Monthly Archives: January 2014

Why Do We Suffer?

Why must we deal with suffering? This is a question we are all familiar with, isn’t it? And people from Christian and non-Christian circles alike have attempted to answer it.

One thing I do understand about suffering, is that it is a result from the Fall. If you look back in Genesis 3, you will see the consequences of sin spelled out and how they affect mankind as well as the earth. And in Romans 8:22-23 “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” We have been waiting since that day to be completely delivered from the sufferings that were caused by that first sin.

Christians sometimes believe they ought to be immune to troubles, but this idea is simply not biblical. To be told “ if you had enough faith” or “you must have done something terrible to deserve this” does not line up with what the Bible tells us. We are told time and time again that we will meet trouble and times of trial or even have to endure periods of intense suffering. And the Scripture does not say if your faith is large enough or if you manage to not sin in a certain way you will be able to avoid it.

G.K. Chesterton wrote “Jesus promised the disciples three things – that they would be completely fearless, absurdly happy and in constant trouble.” In John 16:33, Jesus gave the disciples a promise of suffering – “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” Note that surrounding the suffering, Jesus promises His peace and power. We would do well to remember that in our own times of suffering, His peace and power are there surrounding us, protecting us, comforting us through that time.

When I was in high school, I would say that my life was pretty lacking in suffering. All I would qualify at that time at suffering would probably be the loss of my grandmother at age 8, being relocated twice, and having to make new friends due to Dad being called to 2 new churches. Rather insignificant in degree when you compare it to the amount of suffering that other people have had to deal with, so I realize that I have been rather blessed in my life when it comes to the subject. One day after my Dad had a checkup and some blood work, we had some alarming news – the doctor was concerned about the possibility of yes, you guessed it, the “C” word. You can imagine the questions that were going around in my head. “Isn’t Dad too young for cancer? How could this happen? He seems healthy enough… What’s going to happen next? Why now? Why him? What did he do to deserve this?” The doctor scheduled a biopsy, and Dad went for the appointment and then the waiting for the results commenced – and the waiting was even longer then than it is now – it seem like forever! In that period of waiting, I asked those very questions to God. I had been a Christian for several years, and even had learned to be faithful to read my Bible and pray, but never did I pray like I did then. I had a bathroom in my room in our house in Hot Springs, and I remember not wanting Mom and Dad to find me, so I went into that bathroom and prayed like I never did before. I had been on my knees in prayer before, but it was more of a practice instead of a need to be completely humble before Him. I was on my face before Him before I knew it – weeping for understanding, for healing if Dad needed it, for comfort for the days to come. Never had I felt more comfort than I did after that experience – we still had to wait for the results, but no matter what the answers were, I believed God would take care of us. Later on the results revealed no cancer – it was almost as if God gave me the answer before we even had the results.

Fast forward about 10 years later and another doctor informing us that this time he did see evidence of cancer in another part of Dad’s body. Realize that in this 10 years I have been to college and Med Tech school and have more knowledge of the human body and how it works. The question was “How do you want to proceed?” Everyone looked at me… I took a deep breath and in that moment, I flashed to that same peace I had with Dad’s first cancer scare. And although this time we had a definite diagnosis, I believed that God could either heal Dad with His own hand or through modern medicine – however He saw fit, but also that if He chose to take Dad from this earth through this cancer, it would be of a purpose. And the cancer did have a purpose. Dad had surgery and chemotherapy, is still as fit as ever, but now he has a way to minister to those who have or have had cancer, because he has been there. He often will sit with church members who are getting chemo so they don’t have to do it alone. He takes baked bread and cookies to the receptionists and nurses at the clinic who he once saw so often. His trial and his faith through it is an avenue for witnessing for Christ that many of us may never experience.

Another passage that promises that we will face times of suffering is James 1:2-4 ”Count it all joy, my brothers,when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Notice that James doesn’t say “if someday by chance you might possibly run into trouble”. He says “Brothers, you are going to come face to face with trouble, but don’t run from it – look upon it with joy. And here is why – those trials test your faith and show it to be firm in the Lord – mature, complete, with no deficiencies.”

Why are we tested in school? To find out what we have learned or not learned, right? To see what we really understand and what we have just skipped over and not paid attention to? When you perform badly on a test, it will point you back to what you need to review on, especially if it’s a concept on which the material in the future will build. Just think about being tested on some sort of higher math if you didn’t understand basic math or even basic algebra. If the testing of your faith produces some steadfastness or endurance and you don’t do so hot at the tests, then it’s hard for your faith to become fully mature or complete. I guess what I am saying is that we need to learn to face some of our smaller problems or trials with the Lord’s help, because it will build upon our faith and help us in days of harder struggles.

Another thing I understand about suffering – we are not alone when we go through it. Isaiah 43:2 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” and Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.” – These verses are excellent reminders that God is with us.

We also need to remember that Christ is no stranger to suffering Himself. He is the ultimate of empathizers. While He was on this earth, He experienced all the pain and disappointment that you and I experience, yet without sin. He was separated from family and I am sure He was homesick.  He mourned the loss of a close friend.  He experienced rejection from His own countrymen, and was misunderstood by even those closest to Him. He was accused of blaspheming His own Father, mocked, beaten, whipped, and humiliated in every way imaginable. Then He was crucified. While He was on the cross He bore the weight of the world’s sin upon Himself.

We in our suffering often ask the questions “How could this happen?” or “Why me?” or “Why now?”. If you listen to the song I’ve posted, in the bridge it says “Jesus, in Your suffering, You were reaching. You thought of me.” What an incredible thought – that on the cross, instead of dwelling on His pain and suffering, He would have been thinking about what His sacrifice would do for all of mankind– He thought of you and me.



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The Character of God – Is God Good?

Have you ever been in the middle of working on a project at school or work or even for pleasure, and either wished you could or really did scrap it and start over?  Or you simply have to deal with the unpleasant realization that things are just not going to be how you want them to turn out?  It’s never fun to be in those situations, is it?

Imagine working on a project, finishing – feeling like you did a great job – then having someone else mess it up – how would that make you feel?  Upset? Angry?

Can you imagine how God felt after creating the world and proclaiming it good, (Gen 1:31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.) giving Adam and Eve the earth to live in and power over its creatures, only for man to rebel against him?  We see in Genesis 3 the results of that rebellion – not only was man cast out of the Garden, but we were given some pretty severe consequences as well.  But, surprisingly, God didn’t scrap the project altogether.

Fast forward about 1600 years to Noah’s day:  Genesis 5:5″ The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7 So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.”  That weighs pretty heavy on my heart to know that God at one point was so disappointed in man that He regretted even making us.  There is not very much documentation in the Bible about what evil was on the earth at that time – it just says that it was corrupt in the Lord’s sight, but it makes me cringe to think what God could think of the human condition today. But, there was something to be salvaged in God’s eyes – vs 8 & 9 say that Noah found favor in the eyes of God and that he was a righteous man who walked with God.  Noah and his family were spared when the flood came and wiped away everything from the face of the earth. Because Noah walked with God, he was part of His plan to repopulate the earth and start over.

Theses are just 2 early examples of God’s judgment of mankind.  Yes, they are seemingly severe or harsh.  As are other examples throughout the Bible.  But when looking at those examples you must also examine the reason for the judgement to begin with, as well as the numerous ways that God is merciful in judgement.  Many times before judgment of a people, they are given multiple warnings through prophets.  Oftentimes there is a span of many years that a people is given to repent before they are judged or exiled.  God Himself has said that He is  “a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,”(Ex 24:6), and He has demonstrated that more times than not when it comes to handing out His judgment to people who deserve it more than deserving His mercy.

This question “Is God good?” has been asked by the world because of the fact that there are those instances of judgement in the Bible as well as what people have proclaimed as God’s judgement on the world in today’s times, whether it be natural disasters, war, economic decline, etc.  What I would like to focus on for the moment is the reason why I know God is good.  I know that God is good because even though His project didn’t go the way He would have ultimately wanted it to – because He gave us free will and we blew it – He didn’t scrap us.  He knew that Adam and Eve would sin and He had a Plan in place to fix us.

I think we often have read/heard Romans 5:8 ” but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” by itself.  Wonderful verse – but read the verses before it and it almost takes on new life (at least it did for me) “6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Think about it – you pour yourself into something that’s going well, and it might be actually worth finishing – but, when it starts to mess up, or for sure when it’s all trashed and not worth anything – you lose motivation to work on it or finish it, right?  Verse 7 says perhaps for a righteous/good person, someone would actually step up and die for them, but for someone sinful, why in the world would anyone die for them?  But that is exactly what Christ did, He took mankind – weak and unworthy, soiled and broken – and saw man as worth salvaging…He saw you and me as worth salvaging – and He gave His life to do it!   I’d say that’s good, wouldn’t you?


Romans 5 (The Message) – I love this translation of these verses also.

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2014 Winter Hike – Pedestal Rocks

We went to Pedestal Rocks Scenic Area Saturday.  It was cold and it was windy, but the scenery was amazing.   There are two trails at the scenic area – Pedestal Rocks and King’s Bluff.  We hiked the 2.2 mile Pedestal Rocks trail.  Below are a few pictures from the hike.  Click on any of them to see the gallery.


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The Meaning of Life – 3 (of Many) Reasons I Could Never Be an Atheist

The Meaning of Life – Is that not the ultimate question? What am I supposed to do in life?  What career should I go into?  Should I get married and start a family? What am I here for?  What is my purpose?  Unfortunately the answers to these questions can not be found by plugging them into a search engine or supercomputer (and the answer certainly isn’t 42).  I have found myself at one point or another asking all of these questions.

When thinking about how I arrived at answers (or still am searching for them), I am confronted with the reality of how lost I would be if I were not a child of God – if I had no one to pray to for guidance, no Bible to go to direction, no Spirit to lean on for comfort.  I would be a complete mess.  Where would I be if I rejected the existence of God altogether?  The atheist philosopher Julian Baggini said, “Atheists have to live with the knowledge that there is no salvation, no redemption, no second chances. Lives can go terribly wrong in ways that can never be put right.”  To live in such despair!  Sure, someone who lives without belief in God can attempt to live life with meaning, but where is the source of that meaning?  Where is the source of their second chances?

C.S. Lewis, once an atheist himself, said “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen. Not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”  When you are a child of God, you see things differently.  It’s like a light has been turned on to things you have never seen before.  Atheists, naturalists, scientists, physicists, and others would like to explain things of our world from an evolutionary perspective or by chance or whatever else they would like to call it with all their theories (which by the way are just that – theories), but I see things through a lens of which I can only call my God perspective, because when I look at the wonders of what this world holds, I can only stand in awe of what our God has done for us.

The first reason that I could never be an atheist is what I see in Nature.  Selby and I like to hike, and most of our vacations are road trips so we can hike in several different locations along the way as well as our destinations.  You can see some of the places we’ve been here: .  Whenever we go to these places or even to places closer to home, I am astounded by the beauty our earth holds.  And to see these locations as the seasons change, with green trees and flowers in bloom in spring and summer, and the beautiful change in colors in autumn,  and even the stark contrast of winter where there are no leaves and it seems that you can see for miles.  Just the change in seasons – a perfectly timed schedule that creates this beautiful production of color for our eyes to see is enough for me to believe there is a divine Art Designer.  But there’s more.  You see, we have this magnificent backdrop of rolling hills, mountains, plains, forests, rivers, oceans, and streams on this revolving sphere that we call home.  Have you looked recently at the pictures from the Mars Rover?  We could live on a planet composed of what looks mostly like desert, but we are privileged to live on a planet that is made up of such beauty that I don’t believe explanations that scientists give us about our earths origins are sufficient – there has to be a divine Set Designer.  If not, I think it would be simple enough for our earth to be inhabitable but not beautiful, but God chose to give us beauty as well.  Today we went to Pedestal Rocks near Pelsor.  If you have never been, the rock formations are amazing.  Those huge rocks have been sitting there, being whittled away by wind, water, and debris for many, many years.  All I could think of today was – God knew on January 4, 2014, 2nd Baptist would hike to see these rocks, I always forget how impressive they are – am I sufficiently amazed by Him?  I then think beyond our world when I look at the stars and realize that God created so much more than just our little planet – I am dumbfounded by what we have not even discovered is out there.  Psalm 8:1 “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!  You have set your glory above the heavens… 3When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 4 what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?”

What is man that you are mindful of him?…  The next reason I could never be an atheist lies in the complexity of the Human Body.  Psalm 139:13 “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”  Here we see our Casting Director/Director/Producer.  I am a science nerd through and through.  I have always been fascinated by the way the body works.  Our body is composed of around 30 different types of cells, and we have 100 trillion (in adults) of those cells in our bodies.  These cells are of varying sizes and shapes, have different function and produce chemical reactions in order for our bodies to function properly.  The center of those cells have a nucleus which contain the DNA (found in a helix configuration) which contains the code for making us human.  It is said that if all of the DNA from a single adult human was stretched out end to end, it would reach the sun and back 400 times.  All of that code in a specific sequence and some people believe it could have happened all by chance??  Could David have been given some insight from God when he was inspired to write “intricately woven”?  Cells that are alike form tissues such as muscles, and tissues can form together to form organs, which are grouped together in systems that work together for specific purposes – all to make our life possible.  I cannot look at how all this works together in sync (or sadly, how sometimes it does not), and not be reminded how we have a loving Creator God who created us in His likeness (Gen. 1:27).

Lastly, and maybe not on other people’s “There is a God” list, is Music.  I cannot describe sufficiently to you what good music and a well written lyric does for my soul.  How an excellent guitarist, or swelling string section, or listening as someone plays a beautiful piano accompaniment or a driving, rhythmic drum beat just does something at the very core of me.  How sometimes the music itself doesn’t hit me until I know what the lyric says, and even if I may not have initially loved the melody, because of the words, I fall in love with the song anyway.  I still lean toward buying a physical cd, because I cannot always find lyrics online easily when I simply download.  There are very few genres of music I do not like, but I am not fond of anything that is shallow in meaning or something that is simply just trying to fill lines with rhymes.  I think music is a gift, and I think those who can write are truly gifted.  To not only be able to write words that convey what you are trying to say, many times in a way that has never been said before, and  to set those words to a melody, and then to fill the background with accompaniment – I believe is God-given – even if they don’t believe in Him.  These songwriters have a medium to reach so many people that might be unreachable by just spoken word.  One of my favorite Christian songwriters is Andrew Peterson – if you haven’t heard of him, look him up.  He is one of those artists reminiscent of Rich Mullins, writing in such a way that not only perks your ears, but tugs at your heart.  My favorite song from his last album Light for the Lost Boy, is called “Don’t You Want to Thank Someone”.  Here are the lyrics from the second verse:

Don’t you ever wonder why
In spite of all that’s wrong here
There’s still so much that goes so right
And beauty abounds?
‘Cause sometimes when you walk outside
The air is full of song here
The thunder rolls and the baby sighs
And the rain comes down
And when you see the spring has come
And it warms you like a mother’s kiss
Don’t you want to thank someone?
Don’t you want to thank someone for this?

Reminder of the beauty of nature, and the fact that it, people, as well as music swells into the melody we call life.  I believe this is evidence for a divine Composer, don’t you?

Whether it be nature, the human body, or music or some other reason I haven’t listed here today, the truth of the matter is there are things I don’t understand about the world we live in or why things happen the way they do. But also our opponents to Christianity, who would like to say that everything happened by chance, do not have empirical evidence to say so.   I thought C.S. Lewis said it well: “If the solar system was brought about by an accidental collision, then the appearance of organic life on this planet was also an accident, and the whole evolution of Man was an accident too. If so, then all our present thoughts are mere accidents – the accidental by-product of the movement of atoms. And this holds for the thoughts of the materialists and astronomers as well as for anyone else’s. But if their thoughts – i.e., Materialism and Astronomy – are mere accidental by-products, why should we believe them to be true? I see no reason for believing that one accident should be able to give me a correct account of all the other accidents. It’s like expecting the accidental shape taken by the splash when you upset a milk-jug should give you a correct account of how the jug was made and why it was upset.”

Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”  It seems to me that it takes as much or more faith to believe there is no God than to believe there is.  I am so relieved there is.  It is so much easier to answer those hard questions when you believe upon Him and have Him in your life .



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