Friday, February 26, 2010

A Crisis of Faith - Part 1 "The Sovereignty of God" series

First of all, let me start this post by saying that today is Kathryn's birthday. She would be 16 today, a huge birthday. My mom, the girls and I all went to the cemetery to put out some new flowers. It is the only thing that I can do for this precious one's birthday, apart from remembering the one we were blessed to spend with her when she turned a year old. So, Happy Birthday Kathryn Grace...
Well, I've been working on this for hours. If you find any typos, or grammatical errors, it's because I've given up - I'm ready for bed! :o)

Part 1: A Crisis of Faith

Everyone who calls himself a “Believer”, a “Christian”, a “Follower”, (insert your own choice of title here) will at some time in their life come face to face with a crisis of belief. For the sake of this article, I am going to define the term this way: A Crisis of Belief – a time of great physical and/or emotional crisis during which one’s personal belief system is tried and tested.

So, there you have it, perhaps you’ve already experienced this yourself. Perhaps, you’ve already experienced several of these. If you are young, you may not have come to this place yet in your walk with the Lord, but rest assured, a time will come for you. Just as surely as it came for Peter on a number of occasions, the questions will come for you too, and perhaps you will be ready spiritually to answer them or perhaps you will be young in your faith and unsure how to answer them. Either way, they will come, and you will answer, and much about your life from that point on will revolve around the event/events preceding it and your answer.

Examples from the life of Peter:

  1. “’Who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered and said, ’You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.’” 1 Peter 16:15-16
  2. “‘It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit and they are life. But there are some of you who do not believe.’...And He said, ‘Therefore I have said to you that no one can come unless it has been granted to him by My Father.’ From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, ‘Do you also want to go away’ but Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” John 6:63-67
  3. Sadly, it would be this same Peter who only a short time later would “begin to curse and swear, saying, ‘I do not know the Man!’” Matthew 26:74
  4. Thankfully, Christ would appear to Peter after His resurrection, giving Him 3 times to declare his love for Him, showing fruits of his repentant heart, and truly trusting in Christ, in John 21:15-17

And so it was, on April 10th, 1995, that a crisis entered my life that caused me to have to answer the same question – WHO IS HE?

Is He in fact the Christ, the Son of the Living God, as I professed Him to be in November of 1990. Is He my Rock and my Fortress, my God in whom I trust? Is He my Savior and my Redeemer? Is He the one who died to free me from my sin, and the curse that came with it?

Or, is all of this (the gospel/the Bible) some fantasy, some made up story created by man to help him cope with the events of this life? What is the purpose of life? Why am I here? What is all of this for? How do I find hope in the midst of death and disease? How is it possible that any good thing could come from all of this? How could this ever be something that would bring glory to God? The questions were unending and the answers were hard to grasp.

But, let me back up a tad, you have to know how I got here, right?

My husband and I married in April of 1990, as unbelievers. We were sinners of the worst kind (perhaps that’s a redundant statement). Anyway, we were not nice people. We were not even good people. I would later learn “There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one.” Romans 3:10-12, we had a lot of company, the whole world.

It would take entirely too long to go through the testimony of my experience of being born again here, and that is not the current topic at hand. But, suffice it to say, I was not looking for God. He was however looking for me. And one night, after reading the Bible (and I didn’t read the Bible as a matter of habit) I went to my knees in my living room before a loving, righteous, just God and stood up a new creation. At the same time, the Lord was at work in my husband’s heart as well, and he also came to Christ. We were both transformed – within days/maybe hours of one another. Praise be to God!

It was 4 years later that we would welcome our first child into the world, Kathryn Grace. She was the most beautiful baby I’d ever seen – of course – and we were so proud to be her parents. I remember those first months being so totally overwhelmed. We had no idea what we were doing. Oh yeah, parenting that first one is a doozy!!

Right away we knew that something was wrong. Born with a heart murmur (which runs in my family, along with a hereditary, genetic heart defect), she was immediately under the scrutiny of a pediatric cardiologist within days of her birth. The weeks, and months of that first year would bring continually worsening reports of her condition. Every visit to the doctor, the news became more grim, her condition more of a concern, and open heart surgery imminent. Every time I would even drive in the vicinity of University Hospital I would become sick to my stomach.

I remember the last time that we saw the cardiologist there before we flew to Boston for the angioplasty that would come before her surgery. My father was with me that day, and the news was really bad, she was very sick and thought to be in respiratory failure. As we left his office, I was trying to figure out how I was going to tell Todd, and my mother, and the people where I worked (a church), and our friends and family, and the people in our own church. I remember thinking about “disconnecting” myself from Kathryn emotionally because all of this was simply too painful to absorb. I knew that would be impossible - she was my baby, my child, my precious one – and yet I felt the need for some sort of self preservation, some kind of relief. I know now that there is no relief in matters such as these, you just have to walk through them, one second at a time, and He alone gives you the grace to do so.

Fast forward to April 6, 1995, the first of 4 days that would change us forever. Kathryn went to surgery, and five hours later she was on life support. Unable to come off of the bypass equipment once her surgery was completed, the doctors made the decision to put her on a device that would do the work of her ventricles, and leave her on a respirator. Then, they came out to tell us what they had done. We were dumbfounded, in shock, unable to process what had happened. I remember when the doctor left the “counseling” room how my mom and dad, and Todd and I stood there in disbelief. My dad finally broke the silence and told all of us to join him to pray. He turned towards the little sofa in the room and fell to his knees. The rest of us followed.

It was the first of many prayers prayed those 4 days, and on Monday she died.

It would take me 40 days to write out all of the details and would take you 30 to read it all, so I’m leaving much out, but it was then that the CRISIS began…

A lot of people would be looking to see if we believed what we had been saying we believed for the last 4 years. Was it really ALL about Christ? Does He REALLY love us? Does He REALLY want what was best for us? Does He REALLY have a plan? These and so many other questions would fill our minds, and the minds of those closest to us. Why would He take a child? Oh, the agony of the thoughts of those days are still so fresh, and my words seem completely incapable of describing to you what that feeling was like.

So what sort of conclusions did we come to amidst all of this questioning? It all finally boiled down to this: Yes, we believe He loves us more than anything, so much He gave His own life to save us. Yes, it is ALL about Christ! Yes, He does want what is ultimately best for us, even when that doesn’t look like what we think it should!
Yes, He really does have a PLAN! Could His decision to allow this child to die at 13 months of age have a purpose? YES! YES! YES! And again I say YES!

So, how does all of this parallel what Job experienced in his life? (Please keep in mind that as devastating as our experiences have been, I do not in any way want you to conclude that I believe we've lived a life anything like Job experienced! We were simply asked to share things that have happened in our lives that parallel lessons which can be gleened from the book of Job, and I am passing that "message" along to you all as well.)
Job lost all of his children at once. We only had one to lose, but we lost all that we had at once too. Thankfully, no one stood on the outside (or the inside as was Job’s case) telling us to “curse God and die” as his wife did to him in Job 2:9, but it was at this point that Job had his crisis of faith.

Would he continue to trust? Indeed he would, and we too have clung to his words in agreement since those days so many years ago… Job 2:10 “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?”…and Job 1:21, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” And finally, Job 13:15, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him…”

Do we really believe what we’ve professed and taught all these years?

Yes, and again I say, YES!!!

So here are your questions for reflection:

  • Do you believe?
    You see there are two types of belief: there is a belief that leads to salvation and one that does not. Which do you have? Do you have either? Read the following verses:
    James 2:29
    Romans 10:8-10

  • Have you experienced a “Crisis of Belief” in your own life? What was it and what effect did it have on your relationship with the Lord? How did your response to the crisis affect how others see Christ in you? Do you consider how your behavior affects what others believe about Him, based on what you’ve professed to believe?

  • If you have experienced a crisis of belief, did it leave you fearful of what else might happen in your life? Or, have you come to find a deep appreciation and love for the truth of God’s sovereignty in your life, and in all things? Do you understand what it means for God to be sovereign, or is this something you need to study further?

The next part of this series will focus on Job’s friends, our own fears, and the idea that sin can bring drastic consequences in our lives. We will examine whether or not bad things that happen come as a punishment for prior sins? So part two is, “Did I do something to cause this?”

As always, and especially today, I am abiding in His grace,


Thursday, February 25, 2010

God's Sovereignty - a study for personal reflection.

The Sovereignty of God

Well, as I promised, I am beginning a short series on the Sovereignty of God. Recently, we were blessed to spend time again with friends old and new in our Family Life small group class at The Church at Brookhills, as we shared with them a portion of our family’s journey in our walk with the Lord and how it relates to God’s sovereignty. They were currently studying the book of Job, and while we have certainly not experienced loss to the same degree, we do share many similarities with the poor guy, so they invited us to share our journey. It is always our pleasure to share, and I encourage you to do the same as you have opportunity, “Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;” 1 Peter 3:15.

As the Lord would have it, I have been somewhat providentially hindered over the past couple of weeks since I promised to write this series. The days have passed quickly by as I had another procedure done on my back, then have had both of my daughters sick over the last two weeks. Everyone, myself included, seems to be on the mend as we approach the end of this week, and its approaching brings with it a very significant date in our lives. Believing that all things are in the hands of our mighty God, and that not even minor details are without His infinite touch, the date approaching comes as no surprise to Him, and not to me either.
so, with that, I will release the first part:
A Crisis of Faith, and with it a small list of study questions for you to consider during your own private study time, on Friday, February 26, 2010, Kathryn’s 16th birthday.

I am unsure how frequently I will release each of the remaining parts. I don’t know if I will manage them at the rate of one a week, one every few days, one every two weeks, or whatever, but I believe that they will come in a timely manner, as the Spirit gives me utterance to share with those of you who will ultimately read this and hopefully benefit from it’s writing.

As I work on this short 6 part series, I pray as always - that the words of my mouth (or in this case my keyboard) and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in His most glorious sight, for He is my Rock and my Redeemer. I pray that He will give me the words to share, to point you to Himself, and to His precious Son, my Savior, Jesus Christ; as I write about faith, fear, intimacy with Him, true worship, understanding that He is always in our midst, and the revelation of His glorious restoration that is for us today and in the days to come. And I ask that He will give me the heart to hear from others who are hurting and to share in their hurt and spiritual growth in a way that brings only honor and glory to Him. Because, it is all In and Through and Because of Him, Amen.
Until then, abiding in His grace,

Sunday, February 14, 2010

I'm going to get to it, I promise...

I thought I would have the posts on God's Sovereignty up over the weekend, but it hasn't turned out that way.

Here's what's going on in the McGuire home... I have two sick kids. Sarah's been sick about 4-5 days, and Anna just came down sick overnight - lastnight.

I'm scheduled for another procedure on my back this week. I suppose that might be changed if I should come down with whatever the girls have. God forbid!!

So, I suppose in His sovereignty, He'll help me to get the writings together when the time is right. :o)

I appreciate any and all prayers.
Abiding in His grace,

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Upcoming Series on God's Sovereignty

I just wanted to let you usual readers know that I'm going to be writing a series on God's Sovereignty in the next week - ten days.

This past Sunday, we were invited back to our home church - The Church at Brookhills - to share our testimony of our lives parallel to the life of Job. We were able to share with our family life group there the things going on with the church plant that we are currently involved in, and to share lessons learned from our own lives. They have been studying the book of Job, and our life has had some similarities for sure, though we've not lost everything as Job did, we've had many lessons we've learned as we studied through that portion of God's Word during our struggles.

So, anyway, just wanted to give you a heads up that the series is coming. It will be a six part series including the following:
  1. A crisis of faith.
  2. Has our sin brought this on us?
  3. He knows us intimately.
  4. An act of worship and faith.
  5. He is in the midst of our suffering.
  6. Restoration - a reminder to continue our praises.

So, get ready for some heavy material. Different from my money saving posts of the past month! But, please know that I'm headed to Walgreen's tomorrow for a huge shopping spree, and the number of coupons I have to take on this trip is unreal!!!

Couponing my way through, and abiding in His grace,


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A few new pictures

Hi Everyone!!!

These pictures were recently taken while we were visiting with Todd's Aunt Sara, Uncle Pete and their family, at the end of last month. As almost always, there were no good pictures of Anna and I (No reflection on the photographic abilities of Todd's brother, Brian, who took these great photos!). Anna and I seem to make horrible candid shots. Somehow we do alright with posed pictures, but if someone tries to catch us "in action" the results are just downright scary photos sometimes :o) .
So,without further ado, here are two fantastic pictures of Sarah Beth and a picture of Todd - S*M*I*L*I*N*G!!!!! See, he does smile. I'd love to know what he was laughing at, he doesn't often laugh outloud, teeth showing and the whole bit. The other gentlemen in the photo is Todd's dad, and my fantastic father-in-law, Kerry.
I also unearthed some photographs of the group that went to Guatemala on the mission trip this year that Todd and Anna also had the privilege of being a part of. I can't remember if I posted them at the time, so, I'm going to go ahead and post them here now.

This is the group that traveled to Guatemala, I'm not sure they are all pictured here, along with the people whom they worked with while they were there. This is the outside of the home they built while they were there that week. In this photo, Anna is in the front row in a brown jacket, and Todd is kneeling just to the right of her.

This is an outdoor stove that is installed on the outside wall of this home. The cane behind is used as a windshield.

Todd and Anna pictured here in front of one of the volcanoes in Guatemala, and Lake Atitlan. Lake Atitlan is known as one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. You can certainly see why!

I can't believe how much Anna has grown-up and changed in just the last 6 months or so! Unbelievable, she's really turning into quite a beautiful young lady. (And yes, I am completely prejudice when it comes to the beauty of my own babies, both the big one and the little one!)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

My Current Read(s)...

Well, along with my ever present daily time reading God's Word, here are some others I'm currently reading...

Pick Another Checkout Lane, Honey
by the ladies of

This very informative read about the ins-and-outs of couponing is also quite humorous. I have found myself, and my renewed couponing habit, on many of scenarios on the pages of this book already. In case you don't get the title, this is what you would say to the poor person(s) who get in line behind you as you whip out your multitude of coupons and price match advertisements. So, in your best Southern Drawl you'd just say, "You might want to 'Pick Another Checkout Lane, Honey'."

Another book I'm muddling my way through at the moment is
Your Money Or Your Life, by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin.

The jist of this book so far, is just the art of thinking through your purchases as it relates to the time of your life spent to make what you spent. Or, if - God forbid - you charged it, how long will you have to work to pay that off with interest!!! In other words, let's say you make $25.00 per hour in your career, which equates to an annual gross of $52,000.00/year. If you go to the store and drop $200.00 on a hand bag, you gave an entire day of your life to work for that!!! One whole day of your life, gone, for a purse!!!???? Or a coat??? Or a pair of shoes? Or a piece of sporting equipment?? Or a ___________________ (fill in the blank with your favorite purchases). It helps me remember, when I'm tempted to splurge on something for the kids, instead of buying at consignment shops, or really watching for sales AND couponing - just how many hours did Daddy have to work for us to go to the mall this particular trip. That's days of his life spent away from us! Sobering thoughts indeed, and I think you get the point.

There are a number of other books I'm currently reading, but sticking with our money saving theme, I'm only sharing these few.

Continuing to learn about how to save even more, by spending even less,
and as always -
Abiding in His grace,

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Coupon trip #2

Okay, so for those of you following the couponing adventure, here's my latest trip, and will be the last one I post, because I don't wish to do this weekly. ;o)

This was all purchased at CVS on Sunday the 31st.
  • I purchased 3 pks of toilet paper (12 double rolls ea.) at $6.99/ea. Real cost $21.00.
  • A tube of our preferred toothpaste at $2.99.
  • Batteries (2 pks AA, 1 pk AAA) at $2.99/pk for a cost of $ 9.00
  • 3 - 12 pks of Coca-Cola products (we keep these on hand for guests and parties) 3/$11.00
  • 2 of Todd's preferred deodorants at 2/$5.00
  • 1 Fuze drink (an individual serving purchased just to get my Coke products total up to the amount needed for the Extra Bucks) $1.00
  • Jillian Michael's product for weight loss - Fat Burner $29.99 and an Apetite Supresant $29.99

My total cost was about $110.00.

I had coupons for the toilet paper, a coupon that CVS sent me by email, and Extra Care Bucks from my last trip totaling $26.00, and I earned new ECB's for my next trip totaling $32.00. So that brings my amount down to $52.00 for $110.00 worth of products.

What will I spend the next $32.00 in ECB's on????