God has a wonderful plan for your life.

“‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope’.”

– Jer 29.11

If you are a Christian, if you have ever been around Christians, or if you have ever seen any Christian paraphernalia, chances are high that you have seen, heard or have memorized this verse.  This is a promise of God; a direct quote from His mouth (to the people of Israel, while in captivity to Babylon, but generally applied to God’s goodness and intention for His people).

Yes, it is true.  God has a perfect plan for your life.  He is sovereign, He is in control, and He will work everything out for your good and His glory (Rom 8.28).  However, often times that does not look how we think it will look.  I saw this cartoon online and it was too perfect not to share:

God has a wonderful plan for our life

His will is our sanctification, that we be more like Jesus (1 Thess 4.3).  God wants to prosper our Spirits in the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5.22-23).  He does not necessarily want to prosper our bank accounts.  Our good might be the trials of this life that cause us to persevere, and praise God because perseverance produces “proven character; and proven character, hope” (Rom 5.4).

Think on that today.  As our traditional day of giving thanks as a nation rapidly approaches, let us rethink those things for which we give thanks, those things about which we complain, and those things which we overlook.  Because God is working all of those things for His glory and our good.  Our hope, Christian, is Jesus.  Our future is eternity.  Keep your eyes on Him, the author and perfecter of our faith (Heb 12.1-2).

Are you a thinker or a feeler?

I am a thinker.  To a fault.  I can compartmentalize, talk about subjects and situations completely removing all emotional attachment and excel at problem solving.  This is extremely beneficial in the work place, academia and the logical side of life.  However, I often assume people are processing situations the same way that I am and I might speak to a problem or situation without considering another’s emotional involvement in that situation, because to me problem solving is the default.

One of my best friends is a licensed counselor and is working on her PhD in counseling.  We had a terribly interesting conversation a few months ago about the counseling world and how we, as a society, are trying to force thinkers to be feelers.  I was told once that I need to practice “feeling statements” and get in touch with my feelings.  “I feel _____ because _____ “.  We, as a society, equate relational ability with feelings.

I believe that God gave us feelings.  He speaks to His provision of grace and mercy being the foundation for our joy, and that the joy of the Lord is our strength (Neh 8.10).  Solomon says that there is a season for everything:

“There is an appointed time for everything.  And there is a time for every event under heaven—a time to give birth and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.  A time to kill and a time to heal; a time to tear down and a time to build up.  A time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance.  A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.  A time to search and a time to give up as lost; a time to keep and a time to throw away.  A time to tear apart and a time to sew together; a time to be silent and a time to speak.  A time to love and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace.”

– Ecc 3.1-8

We are also encouraged, in community and relationships to “rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (Rom 12.15).  So there is a very real emotional connection and building up of one another that we are admonished to embrace and practice within the Church.

But two women have spoken into my life clearly this week:  We need to understand and embrace the person that God has created us to be.  He has gifted each of us differently, and “if the foot says, ‘Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,’ it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body” (1 Cor 12.15).  If He made you a thinker, be the best thinker for His glory.  If He created you as a feeler, feel to His glory!  Now I am not saying that we do not need to continually be learning and growing as individuals and as Christians.  But I have, for a long time, considered myself less of a woman because I am not emotionally oriented.  Being a thinker or feeler by disposition is not inherently sinful, and thus we do not need to seek to change those attributes about ourselves.  We need to seek to change our sinful responses that are expressed because of those dispositions.  And we need to value one another in the unique ways He has gifted us!

Jonathan Edwards wrote a book called “The Religious Affections”.  I highly recommend it to both thinkers and feelers.  Everyone.  He notes that there is an intellectual and emotional response to God in the outworking of salvation and he offers twelve tests by which we can evaluate our conversion to see if it is genuine.  He then observes the fruit of the Spirit as outlined in Galatians 5 as the emotional and appropriate response for all believers in relationship to God, with love being the primary response:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

– Gal 5.22-23

What is important to remember is that the way that different people express and experience love is different.  And there is no “right way” to do it.  We each enjoy relationships and we each enjoy God differently.  And the different ways that we think and feel makes full and complete the body of Christ.  Embrace your gift.  Embrace your disposition.  Ask God to reveal to you the fullness of your experience with Him and fall more in love with Him every day, in the way that He expresses Himself to you and you to Him.  And use that to edify the body and push one another on to good works (Heb 10.24).  Do not consider yourself less of a body member because of your disposition.  But do consider one another’s interests above your own (Phil 2.4), and put aside the things of the flesh (Rom 13.12, Col 3.8).

Does Jesus Truly Understand Temptation?

“A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is . . . A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in . . . Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means—the only complete realist.”

– C.S. Lewis

What does it mean, really, that Jesus was tempted in every way that we are (Heb 4.15)?  If Jesus never gave in to sin, does He fully comprehend the agony of desiring sin?

I would argue, like C.S. Lewis, that the one who does not give in to sin would know more fully the weight of temptation.  The one who gives in to his temptations satisfies his wants.  He feels the pull that we all feel to lie, or steal, or give up on his marriage, or give in to lust, or just take the easy way out.  He satisfies his flesh.  He has not been tested over a long period of time to desire something but to choose to do right – to choose to abstain – to choose to deprive his flesh.  You have experienced the relief of the temptation and the longing. You have indulged in the momentary satisfaction that sin brings.  But Jesus never had that pleasure.  He was tempted in every way that we are yet never once gave in.  He had complete self-control and perfectly expressed self-denial against every. single. sin.

Bad people, all people, have lived a sheltered life by giving in to sin.  Christ is the only man who knows to the full what temptation really means.  He is the only one who regularly dealt with longings, desires and temptations and never once caved.  He never relieved any desire by giving in.  He knows – better than you and me – what it is to be tempted.  So let’s trust Him!  Let’s take captive every thought, sin and encumbrance that so easily entangles us and know that we are not being tempted beyond what is common to man and that we are not being tempted beyond what we are able to resist with the help of God who always provides a way of escape (Heb 12.1, 1 Cor 10.13).  Let us follow the example of self denial and self discipline and cling to Him who knows far better than us the trials of temptation.