May 16, 2018

By Faith Episode #15: Rachel Welcher on Unwanted Divorce and the Promises of God

Each week this season on By Faith I’m talking to someone who is walking forward by faith, many of them through difficult circumstances. We’re asking the question, “How does God meet us in our deepest, darkest pain and how does He turn that pain into beauty?” 

Have you ever had your theology confronted with the reality of a person’s life, story, or experience? I have, multiple times in fact. Sometimes my understanding of God and how he works has been challenged when a friend encounters suffering. Rising from the ashes isn’t a formula. Instead, it's often many stops and starts, waiting on God to transform a life, and also waiting on God to transform their understanding of how his grace reaches into every corner of their lives and teaches them how to live. In other words, life is messy and being a Christian isn’t a formula. We want to be people who not only respond to ourselves and others with the truth of Jesus but also the demeanor of Jesus. In other words, we want to be truth and grace people.
                                      
My guest on the show today shares this kind of a story, one that is fraught with pain and uncertainty but still, despite what she went through, the truth of God carried her through. Her name is Rachel Welcher. Rachel is married to Evan, who is a pastor in Iowa. She is a teacher and a poet, and in our conversation today, Rachel shares about her first marriage that ended in divorce. What Rachel shares is applicable to both those who are on the brink of divorce and those who want to minister to women in difficult marriages. I know you’ll find her so full of wisdom, and my prayer is that as we listen to Rachel’s story, we’d grow in empathy for others and also cling tighter to the God who never leaves us.

Listen to my conversation with Rachel on iTunes or, if you're on my website, in the embedded player below:

Links from the Show

Order Your Copy of Christine's Newest Book, Searching For Spring 


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May 9, 2018

By Faith Episode #14: Kristen Wetherell on Chronic Lyme Disease and Suffering

Each week this season on "By Faith" I’m talking to someone who is walking forward by faith, many of them through difficult circumstances. We’re asking the question, “How does God meet us in our deepest, darkest pain and how does He turn that pain into beauty?”

Today my guest on the show is Kristen Wetherell. Kristen is wife to Brad and mom to a newborn named Joanna. Kristen co-wrote a beautiful book with her friend Sarah Walton called Hope When It Hurts. In the book, they talk about their battle with chronic Lyme disease and the truths specifically from 2 Corinthians 4 and 5 that have anchored them in their suffering.
I wanted to talk to Kristen about her chronic illness, about suffering in general, and how we too can trust the Lord when, as the book of James says, we face trials of various kinds. I know you’ll find her words beneficial, no matter what circumstances you find yourself in.

Listen to my conversation with Kristen on iTunes or, if you're on my blog, in the embedded player below:


Links from the Show
The Orchard Church // Kristen and Sarah's book, Hope When It Hurts // Passages mentioned: Romans 5:1-5; 2 Corinthians 4:16-17; Psalm 119:68; Romans 8:28-32; 2 Corinthians 12:8-10

Order Your Copy of Christine's Newest Book, Searching For Spring 


Connect with Kristen
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May 2, 2018

By Faith Episode #13: Kyle Hoover on Endurance in Work and Ministry

Each week this season on By Faith I’m talking to someone who is walking forward by faith, many of them through difficult circumstances. We’re asking the question, “How does God meet us in our deepest, darkest pain and how does He turn that pain into beauty?”

Today my guest on the show is my very own husband, Kyle. You heard him interview me in Episode #7, but now I’ve turned the microphone on him! Kyle and I have been married 18 years, we have three boys together, and we’ve been partners in vocational ministry since year one of our marriage. We started in college ministry together at a church in College Station, Texas, working with students from our own alma mater, Texas A&M. In 2008, we moved to Charlottesville, Virginia in order to pursue God’s call on our lives to plant a church. If you just did the math, you know that we’re celebrating 10 years as a church this year.
I’ve watched my husband grow into his role as a lead pastor, preacher, and shepherd caring for the sheep. He is gifted for what he does, and he does it well and with deep integrity. In our conversation, you’ll hear us talk about what a pastor actually does and what the challenges of his work are.

You most likely aren't a pastor, but I want you to listen from the perspective of your own work. No matter who you are or whether or not you get paid, you work, and work is both rewarding and challenging, no matter what it is. Kyle shares with us the perspective he keeps that helps him endure in work that can at times be challenging and discouraging. I hope what he shares is helpful to you as you work by faith, believing that God is using it for his glory.

Listen to my conversation with Kyle on iTunes or, if you're on my website, in the embedded player below:
Links from the Show

Order Your Copy of Christine's Newest Book, Searching For Spring 


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April 25, 2018

By Faith Episode # 12: Jackie Taylor on Facing the Future Without Fear

Each week this season on By Faith, I’m talking to someone who is walking forward by faith, many of them through difficult circumstances. We’re asking the question, “How does God meet us in our deepest, darkest pain and how does He turn that pain into beauty?”

Today my guest on the show is Jackie Taylor. Jackie is a pastor’s wife, mom of four, and a huge encourager and helper for church planting wives like me. I first met Jackie when we were taping a resource for church planting wives and for whatever reason our best and most raw conversations happened in between taping, so much so that I wish we’d recorded it just for my own sake.

I asked Jackie to be my guest because she experienced some hardships early in life and walked her young daughter through a long battle with leukemia, and I wanted to learn from her how, even when bad things happen, we can face the future without fear.
Listen to my conversation with Jackie on iTunes or, if you're on my website, in the embedded player below:

Links from the Show

Connect with Jackie

Order Your Copy of Christine's New Book, Searching For Spring 


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April 23, 2018

Jesus Left Things Unfixed

The author Zack Eswine says, “We cannot expect to change what Jesus has left unfixed for the moment.” He calls these unchangeable realities, “inconsolable things”: the sins and miseries that will not be eradicated until heaven comes home, the things that only Jesus, and no one of us, can overcome.

We cannot expect to change what Jesus has left unfixed for the moment.

I’ve lived practically my entire life trying to disprove that statement. I’ve obsessed over perfection like a child attempts over and over to build a tall block tower only to watch it fall each time.

If I just try harder this time….

If I just use a little more willpower…

If I am more exacting with my work….

If I take more control….

If I finally figure out what will produce the results I’m looking for…

If I just do a little bit more…

If I could just figure out what it is that God has called me to do…

If I pray harder or have more faith…

If I could only accomplish all that I’ve set out to do…

If I could finally get my life in order…

What then? What is the conclusion I’m looking for exactly?

Well, in my mind, I’d experience peace, satisfaction, and joy. I'd finally reach the pinnacle. Everything about my life would be brought into order, including my marriage, my children, and my own mind and heart. More importantly, I’d avoid experiencing longing, unfulfilled dreams, pain, loneliness, disappointment, or failure. Somehow, if I can fix it all, I might be able to bypass what I’ve seen others walk through: betrayal, depression, cancer, and prodigal children.

In my obsession with perfection, I can pretend inconsolable things aren’t there.

I can earn my blessing.

I once heard of a pastor who spent time each week on a farm pulling weeds, hoping to bring about the renewal of all things on this earth. There is a reason he had to go back each week. The weeds kept growing back, because the weeds are always with us.

And my weeds are always going to be with me, just as yours are always going to be with you. To believe otherwise is to believe according to the Old Testament law, a dead stalk in dry ground, telling us we’re able to fix inconsolable things ourselves, that perfection on earth is possible. These are words of death, although often rather than sounding like death they sound like a noble dream. These are beliefs, however, that remove us from Jesus' fixed attention, beliefs that purposefully set him aside and force us to look inside of ourselves for the hope and power we need for living. We become the answer unto ourselves.

Jesus did address this, remember. He said these are the ways—the ancient ways—man has tried to eradicate sin and seek the conclusion their implanted seed seeks—peace with God. He said the only true conclusion is gifted blessing, gifted peace, gifted power, and gifted faith.

Gifted means it comes from someone else. He said that someone else was himself. He does it all for us according to our faith, but we have to wait to see with our eyes the completion and fullness of the blessing.

It is often an affront to us that Jesus left inconsolable things, that in his goodness he asks us to wait on the promise while also enduring pain and suffering. It is often offensive that he asks for us to go all in in the form of obedience that is hard and self-sacrificing. We stamp our feet and question how anything beautiful could be made from our suffering. We much prefer the pursuit of beauty we can grab onto in the present: immediately-satisfying things. Jesus doesn’t offer consolation to what cannot truly be consoled in the present; the world, however, will offer this false comfort.

Among the crowds, Jesus warned his listeners about this very thing. He described himself as a seed sower and his words as the seeds. There will be some, he said, who hear his words but don’t actually listen and still others who listen but then fall away, either because of suffering or because they are drawn away by the world’s offerings of false riches. (Matthew 13:1-23)

Our perpetual problem is that we don’t know true beauty when it is right in front of us. In our definition, beauty means no negativity, no suffering, no longing, and no waiting. Beauty is, in other words, instant and consumable.

We must be careful what we call beautiful. We must be careful not to attribute words to the Word that he never said. If picking weeds is our hope, than we have none at all. If we demand the present be perfectly beautiful, we not only prove we weren’t actually listening to Jesus’ words, but we become deeply offended that God is not living up to what we thought he'd be.

But as we look to time past, the inconsolable things communicate to us that there is still time to come, still creating left to do, and that there is a important element of waiting and faith involved in getting to see and experience ultimate beauty. Following Jesus still means going all in on commands and promises.

We are not meant to be completely fulfilled on this earth. This is a beauty held out by the world. It is shiny and sounds good and we believe if God really loved us he would fulfill us completely in the here and now.

But that’s not what Jesus said. Dear heart, Jesus didn't say he'd save you from affliction. Instead, he asked you to go all in on a promise of unexpected beauty sprouting up through that very affliction. He asks you to shift your eyes from tangible pain to an invisible hope.

Do we still think he is the most beautiful person we’ve ever encountered?




Friends, I hope you'll join me at the Enjoy the Word online Bible conference for women, May 2-4. I'm teaching a session entitled, "Understanding the Big Picture of the Old Testament." There is a great lineup of topics and speakers, including Elyse Fitzpatrick and the ladies from Risen Motherhood. Register here.