Archive for the ‘A day in the life’ Category

Unnatural Disasters


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.


The Blessings of a Good Church Family


There is nothing quite like a good church family.  I took my family to church tonight like we usually do.  We have a Wednesday night prayer meeting, where everybody shares the things that have been going on in their lives, and we pray for the people in our church and families and loved ones and our neighbors and coworkers and government leaders and whoever else God might lay on our hearts.  And pretty much every time, there is a group praying at church, somebody mentions me (and my family too).  It happens on Wednesday’s and Sundays and other days that we happen to get together.  And it just reminds me that I am so blessed to have a church family that cares about me and prays for me.  Of course it’s not about me, because they pray for everybody else in the church too.  They pray for people who might be sick or having family issues or looking for a job or any other need.  And they pray for people who are sharing their faith and reaching out to the world with the Gospel.  They give thanks to God for everything he does in our lives.  They show so much care for one another through their fellowship and their prayer and helping one another and taking care of each other.  And it’s just so good.

Of course that’s what church is all about.  It’s not about a preacher or a Sunday morning program or a youth ministry or a building or any of the things we so often define our churches by these days.  The Bible describes the church as a living body, made of many different parts.  And we come together through the direction and power of Jesus, and we support and encourage one another in our mission to make disciples.  We spur one another on to good works.  And we counsel and lend aid and take care of one an other.  That’s what biblical church is.

I’ve heard so many people say that you don’t have to go to church to be a Christian.  And technically that’s true.  Repenting of sin and choosing to trust and obey Jesus is a personal choice that only you can make for yourself.  But living as a Christian apart from the church is like a part of the body living apart from the body.  If you could get a hand or a foot or an eyeball or an ear to survive apart from the body, that would be an impressive medical feat.  But what would be the point of a hand or foot or eyeball or ear without the rest of the body?  We were meant to come together and work as one to make the world a better place.  So the people who think that church is just a thing you do once or twice a week, totally miss the point.  We aren’t meant to only GO to church.  We are meant to BE the church!  And any Christian who doesn’t know that and live that, is missing out on a lot.

Anyway, I was just feeling thankful because of my church family and felt like sharing.  Of course the real thanks goes to God.  He’s the one that has helped to transform the lives of people who are a living part of our church body.  He’s the one who helped every one of us become a part of him and be filled with his spirit to work and pray and live as a real church family.  And I am so grateful to God and to my brothers and sisters of the  church for the prayers and support and encouragement that they continue to give me and my family.  And I pray that you know that kind of love and connection too.

If you’re missing that–if you’re a Christian “orphan”–you definitely need to get connected to a godly church where you can experience this blessing.  And if you can’t find one, let me know…you can come be a part of my church family. 🙂

Are You Ready?


I’ve been hearing the reports on the explosions at the Boston Marathon today.  And it just saddens my heart that some evil person or group set bombs to kill and injure people, and so far 3 people have died and over 100 have been injured due to the blast.  And aside from the horrible tragedy of the event, a question comes to mind: How many of the people involved in that race or spectators were truly prepared to meet their Maker?

A marathon is considered by many who run them to be the physical challenge that sets you apart from everybody else.  If you can run that distance it becomes a mark of success and a celebration of  your health and vitality.  But how many people celebrate their physical health and don’t bother to think about their spiritual health?  It’s great to be healthy and strong, but every body dies.  And you never know when a nasty accident or some awful event like this will mark the end of your physical body.  Are you ready to stand before God to be judged for everything you’ve ever said and done?  Are you ready to have all your thoughts and intentions exposed before his holy judgment?

Maybe it’s time to start eating some healthy spiritual food by reading your Bible and going to church.  And maybe it’s time to start doing some spiritual exercise by running away from sin and living a holy lifestyle.  If you’re ready to live for God, he promises to fill you with his Holy Spirit to be the perfect trainer and motivator to practice a righteous lifestyle that keeps you in good spiritual health so that you can live forever.

Today is a good day to live!  And if you are living in the grace of God, then you won’t have to worry about when your health gives out and your body stops working, because if you trust and obey God, then to live is Christ and to die is gain!

Very Funny


One of the cool things that makes people special, and that I appreciate very much, is our ability to laugh.  There is no animal that laughs.  There are some critters who can mimic the sounds–like parrots and hyenas.  But no other creature has a funny bone like people do.  We can hear a joke or watch a video on YouTube or simply think of something in our own heads and get an emotional response that can’t be contained by our bodies.  And this crazy sound erupts from our mouths and we can shake and cry and release chemicals in our bodies and get all sorts of wild physiological responses to something that just happened to be “funny”.  At times, as much as we try, we can’t even stop it.  And the more we fight it the harder it seems.

Of course there’s no need for laughter.  It’s obviously not something that nature requires for survival.  It would be silly to think that laughter evolved to serve some purpose.  But can you imagine what the world would be like without laughter?

Obviously God must have a good sense of humor, otherwise nobody would.  So I’m thankful that God created us to laugh, to find joy in things, and even when things are at their worst sometimes to be able to laugh at our own situation, and help others by sharing humor.

Thank you Jesus for creating funny bones!

I’m finally raptured!


Ok, finally I’m caught up and back on schedule.  It seems like it took forever.  But now the weekly messages should actually be ready each week!

Thanks for tolerating my tardiness for awhile!

Feel free to send me a message if there are any topics you’d like to see covered.  Otherwise, enjoy the weekly messages.

April Fools


Only fools say in their hearts,
“There is no God.”
They are corrupt, and their actions are evil;
not one of them does good!

Psalm 14:1

No Rules


I just had one of my old youth leaders call me up to ask if the rules they made me follow messed up my life.  Now you have to understand that I was a rebel through and through.  I think I caused nervous breakdowns in some of my teachers and other leaders as I was growing up.  I know I caused my Dad quite a few headaches.  And none of it came because I hated these people.  I didn’t have anything against teachers or parents as people, I just didn’t like to follow rules.  I thought I was above the law.  I didn’t need anybody telling me what to do.  But you know what?  All that led to was an out of control life.  I had no direction, no drive, no passion.  I was like a rocket without any controls.  And a rocket without controls is nothing more than a bomb.  And I caused a lot of hurt for other people and myself.

Fortunately God put people (like my youth leaders) in my path that helped to direct that energy.  They didn’t give up on rules or discipline, and at the same time, they didn’t give up on me.  They loved me in spite of the difficulty I brought.  They saw potential for good where there was nothing but explosive before.  They knew that this rocket needed control in order to really fly.

Obviously you need good rules that come from people who care about your future.  And isn’t that what Jesus did anyway?  God gave us all sorts of good moral laws to live by–laws that would benefit our hearts and our families and our societies.  And when we obey God, our lives are naturally better.   And when Jesus came he was full of grace and loving kindness, but he didn’t give up on the rules.  He fulfilled them, and gave us a great example to live by and find fulfillment in our own lives.

Of course we can choose to obey or disobey.  We can choose to follow the rules or ignore them.  That’s always our choice.  But we also have to deal with the consequences of our decisions.  God gave us free will, and if we use it to break his law, our free will carries us away from God.  And if we don’t repent and start obeying, that separation becomes permanent.  But we can use our free will to obey God.  We can be motivated by love to do what we know in our hearts is right.  We can direct our energy for good uses and learn to mount up on wings as eagles.

It took me awhile to learn the lesson.  But I am very grateful for the people who taught me that having direction and control is a good thing.  And you know what, the rules aren’t what save you.  They are more like the training wheels of life that teach you to have self control.  Rules can’t help you if you think they are only there to be broken.  The sign that says “DANGER: HIGH VOLTAGE!” can’t save your life after you’ve touched the wires.

So the goal is not to just follow rules, but to learn the reason behind the rules.  And when you finally see past the law of God to the love that motivates it, then you start to understand why loving God and loving your neighbor makes obsolete the laws about murder and adultery or gossip and dishonoring your parents.  Because if you truly love someone, you will always do right by them.  And you will be living out the law without even thinking about it.

Think about it.  There are STOP signs at intersections to keep people from crashing into each other.  And people who are reckless and selfish will often run through them or just do the rolling stop thing.  But besides being illegal and punishable by a fine, it’s dangerous and many people have been killed and injured because they went through a STOP sign.  But someone who cares about themselves and others doesn’t need a sign.  Even in an unmarked intersection, they will still slow down and yield and even stop to make sure that nobody gets hurt.

The Bible doesn’t say “spare the rod and spoil the child” because Jesus hates kids.  Jesus welcomed kids.  He loved kids.  But he also knew that discipline can harness a person’s energy and give them direction and drive and build great character.

I still have that “rebellious” trait in me today, but now it is directed for good.  Now I can go against a world that tells me to be selfish and self-centered.  Now I can harness my energy for good instead of evil.  And now my life is fulfilling, my heart is at peace, and my joy of simply being alive is always there.

So I praise the Lord for his guidance and discipline through people that loved me enough to lay down the law for my own benefit.  Because it helped me to become the person I am today.  And it helped me to see the benefits of following Jesus.  And for that I will be eternally grateful!

Baby’s First Steps


So God happened to bless my wife & I with the cutest little baby girl ever born, and guess who’s walking now?!

Click on me to watch me walk!

Click here for high quality video

Pretty cool!

Where does the time go?


I’ve had a lot of people tell me that having a child really changes your life.  But it seems to me, when you are eagerly looking forward to having children and  it finally happens, you don’t even notice the change–kinda like jumping out of an airplane–you’re too focused on making sure your parachute works to think about how different life is with in a free fall.  And before you know it…smack your kids are in college and you’re wondering where the time went.

Our little girl is 4 months old today, and she is the most precious and beautiful baby I’ve ever seen.  And sometimes she needs some attention late at night or early in the morning.  She takes a little longer to get ready to go somewhere.  And she especially likes to be held when you need to use your hands for something else.  But the change to life she brings and the extra work she requires is so enjoyable because her life is such a blessing.  It’s like taking the trash can to the curb the night before garbage day and then looking up at the clear sky and getting lost in the stars.

These first 4 months seem to have flashed by, and she’s already grown so much.  It’s pretty awesome to watch.

Of course a baby can keep you occupied enough that you don’t blog at all for months.  But eventually you figure out how to make a little time to get some work done. 🙂

A rough start and a great beginning


From Frog’s awesome wife:

It was a long time coming…but she’s finally here!  The cutest baby ever was born on Sunday morning , August 8th.  She was delivered by emergency c-section, as her heart rate kept dropping and she was responding well.  We found out the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck.  She did not start breathing on her own for almost six minutes after birth and was very limp and pale.  She was brought immediately to the NICU, where she was tested for various infections.  Her white blood cell count was very high, so the doctors were guessing she had some sort of infection and started her on antibiotics right away.  Every blood culture they took to determine a specific type of infection came back negative, so they never discovered exactly what kind of infection she had.  Thankfully, her spinal tap results showed that there was no infection signs in her brain.  It was a rough day for all of us as Baby wasn’t feeling well, Mom had to go through surgery, and Dad had to worry about both his girls making it through all the complications.  But it was a great reminder that even through the rough times we can depend on God.

Since the doctors had started a course of antibiotics to fight whatever this infection was, she had to stay in the NICU for 10 days to finish her treatment.  But she was already showing much improvement after the first few days.  She moved out of her isolette into a regular bed, learned to breathe room air and maintain her own temperature, and got her feeding tube removed.  Poor girl went through a lot during her hospital stay, but she was such a trooper.  She is perfectly healthy and happy today!

We praise God for His continued faithfulness to us.  We might have thought our difficulties were over after our 2-year struggle with infertility, but God proved to us once again that He can bring something good out of a seemingly awful situation.  The day she was finally released from the hospital, August 18th, was one of the best days ever.  How long we had looked forward to the day when we would have a child in our home!  We are so grateful that our precious girl has no lasting issues from her complications at birth.  She is a wonderfully sweet baby and we are as happy and proud as parents can be!

Thank you for your prayers for our family!

It was definitely a rough day when she was born.  I remember that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when the doctor told us that the baby wasn’t responding and would have to be delivered by C-section.  Thankfully the nurse was happy to wait for me to pray for Jenna and the baby before they were prepped for surgery.  I had to put those paper clothes over my outfit, and then they let me be in the room during the procedure.

I always imagined that a C-section was a nice clean cut where the baby just slid nicely out.  But in real life, it’s more like a cannonball wound and the baby still has to be pushed through the opening.  I watched as they pulled the baby’s head through the incision, and unwrapped the cord and clipped it and handed her to the baby team.

The baby team went right to work cleaning her up and using the respirator to breath for her.  She was like a wet noodle and just flopped around and wasn’t crying or moving or anything.  The baby team was professional about it, but it was scary for me to watch my child not respond.  Meanwhile, I also kept an eye on my wife who was bleeding profusely.  The doctors were also diligently working on mom, but it was clear that both mama and baby were having complications.

As mom and baby were both being worked on I had the realization that I could lose them both on the same day.  And that was heart rending.  So I was fervently praying that morning for both my girls.  I told God I would trust him no matter what happened, but I prayed hard for the recovery of both mom and baby.  And praise the Lord, they both came through it well.

It was such a blessing when I finally heard my daughter cry.  And I love to watch her grow and learn new things on a daily basis.  And it’s so good to know my beautiful wife is well and can share her love with me and our budding family.

PS. If you’d like to read some of the back story to just how huge a blessing this baby girll is be sure to check out these two entries:

Praying for a baby

A miracle answer to prayer