In HOPE
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David Timms 

Issue 5.7

Ministry Resource

Thelma Hall's little book Too Deep For Words: Rediscovering Lectio Divina (Paulist Press, 1988, 110pp) is a beautiful description of how to "pray the Scriptures." She describes the ancient practice of lectio in clear and moving ways. Ready for something deeper than the usual "devotionals"? This might guide you there.

HOPE Happenings

This weekend, Alan Rabe, Dean of the School of Graduate Studies, travels to Vietnam and then China to continue building bridges with authorities and educational institutions in those places. It seems that the Lord may be opening doors for Hope International University to carry the gospel through education into places most people can't access. Please be in prayer for this trip.

Tough Times

The Apostle Paul would not get a job on the motivational circuit today, nor a speaking engagement in most churches. His external affairs reeked of failure.

 

Before his Damscus Road experience, Paul had been the epitome of success; a brilliant, well-networked, affluent, rising star. After his conversion, his story changed dramatically. He preached "life to the full," but the soup-kitchens, threadbare clothes, regular jail stints, and homeless shelters hardly made him a walking advertisement for success - then or now.

 

Paul recounts afflictions, sufferings, a death sentence, distress, imprisonments, hunger, sleeplessness, beatings, a stoning, and multiple shipwrecks. As we read 2 Corinthians 6 and 11, we wait for him to say, "And Jesus carried me through the tough times and - hallelujah - He's turned it all around!" I could embrace that kind of faith. But for Paul, the turn around never comes. We hear no "twist." His hardships apparently never come to an end.

 

This disturbs and demoralizes some of us. Where's the power of Christ? Such laboring looks more like punishment than blessing. Where are the benefits of the faith?

 

As we endure our own hardship, it's often with the expectation that soon it will be over and good will come. But what if "good" doesn't come? What if the opposition we face, the stress we experience, and the pressures we encounter are to continue?

 

How did Paul deal with tough times? Helooked within himself.And what he found in the inner man was a transformation that could not be stolen or surgically removed. He saw the Father changing him - not his circumstances - from glory to glory (2 Cor 3.18). Paul viewed his suffering as producing "an eternal weight of glory" and he stayed focused on "the things that are not seen, which are eternal" (2 Cor 4.17-18). Christ was dramatically changing the man.

 

In short, Paul sees nothing wrong with suffering or dying - because resurrection is guaranteed. He has no sanitized faith that depends on good times. He has no civilized Christianity that secretly longs for material blessing. He is not searching for the benefits of faith, but he longs for a deeper walk with the Benefactor. He considers all things loss "in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus."

 

We want so much - as people, and as leaders - to be successful, popular, comfortable, and influential. In that pursuit, we forget that the Apostle Paul's circumstances were mostly disastrous. His parents must have wrung their hands. Was he accident prone or was God constantly punishing him? Or was there another way to look at it?

 

May the Lord give us the perspective of Paul as we walk through dark valleys. Escape is no solution; our inner transformation makes the difference. "To die with Christ is to also live with Him, eternally."

 

In HOPE -

Hope International University
Fullerton, CA 92831

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David Timms Chairs the Graduate Ministry Department at Hope International University in Fullerton, California. "In HOPE", however, is not an official publication of the University and the views expressed are not necessarily those of the administrators or Board of the institution.

For back issues of In HOPE, see http://www.hiu.edu/inhope/