why me?

These are questions we tend to ask when things aren’t going the way we would desire for them to go.  Why me?  Why this? Why now?

Justin Taylor posts an answer tree from David Powlison, “God’s Grace and Your Sufferings,”  in Suffering and the Sovereignty of God (pp. 172-173)..

here is a paragraph from the middle, but you really have to go read and perhaps meditate on the whole thing

As that deeper question sinks home, you become joyously sane. The universe is no longer supremely about you. Yet you are not irrelevant. God’s story makes you just the right size. Everything counts, but the scale changes to something that makes much more sense. You face hard things. But you have already received something better which can never be taken away. And that better something will continue to work out the whole journey long.

I have the Kindle version of Suffering and the Sovereignty of God on my iPhone. Obviously, I need to read past the introduction.

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two on suffering

first courtesy of Vitamin Z we get this comforting bit that we will never be able to fully explain the problem of evil but that we can trust God anyway:

So how do Christians explain the problem of evil?

The reality is, we can’t provide an exhaustive theodicy or explanation of the existence of evil.  Our minds cannot fully fathom “why.”

But, in his recommended book, Return to Reason, Kelly Clark, explains why Christians need not feel intellectually compromised if they cannot explain the existence of evil.  Here is how he concludes the discussion.

The Christian theist need not be troubled by is his ignorance of a theodicy.  This ignorance is not insincere, questionable or obscurantist.  Rather, it is quite consistent with his theistic beliefs.  The Christian theist will believe that God has a good reason for allowing evil, although  he does not know what it is or know it in any detail.  He believes that God has a good reason because of God’s redemptive incarnational revelation.  It is not rationally incumbent upon the theist to produce a successful theodicy; the theist, in order to be rational, must simply believe that God has a good reason for allowing evil.  A God who shares in our pain, who redeems our sorrows and our shortcomings, who wipes away ever tear, is surely a good God. (page 89).

and then Halim Suh is making plans. He is thinking about what he wants his friends to tell him when suffering comes in his life. It is so very helpful to have right theology and right thinking about suffering firmly in place in your mind before the suffering hits. before the cancer diagnosis, before the layoff, before the horrible accident etc. etc. Here are some of Halim’s prospective advices to himself. Go read the rest.

Yesterday in our book group, we were discussing suffering. Honestly, I haven’t endured a lot of suffering, yet, in this life. Especially not the tragic, life-changes-in-a-moment kind of suffering. But, only the Lord knows if it is coming. I’ve been thinking a lot about what I would want people to tell me if I do go through a crisis – and these are things that I think I would need to hear:

Tell me that there is a God in heaven, who made the heavens and the earth and all that is in them. Remind me that my crisis, my suffering, is not a surprise to Him, and that it has not happened outside of His control. Tell me that my God has a purpose in everything – my suffering included. Remind me that He is the God who sees everything – not one thing has ever escaped His attention. He sees me now.
….
Tell me that there is a Savior that suffered – a lot more than I can ever imagine. No matter how much suffering I am enduring, remind me that Jesus suffered so much more, infinitely more. Tell me that He can comfort me because He knows my pain. He knows my suffering. Tell me that my Jesus is there.

Tell me that God loves me with a fierce love – the kind that rips open seas, that drowns armies, that throws hailstones from heaven, that shuts up lions’ mouths, that saves from consuming fires, that heals the lame, that feeds the hungry and that conquers death. Remind me that my God loves me like that. And that this God doesn’t change, nor does His love for me change. So, if He has ordained suffering in my life, He is still loving me – although I may not see it or understand it.

Halim is one of the staff at Austin Stone Community Church.

everday Gospel

via Ramblin’ Pastor Man, here is a short video with John Piper explaining that we need the Gospel every day.

the hope

this is the hope we have because of the love of God.

1 John 3:1-3: “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”

miley on happiness

Julie Neidlinger points to Miley’s theological tweet.

Mily Cyrus responded to the Miss California gay marriage brouhaha (and to Hilton) with a Twitter message of staggering ineptitude:

Jesus loves you AND your partner and wants you to know how much He cares! Like I said, everyone deserves to be happy.

Everyone deserves to be happy.

Just wow. what can you say?

see the post below regarding our happiness.

and see this post for more information on why God loves us too much to leave us the way we are. As David Powlison says:

There is something wrong with you! From God’s point of view, you not only need someone else to be killed in your place in order to be forgiven, you need to be transformed to be fit to live with. The word ‘unconditional’ may be an acceptable way to express God’s welcome, but it fails to communicate its purpose: a comprehensive and lifelong rehabilitation, learning ‘the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.’ (pp.168-169)

God’s love

Todd Burus is reading a book by David Powlison called Seeing with New Eyes.

Following this Powlison argues for how God’s love in better than unconditional, how it embraces and yet goes further than some aspects of unconditionality, and how the idea of unconditional love is in some ways inadequate to explain God’s love for his people. Of these the one that struck me the most, and what I believe is the impetus behind why true biblical counseling must be different than secular psychology, is the fact that speaking of God’s love as unconditional misses the point that “God’s grace is intended to change people.” Powlison says that,

There is something wrong with you! From God’s point of view, you not only need someone else to be killed in your place in order to be forgiven, you need to be transformed to be fit to live with. The word ‘unconditional’ may be an acceptable way to express God’s welcome, but it fails to communicate its purpose: a comprehensive and lifelong rehabilitation, learning ‘the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.’ (pp.168-169)

These words are so important for us to hear today. I would argue that probably 95% of the people in our congregations would affirm that God’s love is unconditional– I might even have raised a hand in agreement to this at the start of the day– but when pressed to define what the Bible really says about God’s love we have to acknowledge that the modern secular psychological concept of “unconditional positive affirmation” (the jargon equivalent of “unconditional love”) is in no way sufficient to speak of what is revealed to us.

Do you get that? transformation must occur. Philippians 1:6 and II Corinthians 3:18 speak of the surety of this process as a result of God’s loving power.

Without understanding or believing in a love of God that requires transformation, we fall into all kinds of traps. Like Todd says:

But even further than this, I think that by referring to God’s love as unconditional we have begun importing the cultural understanding of this concept into our Christian practice. We are tolerant of all sorts of devaint behavior and sin, especially our own, and so is “God”. We want to be able to pray a prayer and then go back to business as usual and so that’s what “God” commands. We have trouble speaking up about the Bible’s comments on gender roles and sexuality and so we find inventive ways to change “God’s” mind on them. From all of this we get things such as easy believism, free grace theology, and even Christian universalism, which in my mind is the next big conflict rising within the church.

If you don’t believe this is happening, then you aren’t paying attention.

going with what you know

sometimes in the midst of heartbreak and pain, it is easy to lose sight of God. We get overwhelmed. Platitudes and cliches in that moment don’t help.

That is why I love the Psalms. David was an emotional guy on an emotional roller coaster. Compare Psalm 35 (David on a bad day) with Psalm 37 (David on a good day).

the point is that when we are in the middle of the storm is not the time to be making four part logical scriptural arguments about how God intends for this to all work out for our good. Instead, as the waves wash over our heads and we feel like just letting go and drowning, all we can do is cling to the Rock of our Salvation.

We have to rest secure in what we know even when it varies from what we feel. What we know is in whom we have believed. When Paul wrote that, waves of disappointing events and problems were hitting him one after the other. people were letting him down, deserting him to save their own skin, execution imminent. But he wrote: “12 ….. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.”

When the chips are down and people disappoint us, we have to use our head and rest in what we know, no matter how we feel.

We know that our God is the God “who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.

We know that this God made us alive, loves us, saves us, and prepares work for us to do.

I love this song:

also, there isn’t a video for this one on YouTube that I could find, but it is fantastic. Alli Rogers is a great singer/writer