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Archive for December 2013

Doubting (Part 1)


“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” – Mark 9:24

Throughout my relationship with God, I have been plagued by an uncomfortable tension between faith and doubt that exists within me. Experiencing the birth of my two children has left me with no doubt that God exists resulting in a deep faith. But then I read about the death child or hear how a child, who is unable to defend himself, falls prey to multiple causes of abuse. At that moment, doubt begins to trickle back into my mind as I wonder why God was silent at that moment that tragedy was occurring. Why didn’t He stop it?

Chances are that many of you struggle with this same tension between faith and doubt that I do. Life is going well then BOOM, your life falls apart. Your marriage is collapsing. You lose a spouse. You lose a child. You lose a friend. You lose your health. You have a dream for your life and that dream never comes to fruition. What do you do? What do you do when the faith that was your cornerstone suddenly seems, at best, a distant memory? It is in these moments that doubt begins to capture our thoughts and we start asking questions. Questions like, does God really love? Can I really trust God’s Word? Asking questions like this make us feel guilty and we try to suppress them. We hope they will go away, but too often they don’t. How do we respond?

One thing we can do is speak the words of the father in Mark’s gospel, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24). In other words, I’m trying but I’m full of doubts. I’m not faithful, I am riddled with doubts, and I cannot muster the strength necessary to meet my moral and spiritual challenges, but help me. These words, “I believe; help my unbelief!” spoken by a desperate father capture perfectly the anxiety that many of us face in times of doubt. Doubt need not cripple our faith in God. Rather, doubt is an invitation to grow in our faith and understanding. I do believe, help my unbelief!

The truth is, we all have faith and doubt inside of us. The faithful and the doubters both know the discomfort of uncertainty. Because of this truth, I am going to spend the upcoming weeks talking about faith and doubt. My intent is not to solve the tension between faith and doubt, but to get us thinking about and to see that admitting to doubt is not a sign of spiritual weakness, but a sign of spiritual growing pains.

Happy New Year!

Blessings,

~ Tim Hall
https://twitter.com/1timothy12
(I encourage feedback, questions & comments – email me at 1timothy46@gmail.com)

Redemption Story (Part 4)


Luke 2:8-20

The shepherds were at the lower end of the socio-economic ladder. They were typically uneducated, usually poor and they lived among their animals in the elements. You can only imagine what they smelled like. They were a lowly and humble lot, yet they received an angelic invitation to be the first to see the newborn Savior (v. 11) who is for all people (v.10), not just some people. Not just for the Jews but also the Gentiles. Not just for the poor shepherds but also the rich and the wealthy. Each of us needs saving. We need saving from guilt and shame, from hopelessness and despair, from fear and death.

Jesus, our Savior, our Redeemer breaks the power of our sin and sets us free. He saves us from our addictions and gives us new life. He liberates us from our self-absorption, our anger, our resentfulness, and our bitterness. He transforms us into a people who can live with freedom, hope and joy. This Savior, this baby born in a manger, is who the shepherds where invited to go and see. Go and see they did, leaving their flocks behind. I can only imagine that on any other night, this would have been grounds for termination.

The shepherds show us how we are supposed to respond to the invitation, “come and see”. They shared their story with those who were present. They responded with obedience and could not control themselves from testifying what God had done in making Jesus evident to them. They responded to their Savior by glorifying and praising God.

Fast forward a couple of thousand years and we see that the story of Jesus is our story told to us and for us just as if we where the shepherds that first Christmas night. Our response to the announcement of our Savior should be no different than theirs. We should follow where Gods leads us and with grace testify to His direction in our lives.

Jesus came to save us from the bad news that seems to be all around us. He came to help guide us through difficult trials, career crossroads, or a decision involving your loved ones, or your future. You see friends, Jesus came to be for us “good news and great joy” (v.10). He came to be for us a gift of hope and grace, and we should be prepared and willing to speak about how God impacted our life. We should respond with glory and praise for all that we have heard, seen, and experienced. How are you responding to the Savior?

Merry Christmas!

~ Tim Hall
https://twitter.com/1timothy12
(I encourage feedback, questions & comments – email me at 1timothy46@gmail.com)

Redemption Story (Part 3)


“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel (which means “God with us”)” (Matthew 1:23).

Over the past couple of years this verse has come to be one of my favorites because of the comfort it brings. You see men, each of go through difficult circumstances in our lives and it is comforting to know that no matter how dire our circumstances, no matter our fears, no matter what is going on in our life, we are not alone. We have Immanuel, a name that signifies the character and mission of Jesus as God with us to save us from our sins – Blessed Redeemer, Immanuel.

Jesus is the visible reminder that God is with us. In a world full of darkness, each of us is called to be signs of Immanuel, to be God’s presence in the world and be a visible reminder of the grace, mercy, and hope that each of us has because of Immanuel.

We all know people who are walking through challenging times in their life, who feel overwhelmed in one way or another. How will those people know that God is with them, that they are not alone, if we don’t embody God’s love and presence to them? By our actions, each of us is called to show the love of Christ; we are called to act as a reminder of Immanuel.

This Week’s Challenge:
The Christmas season, the best gift you can give to someone is to be a sign of Immanuel to them. So, who in your life – your spouse, a family member, a friend, a neighbor, a co-worker or a stranger do you need to be Immanuel to?

~ Tim Hall
https://twitter.com/1timothy12
(I encourage feedback, questions & comments – email me at 1timothy46@gmail.com)

Redemption Story (Part 2)


Matthew 1:18-25

Who among you has had their life turn out the way it was planned? In this week’s passage from Matthew’s gospel, we read about Joseph who had a BIG wrench tossed into his plans. Most of us know his story. He was betrothed to be married to Mary and sometime during the engagement he gets hit with the news that would shake his world to its core; Mary is pregnant and he knows without a doubt he is not the father.

This kind of news would send most men over the edge and cause them to respond in a not-so-favorable fashion. But not Joseph, his desire was to not expose Mary to public shame and divorce her quietly (Matthew 1:19). Joseph was willing to do this because he was a righteous man. His righteousness did not come from seeking the law, which was clear in its requirement that Mary should have been stoned to death for her unfaithfulness. It was not his obedience to the law, nor his pursuit of justice that defined Joseph’s righteousness. Instead, it was his compassion, his mercy, his forgiveness, and his grace that made him a righteous man. I wonder how many of us would respond in kind if we were presented with the circumstances that Joseph experienced.

You see, Joseph could have gotten angry (he probably did) and let that anger dictate his response by walking away from Mary. He certainly would have been justified in doing so. But, if he would have walked away, Joseph would have missed out on being part of the redemption story that affects each of us. Men, don’t miss out on what this passage on Joseph teaches us. It is a great reminder for each of us to not walk away from the disappointing times and circumstances in our lives. Walking away can cause us to miss out on being a part of somebody else’s redemption story.

This Week’s Challenge:
This week, as you prepare your hearts for Christmas, remember Joseph and his compassion, mercy, forgiveness, and grace he showed Mary. Where in your life do you need to imitate this righteousness of Joseph and be part of somebody’s redemption story?

~ Tim Hall
https://twitter.com/1timothy12
(I encourage feedback, questions & comments – email me at 1timothy46@gmail.com)

Redemption Story (Part 1)


Luke 1:26-38

I would venture to say that most if not all of you are familiar with the Christmas story and the role of the Virgin Mary in the birth of Jesus. Today, I want to challenge you to look at Mary differently. Don’t just view her as the mother of our Savior. Rather, I want you to see her for her strength and willingness to be obedient in the midst of an extremely difficult circumstance in her life.

For Mary to be pregnant while engaged presented great trouble for her. What would her family think? What would Joseph do? She knew that according to the law, young women who were engaged but found to be pregnant by someone other than their betrothed were to be stoned to death. Mary knew that many women during this time died during childbirth. She knew being pregnant would be the end of the dreams she had for her wedding day and that Joseph would likely call off the marriage. In spite of all of these things, in spite of all of the uncertainty of what this meant, Mary’s response to Gabriel was simple, yet profound. She simply said, “I am the Lord’s servant; may your word to me be fulfilled” (Luke 1:38). You see men, Mary stepped up and said “yes”, thus cementing her role in your redemption story.

Through Mary, we see that God’s call on our lives is sometimes difficult. It may lead us to set aside our own plans. It may mean giving up our hopes and dreams. It may be freighting and full of risks, but through it all we should be inspired to respond like Mary – with faith and obedience and say, “I am the Lord’s servant, may your word to me be fulfilled.”

This Week’s Challenge:
This week, as you prepare your hearts for Christmas, remember that it is not about how much money you spend, the gifts you receive, or how much you eat. Rather, Christmas is about offering yourself as Mary did and being willing to be made willing to be part of someone’s redemption story. Whose redemption story are you willing to be part of?

~ Tim Hall
https://twitter.com/1timothy12
(I encourage feedback, questions & comments – email me at 1timothy46@gmail.com)