All posts written by Daniel Montgomery

Sojourner Stories Of Suffering: Disease, The Lord’s Prayer, and Hope

Stories of Suffering

During this season of Lent, we’re journeying together through the Book of Job. It’s a story of suffering, faith, questions, and one man who cries out to God in the midst of heartbreaking affliction.

Over the next few weeks I’ll share stories of “suffering well” with you, from Sojourners at each of our campuses and from brothers and sisters that have come to know Christ through Sojourn International, our missions ministry. This week, I’ll share a couple testimonies with you. Today we hear from Brian Ott a member at our Midtown Campus:

I’m not a perfect sufferer and I certainly don’t consider my suffering as comparable to some of the horrors that others face every day.  But the suffering that I have experienced has lead me time and time again to seek God and know His face.  And I can only be thankful for it.

When I was 13 I was diagnosed with Crohns disease. Crohns is a chronic immune disorder that effects your digestive system.  My case falls some where between moderate and severe.  At its worst, my Crohns leaves me on the couch in severe pain for months.  This leads to dangerous weight loss, anemia, hospitalization and in a couple of instances it has cost me my job. Medical bills pile up while my income screeches to a halt and I remain helplessly in pain.

I’ve thought many times about what my life would be like if I didn’t have Crohns.  I could have moved up higher in my job, made more money, achieved countless more goals and simply felt like an accomplished, grown man.  But what would I be giving up?  More than a disease.  During a flair up a few years back I began praying the Lords Prayer every day because I had grown tired of praying for healing and not getting it. I prayed it over and over until I could finally mean the words found in that prayer:

  • To call God “father”
  • to truly rely on Him for my “daily Bread”
  • to know that I need His forgiveness more than physical healing
  • to want His will to be done in my life just as it is in Heaven.

But I’m forgetful.  We all are!  And God knows this.  I mean, He calls us to think of His death and resurrection every time we eat bread or drink wine.  That’s a lot of reminding!  And you’d think that it’d be hard to forget how the God of the Universe died for our sins, but we do.  I do. Constantly.

And my God knows this.  And He cares enough to remind me.  Even when it means taking away my health so that I stop relying on earthly gods.  Our pain is not punishment, and it’s not always due to our screwed up prioritizing, but it’s always a chance for us to glorify God in a new way.  I may never see the end of my Crohns suffering before Christ returns, and sometimes that really bums me out.  But this I know with all my heart; God has saved me from my sin, and the day WILL come that my sinful body will be laid to rest and because of His mercy, my pain will end. And because of His grace I will be with Him.

Sojourner Stories Of Suffering: Bringing Glory To God Through Death

Stories of Suffering

During this season of Lent, we’re journeying together through the Book of Job. It’s a story of suffering, faith, questions, and one man who cries out to God in the midst of heartbreaking affliction.

Over the next few weeks I’ll share stories of “suffering well” with you, from Sojourners at each of our campuses and from brothers and sisters that have come to know Christ through Sojourn International, our missions ministry. This week, I’ll share the testimony of  Whitney Wilson, from our Midtown Campus:

When I was 12, my brother died tragically in a fourwheeler accident. It shook my life.  I had accepted Christ, but had been living to glorify myself rather than honor him.  With my brother gone, I felt a deeper sense of drawing near to Christ.  I clung to Him.

Immediately after my brother’s death I started to notice a transformation in my way of thinking and my living.  God started to reveal to me how even death brings Him glory — my brother’s death had meaning.  My heart hurt and mourned, but I also found myself being joyful for my brother’s death because it meant no more suffering in this world for Him, and it shed light on God’s bigger plan.  God used my brother’s death to compel me to live more like Christ and to lead others to Him.

My brother’s death has softened the hearts of many people since, as I share and relate to others through this tragic event.  This tragedy brought glory to God- and that’s what matters.

I don’t wish my brother back for even a minute because that’s the beauty in this: he lived a full life bringing glory to Christ. Then he brought glory to Christ in his death, just as Christ died for all.  That’s my hope, my strength. As I miss my brother, I am reminded of the things seen and the things unseen which brought God’s kingdom power to us.

Sojourner Stories Of Suffering: Orphaned, Imprisoned, Saved By Grace

Stories of Suffering

During this season of Lent, we’re journeying together through the Book of Job. It’s a story of suffering, faith, questions, and one man who cries out to God in the midst of heartbreaking affliction.

Over the next few weeks I’ll share stories of “suffering well” with you, from Sojourners at each of our campuses and from brothers and sisters that have come to know Christ through Sojourn International, our missions ministry. We’ll begin with one such story, as written by one of our missionaries in the field (I can’t tell you his name because it would put him in danger):

This is the story of a friend of mine who has suffered as much as anyone I know.  He lives in an area of the world where it would be dangerous to associate his name publicly with Christianity, so we’ll call him Adam.  His real name means ‘example,’ and that’s just what he has been to me, to any of us who follow Christ.

He was born in the capitol city of his country and at eight years old became an orphan.  A child alone in an overcrowded city, he ended up at an orphanage in a small town.  The orphanage sat across from a worship center of the local religion, so he basically grew up under loud speakers whose preaching woke him up in the morning and tucked him in at night.

He was a faithful student of the priests and a fine adherent of their goddess cult.  They taught him that he must labor to please her and she might grant him mercy when he dies.

Soccer was his outlet, that is, until he fell and broke his elbow.  Someone attempted to set it but didn’t get it right and left Adam with a contorted arm and nagging pain.

He was introduced to Jesus Christ as a teenager and at first was completely skeptical.  He struggled to choose between what he had been taught most of his life about the goddess and what he was hearing now about Jesus, who claimed he was the only way to mercy.  It sounded almost too good to be true—instead of working to please him, Jesus did all the work by sacrificing himself in our place.  ‘What kind of love is this?’ he thought to himself.

After a few weeks of consideration Adam covenanted to follow Christ instead of the goddess.  He was baptized not long afterward and grew as a young believer, learning to pray, obey the scriptures, and share the gospel with others.

In his entrepreneurial spirit he also opened a movie rental store.  Just as business really began to roll, a dump truck lost control and drove through the 5×5 building.  Thankfully Adam was not inside, but everything was destroyed, including his savings.  Adam wept but trusted God’s good hand in the loss.

Soon afterward he was given the opportunity to work as a taxi driver, which went great until he accidentally hit a man who stepped in front of him.  The pedestrian was fine but Adam was sentenced to three months in prison.  Enduring the shame and dire conditions of jail , Adam spent his incarceration sharing the gospel with as many inmates as would listen.  Several of them trusted in Christ.

We celebrated when Adam was released.  He was overjoyed, but destitute.  He moved into a tiny room on our compound until he could get back on his feet.  One evening while watching a soccer game with some friends a drunk soldier hit Adam in his bad arm with a club.  The bone shattered.  His thin frame reeled with spasms of pain for days.

Thankfully God provided enough money to send him for surgery in his hometown, the capitol city.  The operation was less than ideal, but it did leave his arm more functional than it had been in years.  Sometimes you couldn’t tell if Adam was smiling with joy or grimacing with pain—I feel like that says a lot about him.  Some days I wondered if he was going to turn away from God, questioning the one who allowed so many tragic things to come his way.  I know he thought about it.

About a year ago Adam helped lead a team of volunteers through a remote area of his country where people had never heard of Jesus.  Despite the danger to him Adam preached the gospel all along the way, powerfully refuting every sneering and doubtful question.  Nearly 50 people believed, in villages spread across dozens of miles.

After five days of hiking, Adam, even though slowed by nausea and exhaustion, decided to tell the group his story.  He recounted with detail blow after blow to his life, and I think for the first time he really began to put together how every single chapter of suffering had brought him closer to the One who suffered for him.  “I have nothing to complain about,” he said, hiking with new strength in his step.  “God has rescued me.”

Apple Maps And The Trouble With Finding Your Own Way

8020238117_fd08ffb406_bIn the minds of many consumers, Apple blew years of goodwill when they released the new Apple Maps last fall. People hooted when they found map listings for long defunct stores like Woolworth’s, while well-known buildings (and even whole cities) disappeared. The navigation has led drivers into bodies of water, onto airport runways and many miles from their destination. One town in Australia became famous after numerous visitors got lost in the bush country trying to locate it in Apple Maps — including one man who was stranded for 24 hours in the wilderness, in temperatures up to 114.

There’s even a popular blog called The Amazing iOS Maps, which documents and publishes photos of the funniest Apple Maps mistakes.

If You’re Going To Follow A Map, Follow A Good Map

What does this mean for Christians? Our map is God’s Word.

  • We won’t get where we’re going if we only follow part of it.
  • We won’t get where we’re going if we trust another map more — our own feelings, self-help gurus, cunning philosophy
  • If our mind wanders and we get lost, we need to recalibrate by looking at the whole map.

Faithmapping: A Gospel Atlas For Your Spiritual Journey is our attempt to cut through the clutter, the hype, the seductive power of new maps and partial, gimmicky views of the old, true map. We present the Bible to you as a unified whole, a grand story, a compelling, concise yet comprehensive understanding of who God is, who we are, where we’ve been and where we’re going.

In Faithmapping, Pastor Mike and I write about some of the map fragments we got stuck on in the early years of Sojourn. I’d love to hear some of yours.

  • Have you ever gotten hung up on seeing the gospel only as the Kingdom?
  • Have you only thought of the church as family, or servants?

What other hangups, detours or partial views of the gospel have sidetracked you in the past?

Apple Maps photo, top, by Sean MacEntee via Creative Commons license

Faithmapping Book Winners

Last week we celebrated the release of Faithmapping by giving away 15 copies on Twitter and Facebook. Many of you entered by posting a favorite quote from the book in your status updates, then we numbered and randomly determined the winners using the number generator at Random.org.

I’m pleased to announce the winners here, who will all receive a copy of Faithmapping in the mail. Thanks to each of you, and thanks to everyone who entered the contest:

  • Josh Wagner of Charlotte, NC
  • Josh Poore of Birmingham, AL.
  • Kevin Fiske of Joliet, IL.
  • Bob Comarsh of Yuba City, CA.
  • Emily Kraft of Louisville, KY
  • Thomas Perry of Dothan, AL.
  • Karen Davis of West Sussex, United Kingdom
  • Chris Gensheer of Santa Fe, NM
  • Jonathan Howe of Nashville, TN.
  • Steve Hinkle of Joliet, IL
  • Fred Miller of Indianapolis, IN
  • Julie Pizzino of Roanoke, VI
  • Nate Palmer of Frisco, TX
  • Robbie Melton of Louisville, KY
  • Justin Karl of Tuscaloosa, AL

 

Page 6 of 28« First...«45678»1020...Last »