May 23, 2018

By Faith Episode #16: Jason Duesing on Hope in a Cynical Age

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?” 

This is the last regular episode of Season 1. Next week I’ll share a special episode called “Ask Me Anything,” where I’m answering your most pressing questions, and where I’ll also reveal what’s coming up next for the By Faith podcast. Yes, there will be more seasons! I originally started this podcast in conjunction with the release of my new book, Searching for Spring, because I wanted to hear and share stories with you about how people are living out the theme of the book, specifically how people are walking forward by faith believing God is going to make all things beautiful. But I’ve loved it so much that I’m going to explore new and different themes. So tune in next week for what’s coming. I’m excited to share!
My guest on the show today is Jason Duesing. Jason is the provost at Midwestern Seminary in Kansas City. He also happens to be a friend of ours who we’ve known since our college days. Everyone we know who also knows him agrees that he is one of the best people we know. Personally, he’s been a huge supporter of my writing, and so I’m incredibly glad to share him with you today. Jason’s written a new book called Mere Hope: Life in an Age of Cynicism. I love that title, and I love the book! I think understanding our hope is such a fitting close to this season of the By Faith podcast, because we've been talking about how we’re walking forward by faith, and my guests have shared practical ways they’re doing that, but we need a solid understanding of what we’re walking forward toward. What is the hope that calls us forward? That’s the question I put to Jason. 
Friends, you’re going to want to read Jason’s new book, Mere Hope. Thanks to B&H Books, one listener will win a copy! Head over to my Instagram page and look for the Mere Hope book cover image to find out how you can win.

Listen to my conversation with Jason 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 


Connect with Jason
Blog // Instagram // Twitter

Connect with Christine
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May 21, 2018

We Need All Creators Creating

I sit with a friend over breakfast, our table squeezed in among other pairs of diners. We reach across to one another and hold hands for a brief moment. She has tears in her eyes and I have tears in mine, both of us tired and both of us broken over the state of things. She tells me her heaviness and I tell her mine, and I realize we’re asking the same question of one another: Does the work we’re doing matter at all?
In our own ways, we’re each seeking redemption and reconciliation, for ourselves and for others. In trying so fervently to dispense hope and then discovering our impotency to right all wrongs, we’ve lost the very thing we’ve tried to give. We ourselves are empty and vulnerable. We feel invisible and wonder why we should care anymore. Why should we care for the disenfranchised? Why should we continue to shoulder responsibility? Why should we go on loving those who have wounded us so deeply? Why produce and cultivate when we could sit back and merely consume?

I’m reminded that creative work done in imitation of God is always focused on redemption, for this is his pattern. It’s also fraught with difficulty. When we step out in front of the crowd, willing to lead and communicate and counsel and carry burdens, sometimes we stand alone and, many times, our work will be done through tears.

Solomon, in his brief treatise on beauty and time, says there is nothing better than to use what we’ve been given to do good in this life (Ecclesiastes 3:12). How, I wonder, is it better to sacrifice for the thankless than to seek my own good?

Because the most beautiful beauty in this life is redemption, and redemption only comes through sacrifice. Jesus sacrificed so our redemptive story could be written; if we are to create beauty in this life, it will involve imitating the Savior’s sacrifice.

We must be in the mix, embracing the hard work. In the paradox kingdom, the greatest is a servant and the one who chooses to be last will one day exalted to first. Although these are valued roles in the kingdom, they are thankless, invisible roles in the world. Who cares for the servant? Who supports the last in line? Who remembers the one at the bottom?

Those who do good creatively, who seek redemption persistently, find solace and help in the arms of the Suffering Servant. Our God is a God who sees the invisible and remembers what they have done in his name. This is why it’s better to sacrifice than to self-indulge—it draws us close into the heart of our Savior.

His heart helps me continue on when I wonder where he’s writing redemption, for when I’m embraced by him, I can also wait on him. Secure in him, I can then acknowledge there are things he left inconsolable and faithfully work, knowing that change or healing or beauty may not come quickly. We may need to walk alongside a friend for many seasons, bearing with them and they with us, until beautiful fruit is borne. In order to do this, we must be willing to engage doubts, temporary setbacks, questions, tears, and all of our own struggles to believe and endure that spring up in the process.

Perhaps you’re waiting for something to be made beautiful. What can you do in the meantime? Give yourself to creative good. Give your life to love and serve in the ways you’ve been gifted. Draw your own perspective back to the small beauties of everyday life. Engage with others at the redemption level of life. Love others enough that you’d seek beauty for them as well as yourself.

One of my favorite aspects of how God designed the church is that we each have different ways of seeking redemption for others. We get to be creative according to where God has placed us and what story he’s given us and what gifts and skills he’s implanted in us. We don’t all have to do good in the same ways. In fact, we mustn’t, because we need every stitch in the whole pattern in order to draw the eye to the whole Christ.

I’ve recently recognized God calling me to lay down roles and take up influence, to be creative in doing good. How can I creatively use my influence, however small it is, in my community? The answer: to work toward change in the very things my friend and I were talking about over breakfast. Loving mercy, hating injustices, loving people, hating what keeps us from community with one another.

God has given us work to do. He has placed us in homes, in families, in neighborhoods and workplaces. How are you cultivating beauty? Craft your sermon with diligence. Receive your customers with joy. Proctor your class with excellence. Teach your children with love. Order your home with care. Embrace your suffering with patience.

Our creative work is a love offering.

And we need all creators creating.

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 


Connect with Rachel
Blog // Instagram // Twitter

Connect with Christine
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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
Blog // Instagram // Twitter

Connect with Christine
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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 


Connect with Christine
Blog // Facebook // Instagram // Twitter // Books