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Just Come

randomlychad  —  October 6, 2015 — Leave a comment

My wife and I participate in a small group study. Lately, we’ve been looking at how to share the Gospel. As a part of that process, I’ve been tasked with answering a couple of common objections:

The exclusivity of the message of Jesus, and the plethora of world religions. I may have bitten off more than I can chew here, but intend to give it the old college try.

The world as we see and experience certainly establishes a prima facie case against the existence of God. There is much suffering, atrocities, and evil. Why would a good God allow such things to transpire? On the other hand, there is much about this world which is beautiful, lovely, and sublime in way which surpasses our poor power to express it. There is an order to the universe, and a precision in the way in which it operates that certainly at the least implies design. Atheists will say that’s all it is, implied design. But according to Occam’s Razor, the simplest solution is often the correct one, e.g., the universe appears designed because it is designed. In other words, and in the words of C.S. Lewis, “if the universe were without meaning we should never have discovered that it was without meaning.”

Is it possible that both are true? That all we see around is designed, yet all is not as it should be? Pain, suffering, disease, and death certainly provide a strong argument for this. If this is so, is God to blame? Is He a cosmic sadist delighting in our struggles? Why would He go to such great lengths to create all of this only to seemingly remain hidden from His creation? Why does He allow us to flounder in the mire? Surely a loving Father would [fill in the blank]?

And there’s the rub: we’ve just gone over the line into idolatry, making a god in our image, instead of falling at the feet of the One Who is. Because the One Who is, while promising an ultimate end to evil, in the meantime chooses the much harder path of walking with His suffering creation in love. Rather than delivering us from every trial, He suffers along with us. Instead of answering our questions, our every objection, He gives Himself. This is not an answer that many are willing to hear.

So yes, the world is broken. We are broken, and our brokenness try to fill that void with whatever we think will sooth our savage breast: science, atheism, sex, drugs, alcohol, relationships, education, what have you. We move from one thing to the next, never really assuaging the emptiness. And into this mess comes the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It seems an offer too good to be true; for how can it be free? This answer to our broken selves, this broken world? Because our experience is here, in the material plane, we know that there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch, that we get what we pay for… Thus it is that the word squeezes us into its mold. Because there’s always strings, right? And we don’t want to be anyone’s puppet. That is ultimately what it boils down to, really; every objection to the existence of God, while purporting to be philosophical, scientific, logical, is really about this: we don’t want to give up control. All else–the prima facie case the world presents–is but a smokescreen to an underlying condition of the heart the Bible terms “sin.”

Because God made us free, we are free to either accept, or reject, this fact. In essence, in shaking our fists at the sky we are saying, “Don’t confuse me with the facts, God, my mind is already made up.” And then we will come up with our reasons, our justifications, of why this is so. Why we are right, and Christians are wrong. Why we’re okay. This is nothing but confirmation bias. We’re right because we’re right. I’m okay, you’re okay. Now go away.

Meanwhile Jesus is saying, “Come to me all you who are weary, and I will give you rest.”

And that is what the Gospel is all about: rest from our striving, our brokenness, our sin.

Come to Me, He says.

Come and lay your objections down, and take up the life you were made for. For His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

Just come.

Joe SewellFolks, I have the great privilege of hosting Joe Sewell today. In his own words, Joe: is a 50-year-old software geek living in West Melbourne, FL, after he and his parents bailed on the Eastern Shore of Maryland when he was 18. His lovely wife, Joy, has put up with him on more than major holidays for 19 years so far. Joe writes about Biblical stuff on his blog, , at Consider This, whenever he gets something to write on. Joe also participated in NaNoWriMo in 2010 and produced a weird self-published book, The Quantum Suicide of Schrödinger’s Cat, available on Amazon and CreateSpace. Joe also contributed a piece for Anne Jackson’s Permission To Speak Freely and for the Not Alone! anthology. He claims to have some other book ideas locked in his head, but cannot seem to find the key at the moment. Joe is scared of kids, but can handle his 5.3-pound Rat-Cha, Cocoa.

[Editor’s note: Joe is the process of creating a new blog, which has not yet launched. Also, my apologies for my tardiness in getting this up. It’s been a busy summer so far.]

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Last year, for Father’s Day, Chad wrote a post on his father. I responded with a comment about my own father. He asked me to do a guest post. I was clueless. I still am, but I’m daring to follow it up for Father’s Day, 2013.

I’ll let the links tell the story so far. Suffice it to say, though, that I have few fond memories of my father. In fact, I hated him for years.

Pop died in January of 1993, in part due to his inability to accept doctor’s orders, in part due to his innate fear of being “lazy.” For him “lazy” was the absolute worst thing you can be. If there was something that “needed to be done” – and that was defined only by his personal definition – and you didn’t do it, even if you had a broken ankle, you were “lazy.” (No, I’m not exaggerating. He walked across the bedroom once on a broken ankle just because he couldn’t think of the term “answering machine.” I heard the bones crunching!)

Pop also followed the greatest commandment of the socially-inbred small-town culture I was born & raised in. That command was “thou shalt not hurt anyone else’s feelings.” Lying through your teeth, or a “little white lie” as it was often called there, was not only acceptable, but expected, even demanded. As a result, you could say and act one way to a person, then turn around and destroy them with gossip and insults behind their back. Denial of the back-biting was, of course, another expected “little white lie.” Of course, when “everybody” does this to “everybody” else, who do you trust? Nobody.

That’s why I could never believe that my father loved me. After all, I was born with what one doctor called “cold weather asthma.” It was worse before I had a tonsillectomy, but even at 50 I have to be careful in the winter, even in my Florida home. As a result, though, I couldn’t be out shoveling snow or moving hay down from the upper level of the barn for the sheep & other critters we had. Because of the low exercise I’ve always been obese, and can’t deal with the heat too well, either, so summer sweat was out as well.

Technically, according to my father’s own definition, I was one of those lazy, good-for-nothing people, simply because I didn’t stink of sweat at the end of every day. Of course, he’d never say that to my face. In fact, he’d deny it to my face. What did he tell others behind my back, though? For years I had no reason to believe that he didn’t hate me because I was “lazy.”

After he died in 1993, I was able to talk with my mother more. They had divorced after 25 years of marriage, because Pop had started down the path of physical abuse. More than likely it was out of frustration, but that’s no excuse. My mother is also 25 years younger than Pop.

Continue Reading…

Everyone, I have the great privilege of guest posting for Chris Morris today. He is husband, dad, Christ-follower, CPA by day, and a creative. He wrote a post, How Climbing Cliffs is Nothing Like Forgiveness, in which he shared a dream.

This post sparked some thoughts in me.

What follows is an excerpt of Prodigal Brother:

The Prodigal Son. The story of a young man who received his inheritance, and promptly wasted it on a profligate lifestyle. He squandered his blessings on wine, women, and song. He at least finally came to his senses, there in the hog pen, and decided to go home.

Thinking all the while that he was no longer worthy to be called his father’s son. What he failed to account for is that once a name is given it cannot be taken away.

Meaning that just because we sin does not mean we are no longer a part of the family. Does this mean we should sin? As Paul said, “God forbid.”

What it means is that we, like the Prodigal Son before, serve a God Who runs. Make no mistake: His love is always there, but somehow when we turn around (repent) God gallops to us with arms wide open. Even when we still have the stench of hog on us.

Please visit Chris’s blog to read the rest. While you’re there, stay awhile, kick the tires, read his work. He’s a great writer.

An Angry Prison

randomlychad  —  May 22, 2013 — 11 Comments

Anger

Today’s post is another in our ongoing series about anger. I’m thrilled to be hosting Chris Morris (see his bio at the end of the post).

An Angry Prison

I called my pastor for the same reason most people call their pastor—my life was falling apart, and I didn’t know what to do. My daughter’s health had taken a definite turn for the worse. She has always had seizures, but they were increasing at a staggering rate, so that she’d had more in the previous week than her entire young life. Add to this, her neurologist didn’t believe I was telling the truth.

So I scheduled a sit-down with my pastor, to get some practical guidance…since I am a hothead and don’t always handle tense situations the best. I am not sure exactly what I expected, but nothing prepared me for what he said. He essentially told me my own sin was opening the door for the Devil to give my daughter seizures. I needed to repent if I hoped to see my daughter healed.

I did not repent of anything that day, though in retrospect I should have, because I was angry. My daughter’s seizures were not then and are not now my fault. I don’t have a secret sin that opens a mystical pathway for terror to enter my family’s life.

Continue Reading…

Bite Me, Joel Osteen

randomlychad  —  March 14, 2013 — 19 Comments
'VATICAN SURPRISE' photo (c) 2005, Tim Engleman - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Bite Me, Joel Osteen.

My Best Life Now? Seriously?

Does that best life include:

My sleep apnea

My wife’s:

Diabetes, Fibromyalgia, and allergies so bad she can’t breathe through her nose for months on end?

My son’s chronic back problems?

Loved ones dying of cancer?

What part of this is “best,” Joel?

“But, bless God, brother,” you say. “You just need to take a hold of it.” Well, d’oh! What do you think I’ve been doing? Playing tiddlywinks? I pray–I believe–everyday.

You say “Well maybe you just don’t have faith? Pray for faith, brother.” Doing this, too, bro.

Everyday.

By my reckoning, I’d say that I have much the same faith as:

Abraham–who died without receiving his inheritance

Gideon–who twice laid out his fleece before God

Barak–who wouldn’t go fight unless Deborah accompanied him

David–who killed Uriah to cover up his sin

Job–who suffered it seems so God could win a bet with the devil

The Apostle Paul–who was shipwrecked, stoned (with actual rocks, not pot), and cast adrift in the open ocean

It seems to me, Joel, that their hope was not in having the best life now, but in having a blessed life now.

Which meant walking with God, and trusting him, through hard things. Not being delivered from those hard things, but rather being delivered through them.

Because it seems to me that having the best life now means having a hope in the hereafter, where “He [God] will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4, ESV).

Bite me, Joel Osteen: the best is yet to be.