Some quotes that have made me think…

Peace is the rest our soul receives when we embrace our circumstances as from the hand of our God. The test of the reality of our God and the veracity of our peace is the depth of pain this peace is able to handle.

I had this written down in my journal. I am sure the idea came from someone much smarter than I, but the word order came from me.

Oddly enough, Christians have labeled Naomi “bitter Naomi.” But neither our sin nor our environment defines us. We are not trapped by our own moodiness or despair. We can change because an infinite God is personally involved in the details of our lives. As bearers of God’s image, we can cry out for mercy and see God act in our circumstances or in our hearts. Jesus’s “judge not” is a call to give people space to change, to back off from locking in on exclusively negative views. Especially in long-term relationships, we run the risk of locking onto a person’s negatives and going pagan on them.

Miller, A Loving Life, 130

Here are five bad moves that our hearts can make when life isn’t fair: 1. Self-pity. Nourishing an internal-feeling world of victim; compassion turned inward. 2. Bitterness. A simmering demand that God make my world just. 3. Cynicism and mocking. Restoring balance by mocking the other person. 4. Gossip and slander. Creating a community of empathizers who see my pain. 5. Emotional revenge. Withdrawing my heart to punish the other person.

Miller, A Loving Life, 133

When someone spills their pain on us…

Taken from the words of Naomi in the book of Ruth, when she thinks God has abandoned her…

That doesn’t mean that Naomi’s judgment of God is correct. God is good and just. He will answer her frustration with more goodness. Naomi was interpreting God through the lens of her experience. She stopped in the middle of the story and measured God. A deeper faith waits until the end of the story and interprets experience through the lens of God’s faithfulness. Is this something we tell Naomi? No. It is what we tell ourselves. Good theology lets us endure quietly with someone else’s pain when all the pieces aren’t together. It acts like invisible faith-glue.

Miller, A Loving Life, 58

Keeping our own demons in place

Naomi makes us, with our Western cultural roots, a little nervous with her seeming disrespect of God. Yes, her life is hard, but should she blame God? Her open passion sends shivers down our stoic-tuned religious sensibilities, and we instinctively clamp down with our theology and say, “Naomi, God is orchestrating this. He’s in control. Don’t blame him.” Her grief and anger unsettle us and open doors to unbelief in our own lives. We’d rather quiet her with good theology. We think we’re comforting her, but maybe we’re trying to keep our own demons in place.

How does God respond to her accusations? In the context of the whole book of Ruth, Ruth’s love is God’s response to Naomi’s lament. God often uses human agents to show his love. So God weeps with her: “Then they lifted up their voices and wept again” (Ruth 1:14).

Miller, A Loving Life, 33)


More convicting questions from Mitchell’s helpful book, Resisting Gossip.

“Before you talk (or before you continue to talk) about someone who is not present, ask yourself the following:
• Would I say this if he were here? (Really? Be honest now.)
• Would I receive this bad news about her in the same way if she were present?
• Am I hiding this conversation from someone?
• Would I want someone else to talk this way about me if I were out of the room?” (Kindle Loc 397)

Resources: Change

I have asked Josh Stephens from Community Baptist Church and Biblical Counseling Alliance to share some of his top resources in various areas of counseling. Over the following weeks I would like to share those, interspersed with some of my own. Please share your own below in the comments.

The order is alphabetical. See Addictions and Anger.


Wayne A. Mack – “A Homework Manual for Biblical Living: Family and Marital Problems (Homework Manual for Biblical Living, Volume 2)

Wayne A. Mack – “A Homework Manual for Biblical Living: Personal and Interpersonal Problems (Homework Manual for Biblical Living, Volume 1):

Bridges, Jerry. The Pursuit of Holiness. Enlarged ed. edition. NavPress, 2016.

Mack, Wayne A. A Fight to the Death: Taking Aim at Sin Within. P&R Publishing, 2011.

Powlison, David. How Does Sanctification Work? Crossway, 2017.

Scott, Stuart, and Zondra Scott. Killing Sin Habits: Conquering Sin with Radical Faith. Bemidji, MN: Focus Publishing, 2013.

Tripp, Paul David. Awe: Why It Matters for Everything We Think, Say, and Do. Crossway, 2015.


A couple of mine:

Piper, John, and David Mathis, eds. Acting the Miracle: God’s Work and Ours in the Mystery of Sanctification. Wheaton: Crossway, 2013.
Whitney, Donald S. Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. Upd Rev edition. NavPress, 2014.


The real challenge of Christian living is not to eliminate every uncomfortable circumstance from our lives, but to trust our sovereign, wise, good, and powerful God in the midst of every situation.

– Macarthur, Anxious for Nothing 

Am I complaining?

I complain. A lot. I complain verbally and silently. I am, at the core of my being, a person who is prone to murmur and complain. I am like those dear wandering Israelites in the desert, bless their hearts.

Sometimes I just come out and say, “I hate this.” I could be talking about internal struggles with anxiety, or a time of marital stress, or having to have my Spanish corrected again.

Sometimes I just dwell on it, enjoying the taste of imagined offenses affirming my bitterness toward someone else.

Sadly, neither complaining nor stewing fits under “spiritual disciplines.”
In contrast, speaking truth to ourselves is something that every believer is called to do. Paul calls it “destroying arguments and lofty opinions raised against the knowledge of God,” and “taking every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Cor 10:5). Truth speaking is reminding myself what I know is true during times when I don’t feel like it.

But the struggle I have is that many times I haven’t fully recognized the struggle, or the needed truth until I start to talk about it. At times I feel like I need to voice my struggle and err on the side of sounding like I am complaining in order to take my anxiety into the light. It seems like only then I can own it and remember the truth.

  • Saying “I am struggling with culture shock” has been a way for me to battle it.
  • Saying “I am really weak right now” has helped me fight the impulse of “I just need to push through.”
  • Saying, “I am struggling with bitterness” has helped me to pray for the person I punish in my mind.

But then I feel like I am complaining.

Both complaining and speaking truth to myself include recognition, and often times, vocalization, of adversity. But there is a difference.

  • Complaining sees no hope, while truth speaking looks to Christ.
  • Complaining seeks to affirm the reasons for my bad attitude. Truth speaking reminds myself for my reasons why I don’t need to complain.
  • Complaining vilifies the circumstance, person, or object. Truth speaking reveals my own sinful heart and need of Christ.
  • Complaining drives me deeper into the dungeon. Truth speaking leads me out of the cell.

But just as there is a danger of really complaining when we are trying to speak truth, there is an equal danger of accusing someone of complaining when they are speaking truth. I think that if we were to have sat and listened to some of Psalmists write their poems, we would have tried to rebuke them.

So, if you ever come across someone like me, someone who is struggling to believe the truths they know are true, will you help them?

  • Help them by seeing their struggle and affirming that it would be hard given the circumstance they are in.
  • Help them by hearing the truths that they are trying to believe, and affirming them if they are biblical.
  • Help them by praying then, and regularly, for them.
  • Help them by making it safe to be honest about their struggle.

Hope in Dark places

Those were my initial reactions to the courses we were required to take to complete our clearance process with BMM. Every missionary is required to take two classes on Prevention of Sexual Abuse. One is an in-house seminar on problems and procedures, and the other is an online course.

It is hard to hear statistics like “One in four women and one in six men have been or will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime” (Holcomb & Holcomb, God Made All of Me).

But there is hope. There is hope for those who have been abused and there is hope for those who seek to eliminate the abuse. There is hope because of Jesus Christ. With that hope I encourage everyone to investigate these resources:

Darkness to Light –
A website devoted to ending child sexual abuse. They offer articles, statistics, and a 2 hour course which helps to “raise awareness of the prevalence and consequences of child sexual abuse by educating adults about the steps they can take to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to the reality of child sexual abuse.” While it is not a specifically Christian organization, they are doing a good job at informing us of the dangers of abuse and opportunities to eliminate it.

God Made All of Me by Holcomb & Holcomb
A children’s book which helps parents talk with their 2-8 year old children about their bodies and how to protect them.

On Guard: Preventing and Responding to Child Abuse at Church by Reju
A book dedicated to examine“ why child predators target churches and offers eleven straightforward strategies to protect children from abuse and to help young victims recover if it does happen.”

A Proposal:

  • I would encourage every individual to take the Darkness to Light 2 hour course.
  • I would encourage every family with young children to purchase Holcombs’ book and read through it.
  • I would encourage every church to purchase Reju’s book and teach a class for leaders, teachers, and families on the principles.

“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”

Matthew 18:5-6