Archives For mercy

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Suffering is one of the most common reasons people doubt God.

If God is so loving, how can such bad things happen?

Trite statements by Christians only make this worse:

Something good will come out this, just wait.

God has a purpose for everything. 

Something good will come out of rape, child abuse, or the premature death of a loved one…

As if God were committing atrocities so we’d learn a lesson later.

I want to propose that most people live with the expectation that this world is heaven, so when they discover (through observing or experiencing suffering) that it isn’t, they are devastated.  Specifically, their idea of God is devastated.

This is a very complicated topic because we are indeed eternal beings, yet we do not live in an eternal world.

As eternal beings, we long for heaven.  Not just heaven as the place or destination, but a state of being without suffering, pain, disease, and death.  This is, in fact, what we were created for so it makes perfect sense we’d still be hardwired for this.  What we long for is a world without the effects of sin, while we live in the midst of a world riddled by these effects.

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My sin makes me so tired.  This weekend I was really feeling the weight of it, and the conviction of the Holy Spirit.  Over time this led me to the joy and freedom that comes when we exchange confessing our sins for the grace of Jesus.  It is so healing to confess our sins to Jesus, he is always ready to forgive and restore us.  It’s also healing to confess our sins to one another.  James 5:16 tells us, Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

We don’t do enough confessing in Protestant circles, yet it brings a fresh tidal wave of grace each time we do.  While this blog is no substitute for real church community, it does serve as a virtual community of sorts.  As a way of experiencing Jesus’s grace with all of you, I want to confess my sins before you.  I will write them in the comment section, and I encourage you as a reader to write your own confession in the comment box below mine.  You don’t need to write a paragraph like I did, you can jump right into your list if you’d like.  (For this post, let’s keep all comments on the blog, not on Facebook) Feel free to put your name or to post anonymously.  After you write out your confession, please copy and paste the following Scriptures into your comment as you celebrate all Jesus has done for you:

Psalm 103:12     as far as the east is from the west,
        so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

Isaiah 1:18 Though your sins are like scarlet,
        they shall be as white as snow;

Romans 8:1       Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,

Colossians 1:22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation

The six cute-little-buggers who get most all the Christmas gifts now

The six cute-little-buggers who get most all the Christmas gifts now

In the aftermath of this morning’s Christmas sermon and a week of getting and giving Christmas presents, I realized most of us don’t know what a gift is.  Since most of me and my extended family’s gift-giving money goes toward our collective six kids, all age 5 and under, this year we decided to draw names for the adults.  You get one name and buy them a small gift, rather than having to buy for all the adults.  I don’t know if you have an elf at your family gift exchange, but we always have an elf at ours.  The elf is the person sitting nearest the tree who has the duty of reading the tags on presents and delivering them to the proper recipients.  I was the the elf this year.

Not uncommon for me, I started making various jokes.  One of them was when I realized there were additional gifts under the tree for adults, outside of the one-gift-per-adult allotment from the name drawing.  For example, my mom drew my brother Pete’s name, but got him 3 gifts.  I of course made sure everyone knew the additional gifts were because she loves him more than the rest of us, getting him two gifts from the goodness of her heart, outside of the one obligatory gift she had to get him from the drawing (she defended herself by saying she just got good deals and still kept everything under our set expense amount).

My brother Pete also bought gifts for adults outside of the person he drew a name for.  One of these gifts was a box for me.  I told everyone this was a gift from the goodness of Pete’s heart, whereas his name-drawn gift was simply obligatory.  All of the name-drawn gifts were obligatory.

The gift he got me from the goodness of his heart was a yellow glow-in-the-dark piece of rubber dog poop.  True story.

(What was really funny was listening to the kids fight over who got to play with “the poop.”  “No, it’s my turn to play with the poop…” and so on.) Continue Reading…

The Ashley Madison name leaks that have taken the world by storm shouldn’t surprise us.  For those not familiar, Ashley Madison was a website where people who wanted to cheat on their spouses could privately post profiles of themselves in order to link up with other cheaters.  A hacker recently revealed all of the cheater names to the public (approximately 30 million names worldwide).

While many rail on gay marriage for destroying the institution of marriage, we fail to realize that the divine covenant of marriage has been missing from mainstream American culture for a very long time now.  It’s convenient to fail to realize this because it allows us to continue dabbling in our sinful pleasures, while still feeling like we are good people as we point the finger at everyone else.

The names on Ashley Madison didn’t get there overnight.  Continue Reading…