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Finding Contentment in Faith: Reflections on Psalm 22 and Paul’s Struggles

Finding Contentment in Faith I had something of an epiphany. I’ve realized it before, but for some reason, today it stuck with me. Reading some of David’s Psalms (today it was Ps. 22) you see what almost seems like someone very confused or unsure of what he really means. In the very first verse, he asks God, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (NASB95) Ever felt that way? Wrestling with Doubt and Faith All the way through verse 20 he very poetically describes the significance of his woes in a variety of manner, often pleading with God to respond. Then suddenly, in verse 21 he begins to plea again, but then adds, “From the horns of the wild oxen You answer me.” (NASB95) He starts off twice saying that God is not answering his prayers, then says that in the middle of danger, “You answer me.” Wait, what? Are you talking about the same God? Verse 22 begins David’s proclamation that he will share God’s goodness. In verse 24 he goes so far as to say, “For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; Nor has He hidden His face from him; But when he cried to Him for help, He heard.” (NASB95) He continues on this way for another seven verses. What struck me this morning about this Psalm is that in reality, in sounds like so many of our lives. Think about it. We as Christians say we love God and trust Him. We even pray for His assistance now and again at least. Yes, some people fall away from faith after unanswered prayers, but for the rest of us, it leaves a problem. In church, we might put on a brave face or even ask for prayer, but we never hint at any doubt. And indeed, many never really doubt God. We hold to His

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Trusting in God’s Plan: A Candid Confession

I have a confession to make I’m human and despite all the good advice that people come to me for, I sometimes don’t follow it myself. Contentment Amidst Challenges: Lessons from “Blessed Brokenness” Some may know whether through my books or other means that I am disabled. I have a neurological condition that is uncurable and progressive. At this point, I’ve been unable to get proper treatment or even a solid diagnosis. I’m forced to work with my primary care physician, who isn’t comfortable doing very much. He does try to treat my symptoms but won’t try anything new since he doesn’t understand what is happening. I get it, “Do no harm.” I already have been through a horrible experience that turned out to be a reaction to a medication prescribed by a doctor that was trying to help and that I trusted. I’m not complaining mind you. If you have read my second book, Blessed Brokenness, then you already know that I have learned to be content. (Sort of.) Escalating Symptoms: Facing Uncertainty Once Again At any rate, my symptoms have recently gotten worse again. Each time they do, I have to learn a new routine, a new acceptable standard for myself. This time, I’m struggling a little. I’m working on a third book and I’m still counseling, but I can’t get past this feeling that God has more for me to do. So, I feel like I need to do it before I can’t anymore. This is where I have failed to follow my own (and God’s) advice. In the 30th chapter of Isaiah, we find the prophet giving the people a serious tongue lashing. He’s letting them know that God is not happy, and destruction is coming their way. In verse 15 we find out why. Apparently, God had told them that He would handle some enemy. He wanted them to trust

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What Will Be Said About You?

You may remember that originally, God established the nation of Israel. But, after Solomon began to turn from God and sin, then his son continued, the northern ten tribes rebelled and made Jeroboam the king over Israel while Rehoboam, Solomon’s son was king over the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and the Levites. The Levites stayed with Judah because Jeroboam and Israel left God. Throughout the following years, some kings were better at following God and others were not. Finally, we get down to Jehoram in Judah and Asa in Israel. Although Jehoram’s father had done a pretty good job of following the Lord and received the Lord’s favor, Jehoram chose to follow the ways of Israel. He was cursed by God for turning away from the Lord. Jehoram died a horrible death. And in 2 Chronicles 21:20, it says that he died with no one’s regret. As soon as I read that, I immediately thought, “Wow, that stings.” Just a little later, in 2 Chronicles 27:6, we read that Jotham ‘became mighty because he ordered his ways before the Lord his God.” What a difference from Jehoram! They each went down in history being known for who they were. Yesterday, we celebrated Easter and all that Christ did for us. We celebrate His life and have much to say and remember about Him. But what about you? Years ago, there was a song performed on the radio show, A Prairie Home Companion. It was called Stupid Questions. One of the stupid questions featured came after a man was crying. His friend asked why he was crying. “I just came from my brother’s funeral.” “Did he die?” “No, he just wanted to see who would show up.” Do you ever wonder what people will say about you? Should we not live our lives setting ourselves up to be spoken of as lovers of God and people?

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Review of – “NASB Wide-Margin Bible”

I just received an Advance Review Copy of Zondervan’s newest Bible.  It boasts several features and I want to look at each of them. Before I do, I admit, I’m traditional in many ways. I prefer to read paper. This Bible has the traditional gold edge pages. The pages are still lightweight, but much thicker than what we used to call “onion skin.” There’s something almost elegant to me of the feel of the super fine pages. It adds to the feel of specialness to the book you are holding. But, those thinner pages get crinkled, tear easily, and don’t lend themselves to highlighting or adding notes. Wide Margins The name of this particular edition of the Bible could not be more true. The margins are HUGE. At first glance, it just felt strange. But, if you are a note taker and like to put your notes in there next to the verses, then this is the Bible for you! Two-Color Page Design Admittedly, I am color-blind and often miss subtle differences in color. But, I can see at least some of what they intended and the pages are indeed pleasant to look at. Admittedly, this is probably the least important feature to me. Concordance I was surprised when I looked at the concordance. I was automatically expecting something along the lines of a Hebrew/Greek concordance. What makes this feature really exciting is that it is an English language concordance of the Bible itself. So, if there is a verse that you can’t quite remember where it is or maybe even the complete verse, just flip back to the concordance. You can look up the beginning of a phrase or the name of someone in the Bible and find the applicable verse or verses. Of course, there is no way it could possibly be completely comprehensive. But I was very impressed with how thorough it

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Finding Contentment in God's Love

Finding Contentment in God’s Love: Basking in His Blessings

As my coffee is heating in the microwave, I stand at the kitchen sink and cut open an avocado for breakfast. I love standing here. The sky is just beginning to lighten behind the Peacock Mountains and I can see off in the distance the headlights of semis and a few cars dropping into our bowl shaped valley as they head west on Interstate 40. It’s still a little too cold to sit out front on my deck chair and watch as the mountain across the way lights up from the top down as the sun rises behind the house. Wherever I look I can enjoy the views from my high desert home. Morning Reflections: Gratitude and Sadness I’m thankful and I try to remember to thank God out loud each morning for what I get to enjoy. But this morning a wave of sadness comes over me. For some reason I am reminded of all the people, even Christians, who are so burdened by the cares of this life to enjoy, even for a second, this world where God allows us to live. The more I spend my time focused on the beauty of God and His love, the less the cares of this world matter to me. Spreading the Message: Sharing God’s Blessings I wish I could get this word out to everyone. I wish I could change how Christians see their existence. God loves us so much. I was on a business call where he was giving me his time to answer questions. But, I ended up being able to share with him how God has blessed us over the years. He thanked me for blessing him! Despite reading Psalm 23 this morning, my examples helped him to see how it looked in real life. Seeing how it looked in real life was inspiring to him and hopefully helped him to see

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Navigating Life’s Challenges with Faith: A Journey of Trials and Trust

As I write this, it’s early Saturday morning. As usual, I woke up shortly after 5 AM. If it’s after 5, I’ll get up. If it’s before 5, I try to go back to sleep. Now, I’ve had my breakfast of an avocado and the last of a brick of cream cheese and am on my second and last cup of coffee. I’ve read my Bible and prayed. But, it’s still too early to wake up my wife for her morning pills. Early Morning Reflections: Setting the Scene I’ve been feeling a little guilty that I haven’t been keeping up with my blog So this is the perfect time to write an entry. Why did I give you so much detail about my day? Well, it provides a backdrop for what I need to share. At first blush, my morning sounds like any other aging man that needs less sleep as he gets older (of course, we nap in the middle of the day, but that doesn’t count, right?). But, I’m not that old. I’m only 55. I’ve been officially disabled for a little over 9 years now. Navigating Life’s Challenges: The Journey Begins For much of those 9 years, my wife and I held a fairly active and vibrant life. I was counseling in an office with her by my side. We helped in ministry at multiple churches. But, in that time she has had 13 surgeries. Of those surgeries, two were botched which left her with a brain infection that had her hospitalized most of 6 months. As they tried to send her home, we had an ambulance in our driveway 7 times sending her back. Finally, the last time she went in, I just emotionally couldn’t call an ambulance. Late at night, I dressed her, put her in her power chair, then the van, then walked with her chair into the emergency

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Listening to the Heroes: Drawing Lessons from Biblical Characters

Reflecting on Predictions and Divine Lessons A pastor friend of mine started a sermon series last week called “Listening to the Heroes.” He explained that he’s going to draw lessons from the lives of Biblical heroes. Who you consider to be a hero is of course a line that isn’t the same for everyone. I don’t mean that we should cheer on villains, but that what it takes to be considered a hero isn’t the same for everyone. For that matter, I find many characters and their stories very interesting today that I didn’t in the past. A Chuckle at Serendipity I had to laugh a little when he started talking about the series though. Thirty-three years ago, I was graduating from Bible school with my Bachelors in Ministerial Sciences with an emphasis on Pastoral Care. We were the very first class to graduate in that program, so it was a small and fairly tight knit group. The program was the brainchild and labor of love for a man we called Doctor J. As much as we loved Doc J., he loved each of us at least as much. He was our advisor, the chair of the department, and our primary instructor. Around graduation, as we all were returning from our internships, there were several get-togethers. At one of them, Doc J. made a ten-year prediction for each of us. I had been into journalism before I changed my major to ministry. And I had worked in radio since high school. So, Doc J.’s prediction for me was that in ten years I would have a radio show called, Hogan’s Bible Heroes. As I was listening to my friend preach last week, I remembered the prediction and thought once again about doing that somehow. As I listened further, I realized he was using much of the scriptures and truths that I used in my first

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Inherent Value: Made in His Image

Embracing Inherent Value: Made in His Image

Discovering Your Inherent Value Do you know your inherent value? Do you? Do you know where your inherent value comes from? In Genesis 1, we see the creation story. God made everything in an order that made sense and we’re told that He did it day by day over six days. God’s Deliberate Separation God very clearly makes distinct separations between each bit of creating. Up until day 6, those separations are by days. Then God changed it up a little bit. On the sixth day, God made every land creature. But there is a distinct separation right after that. He says that it was good. In verses 20 through 22, he fills the seas with all the fish and large sea creatures. But that’s all jumbled up with making birds to fill the skies. Then we have the separator of a new day. There’s no distinction making one or the other stand out. So in the middle of the sixth day when God calls all the land animals good, we see verses 26 and 27. Not only had God ended one action (the creating of land animals) with declaring it good, which seems to be a unique separator in itself. Verse 26 though starts with “Then.” That very clearly separates what he had just done from what He is about to do. His next act stands out as special simply because it is the only part of creation throughout these verses that stands alone. The Emphasis on Being Made in His Image Genesis 1:26 and 27 say, “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 God created man in His own

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Be Held by Him

Are you stressed, sick, worn out, or weary? Has your body broken, slowed up, or let you down? Do you feel alone in all that you are walking through? If this is you, then you’re in good company. This is the book I needed 10 years ago when I was struck with a debilitating mystery illness. In these pages, I share the encouragements God poured out to me, believing they will speak to you and reassure you in your own hard time. Come. Come and be encouraged by God and all that He has done. Be uplifted knowing that what He does for one, He can do for you and more.

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Lord of the Circle

Note from Rev. Matthew Hogan: Pastor Kyle Gerrild is simultaneously an old friend I’ve found again after many years and a gifted author. But, I wouldn’t share his book just because we had been friends. Pastor Kyle is a man I have discovered as a solid man of God and a solid preacher. Out of curiosity, I bought and read Lord of the Circle. I have found it to be an entertaining and thought provoking book that I would recommend for any youth study group. Lord of the Circle is a historical fiction centering on Joshua and Caleb’s conquest of Jericho and wrapped around circular insights from the real world. This book contains a little bit of science, a little bit of history, a fair amount of fiction, AND a number of thought-provoking questions sprinkled here and there. It’s a fairly easy read and designed to be used for personal or group studies. While appropriate for all ages, it will most likely find its sweet spot among families/ or groups with young people 6-18.

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Amy Connell

Amy is an NASM Certified Personal Trainer who wants you to take a rest day and an NASM Certified Nutrition Coach who wants you to enjoy dessert. Her message of realistic, sustainable and nourishing health goals resonates with women, regardless of if they are comfortable with their food and movement or if they only run when chased by a bear. Pursuing a healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to mean pursuing perfection, in fact, sometimes we find optimal fulfillment by breaking some of those health “rules” that promote all-or-nothing perfection. Amy Connell lives out this principle by equally enjoying dark chocolate, roasted Brussels sprouts, and potato chips (but not together).

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Why Trust a God Who Disappoints?

Why Trust a God Who Disappoints? A serious diagnosis took Lori Ann Wood on a faith detour she never saw coming. As a lifelong believer, she felt profound disappointment in the God she thought she knew. Wanting answers, but more than anything needing permission to ask the questions. Divine Detour is a result of a risky decision to embrace those difficult questions. She shares her hard-won insights through relatable stories, inviting you along on a 40-Day journey deep into the heart of a God who often doesn’t behave as we’d like.

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