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The God of Surprises

The God of Surprises
If you read the Bible, one of the things I think you’ll find is that God is the God of surprises. Go back in time, or really, even before time. When God first created the universe (including time itself) that was a surprise, but not to Him! And imagine the astonishment in the face of every living creature when it was called into being.
Adam was in awe when God made Eve, the perfect companion for him. Noah wondered when he was told to build an ark.Abraham was stupefied when God spoke to him and said to leave family and native country and go to a place God would show him. Moses was incredulous when God spoke to him out of the burning bush, and he was shocked and afraid when God gave him the job of announcing freedom to His captive people.
Samuel was astounded when God selected none of the sons of Jesse who were present as the next King of Israel but instead demanded that everyone remain standing until the boy with peach fuzz cheeks tending the sheep could be brought i…
A Caring Conundrum: Caring For Young And Old
“Conundrum, noun, a confusing and difficult problem or question….”
Recently my wife and I gathered for a family reunion in North Carolina near to the place where my ninety-five-year-old mother lives in a beautiful assisted living facility. Both our children and their spouses, as well as all of our six grandchildren, were there. Two of the grandchildren, aged 3 ½ months and 19 months, are still in diapers. I got to change a couple.
My mom fortunately is not at the stage that some people her age are in—where they have regressed to diapers.We thank God, and yet it happens, and it could happen to any of us if we live long enough.
Thinking about this caused me to reflect on how my own attitudes towards changing a baby’s diaper (which I have done many times) and changing an older person’s diaper (which I have not yet done) differ. Maybe it’s just because I lack the experience, but I can cheerily change a baby’s diaper, whereas the thought of changin…

The Antidote to Worry

The Antidote to Worry
Do you worry? I think most of us worry at times. Yet I know God doesn’t want us to go through worry, anxiety, or fear.
I was reminded recently in an email devotional of a favorite passage which I have not paid enough attention to lately: In Philippians 4:6-7, Paul writes: “Do not be anxious about anything but in everything through prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, make your requests made known to God, and the peace of God that passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Jesus Christ.”
It is almost impossible to perform a negative like “Don’t worry,” “Don’t get drunk,” or “Don’t hate.” Indeed, the way to get rid of negative thought and behavior is—with the aid of the Spirit-- to fill the void created by a negative with positive thought and behavior. “Don’t worry; instead pray to God.” “Don’t get drunk; instead be filled with the Holy Spirit.” “Don’t hate; instead love the Lord your God with all that is in you, and love your neighbor as yours…

The Holy Church

The Holy Church
God is Holy. Jesus, the Only Son of God, is Holy. But the Church, is it really Holy? Yes the church is holy, and if you doubt it, read on.
Lately I have been thinking about a challenging bit of scripture from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.I want us to study it together because it contains truth we often ignore. In Ephesians 1:18-21, Paul writes, “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know….his (God’s) incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.”
Paul is saying that God has incredibly great power for us who believe. He says that God has raised Christ from the dead and seated Him at His right hand. There, He (Chris…

Our Imperfect Faith and God’s Perfect Faithfulness

Our Imperfect Faith and God’s Perfect Faithfulness

I once had a seminary professor, Paul Lehman, who during a class told us students that he did not always have ahold of God. We students were surprised. He went on to tell us that he rejoiced that even when he did not have ahold of God, God still had ahold of him.

I have never forgotten this important lesson. How do we “hold on” to God? We hold on to God by faith. Is faith important? You bet it is!

But is there something even more important than faith? There is! The most important thing in our relationship to God is that God loves us, God is committed to us, God’s Son died for us, and God is faithful to us!

In fact a Christian’s faith in God is faith in God’s prior and continuing faithfulness. A person must come to faith in God and in His Son Jesus Christ to experience salvation. However part of that faith is knowing that God was committed to us long before we were ever committed to Him. God loved us long before we ever loved Him back. (1 …

To Fear God??

To Fear God??
About forty years ago I once heard an Irish -American pastor, Alan Meenan, say this: “Modern-day Americans are afraid of many things… but not of God. By contrast, our Puritan ancestors of the 17th century were not afraid of most things, but they were afraid of God.” I have never forgotten these words. Recently my wife and I were reading in Proverbs, a book of wisdom written by Solomon. Right at the beginning, Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” So in its very first chapter, the wisdom book of Proverbs says that true wisdom begins with the fear of God! Many modern people do not like this verse, and there are at least two reasons:
First, many modern people totally reject a God who is to be feared. Somehow they fear the effects of the force of gravity if they were to step off a cliff into a chasm, but they do not fear opposing or ignoring the God who created the universe. Secondly (and on the surface m…

Confusion About Deep Truths of God's Word

As I wrote this a week or so ago, I was hospitalized for observation after receiving an experimental and investigational anti-cancer therapy. They have good food at M.D. Anderson Cancer Hospital, and you can order off of a gourmet menu.

Before I get to the specifics of the menu there is something else I want to mention in order to lay some ground work for my subject. Like many of my readers I have had the privilege of traveling and even living in other countries where I did not know the language. Like some of you I have held a dictionary in one hand and looked up words and tried, with difficulty, to figure out menus or directions or tourist information. Sometimes when you look up a phrase word by word in the dictionary, it just does not make much sense.

Many of the patients at M.D. Anderson come from all over the world, and some of them speak very little English . I was thinking of them the other day when I was reading the MD Anderson menu. It was describing a particular hotdog and this…