Posts Tagged ‘suffering’

The Sun in a Paper Bag – Easter

Jul
1

How would you like to find a priceless treasure?

How would you like to beat death?

How would you like to find victory over every challenge?

Well, all that is made possible because of the sacrifice Jesus made on a cross in order to save your eternal life.  So if you’d like to know how to find victory and new life and the most valuable treasure there is, listen to this message and say “Yes” to Christ’s offer of forgiveness and grace and transformation of your heart and mind.

Trust & Obey

Mar
10

Trust & Obey–two great tastes that taste great together.  If you know God very well at all, then you know he’s not just looking for drones to go out and do his bidding like a bunch of worker bees.  Everything that he has done for us has been in the attempt to build and maintain a relationship.  It’s amazing to think how far God is willing to go to demonstrate his love.  And when you really understand that, it’s one of the biggest motivators for wanting to live your life for Him.  It’s like when you’re dating and you’re willing to do pretty much anything to impress somebody that you like.  But the difference is, God already knows everything about you, and he still loves you more than you can imagine.  That kind of love is worth investing your life in!

Weak Strength

Feb
9

The Winter Olympics are well under way.  And the world’s fastest, strongest, highest flying, and most talented individuals are competing in the snow and ice of Russia.  But there’s a man who outdid them all when it comes to pure strength.

You’ve probably heard of Samson, and some of his “strengths” and weaknesses.  But what do you know about his faith?  Have a listen, and see what you think.

You CAN Handle the Truth!

Jan
12

Have you ever felt overwhelmed, out of control, pushed to the breaking point?  Have you ever wondered where God is at times like that?  Has anyone ever told you “God will never give you more than you can handle” when you felt like you had already lost control?  Do you think God gave you more than you could handle?

I would guess if you are reading this, that so far you have survived everything you’ve experienced.  So do you think God never gives you more than you can handle?

What about people who are martyred for their faith around the world.  Did God give them more than they could handle?

Listen to the message below and tell me what you think.

Unnatural Disasters

May
28

I’ve been thinking about the tornado that hit Oklahoma a week ago, and I have read plenty of people’s comments who were trying to make sense of how a good God can allow innocent people, like those school children, to die.  I know people who have struggled with or left the faith because they couldn’t really understand that.  And I think that’s because there have been a lot of bad answers to this kind of problem.  Here are a few of the common bad answers that I hear:

1. God is in control, and no disasters happen unless God specifically makes them happen.  So there must be a really good reason for the disaster.  We’re just too ignorant/stupid to understand the wisdom in causing disasters that kill lots of people.

2. Everybody is a sinner (little kids included) so they all deserve to suffer and die anyway.

3. If there are any innocent people (like little kids), they’re in Heaven now.  So it’s ok that they died in a disaster.

4. God wanted those people in Heaven.  So he used a disaster to kill them off and get them there.

I think people who try to explain things with reasoning like that don’t know who God is.  God delights in kindness and mercy and grace.  It’s true that God does punish sin, and he can and will use fierce judgments to punish evildoers.  But his heart is one of changing people for the better whenever possible.  And he wants everybody to know that.

Jeremiah 9:24 says …”those who wish to boast should boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I am the LORD who demonstrates unfailing love and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth, and that I delight in these things.”

You can know God.  He wants you to know him.  So when people say we can never know why God does things because his thoughts are higher than ours, it’s a total cop-out.  Of course God knows more than us, and always will, but we can know his character and why he does the kinds of things he does.

There are plenty of evil people in this world who do deserve death and punishment, but there are also people who live their lives for God who have been restored and renewed by God’s grace  And there are truly innocent people like babies and little kids who don’t even know what morality is.  Yes, if a little baby dies, it will go to Heaven, but God doesn’t cause abortions just to get babies in Heaven.  And God doesn’t make disasters to do that either.  If God really wants somebody in Heaven right now, he just picks them up and puts them there.  He doesn’t put them through a tragic and painful death.

If you want a good reason for why disasters happen, it all comes down to sin.  Without sin, there would be no death and no suffering in this world.  If a person dies of old age or sickness we call it a natural death.  But the truth is, death is not natural.  Disasters are not natural.  They were never meant to be a part of God’s creation.

When people started sinning, they introduced death and suffering into the world.  Romans 5 talks about that.  People have continued to sin since Adam and Eve, and so people keep on dying.  And it even affects people who have never even had a chance to sin–i.e. babies that are aborted.

Breaking God’s law does nothing but hurt people.  Murder, theft, lying, sexual immorality, gossip, all that kind of stuff not only destroys the soul of the sinner, but does collateral damage to the people around them.  If it wasn’t for sin, we’d all live never ending lives without suffering and death.  But as it is, death has infected our very makeup.  We suffer genetic disorders and cancer and crippling disease because people all over the place have chosen to sin and perpetuated the degradation of what God created for good.

It’s like if you ignore the warning label and try to make toast while you’re taking a bath.  You’re not supposed to use a toaster in the bathtub because it will electrocute you.  In the same way, God designed us to live good lives.  When we ignore God’s warning label in our hearts and fill our lives with evil choices, it kills us.  And it hurts those around us too–like when a drunk driver hits and kills a sober driver.  Sin brings death and destruction every time people do it.

Scientists have said that our DNA is designed to replicate forever, and they don’t know why we grow old and die.   But the plain truth is that we get old and lose our health and eventually die because all of creation has been infected with death.  Even things like earthquakes and tsunamis and tornadoes can be traced back to sin.  It was because the world was steeped in sin that God struck the earth and flooded the whole planet in Noah’s day, and the entire face of the earth was torn apart and rearranged.  And still today we can feel the remnants of seismic and atmospheric instability that never would have existed, had it not been for sin.

So when bad things happen to good people, you shouldn’t blame God.  You should blame bad people.  Because if it weren’t for bad people, good people wouldn’t ever feel the effects of what bad people have done.  And when the innocent do suffer, God is even more brokenhearted than you or me.  That’s why we always tend to hear about little miracles in the midst of big disasters, because God is always at work to save people, to restore and heal, to build character and self-discipline, to shape us into good people. So all those small stories of good things that happen in the midst of tragedy…that’s God.

God is always at work to bring about good.  He might allow destructive forces to run their course, and it ought to be a lesson to all of us to repent and live good lives, because death in this world is just the beginning of blessings for the righteous and punishment for the wicked.

Of course God has used everything from fire to flood to invading army to render judgment on wicked people.  So he can use a disaster to punish the wicked and dissuade evil if he wants to.  But more often, he is finding ways to bring good out of tragic events and disasters and to transform lives in spite of the evil that people do.

So the next time you are wondering how a good God can allow death and suffering, you should instead think about how there would be absolutely no good in this world if it weren’t for God’s intervention and influence in the world, and there would be no death and suffering in this world if it weren’t for the influence of people making sinful choices.

My heart breaks for the people who lost their homes and loved ones.  But God’s heart breaks more.  2nd Peter 3:9 says God does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.  Every single life is valuable to God.  He created them all, and he wants to see them all lived good and filled with his blessings.  But even more important than the short life we live on this earth is our eternity.  I certainly pray for all the people who were affected by that terrible tornado.  And I hope they will be even more affected by the love of a God who wants to save them from even worse disaster caused by sin and rejection of God.

Jesus died on the cross to make it possible for us to find forgiveness if we walk away from sin and walk with him instead.  And the tragedy of his gruesome death on a cross is meant to be the biggest warning label of all time: End your involvement with sin, because it is an indiscriminate killer, and every time you sin just brings more death and suffering into the world.

 

Entering the Peace

May
8

This is a message given by a friend of mine who is a missionary from Poland, named Wiesiek Stebnicki.  He dealt with how issues of pain and suffering and difficulty can be dealt with through Christian faith, and how we can find peace in the midst of life’s difficulties.

It’s a great talk and I thought it was definitely worth sharing!

A Study in the book of Daniel : Chapter 1 – Part 4 Test Prep

Jan
7

POP QUIZ!

Those words are usually only scary when you’re not prepared.  But if you have studied prepared, then test time is a little easier to deal with.  And it’s the same with real life.  If you prepare yourself for challenges, then when hardships hit, they are much less stressful.

Daniel was obviously pretty well prepared for the challenges he would face in Babylonian captivity.  You can tell by the way he handled himself even when it came to the seemingly small things like what he ate–or rather what he chose not to eat.

A Study in the book of Daniel : Chapter 1 – Part 3 What’s in a Name?

Jan
6

There are all sorts of pressures in life.  And it seems a lot of people use those pressures as excuses for not doing their best–or even worse–for doing bad things.  But the truth is, how you react to the difficult situations that life can throw at us is what really defines you as a person.

So, are you the kind of person who rises to the occasion?  Or do you fall apart under the pressure is on.  Take a listen to how young Daniel dealt with difficulty.

Click the link to listen.

A Study in the book of Daniel : Chapter 1 – Part 2 I Need a Hero (Part 2)

Dec
31

What’s it like to live as a hero?  I don’t mean to do one great thing and then be lauded as a hero for one act.  I mean living day in and day out according to principles that take dedication and perseverance to follow through on your convictions and not give up when it’s hard.  Is there somebody you look up to because they live a life worthy of respect?  That’s the kind of hero Daniel was–a nobody who became famous simply for doing the right thing in every circumstance, and God used him because of his faithfulness.

Click the Podcast link to listen.

A Study in the book of Daniel : Chapter 1 – Part 1 I Need a Hero (Part 1)

Dec
19

After a long time looking forward to it, I’ve finally started a series on the Book of Daniel.  It should be lots of fun because on the one hand it’s very well known for its stories about Daniel in the Lion’s Den and Shadrach, Meshach, & Abednego in the fiery furnace.  But at the same time, a lot of people have never dug into the prophecy in the second half of the book, which is so interwoven with many of the other Old Testament prophets in scripture, and New Testament writings,  including the Book of Revelation, which has intricate connections with Daniel.

So this first part is an introduction that sets up the book, and gives a little taste of the history and political environment leading up to Daniel’s life.  I hope you enjoy it!

Click the Podcast link to listen.