Patience through trials

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. —James 1:2-3 NKJV

To often we whine about challenges in our lives; we complain when things get difficult. Yet the difficult things of life are the very things that provide us with two very important opportunities: (1) to see ourselves as we really are (through our responses) and (2) to reflect on our situations and to grow through them.

Scott Peck recognized this idea in his book, The Road Less Traveled. He begins the book with the statement, “Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult-once we truly understand and accept it-then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.” Wrap your mind around that! Well, perhaps it’s not only “no longer,” yet the point should be well taken. Understanding that life is difficult helps us with our unrealistic expectations—we too often think that everything should go as we think it should go. (We are so self-centered.)

Ellen White has many statements regarding trials. Here is one of my favorites.

The trials of life are God’s workmen to remove the impurities, infirmities, and roughness from our characters, and fit them for the society of pure, heavenly angels in glory.

Until heaven, we won’t be able to see the clearer picture of how the events of our lives have truly affected us and how important the challenges have been in our preparation for a life without significant challenges—heaven.

I used to think that once we were in heaven (or in the twinkling of an eye) God would take away all of the negative parts of my character. But as I’ve thought about it, that way of thinking really doesn’t make much sense. As with muscles, so the character. And we also know when we get to heaven there will be no more tears and no more sorrow; our trials in heaven will be quite different than the challenges here. It appears that heaven is not designed to be a place of deep character growth and that’s one big reason we are on this earth—to grow character.

Let me close with a substantial quote from Ellen White that brings me to self-reflection. It leads me to question my natural thoughts. Yet, at the same time, it is also empowering and helps me find a reason beyond myself for making changes—for my children.

In heaven there is perfect order, perfect obedience, perfect peace and harmony. Those who have had no respect for order or discipline in this life would have no respect for the order which is observed in heaven. They can never be admitted into heaven, for all worthy of an entrance there will love order and respect discipline. The characters formed in this life will determine the future destiny. When Christ shall come, He will not change the character of any individual. Precious, probationary time is given to be improved in washing our robes of character and making them white in the blood of the Lamb. To remove the stains of sin requires the work of a lifetime. Every day renewed efforts in restraining and denying self are needed. Every day there are new battles to fight and victories to be gained. Every day the soul should be called out in earnest pleading with God for the mighty victories of the cross. Parents should neglect no duty on their part to benefit their children. They should so train them that they may be a blessing to society here and may reap the reward of eternal life hereafter.

May God bless you on your journey.

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Missing Pieces of True Education

Missing Pieces of True Education is a series of presentations given at the 2015 Michigan Conference Camp Meeting. The slides, in PDF form, are available for download below. If you have comments or questions, please contact me at: randy(at)

May God bless our efforts towards True Education!

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My job and God’s

After 3 days of playing tag with each other via text messages, we finally found a time to get together. This young man was struggling with an issue in life and was seeking counsel.

We sat on some rocks, side by side, and he shared with me his daily struggle with how everything was going to work out. He worried, “Was the money going to show up in time?” He had some upcoming payments and he couldn’t see how it was going to work out.

What became clear in that conversation, at least to me, was that we have jobs, and God has jobs. We should not do His, and He, in turn, will not do ours.

This can be illustrated in several ways. Consider our gardens. We plant the seed, we water the soil, we tend to the weeds and make sure there is rich soil. Yet we don’t make the plants grow, that’s God’s job.

Jesus said, “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” (Matthew 6:28-30)

Jesus makes the point that God has a job of making sure you are clothed and asks you not to worry about it. It’s His job. Don’t take on His work.

Another illustration can be seen through the preparation for the resurrection of Lazarus. The book The Desire of Ages paints the picture this way.

“‘Take ye away the stone.’ Christ could have commanded the stone to remove, and it would have obeyed His voice. He could have bidden the angels who were close by His side to do this. At His bidding, invisible hands would have removed the stone. But it was to be taken away by human hands. Thus Christ would show that humanity is to co-operate with divinity. What human power can do divine power is not summoned to do. God does not dispense with man’s aid. He strengthens him, co-operating with him as he uses the powers and capabilities given him.” – (DA 535.3, emphasis added)

I find we too often miss the realization that God is in charge of the result, but we have a work to do. Our work does not, by itself, accomplish the result, but is needed. Our work is necessary, but not sufficient.

The result is worry and fret over things that are not ours to worry about. If you have given your life over to God, then it is His responsibility to take care of the end results. He is in charge. We are to obey His commands, do what He says, and the result is in His hands.

One way in which I have put this into practice is in my morning devotions. Each morning as I get out of bed and seek my quiet place and some time with God, the Bible does not come flying over to me. No angel is sent from heaven to work the supernatural work of putting the Bible in my hands. I can do that. Additionally, I can read. So I’d do.

The supernatural work is for me to gain a spiritual blessing from my reading. That’s God’s job. So I can read, but God must provide the insight.

Ellen White explains the depth of the words of Christ and how to understand them.

“Christ is the truth. His words are truth, and they have a deeper significance than appears on the surface. All sayings of Christ have value beyond their unpretending appearance. Minds that are quickened by the Holy Spirit will discern the value of these sayings.” (COL 110)

The point here is that it’s not my job to worry about attaining a great spiritual blessing from God–that’s His job, the job of the Holy Spirit. It’s my job to set up the conditions for the blessing–I read.

As we concluded the day and I drove him home, we sat in the car reviewing what we talked about. I have my work, God has His. He will be faithful in the results, if I am faithful in doing my part.

I hope it was helpful to him. It was for me.

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Michigan Camp Meeting Weather Miracle.

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