God Is…

I believe God is good. I believe God is all-powerful.

I’ve been wrestling with these beliefs recently. Not in the sense of doubting them, but rather in explaining them. How do I convince people that God is good and all-powerful, and yet tragic things happen?

I know we live in a broken, sinful world. I know we’ve all sinned against God, and we all need His grace. I understand that each day is a gift, and we can’t guarantee the next day. Stoplights malfunction, doctors give us timeframes, and storms arise.

But how can some people be so evil? Even more so, how can a perfect, loving, almighty God allow people to commit such tragedies? How can one man get away with causing so much unbelievable pain and suffering in the hearts of these parents? What good could possibly come out of this?

I can’t begin to explain and rationalize why God lets these things happen, and I’m not meant to. That’s certainly not the point of this post.

As I’ve been wrestling with these questions, I have renewed a third belief about God: I believe He is the Wonderful Counselor. The Holy Spirit is present in both Portland, Oregon and Newtown, Connecticut, and He is counseling them in ways I can’t even begin to imagine, let alone explain. I must trust that He is the light in the darkness (John 1:5).

I pray that as you continue to celebrate this Christmas season, you will experience “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Phil 4:7), and I pray we will remember the birth of Emmanuel: God with us.


Perspectives on a Monday Morning

I wonder how many pet-peeves can occur today before 9:00. So far I have my alarm going off, the annoying radio station is playing, the obnoxious gossiper in the line at Starbucks, and the awkward coworker has already talked to me.

Perspective: my alarm went off so I wouldn’t be (too) late for work. The annoying radio station could be worse (country). Pray for the gossiper. The awkward coworker might have needed someone friendly to talk to.

Jesus said, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” Being a Christian isn’t always easy, because we’re called to live unselfishly. But when we allow the Holy Spirit to shine through us, this dark world becomes a little brighter.

Maybe Only Dogs and Superman Can Hear It

Sometimes, I just don’t get God. I try to follow His will for my life, and I yearn to hear His voice. I pray, I worship, and I read His Word so I can have a close relationship with my beloved Creator.

Honestly, though, it’s a little hard and feels a little weird to listen for an inaudible voice. Sure, I’ve known spiritual leaders and mentors who’ve been able to hear the voice of God, and there’ve even been times when deep down I knew God was speaking to me.

But wouldn’t it be so great if the Holy Spirit spoke to us like our best friend does? Like, if we could go to Starbucks and chat about our lives over an Irish cream latte? I could tell Him about my day, how my classes are going, and how great it is to see Him working in the lives of students at church. Then He could tell me more about what He wants to do in my life… things I could be working on, how to rely on Him more, encourage me in the areas I’m doing well. How awesome would that be? I’m sure I would be so much more faithful and understand the will of God much better!

That was until I came across John chapter 16. Here Jesus is telling His disciples that He will be leaving soon. He says, “In just a little while I will be gone, and you won’t see me anymore. Then, just a little while after that, you will see me again.”

I think we sometimes put the disciples up on this super-spiritual level. By absolutely no means am I belittling their faith, teachings, and leadership in starting the early church. I look forward to the day when I sit down with each of them and listen to their experiences. But I believe they had some of the same doubts, confusion, and frankly bewilderment that we face today. For example, after Jesus predicted His death and resurrection, the disciples asked each other, “What does He mean…? We don’t understand.” If the people who talked, ate, and lived with God in the flesh still had trouble understanding, how much more we might too.

The truth is, we can’t fully comprehend the ways of God. If we could, then there would be no need to trust Him. His love for us is unfathomable. He uniquely created us, is crazily in love with us, and wants us to live in relationship with Him. But He is who He is (YHWH), and He has infinite knowledge. No, He is the Maker of all knowledge. Nothing exists outside of His design. So it’s no wonder we cannot fully comprehend Him and His plan.

It’s hard to imagine the One who created and maintains the universe wanting to talk with us. We can’t see Him, hear Him, touch Him. But He is here. He’s speaking to you. Quiet your mind, fill your heart with His Word, and worship His name.

“Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. Then there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. Then there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.” 1 Kings 19:11-13

What You Do

Do you know what you do, dear palm waiver, when you proclaim “hosanna?”

Do you know what you do, dear disciple, when you eat the bread and drink the wine?

Do you know what you do, dear betrayer, when you kiss the beloved Son of God?

Do you know what you do, dear temple guard, when you bind the hands of the Creator?

Do you know what you do, dear pharisee, when you accuse the Miracle Worker?

Do you know what you do, dear Roman governor, when you sentence the Prince of Peace?

Do you know what you do, dear soldier, when you nail the hand that controls the stars?

Do you know what you do, dear witness, when you hear the last words of the Word?

Do you know what you do, dear priest, when you see the Holy of Holies through a ripped veil?

Do you know what you do, dear women, when you prepare spices to embalm your Lord?

Do you know what you do, dear follower, when you run to an empty grave?

Do you know what you do, dear child, when you bring your sin, guilt and shame to the place death was defeated?

Do you know what you do, dear believer, when you praise your God and Savior?

“Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah must suffer and die and rise again from the dead on the third day. With my authority, take this message of repentance to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who turn to me.’ You are witnesses of all these things.” -Luke 24:46-47

Unconventional Leadership

God works in mysterious ways. Take a look through the Bible; to say He works unconventionally is an understatement. He typically chooses to work through people who are either stubborn, uncooperative, completely unqualified, or a mix of all the above. Yet these are His prime pick for leaders.

So why does God choose to work with people who the world would deem a poor choice? The apostle Paul had an interesting thought on this subject. He said that God told him, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So he told the church in Corinth, “Now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me!”

Can I just say that I don’t really feel comfortable doing that? Yeah, I know it’s best to do what Paul says and let Christ work in our weaknesses, but to be honest, I don’t really want Him to. I mean, He gave me gifts and talents, so why doesn’t He just use those? I’ll be glad to “boast” and say that these gifts are all from God, and may all praise and glory be to Him! That seems far more comfortable than boasting about my weaknesses.

But where would the glory be in that? I guess it would be far more amazing to see someone be radically changed, only by the grace and power of Jesus the Christ…

…to see Moses, a man with a speech impediment, standing in front of the Pharaoh, one of the most powerful men at the time, telling him to free his people…

…to see Gideon, a young man called to save Israel from oppressors, even though his clan was the weakest, and he was the least in his family…

…to see David, a young shepherd boy, help his nation to win a war by killing a giant…

…to see 12 men completely drop their careers and beliefs to follow one man and, through His power and Spirit, change the world…

I still don’t completely understand why God would use stubborn, uncooperative, incompetent people, but I’m not going to argue with Him. He’s given me plenty of examples that tell me His way is the best way. Now it’s time for me to get off my butt, stop asking “Why?” and start asking “How?”

I believe God is calling this generation to revive His church. I’m encouraging my friends to join me in asking not the question “why,” but “how.”