Sunday, September 28, 2014

Is God Unfair?

Why does God permit beheadings of innocent people, the Ebola virus, child abuse, and government fraud? It doesn’t seem fair.

And many of us would be tempted to charge God with injustice in our own personal lives, too. How come my computer crashed and I lost all my work on the same day I had a flat tire? That doesn't seem fair. Why was my sister the pretty one? Not fair.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Why the Lord Wants to Help You, Even When You Mess Up

I’m reading through the Psalms at night. And a couple nights ago I read Psalm 106, which gives many examples of how God’s people have messed up over the years, ignored Him, griped and complained against Him, worshiped idols, disobeyed His word, and generally behaved so rebelliously that they usually ended up in a mess of their own making.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Day of Trouble

A couple weeks ago we spent six hours in the emergency room. I was having some unusual tightness in my chest, and to be on the safe side, we went to get it checked out. The blood tests, EKG, and chest x-rays were all normal, and later I had a stress (treadmill) test that was also normal. I’m fine and my heart is healthy.

But that doesn't mean it wasn't a difficult evening. Dionne and I have been in the ER too many times over the years not to feel a certain dread at going there again. If stress was the cause of my chest discomfort, hours spent in the waiting room doesn't help much.

We didn't get home till close to midnight. Before we went to bed, I read Psalm 86. Verse 7 seemed to be just for me: In the day of my trouble I call upon you, for you answer me.

The day of trouble will come to all of us. Jesus warned us: in the world you will have tribulation (John 16:33). The day of trouble may come from many directions - from the stress of life, from the infirmities of our frail bodies, from bad choices we or others make.

But our God watches over us, knows when the day of trouble is coming, and promises to get us through. And soon the day of trouble will be over forever, and the day of joy and peace and eternal fellowship with our Savior will begin.

May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob protect you! Psalm 20:1

For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble: he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock. Psalm 27:5

" upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me." Psalm 50:15

In the day of my trouble I call upon you, for you answer me. Psalm 86:7

The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him. Nahum 1:7

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Five Transforming Truths about Salvation – 5. He Protects Us and Brings Us All the Way Home.

If it were up to any of us, we’d never be forgiven because we’d never seek after God, never turn from our sins, and never trust Christ. And just as it is God’s sovereign grace that brings us to Him in the first place, it is His transforming power that gives us the desire for holiness and His overcoming faithfulness that brings us all the way home.

Sometimes people call this “Perseverance of the Saints,” meaning that one of the defining marks of true salvation is that you persevere to the end. But again, that’s due to the initiative and protection of our God, not to any special fortitude in us.

I’ve actually written about this subject a lot, including a six-part series earlier this year. For the last part in this series, I’m going to revisit something I wrote on March 15. And then at the end, I’ll provide links for some other articles you might find helpful on this subject.

"To Him Who Is Able to Keep You From Stumbling" 

I tripped and fell a couple days ago while I was on my run. One minute I was going at my normal (i.e. slow) pace, and the next minute I was plunging downward into the gravel. I caught myself on my palms and my right knee. Beside a few scrapes on my hands and a bloody knee, I was none the worse for wear.

I don’t know what happened. I didn't trip over anything unless it was my own feet. And it’s not like it was an unfamiliar route. I figure in the last five years I've been around this track over 600 times. I just fell, kablooey.

And as I stood to my feet, wiped my hands on my running shorts, and surveyed the abrasion on my knee, a Scripture verse popped into my head. Now to Him who is able to keep you from falling.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Five Transforming Truths about Salvation – 4. God’s Way IS the Highway.

The wind blows where it wishes...John 3:8
When we think of the grace of God in salvation, it’s not “my way or the highway” so much as “God’s way is the highway.” When God sets His mind to something, it will happen. And when it comes to saving sinners, His grace in Christ is irresistible.

Now the minute you use the term “irresistible grace” someone will point out that people resist God’s grace all the time. As Stephen said (right before he was martyred), You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you (Acts 7:51). Of course that’s true. Unsaved people always resist God and none seeks him (the subject of my first post in this series: We Have Fallen and We Cannot Get Up).

But God’s grace becomes irresistible when God decides to call a person to Himself, and overcomes the sinner’s fallen resistance. And actually this sovereignly compelling grace is the only way anyone ever comes to Christ.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Five Transforming Truths About Salvation: 3. Jesus Died to Save His Sheep – Not Just Make Them Savable.

When we talk about Christ’s atonement, all Christians can agree that Jesus’ sacrifice is infinitely precious and valuable. The Savior’s redemptive work is more than enough to save every person who has ever lived a million times over. And that’s why we can say with great confidence, For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).

But although Christ’s death is more than enough to save everyone who has ever lived, why is it that not everyone will be saved?

Monday, September 1, 2014


Yesterday I read a novel and one of the characters, an elderly Holocaust survivor, told the story of his time in the Nazi death-camps. Like all good fiction, it was true. It made me cry. And so I wrote this.

Oh, loss. You hard and dull drag of a thing, you constant ache, you impairing crippling relentless howl.

I hate you.

I smell your smoking ovens, hear your cackling grave-watch, feel your creeping decay, see your black eye-sockets

Oh, loss.

You shyster, you faker, you shape-shifter, you fraud and counterfeit. Your dull drone drowns a song.

You sudden shimmering flashing horror show, you ugly painted harlot, you hammering knocking pretending stench.

Oh, loss.

I know you and dread you and try not to think of you and you won’t leave.

Oh, loss, loss, loss.

You dead and dying creeping crying decaying braying plaguing pretender.

Jesus will undo you, Jesus will erase you, Jesus will make me forget you forever and ever.

Have your fun now. Your time’s coming.

Oh, cross, cross, cross, where my Savior lost and lost and lost and sent time spinning and evil running and life coursing and coming.

Oh, grave where is your sting?