A Reason for the Hope

Reason for the Hope

A Reason for the Hope

1 Peter 3:14–16 says:

“14 But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: 16 Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ” (KJV).

A more modern translation of the same reads:

“If with heart and soul you’re doing good, do you think you can be stopped? Even if you suffer for it, you’re still better off. Don’t give the opposition a second thought. Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. Keep a clear conscience before God so that when people throw mud at you, none of it will stick. They’ll end up realizing that they’re the ones who need a bath” (The Message).

Or more conventionally:

“14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear or be disturbed, 15 but honor the Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. 16 However, do this with gentleness and respect, keeping your conscience clear, so that when you are accused, those who denounce your Christian life will be put to shame” (Holman Christian Standard Bible).

I was prompted to write this post because of what I had been reading online with regard to attacks on the Christian faith. I have noticed more and more how hostile people become when they write a post confronting a believer online. They always want to know why or what is the Reason for the Hope we hold to. I’m not terribly surprised by this but it struck me for some reason how savagely some people will attack your faith. The question then is how should we respond? What is a reasonable answer for the hope we hold in our hearts?

A recurring theme by many nonbelievers, atheists in particular, is that Christians are stupid individuals, gullible, easily duped by fairy tales and made up stories. They attack with vigor the existence of the Almighty and anyone who subscribes to a belief in His presence and His gospel is a fool. Many times I have seen them attack the sanity of Christians and demand a Reason for the Hope we have in our hearts for what Jesus Christ has promised. They routinely posit that our arguments for the existence of God, our faith in Jesus Christ or our desire to follow Church teaching is based on fallacy and error, that we err because we cannot prove our case in any natural sense. They seek proofs based in science and the scientific method and when we do not offer any, they take this as a sure sign that we have not a foot to stand on.

I Peter 3:14-16 admonishes believers to be ready to respond to critics and unbelievers and to do so with humility and a meek heart. Our response should be reasoned but without malice. The essence of the passage in my opinion is that we must be ready at all times to defend why we love our Lord and why we place our hope in Him. We should be able to explain why we love Him. We should be able to say why our hope for eternal life, a better life, a happier and more fulfilled life, both now and in the hereafter, rests with Him. What is the Reason for the Hope we have?

The passage doesn’t tell us to argue with unbelievers. The passage doesn’t say that we are to fight against people in word or deed about their skepticism. We are instructed to give a Reason For the Hope we have. Here is why I think the passage tells us to give a Reason for the Hope we have or defend our hope in Christ with “gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:16): anger is a fear response. Anger is provoked out of weakness and insecurity neither of which should a Christian harbor if they are resting in Jesus Christ who has not given us the spirit of fear but of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). You argue and fight with someone when you only rely on yourself and you feel over matched. You don’t fear when you are confident of the outcome or when victory is already guaranteed right? So the passage is about resting in the sure knowledge of your salvation; thusly, you don’t have to fear and argue with unbelievers about this faith you have. You can respond in humility because you know what you have received and you realize what the opposition is missing out on, that God’s grace would so abound in your life as to bathe you in eternal life when you rightly deserved death and this is humbling.

So minus fear, we are free to speak of our heartfelt love for Him who first loved us. We are free to discuss the bloom in our life since coming into the truth and hearing the good news. We can give our Reason for the Hope we have in Jesus Christ in confidence. We are free to defend our right to embrace the free gift of God. Bottom line is we believe because we have a free will and God has graciously given to each of us a measure of faith (Romans 12:3) so that with what little we have, we can gain all!!
So don’t take these attacks personally. You have a right to believe in God and no one can take that away from you. Share your joy with whoever asks, share your hope and love with whoever questions you, but never fear that your answer will be inadequate. There is no wrong answer to the question of why you believe in Jesus Christ!! Also remember this one last thing. I Peter 3:14-16 does not instruct us to defend God!!! The Father is more than able to defend Himself. He has that well covered I believe. All He asks of us is to share our hope with them that don’t have hope. Speak from your heart and take comfort in His grace. Your Reason for the Hope and love you have for God will be sufficient for the task.

Go Home Charity

Juanita_Story4Go Home Charity

by

Juanita Story

Charity begins at home. What if you don’t have a home? What if every door knocked upon denied you respite? What if only the soles of your feet could tell the story of your departure?

Where then is charity? Where is she when only the painful comfort of blacken asphalt remembers your name? Where is she when black eyes and crows call you cousin and friend? Where is charity when the dew of night’s fallen mist is your blanket?

Come now to me lover. Explain your absence. Explain my broken heart.  Come now to me my champion.  Pull my hair and release my darkness.  Explain your travels.  Explain the means of your great escape.  Take me down and reveal my tear.

If the sounds of her Nubian experience frighten you, disarm you, make you pale with regret, then charity has found her home. Open wide and welcome her in. Her chains rattle for but a moment. Her back is yet unbowed. Glistening is her many sorrows but she has found her home. Pull back the curtain and watch her dance in the firelight of a new tomorrow.

Charity begins at home and home is where her heart was.  She is out there, somewhere.  Her heart is at home, out there, somewhere.

Charity is home. Her company is well fed. Their beds are warm and well slept. Charity is alone.

Far Above Rubies

Woman's Voice

Far Above Rubies

The Woman’s Voice

by

Shanti

“Push! Push! Just a little while longer, you’re almost done!” She screams, piercing the ear drums of those around her. “We see the head! Young lady, give me one more huge push!” She lets out her last cry clothed with excruciating pain; her body is weak yet simultaneously strong as she holds on. Suddenly, her mind is shifted quickly from the unbearable pain to a beautiful sound. It’s a soft, but stern, strong sound; a cry of freedom and excitement as the new born is welcomed into the new world. She holds the baby passionately in her velvet like arms filled with an immense amount of unbreakable love. She calls the baby’s name, they look deeply into each other’s eyes and as the baby stares at her, “she [softly] opens her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness (Proverbs 31:26).’I will be the best mother I can be. Nothing in this world will hinder me from providing for you, from protecting you and from loving you unconditionally. Even when I am not physically present, my prayers will keep you from all hurt, harm and danger. Angels will go out of their way to protect you. I am your mother and I will honor my promise.'” As she finishes, the baby smiles and gently closes one eye first and the next one follows; feeling at peace because she knew by the slow, smooth beats of her mother’s heart and the sincere sound of her voice, she made a genuine promise.

 Woman's Voice 2

When a mother speaks, her voice is as the sweet, thick honey from an enchanting honeycomb. Words drizzle out of her mouth and stick and embrace her child’s heart. In her tongue lies the sword, not to kill with kindness or oppress the soul but to show her strength and authority; no matter what her tone may be, she means what she says and she says what she means. But there’s nothing like “that beautiful voice which [makes] everything she [says] sound like a caress (Virginia Woolf). That caressing sound that assures you she will provide, not only physically, but also mentally and spiritually. Necessities are always taken care of. It took me a while to understand how my mom always made something out of nothing. Even if there was a moment that involved a monetary issue, everything I needed seemed as if it appeared like magic. I always had shoes, clothes, food and even toys; never a worry on my end because I knew that the situation was under control. Like the roaring mother bear that protects their cubs, they are thankfully blessed to be unselfish and put their children before themselves. Most mothers are the spiritual leaders for their children as well as counselors. Those times where kids teased at school you went to your mom hurt and in need of comfort or when you felt life just wasn’t treating you right, her angelic voice spoke life and rebuked the negativity over our lives; giving a sense of hope and faith in ourselves. She became the moon that lit up our dark skies. She would be on her knees continuously praying to God; sending her requests on behalf of her children. And by the sound of her voice the angels would comply.

 Woman's Voice 4

A mother mastered the utterance of silence; one of the many keys to motherhood, which we call patience. I’m sure all mothers would agree that, at times, children can get pretty demanding; when they want something it’s NOW OR NEVER. I find it amazing how a mother can immediately turn on the “patience” switch and when that happens, the elements in the world somehow join forces with her to guide her to victory. These versatile voiced women, tend to create balance and control as if they were all experts in Pilates; the yin and yang in our lives; the doves sent from heaven that represent the selfless love and the sacrifice every mother makes for the well-being of their offspring.

Mothers weren’t the only gifts from God; another wonderful creation was the wife, made from the very mans rib. “Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies” (Proverbs 31:10). A wife is more than a husband’s physical romanticist, but by the power of her voice she attracts him mentally and emotionally. Men want a woman that is so far greater than any precious ruby in the world. A wife speaks with beauty and passion, as the sound of a well-played violin, whispering like the wind and warm like a blanket, massaging the heart of her true love she mirrors. In the same manner the words melodically flow out of her mouth, encompassing his ears causing his heart, mind and soul to simultaneously melt like butter. Her sultry voice caresses him which strokes him like fingers. Both lovers synchronize as partners in starting their new life journey.

 Woman's Voice 6

Being a wife is a great responsibility but also a great opportunity to reveal to your husband that he has found a loyal companion, a gentle lover and respectful woman. “[Marriage] is a partnership of two unique people who bring out the very best in each other and who know that even though they are wonderful as individuals, they even are better together” (Barbara Cage). She is trustworthy like the inner core of a best friend’s relationship. They can talk about pretty much anything. And while she speaks, he gazes at her, hearing beauty come out of her like the breath-taking view of the sun setting over the horizon. Like the dew in the morning, her words gently rest upon his heart. Unfortunately, not always will this journey becandy and butterflies, that’s not the way life works. It is as a newly planted tree, in order for it to stand strong and survive the storm it has to be watered and fed daily; given love and care allowing the roots to run deep down to grasp their souls. And you’ll know of a surety that “it shall not be moved.” The more time it has to grow the more beautiful, healthy and full it will become. She speaks as the soil, supporting him in his endeavors; keeping him grounded. The sun that shines and gives life, so is her voice which produces that fiery passion and glorious light. And her whispers are as the mirror of his soul. 

Being a good wife and mother is a woman’s calling and with the strength of their voice they “hold up half the sky.”

Woman's Voice 5

Patience, Love & Time

Relationships 4by

Shanti

“I no longer believed in the idea of soul mates, or love at first sight. But I was beginning to believe that a very few times in your life, if you were lucky, you might meet someone who was exactly right for you. Not because he was perfect, or because you were, but because you’re combined flaws were arranged in a way that allowed two separate beings to hinge together.” Lisa Kleypas, author of the Blue-Eyed Devil, revealed the secret that was so visible but disguised by my own finite understanding. A quote that finally made sense after many confused attempts to find “the one.” Because I was single with the wrong mindset, a life-changing opportunity was able to rise. Patience, love and time exposed themselves; three clever attributes that forced me to comply whether I liked it or not!

I was never really into the whole relationship/dating thing. As I got older it seemed like that’s all people talked about. It felt like there was a breed of relationships forming; a cycle of “falling in love,” fights, arguments, the up and down roller coaster of l o v e, of course, and then breaking up after a couple months, confused by what love really is; the typical relationship. I, on the other hand, had the chance to observe these faultless disasters. I enjoyed living my life single! I was happy knowing that I was free! Free, to be emotionally unattached to anyone I found attractive. Free, in knowing that I didn’t have to worry about the restraints of someone else’s emotions. No monogamy just me. Ah yes! Emotional freedom, what an awesome feeling! Although, I was surrounded by those who didn’t have this same privilege. I was devoted to caring only for myself. I guess you can say I was a little selfish but with good intentions. I didn’t want to waste time with someone I felt wasn’t going to be in my life for very long. I took pleasure in watching those close to me face the inconsistent, functionally dysfunctional aspects, relationships failed to mention; every daunting and heartbreaking, yet gratifying, animated moment they enjoyed that made them feel so alive! Yes, it all made “perfect sense.” So, I continued on in my observation.

After a while of observing, the happiness started fading away slowly, but surely and Relationshipsboredom came into play. I blame the adorable couple I went to school with because I witnessed true love. This couple whom I thought would be like everyone else and end faster than the speed of light; one of life’s great opportunities to prove me wrong. I watched this couple and it was real. Real love! Not like one of those annoyingly, cute romance movies. I couldn’t believe it!  At that very moment the scales began to fall off of my eyes. It felt as if a build up of emotions that had been buried so deep had suddenly awakened and invaded my heart and captured my soul. I wanted to feel what they expressed so heavily. Sooner than expected, I made the decision to find out for myself what the big deal was about being in a relationship. If I was meant to have someone to love and to hold, to care so deeply for and receive that in return, well then I guess I was all for it.

Of course, in my life things just don’t turn out the way I expect it to. I came to learn that if eager to find love I would look in all the wrong places. I grew weary and impatient. I was sick of waiting for my soul mate; my knight in shining armour; my true love. I wanted to do anything. I wanted to be anyone if that meant that I could finally know what real love is. Disregarding good intentions, now I was just selfish. After a couple years of merciless and frivolous searching, I came up empty-handed, or in my case empty-hearted. I dated and mistakenly went into every relationship thinking “this is it! He’s definitely the one.” WRONG! I was defeated by loves’ harsh laws and walked with my head held down. Casually, I made the decision to continue my journey alone. I chose to go back to the way I used to be, unfortunately this time it was different. My heart cried knowing that I had no one to connect with; that empty feeling that burned deep down wanting to be filled with the consuming power of love. I felt deceived, hurt, and lonely; like I was a living melody of an awful song.

Subsequently, after feeling depressed because I was unsuccessful at finding love, time was now on my side. Nonetheless, life has a way of enlightening us when we feel we’re at our lowest point. Now here is where patience, love and time plays a unique role in my life. I came to the realization that since it wasn’t quite yet my time to find love I’ll have patience if that means being able to be myself and loved for my flaws, if it means letting go of the illusion of a perfect man but hold on to the man that is perfect for me, than I choose to take my time and wait patiently for my true love.

Patience, love and time have their ways of bringing us back to reality. The insanely genuis way they work is if all three are together. It’s difficult to have one without the other. You have to have all three because you know what they say, “one’s company, two’s a crowd but three…

…three’s a party!!”

A Father’s Tribute

For Moo

We love you April and will always stand behind you, lifting you up in prayer, cheering you on, supporting you in every way we can.  You are a gift from God to us and this world.

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