Archives For August 2013

Good People?

August 31, 2013 — Leave a comment

Why do bad things happen to good people?

The age old question that just won’t go away. As long as there are tragedies, calamities, disasters, and broken hearts, there will be people asking. Many Christian scholars, pastors, and teachers have answered with Scripture and profound philosophical responses.

But before we answer, we need to realize that the question is flawed. Usually when somebody asks this, they have somebody in mind. One who loved their family and friends, was a good citizen, and attempted to help others. But how do we truly know that somebody is good?

A young man approached Jesus and called to him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Jesus doesn’t begin by answering the question but addressing the term ‘good.’

And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.”

Remember, when God created man, he formed him from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. Up to that point, all that he had created was good. But after man entered the scene, God declared it all to be very good.

God intended us to be blameless, enjoying an intimate relationship with him. But man thought he knew best and disobeyed God’s one command. That one decision corrupted not only mankind, but the world around him. Harmony became violence. War replaced peace. God no longer walked and talked with his beloved creation. Their sin separated them from him.

According to God’s Word, we are not good. There is no good in us. What used to be blameless is now evil. And the whole world groans under the consequences of our selfishness.

And yet, when a person believes in Jesus, his death, and resurrection, God Himself recreates him. We are changed, made anew. God indwells us and works through us. We still have our flesh which is prone to sin, but we have the ability to do good because the One who is good is working in us.

Still, troubles come to those who love God. Recently my wife and I lost our baby. She wasn’t too far along, not even showing yet. But it still hurt. If my hope wasn’t secure in Christ, I could easily shake my fist at the sky and ask, “Why?”

But I’m reminded of all the times that I betrayed my God. The times I broke his heart and chose my will over his. And I realize that I deserve much worse than anything happening to me. Death is my fault. Pain and suffering are a result of my sin. Our sin.

Trials happen no matter what. But God chooses to not remain silent during those times. He lavishes grace upon us and gives us the promise that he will work it out for good if we trust him. He overcame the world so we can as well through him. And I’ve come to the conclusion that “Why does bad things happen to good people?” is an inapplicable question.

The better question is “Why does God choose to do good things for bad people?”

And when I ask myself that question the only response is to bow my head…

and worship.

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Bishop Gregory strutted along the road, hands crossed behind his back, chin held high. His long, milky robe swayed, the fabric sweeping the dusty street. The people lined both sides observing the religious man trek from his hometown towards the majestic palace of the King. He’d been summoned.

This was his time to move up in the rankings. Gregory had spent hours praying aloud on the street corners, days sitting with the homeless as he fasted, and years studying the Word so he’d be able to answer any of the peasant’s inquiries. He had paid his dues. Today, it’d all pay off.

castle

The castle towers glimmered against the setting sun. He was almost there. The bishop could feel blisters forming on his heels from the journey, and he winced with each step. But to face the King and hear his commendations would make him forget about the years of sacrifice.

After waiting for an hour, he nervously stepped into the King’s chambers.

“Bishop Gregory.”

“Y-yes sir.”

“Your actions have come to my ears.”

“Y-yes sir.”

“I demand you leave my kingdom. Go and never return.”

Bishop Gregory grabbed a chair nearby to aid him. The command pierced him like a spear. He must have misunderstood.

“Excuse me, sir?”

“I’ve heard about your prayers, exalting yourself and minimizing your countryman. It has been reported about your lavish meals as the beggar outside your door died. Widows are forced to tithe to your church but no assistance was given them. You used your religious status to obtain riches and prestige. That is your only reward. Now you will gain what you’ve truly earned. Leave now. You are banished from my kingdom.”

Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.
Luke 20:46-47

campfire

The fire wasn’t the hottest thing at the campsite. Seven steaming teens sat on logs discussing what they were going to do to Jimmy if he returned.

Jimmy never associated with any of them. He always sat in the back of the youth van, headphones in, sunglasses on. As the rest of the group laughed and told stories, he simply stared out the window. None of them wanted him to come. And now he was taking away from their camping trip.

Their youth group leader, Mark, said he had the best ghost story they’d ever hear but they had to wait until dark. Now it was dark, and Jimmy was missing. He must have ran off from the group sometime after dinner. Mark was out frantically looking for the lost teen while his wife drove back to town to call for Search and Rescue.

“Jimmy!” Mark’s voice was quickly fainting as he’d been hiking for twenty minutes with no luck. Stumbling over logs and skinning his knees on rugged boulders, he huffed down the cliff side. If the boy wasn’t down here, he’d head back to camp. The sun was almost down and the group didn’t need two people lost.

“Mark.”

A whisper floated by him in the breeze. Did he really hear his name? He scanned the rocks for anything that resembled a human being.

cliff

“Mark. Over here.”

That was definitely Jimmy. The youth leader hurried over the uneven terrain as fast as he could. He spotted an arm waving from between two large boulders.

“Jimmy! Are you okay.”

The teen lay between the two large rocks, blood trailing down his face. “I’ll be fine. I was hiking up there and stepped on loose gravel. I tumbled down here and now my foot is caught between these rocks.”

Mark carefully freed his foot from the crevice. Jimmy’s leg was clearly broken and wouldn’t be able to walk out.

“Mark, I’m so sorry. Please don’t be mad. I’ve learned my lesson. Oh, my leg…”

“Quiet, Jimmy. We’ll talk about this later but for now I’m gonna conserve my energy so I can carry you out.”

The hike back was excruciating for both of them. The closer he got to the campsite, the heavier Jimmy felt. His legs were on fire by the time they reached their destination.

As Jimmy was strapped into the helicopter, Mark grabbed his hand.

“Jimmy, please come back to youth group when you are back on your feet. I know the others are upset but it will blow over. Just know between you and me, you’re forgiven.”

What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray?And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray.
Matthew 18:12-13

A Choir of Tiny Voices

August 3, 2013 — 2 Comments

I hear a choir
Of tiny voices
To their Father
Singing praises

We love you, Jesus
We adore you, Father
Thanks for holding
Us in your arms

I hear a choir
Of tiny voices
They don’t cry vengeance
Or retribution
They pray for mercy
And sweet salvation

Please rain down your grace
Undeserved
I want to meet Mommy
Spend eternity with her

Singing, we love you, Jesus
We adore you, Abba
For wanting children
That never knew love

We love you, Jesus
We adore you, Father
Thanks for holding
Us in your arms

I hear a choir
Of empty choices
Singing boldly
With tiny voices

“Mac and Cheese again!?” The six-year-old wrinkled her nose in disgust.

“Now what did I say about complaining?” Her father tapped her tiny nose with his finger. “Be happy for what the Lord provides.”macaroni

“Yes sir,” she responded with a slight grin.

After the girl’s mother dished up everybody’s plate, they bowed and thanked the Lord for allowing them to eat that evening. Times had been rough for the small family. He had lost his job, and now they had to downgrade to living in a camper on his parent’s land.

“I’m sorry, Mommy, for complaining.”

The woman took the girl into her lap and held her tight. “It’s okay. Our natural tendency is to complain, but that only means we’ve forgotten all of God’s many blessings and his deep love for us.”

The couple held hands as she leaned on his shoulder. The future was unknown, but their God had made himself known these past few months. Even if it was Mac & Cheese, they were being taken care of. And they still had each other. Love would bring them through.

____________________________________________________________________

The smell of crab legs and steak enticed each member of the family out of their rooms and to the dining room table. She had made everybody’s favorite in hopes of a nice family dinner. It had been so long since everybody ate at the same time.steak

Her children had grown so distant with their activities, friends, and school. When they were home, they rarely exited their bedrooms. Her husband worked sixty hours a week and even when he was home, still was writing emails or taking “important” calls.

“Tonight, we are visiting. Phones are put away,” she demanded up front.

Her 16-year-old raised his eyebrows and laughed. “Right.” Immediately he began texting again. “This can’t wait,” he added.

Taking a deep breath, she repeated herself with greater force. “Tonight is a family dinner. Please, just for one hour. Let’s talk.”

Bzz Bzz

phone

She winced. Tonight was not going to be the night.

Her husband peered at his cellphone. “Sorry, hun. I gotta take this.”

Her daughter laughed. “Well, it was a good try, Mom. Not sure what made you think it was going to happen. But if you don’t mind since Dad is gone, I’m gonna take this to my room.”

One by one each member excused themselves until she was left alone. Her food sprinkled in tears.

“Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fattened ox and hatred with it.” Proverbs 15:17