Posts Tagged ‘circumstances’


The question was actually posed to me some time ago by a young German woman. I had befriended her and her husband in an online game that I was playing. She quickly became aware of my faith and one day as we chatted about life she abruptly posed this question.

Why do you serve God? What does he do for you?

My mind quickly went to all the theologically correct answers that I had learned over the years but quickly discarded them. First of all I don’t think her English was up to taking in a bunch of “Christianese” (and my German was certainly not up to conveying anything other than hello and thank you). Secondly my guess is that perhaps somewhere she had already heard the platitudes. She was looking for something more intimate, more personal. She really wanted to know , why did Sam Guidry (or Flamefanner as my gaming friends know me) choose to serve this god. I gave her an answer. I do not even recall what it was, however it set me to thinking and so I give you:

Five Reasons that I serve God

Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. Hebrews 13:8

Reason #2: God has engaged me without condition

In a world that is conditional, God is unconditional.  We often talk of God’s unconditional love but I think that sometimes we envision a schizophrenic god who has many aspects and that he changes from aspect to aspect based on what we do. I serve God because he exists unconditionally. What I mean by that is that there is absolutely nothing anyone can do to change the way that God is or the way that God interacts with creation. This means that no matter how screwed up I got or acted, no matter how fast I ran from Him, He still is God. I cannot manipulate a single change in His being through prayer, through sin or any other behavior or attitude that I can conceive of. Uh oh, does that mean it is useless for me to pray or that it doesn’t matter what I do? With Paul I say “May it never be!” (Romans 6:2) Paul continues on to say, “How shall we who die to sin live in it”. Of course this is Paul’s answer to the questions, “Should we sin more that grace may increase?”, however the real question being asked is can we manipulate God by our behavior? How does Paul answer it? It is not about God, it is about us!

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. James 1:17

If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask.  Matthew 7:11

God provides for His children not because we ask, he does so because it is in His unconditional nature to do so.  The barrier to receiving good gifts is not that we need to manipulate God into giving them, it is that we need to position ourselves to receive them.  When we allow the Great Unconditional to impact the conditional  we move into a relationship that opens us up to what God has for us.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,faithfulness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:23

For this reason we can say with Jeremiah and Thomas Chisholm, “The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.”  (Lamentations 3:22-23, Great is thy Faithfulness. 1923)  No matter what circumstances I encounter, no matter what I do  God is my rock that I can count on to remain my heavenly Father.  It is with this great comfort that I can turn from trying to manipulate Him to maturing myself in the Faith.

For this reason also, since the day we heard it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father… Colossians 1:9-12

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The LORD, the Psalmist’s Shepherd.
A Psalm of David.
1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. 3 He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever .

So here is the reality of The Nineteen days.  We never know when we are living them out.  The Guidry’s are not really unique in this experience.  I would guess that everyone of you has walked through their own Nineteen Days, innocent of the storm that was just over the horizon.  The fact is that this was not my first journey through the Nineteen Days, but it is my first journey through them where I truly understood David’s heart as he penned this Psalm.  How we walk out the Nineteen Days is a function of this Psalm.  Sentence by sentence it is a guide written by a man who walked through his own Nineteen Days many times over.

He leads me beside quiet waters.”

I have only been white water rafting once and it was in the middle of a terrible summer drought so that what should have been a harrowing, exciting and somewhat dangerous adventure turned out to be more of a stroll in the park on a sunny day.  I know that this same river in other seasons has been dangerous to the point of claiming lives.  The rivers and streams of David’s Israel were just as changeable.  One minute they could be quiet streams bubbling along and then a cloud burst, perhaps not even in the immediate vicinity, could swell them to deadly proportions.  The “quiet waters” is probably a reference to the many small springs throughout the land of Israel.  Cool, clean and refreshing these springs were a safe place of comfort for thirsty sheep.  God desires to lead us in places of refreshing safety; paths of restoration and righteousness that fulfill His purpose for His people.   Enjoying the rest and nutrition of the green pastures and following our Great Shepherd beside the quiet refreshing, restoring waters of His grace and love are Spiritual disciplines.  There is the temptation during the Nineteen Days to believe that we do not need to walk in the Spirit.  Everything seems wonderful….nothing could happen to steal the joy and peace we feel right.  When we place ourselves in that frame of mind we begin to rely on the circumstances of our life for our well-being instead of our Great Shepherd.  David makes it clear that the pastures and waters are not about circumstances.  “He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.”  Righteousness and restoration are about our relationship with God.

Here is the hook.  Since the pasture and the waters are not about circumstances, we are no less resting in green pastures on day 20 than we are on day 2.  Just because we have a situational change (even a drastic one) the reality of the Spiritual disciplines of the pasture and the waters are not impacted whatsoever!  However it does not FEEL that way!  If we could just ride the whole way on our feeling of well-being then it would not involve Spiritual discipline.  When I was holding Nisa and rejoicing in well-being as Christmas approached and we felt gifted beyond belief the pasture and the waters seemed a no brainer.  When I sat on that hospital bed with my wife’s health failing beside me and heard the word’s, “I am sorry Allana has leukemia”  and then “I am sorry but the leukemia is Philadelphia positive, without a bone marrow transplant….” it would seem that everything had changed.  The pasture vanished, the waters became bitter….or had they. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me”.  The valley of the shadow of death is about circumstance.  The verbs in Hebrew are all in the same tense (except for anointed).  They all indicate current and ongoing action.  The green pastures and still waters do not vanish because we are in the valley.  If we focus on His rod of guidance and his staff of protection the nourishing green grass of His Word and the refreshing waters of His Spirit remain as we walk the path of Righteousness because none of it depends on me or my circumstances.  It all depends on HIS NAME.  “And there is salvation in no * one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

Enjoy the green pastures and still waters TODAY!

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  1. a fact or condition connected with or relevant to an event or action.
    “we wanted to marry but circumstances didn’t permit”
    synonyms: situation, conditions, state of affairs, position;
  2. one’s state of financial or material welfare.
    “the artists are living in reduced circumstances”
    synonyms: financial position, lot, lifestyle;

We recently found ourselves through a series of conditions and facts (circumstances) short of the money that we needed to pay our bills.  To be truthful, some of the conditions were not avoidable, but some of them were of our own making.  I knew that when I examined the situation more closely we were going to find ourselves several hundred dollars short of the money that we needed to be current.  To make matters worse Allana was not really happy about a recent major purchase that I had made.  I was looking at having to tell her that now we were going to 1) be late on our bills and 2) really tighten up to get caught up, uncomfortably so.  There we have circumstances in a nutshell.  They are rarely simple.  They are often a mix of the unavoidable, poor decisions, right decisions with consequences and all the emotion and attitudes that human beings are prone too.  While this is not a piece on the theology of tithing, we have committed to that standard of giving.  Circumstances dictated that I should hold off on my tithe until we were caught up.  As I prayed over this situation the word hupomone (Biblical Perseverance) kept coming back to me.  All the cute Bible studies and all the nice character analysis are meaningless if hupomone does not impact my life where the rubber hits the road.  It is in the daily decisions and choices we make in the midst of circumstances that we choose the hupomone life.  Long story short I paid the tithe first as I knew that I should.  Then I went to look and see how bad it really was so that I could tell Allana.  As I surveyed our accounts, one that I rarely look at because I utilize it solely to pay the mortgage had several hundred extra dollars in it.  Believing it was an error I called the bank and they confirmed that I had received a refund from a miscalculation in the origination of our mortgage.  Bills paid with extra to spare.  The temptation is to say, even if I had not paid the tithe, the money still would have been there.  Perhaps that is true but hupomone living transcends circumstances.  The real victory is Spiritual not financial.  The flip side of it is that even if the extra money had not been provided and we ended up late and tight, the real victory is Spiritual not financial.  Hupomone living is about making choices guided by the Holy Spirit and based in the Word of God.  It is about living in our identity as children of God.

Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.  I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.  I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.  Philippians 4:11-13

Paul did not allow his circumstances to dictate his identity.  This is at the core of the hupomone life.  Onesimus was sent home as a runaway slave but his identity was a brother in Christ.  David was a shepherd boy, the least among his brothers, but his identity was the anointed king of Israel.  Hebrews 11 walks through a litany of hupomone men and women (study to come from Allana and her True Beauty Group). In His home town those who knew him spoke out of his circumstances and it blinded them to Jesus’ identity as the only begotten son of God.  The core nature of the hupomone lifestyle transcends circumstances.  It rests on the rock of Christ’s identity.  This is what anchors the house of the wise man and its lack causes the foolish man’s house to fall into the shifting sands.   Each of these men walked through the fires of circumstance, the facts and conditions that stood in the face of God’s will for their lives.   They were not perfect (with the exception of Jesus) but they trusted God and not circumstance.



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