Our adversary the Devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking to devour people (1 Peter 5:8) who answer the question this way. How so? Because he is halfway from getting you to curse God.
My church is doing something crazy. At least it feels crazy. We are growing rapidly right now. At this time last year we were averaging around 800 people per weekend in our worship gatherings. This year we are pushing 1,200 people per weekend at those same gatherings. The church is growing.
It is that time of the year where our thoughts and focus center on the Incarnation. We highlight how the Second Person of the Trinity came to Earth. The Savior, fully God and full man, stepped out of Heaven and took on flesh. Gregory of Naziansen, an early church father, said of the Incarnation, "Remaining what He was, He became what He was not." We often focus - and rightly - on these amazing aspects. We discuss what happened, how it happened, when it happened, and where is happened. But in this post...
Everyone has fears. I'm not talking about encounters with undesirable creatures (spiders, snakes, etc.), but experiences with undesirable realities. It could be losing our job, our spouse filing for divorce, getting cancer, or a child dying. We all have worse case scenarios in our mind that we pray never makes it into our lives.
This verse rings of happiness. I imagine it being recited by a family of smiling faces diving into a big meal. I see a church worship gathering beginning to sing praise songs and someone exhorting them with this verse. I see a man or woman repeating it to themselves as they gleefully walk into the new job they've been wanting . The passage sounds peppy. It feels lighthearted.
I woke up at 4am Saturday after a few hours of off-and-on sleep. My bed is a chair that pulls out into cot just feet behind my son's hospital bed. As I laid there, my thoughts raced. Here is my son, unconscious and unable to respond to us, receiving treatment for fungal meningitis. Is he going to beat this infection?
There are moments of pain that make praying difficult. The difficulty is not from a lack of faith, but from an abundance of sorrow. Crying out to God in the midst of pain often lacks cogency and clarity. It is hard to keep a train of thought when your thoughts are scattered in so many directions.
Many Christians are unaware of the life and ministry of John Newton. He is often known as "that guy who wrote 'Amazing Grace.'" What many do not know about Newton is that he was a highly influential and effective pastor in England in the 18th century. He wrote many hymns. He provided spiritual direction for many Christians, including William Wilberforce - who Newton helped persuade to fight against the African slave trade.
Just over thirteen years ago I got a phone call that changed my life. It was my wife. We had been in the hospital for a couple months with our ten week premature baby. He had a bad kidney, filled with cysts, that needed to be removed. That day began as a hopeful day. The day prior his bad kidney was removed. We were supposed to be getting discharged from the hospital. We were finally going home.