Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?

“Believe it or not, Christianity is not about good people getting better. If anything, it is good news for bad people coping with their failure to be good.” ~Tullian Tchividjian

As a Christian, there is a certain question that is bound to arise when speaking with someone who has recently encountered tragedy. I’ve had this question asked of me by both people who’ve professed faith in Christ, and those who’ve claimed to possess no faith whatsoever (though, in a previous post, I’ve pointed out how everyone has faith). In a culture that frequently attempts to ignore the realities of evil, sin, and death; when encountering circumstances where we must—it leaves us having to ask ourselves some difficult questions. This question always seems to be one of them: Continue reading

The Narrow Path

Lukewarm people feel secure because they attend church, made a profession of faith at age twelve, were baptized, come from a Christian family, vote Republican, or live in America. Just as the prophets in the Old Testament warned Israel that they were not safe just because they lived in the land of Israel, so we are not safe just because we wear the label ‘Christian’ or because some people persist in calling us a ‘Christian nation.’ ~Francis Chan

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I’ve come to believe that how we respond to our circumstances—whatever they may be—is highly correlated with our identity. Continue reading

An Unimaginable Relationship

In Power Evangelism, Wimber spelled out his understanding of the impoverished framework that is so basic to Westerners that they cannot even see the assumptions as assumptions but rather as fundamental truths about the world. Westerners, he said, assume that we live in a truth only through empirical study and rational thought. We feel confident in our ability to control our environment, and we feel little need for any help from anything outside ourselves. We assume that only that which has been tested and proven is true. And finally, we accept reason as the only and highest authority in life. This secular, self-reliant, materialist, and rational culture is, Wimber argued, the greatest impediment to a Christian’s personal encounter with Christ. Now, he argued, we live in a world in which most intellectuals have abandoned the hope that we have a purpose for being, and we live in a moral crisis and a miasma of existential doubt (Tanya Luhrmann, When God Talks Back, p. 317).

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There appears to be a growing approach to practicing Christianity—particularly in the United States—that concerns me. Maybe this is simply a case of semantics. I, however, believe that it’s much more divergent and deadly. What some would probably argue to be semantics, I consider fundamental differences of core belief; for these semantics lead to differences in how individuals come to know and relate to God. Subsequently, there is a schism in Christian orthodoxy (“correct belief”), which is noticeable when considering Christian orthopraxy (“correct practice”). And—truthfully—it’s always been there… Continue reading

bad eyes

To say that a thing is good is merely to express our feeling about it; and our feeling about it is the feeling we have been socially conditioned to have.

But if this is so, then we might have been conditioned to feel otherwise. ‘Perhaps’, thinks the reformer or the educational expert, ‘it would be better if we were. Let us improve our morality.’ Out of this apparently innocent idea comes the disease that will certainly end our species (and, in my view, damn our souls) if it is not crushed; the fatal superstition that men can create values, that a community can choose its ‘ideology’ as men choose their clothes. Everyone is indignant when he hears the Germans define justice as that which is to the interest of the Third Reich. But it is not always remembered that this indignation is perfectly groundless if we ourselves regard morality as a subjective sentiment to be altered at will. Unless there is some objective standard of good, over-arching Germans, Japanese and ourselves alike whether any of us obey it or no, then of course the Germans are as competent to create their ideology as we are to create ours. If ‘good’ and ‘better’ are terms deriving their sole meaning from the ideology of each people, then of course ideologies themselves cannot be better or worse than one another. Unless the measuring rod is independent of the things measured, we can do no measuring. For the same reason it is useless to compare the moral ideas of one age with those of another: progress and decadence are alike meaningless words.

~C.S. Lewis, The Poison of Subjectivism, p. 73

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a world claiming truth found solely in self,
within identities of limitless varieties,
an idol of independence placed upon a most prominent shelf,
while succumbing to sin and its subjectivities, Continue reading

Merely Sharing the Story

INTRODUCTION
I recently heard a sermon where the pastor made a simple, yet profound, point about understanding the Gospel. He said that for individuals to understand the good news of the Gospel, they must first accept the bad news regarding our “natural” state. Expounding further, he said that if individuals can’t see the need for God in their lives, they’ll be unable to see the necessity of the Gospel. In other words, he suggests that for people to see Gospel Truth, they must be aware of their circumstances when they are outside of God’s grace and mercy.
Continue reading

Peace through Love and Forgiveness

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”                    ~ Mother Teresa

“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love.”                    ~ Francis of Assisi

“The best way to destroy an enemy is to make him a friend” ~ Abraham Lincoln

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UNDERSTANDING PEACE AND ITS IMPLICATIONS
At Sunday school a few weeks ago, our young professionals group examined the biblical meaning of the word “peace.” After reviewing definitions from a number of sources, and considering these definitions against scripture, we arrived at a succinct definition:

Unity absent conflict

While not typically included within a secular definition, unity is an essential component of biblical peace. When realizing that unity is necessary for biblical peace, we should become aware that how we pursue such peace differs from the traditional, secular definition of the word. While some people may seek “peace and quiet” by avoiding others and finding environments absent noise and disturbance, biblical peace cannot be achieved in this manner. For Christians, biblical peace is about establishing healthy relationship with God and others. Moreover, it requires believers to be at peace with all people (including non-believers) as much as it depends on them (Romans 12:18).

The Christian understanding of God’s being is emblematic of biblical peace. Christians believe in a Trinitarian God—three persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) in one God—existing in perfect harmony. God is never at conflict with Himself. As sinners, the same cannot be said of our relationship with Him. Continue reading

angel

“The angels are so enamored of the language that is spoken in heaven that they will not distort their lips with the hissing and unmusical dialects of men, but speak their own, whether their be any who understand it or not.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“All God’s angels come to us disguised.” ~ James Russell Lowell

“The guardian angels of life fly so high as to beyond our sight, but they are always looking down upon us” ~ Jean Paul Richter

“Angels descending, bring from above, echoes of mercy, whispers of love.” ~ Fanny J. Crosby

“If trouble hearing angels’ song with thine ears, try listening with thy heart.” ~ Terri Guillemets
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oh my angel! with thy voice ethereal sweet,
i beseech you, dare entreat,
this lowly man, firmly held to ground,
permit my ears to hear thy sound, Continue reading

Discomfort: Leaving Our Cocoons For Christ

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

“The great danger for family life, in the midst of any society whose idols are pleasure, comfort and independence, lies in the fact that people close their hearts and become selfish.” ~ Pope John Paul II

“As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” ~ Luke 9:57-58

INTRODUCTION
I returned from a trip to Virginia earlier this May in a poor state of mind. During the long drive back to Georgia, my thoughts wandered; pondering circumstances that I have no control over. For most of the week following, I struggled with anxiety… Continue reading

sliver

“Let your hopes, not your hurts, shape your future.” ~ Robert H. Schuller, clergyman

“What gives me the most hope every day is God’s grace; knowing that His grace is going to give me the strength for whatever I face, knowing that nothing is a surprise to God.” ~ Rick Warren
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it is the sliver of hope, sunset’s retreating light,
that provides impetus to continue the fight,
a security blanket that all of us need,
a constant companion, a trusty steed, Continue reading

diamonds

“When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure.” ~ Peter Marshall, Scottish Clergyman

Written on April 1, 2008

As a diamond entrenched in stone, its beauty withheld from the son’s presence, the world’s firmament; solidified earth, surrounding it. A product of its environment created by overcoming pressure over time, sharp and hardened; originating from decay, a remnant of death. Continue reading

Seeking Sanctification

“Indeed, the more sanctified the person is, the more conformed he is to the image of his Savior, the more he must recoil against every lack of conformity to the holiness of God. The deeper his apprehension of the majesty of God, the greater the intensity of his love to God, the more persistent his yearning for the attainment of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, the more conscious will he be of the gravity of the sin that remains and the more poignant will be his detestation of it….Was this not the effect in all the people of God as they came into closer proximity to the revelation of God’s holiness.”
~John Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied

INTRODUCTION
As a Christian, I believe it is essential for me, and for other Christians, to seek greater sanctification. Christian sanctification refers to the process in which a follower of Christ is “set apart” as holy and sacred. In scripture, the Greek word for sanctification is the same for holiness, “hagios”—again, meaning “a separation.” When researching the topic, it seems that theologians commonly reference three roles—or phases—for how sanctification functions (or appears) in our life. Continue reading

Hedging Your Bets

“Wide diversification is only required when investors do not understand what they are doing.” ~Warren Buffett

Posted on Facebook–May, 2008

When I was a graduate student working on my MBA, it felt as though we were always talking about diversification or competitive advantage. And when it comes down to the essence of those topics, it can best be described as strategic management; finding the optimal mix of risk versus profit. Continue reading

Wading

Originally posted on Facebook, 2008

What has happened to depth in life? Conversations that receive the token comment, “That’s deep,” rarely are anything remotely resembling. Movies seem to fall into two categories now. They are either 1) re-purposed stories that have held the test of time (yes, comic books fall into this category) or 2)  a spectacle of cinematic special effects and sounds, with a small dash of plot to hold onto some sense of grounded meaning. Millions of people spend their evenings staring at their high-definition, flat-screen TVs, ensconced within the vapid dialogues of reality show celebrities. Where are we producing fruit? Continue reading

Understanding

 How blessed is the man who finds wisdom and the man who gains understanding. ~Proverbs 3:13

“Whoever is searching for the human being first must find the lantern.” ~Nietzsche

This post originates from Facebook–February, 2009

A few years ago, a friend of mine said something to me that has continued to rattle within the empty space between my ears. He told me that one of the greatest fears that people have is to be misunderstood. At the time, He was sharing that it was his biggest fear. If remembering correctly, I acknowledged that being misunderstood definitely had to be high on my fear spectrum, though I did not believe it to be a fear that controlled me. Only looking back, do I realize that I was probably wrong. Continue reading

Filling The Cup

Originally posted on Facebook–September, 2009

A dove spreads its wings and flies against a backdrop of colors courtesy of a rainbow; a buoyant breeze guiding our winged friend across peaceful skies. It is a beauty visible though unattainable, past our physical reach. Unfortunately, we live in a world susceptible to floods. These floods subside, but leave pain, suffering, and mourning as remnants of its prior presence… Continue reading

Belief and Action

Originally posted on Facebook—June, 2014

“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” ~John 15:7 NASB

“Yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.” ~Romans 4:20-21 NASB

For years, I have written notes sharing my thoughts on subjects that I believe to be essential within biblical teachings—often returning to topics repeatedly. Such topics include: love, trust, faith, hope, humility, forgiveness, sacrifice, truth, pain, and suffering. These topics arise repeatedly throughout scripture, giving credence to their importance. As should be the case given such context, I try to look at these topics through the lens of Jesus—all things pointing to the cross. A Christian’s convictions should be centered on the crucifixion and resurrection; otherwise, there is no foundation for a Christian belief system. Scripture tells us to believe in God’s character, His love, His forgiveness, His mercy, His sovereignty, His consistency, His omniscience and omnipotence. We are told to have faith in Him—to believe in Him; centering ourselves on Him. We are to possess an attitude of thankfulness and reverence towards God…an attitude of trust. There is good reason for this, when you understand how vital it is in guiding your path:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” ~Proverbs 3:5-6

Belief is a powerful ally…or enemy. There is much to suggest—within both a biblical and secular context—that belief strongly influences individuals’ attitudes, establishing their behavioral intentions, which often leads to the actual intended behavior. In the 1970s, psychology professors Fishbein and Ajzen (1975) proposed the Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA), which states just that: beliefs > attitudes > intentions > behavior/actions. More precisely, the theory suggests that individuals’ behaviors are dependent on both their attitudes about the behavior, and how others will react if they actually perform the behavior (i.e. take action). Continue reading