care for such a wonderful person.”

More than just a touching love story (although it certainly is that as well), McQuilkin’s commitment to his wife is an example of integrity which, several years later, continues to stand in contrast with a culture that doesn’t value the importance of keeping promises.

Written by Abbey Le Roy, MA in Theological Studies from CIU's Seminary and School of Ministry

"Give us this day our daily bread." Matthew 6:11

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