Archives For miracles

My 6-year-old daughter has been avidly reading her kids Bible.  She’s read it through several times and is now excitedly reading her sister’s kids Bible, which her sister just got her for 5th birthday this week.  Using sister’s birthday presents is always better than using your own, of course.  These are the kids Bibles that have a big cartoon picture on each page, along with 3 or 4 lines of jumbo print.  They contain most of the stories in the Bible and are divided up with an Old Testament and a New Testament.

I do love how easily my daughter believes in the stories of the Bible.  It reminds me of why the Old Testament in particular was structured around passing the faith down from one generation to another.

I also have to catch myself, remembering how easily my daughter believes in the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus.  Arguing with me that Santa Claus exists, even though I tell her time and time again that he doesn’t (against my wife’s will…).  Continue Reading…

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.

Continue Reading…

I just preached on John 6.  This is the account where Jesus feeds around 20,000 people with only 5 loaves and 2 fish.  What happens next is the people chase Jesus down.  Imagine a throng of 20,000 people following you to your next destination!  The people aren’t interested in putting their faith in Jesus though, they are simply looking for him to do another miracle for them.  He wants to be their God and their friend, but they only want him to be their vending machine…

jesus as a vending machine magician

We often ask, “Why doesn’t God make himself more obvious?”  If God did a miracle for me, then I’d truly believe in him.  If God showed up like Princess Leia in a hologram image and spoke to me in a booming voice, then I’d believe in him! Continue Reading…

 

Well I became a dad on Monday, November 21st, at 4:12pm with the birth of our beautiful daughter Lexi Hope Filipiak, weighing in at 9lb 7oz, 22″.  The thing about being a dad that is the most eye-opening for me is trying to wrap my head around the concept that this human life came from Jen and I’s bodies, yet we had nothing to do with the development of the process.  As Jen’s pregnant stomach grew over the months , we would talk about how fascinating it is that this new human being is miraculously coming together, yet it isn’t as if Jen was ever consciously making any of Lexi’s body parts grow or function.

I do not use the word “miraculous” loosely here.  Having a child makes me realize the miracle, straight from God’s hand, that birth really is.  We often look to God to do miracles in our lives and if He doesn’t do them, we declare Him to be a weak God, a bad God, or a non-existent God.  I’ve talked to numerous atheists, agnostics, and doubting Christians over the years who tell me if God would do a miracle for them, that they would believe in Him.  Well I have an announcement to make:  He just did one on Monday, and her name is Lexi.  As you may have figured out by now, this wasn’t his first time using this trick.

When I think about how God chose for human life to be regenerated, it sounds like something from a bizarre science fiction movie.  In fact, it sounds weirder than anything from a science fiction.  Imagine you did not know how human life generated and some9thone explained to you how it begins with a yogurt like substance and an egg…these two things are mixed together and hokus pokus, a mini human starts growing from within the mother’s belly.  Anyone getting shades of the Alien movie at this point?  Yeah, it’s that weird.  That fictitious sounding.  That miraculous (thankfully with a better result than in the movie).

Its hair develops.  Its skin shade.  Its face shape.  Its lungs.  Its eyes.  Its brain.  Its tiny little fingernails. Its personality.

Makes you wonder what actually makes a “miracle” a miracle by our definition.  Imagine humans being were formed in some other way, in a way that made more sense, a way that was less awe-inspiring.  Let’s say new humans were actually generated in a factory, or online (maybe you could print them out somehow?).  And this is the way every human was created for all of time.  Then one day, out of the blue, this yogurt substance and this microscopic egg got mixed together and from them a new microscopic human starting forming all on its own… and it grew inside a woman’s belly!!!  And this adult human walked around with this baby human living inside of her!  With a fleshy tube connecting its new body to her adult body!  And whatever she ate was fed to the new human.  And then one day this new human came out of the adult human!  Its cord gets cut and now, all-of-a-crazy-sudden, this new human is breathing and eating and living and pooping on its own!  Not to mention you don’t need to go to the grocery store, it drinks MILK right from the MOTHER and doesn’t need to be taught how to do this…Who made that up?  Milk coming out of an adult human?  Whoever thought of that needs to grow up.  How ridiculous…no one is going to believe this.  The baby pops out fully functional, without conscious thought from its parents…are you ____-ing kidding me?!  And then after this they flew to Saturn, met some ninja Wookies, and played badminton with Spock.  If this actually happened within a world where humans were factory-built, we would all definitely point to this one-time new human birth as a MIRACLE.  We’d say there must be some kind of supernatural being / God behind this nonsensical explanation of how the trillions of intricacies of human life come together so automatically.

But because this happens every day, in every town, we say it’s no big deal.

There’s no God behind this.

If God wrote my name in the clouds with purple fire, then yes, I’d believe in Him.  But a baby’s birth = common place.  I want some purple fire or you don’t exist God.

There’s no God behind the sun rising every morning to give us the light and heat we need for existence.  The sun, dude, that is so easy to explain, come on, we see it every day.  Now if the sun starting bouncing around the sky and raining blue elephants down, who shot doughnut holes out of their trunks, and had messages on their sides that read in neon lights, “God is real, turn to Jesus”, well THEN of course I’d believe, because THAT would be a miracle.  But the sun?  I see that every day.  Not impressed.

I think it’s time we start being impressed with God’s miracles.  With the gift of life.  With the sun.  With snowflakes, like my Lexi, so beautiful, trillions of them, yet none is a replica of another.  With the rain.  With the stars.  With seeds and fruit.  With the butts of lightning bugs…(come on God, you’re just showing off on that one)

And of course, as all brand new parents will say a hearty “Amen” to, with coffee beans.  Oh dear Lord, we thank for this wonderful miracle!!!

Psalm 139:13-18  For you created my inmost being;
        you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
        your works are wonderful,
        I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
        when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
 your eyes saw my unformed body.
        All the days ordained for me
        were written in your book
        before one of them came to be.

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
        How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
        they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake,
        I am still with you.

On July 3rd, I preached a sermon entitled “Wanting a Prayer Answered But Needing Jesus” from John 6:

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/26040686]

In my own life, I’ve often found myself to be confused about why God doesn’t seem to answer my prayers for people’s healing (or at least not in dramatic ways), yet I read about dramatic healing stories in the Bible and from other people today.  As a pastor, I’ve talked to many people who also have prayed for healing, or for other help from God, only not to receive it from Him.

From these experiences, I have discovered a myth when it comes to miracles (miracles = any prayer we want answered)… We are often taught to believe that if we just have enough faith and pray boldly enough, that God will answer our prayer.  Continue Reading…