6 things you need to know about suffering and evil

45 08 18 Six things
#1 God hurts when you hurt. God weeps when you weep. Jesus was a man of sorrows. He intimately understands pain. God cares.

#2 God did not create suffering and evil. He created humanity. We humans create our own choices. The world we live in—with its suffering and evil—is a result of the collective choices of billions of people.

#3 God heals the hurting and repairs what’s broken—in His way and in His timetable, in this life or the next. God works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. (Psalm 103:6) Jesus went about doing good and healing all… (Acts 10:38)

#4 We get to help in the healing process. You are the answer to someone’s prayer. You have the power to alleviate someone’s suffering somewhere in the world by your prayers, your resources, your actions.

#5 No suffering is permanent, unless we choose to reject God forever.

#6 It will be worth it. The good that’s waiting for us so totally outweighs our little troubles that there’s no comparison. Romans 8:18 The Easy Bible

Remember, you are designed to make a difference!

Dwight

Photo credit: Adapted from a photo by Lima Pix, Flickr, Creative Commons License

The suffering of God

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Jesus wept. John 11:35

We can never understand human suffering without taking into account the suffering of God.

Why did Jesus weep? Why didn’t He smile? He was the only one present who knew that the grief of Mary and Martha would soon give way to delirious, dancing joy. He was the only one present with the power to reverse the tragedy, and He fully intended to use that power.

Yet He wept.

God is not aloof. Even moments before our deliverance, His heart feels every bit of our pain.

Remember, you are designed to make a difference!

Dwight

Photo credit: Adapted from a photo by Brisbane Falling, Flickr, Creative Commons License

10 thoughts about your online presence as a Christian

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You gotta be smarter than the other fish in the pond if you don’t want to end up in the frying pan.

#1 What an honor to speak into lives of people all over the world! You are a person of influence. You are designed to make a difference. You are created to bring eternal good into many lives. Online communities make the world your next-door neighbor. People all over the world will benefit from you.

#2 What an opportunity to learn from people all over the world! We are each a work in progress. Others sharpen us, encourage us, and help us to grow. This is a good thing!

#3 We are ambassadors for Christ. What you post or don’t post can make the difference between whether someone comes to Christ or not. Jesus doesn’t have a Plan B. You are His representative. If you are kind, then others know that Jesus is kind. If you are courteous, then others know that Jesus is courteous.

#4 Accent what God is doing right rather than what people are doing wrong. Yes, there is a need to call sin what it is. But the role of the accuser is already taken.

#5 Pick and choose your fights. Better to win the person rather than the argument.

#6 Others are watching. A heated argument about the fine points of theology does little to win others to Christ.

#7 Pause and pray before posting politics. I have friends on the right and on the left who sincerely believe they are advancing God’s kingdom with their provocative political posts. Most of them aren’t winning any converts to Christianity or to their political party. They’re just alienating the people who disagree with them. There’s a place for political conversation, but be careful about how you approach it.

#8 Pause before posting humor. What is funny to one person can sometimes be deeply insulting to the next person.

#9 Don’t be surprised if you’re persecuted. I’m not saying be paranoid or have a martyr’s complex. But there are people out there who hate God, hate Jesus, hate the Bible, and hate you because you’re connected with them. Sooner or later you’ll run into them. Pray for them; they need your prayers.

#10 Defend the name and reputation of God without getting nasty. Hey, we’re on the winning team. Nobody is as good and great as our God. We know this. We want our world to know it. And we can make this known while being confident, courteous and kind.

From the Bible
We want everyone everywhere to know and speak the truth about You, so that all may honor You for the good and great God you are. Matthew 6:9b The Easy Bible

Remember, you are designed to make a difference!

Dwight

Photo credit: Adapted from a photo by max max, Flickr, Creative Commons License

Take the high road

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What do you think? When atheists, Muslims or others who don’t share our Christian faith hang out in an online Christian community, is that a problem? Or is it an opportunity?

I think it’s an opportunity to show them the love of Jesus.

How do we do that?

#1 We welcome. Mahatma Gandhi was exploring Christianity as a young man and considered converting to our faith until a church man barred him from attending church and threatened to throw him down the front steps of the church if he didn’t leave. Why? He was the wrong color. Wow! How would history be different if that church man had opened the doors to that very important visitor.

#2 We listen. It’s easy to post all kinds of things about what we believe, but we get further by listening. I remember a social media post where a person said that even though she was a Muslim, she still loved Jesus. Someone blasted her with a long reply asserting that the Jesus she loved was demonic, and she was deceived, and so on. Even if all of that were true, how does that help her? All it does it teach her that it’s not safe to open up around Christians. Let’s work hard to be a safe place for others to process their journey. After we’ve built the relationship, then we earn the right to tell our own story and to explain why we believe what we believe.

Remember: Winning an argument is easy. But we aren’t called to win arguments. We’re called to win people to Jesus.

#3 We learn. Let’s not assume that we can’t learn anything from those who don’t share our faith. God has the power to speak into our lives through anyone, including non-Christians. That doesn’t mean that we give up or compromise our beliefs. Not at all! Like the Bereans (Acts 17:11), we test everything against the word of God.

#4 We take the high road. If others post something provocative, we respond with grace, if we respond at all. If they call us names, we do NOT call them names. We are courteous without being a doormat. (Of course, if someone posts something abusive or pornographic, we flag it. We have standards, and all members of the community need to respect those standards.)

#5 We pray. Everybody needs the presence of God in their lives including our friends who don’t (yet) share our faith. Many people, especially those who are hostile, are hurting deeply inside often without even being aware of it. Their bristling sarcasm is just a way of covering up deep wounds. So we pray. You never know—your prayer might be the one that tips the scale and brings that person to faith.

#6 We speak the truth in love. Both are needed. Truth and love. We follow the example of Jesus and listen carefully for the leading of His Spirit in our lives as we pick and choose what to say and what to leave unsaid.

From the Bible:
Are people persecuting you? Take the high road. Don’t curse them. Speak prayers of blessing over their lives. Romans 12:14 The Easy Bible

Remember, you are designed to make a difference!

Dwight

Photo credit: Adapted from a picture by Daniel Weinand on Flickr, Creative Commons License

Plenty of time

picture by Moyan Brenn on Flickr
We imagine ourselves to be very busy and terribly short on time. We must understand that this is a lie. God is not stingy. He has not shortchanged us on time. We have time in abundance.

It is a joy and a privilege to finish a task, but God will release us from every unfinished work that didn’t fit into His perfect plan. We have time for God-ordained interruptions, time for acts of kindness, time for wonder and reflection.

As it says in Ecclesiastes 3, there is a time for everything.

From the Bible:
Like a shepherd takes care of his sheep, that’s how God takes care of me. Do I need anything? He’s already on it, thinking ahead, making sure that I am well provided for. Psalm 23:1 The Easy Bible

Remember, you are designed to make a difference!

Dwight

Photo credit: Adapted from a picture by Moyan Brenn on Flickr, Creative Commons License

An act of worship

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The human body is made up of about 100 trillion cells and contains millions of different kinds of molecules. The blueprint for your entire body is somehow contained in each one of those 100 trillion cells, but nobody fully understands how to read it. You could argue that your body is one enormously complex chemical reaction, but no chemist can predict exactly what your body will do, or tell you how to fix it if something goes seriously wrong. From brain surgeons to cancer specialists, no doctor can claim to have all the answers. Even if you combine the insights of all the doctors in the world, there are many more questions than there are answers about how our bodies are made.

None of this surprises us.

But stop to think about this: Intricate though they are, our bodies are disposable; our inner selves are eternal. Jesus died on the cross not to save chemical reactions, but to save people—eternal people. The time will come when we toss this body aside and claim a far superior model. Meanwhile, God salvages what is of eternal fascination to Him, the part of us that receives His deepest love—our inner selves. All of this seems to say that our souls and spirits are probably far more complex than our bodies.

Letting people be complex is an act of worship. For many years I acted as though people were nothing more than sinners who needed repentance and salvation. While it is true that we need to repent, and while it is true that we need salvation, I was making an enormous mistake: I was turning people created in the image of God into stick figures, cardboard people like the targets we used to shoot at on the police pistol range.

I believe that God wants to engage us as the complex people that we are. Put another way, He wants to validate us. No, He doesn’t approve of everything that we do. But He is here to begin an eternal relationship with you—a relationship so multifaceted that we will never get bored, and only eternity is big enough to contain the wonder of what we discover in Him.

From the Bible:
God, I am in awe of You because of how You created me. When we look at anything You design and craft, it leaves us in wonder. I stand amazed. Psalm 139:14 The Easy Bible

Remember, you are designed to make a difference!

Dwight

Photo credit: Adapted from a photo by Michael Bentley, Flickr, Creative Commons License

We will stand in awe of God

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You can take almost any topic and divide everything there is to know about that topic into three categories:
1. What God has revealed
2. What humans have discovered on their own
3. What God knows and we don’t

Do you grasp how incredibly important this is?

If we deny what God has revealed, we lose our footing, and every conclusion we come to is corrupted by skewed and unreliable information. We have no way to test our conclusions against rock solid truth.

If we don’t allow humans to explore and discover, to seek out and acquire information about our universe then we become uninformed bigots, oversimplifying God’s enormously complex universe.

If we forget that there is much that we don’t know, we lose our awe of God, and we become our own little god, trapped in a world that is too small for those who are intended to be the children of God.

If we think on this for a while, a whole lot of things that go on in the church, in politics, in the media, in science, in education and everywhere will begin to make sense in a way they never made sense before. But I bring this up so that we can keep a couple of things in mind: God is smarter than we are. God isn’t required to tell us everything there is to know on a topic. The final result of all study, all inquiry, and all discovery is this: We will stand in awe of God.

From the Bible:
“Don’t think you can tutor God. He alone is the Judge of everyone and everything.” Job 21:22 The Easy Bible

Remember, you are designed to make a difference!

Dwight

Photo credit: Adapted from a photo by the_tahoe_guy, Flickr, Creative Commons License

Need a faith lift? I think you’ll enjoy this book

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“Need a faith lift? If you’re inspired by true stories of God showing up in the lives of real men and women, you won’t want to miss His Faithfulness Reaches to the Skies by Forrest Zander. Engine failure at 7,000 feet over South American jungle with no place to land? Cancer? Friends mistaken for drug smugglers and jailed in a foreign country? In these situations and many more, God demonstrates His love for His children. A great read for yourself-a perfect gift for a friend.”
Bernie May, Former President of JAARS, Former President of Wycliffe, Founder of The Seed Company

As you may know, I write books for clients, and this is my favorite kind of book to write: an inspiring life story. Forrest Zander is a warm, personable man with decades of experience following God through all kinds of danger. Some of his stories made me laugh. Some made me cry. But they all left me in awe of our amazing God. Find out more here …

It means peace

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“Be at peace! It’s okay.” John 20:19 The Easy Bible

These are the first words of Jesus to His gathered disciples after His resurrection.

Here they are—gathered together in secret for fear that the authorities will find them and crucify them, bewildered and overcome with sorrow that their Messiah had been killed, alarmed at reports that His body was no longer in the grave. They had given their lives to Jesus, and now Jesus was gone and they had no idea how to pick up the threads of a life that no longer existed.

And now, the last thing they expected: Jesus Himself was standing among them. The laws of the universe had been turned upside down. The inconceivable had happened. Jesus was alive. How do you take this in? What does it mean?

Jesus interprets this startling event for us: It means peace.

It means that Jesus is greater and stronger than those who put men to death. He is the Author of Life. No weapon forged against us can prosper. It means the life Jesus gives is much greater than the life we lost. It means that all our bad news now has a happy ending. God’s wrath is turned away. It means peace.

Remember, you are designed to make a difference!
Dwight

Photo credit: Adapted from a photo by Kevin Cole, Flickr, Creative Commons License

Ready

Scott Wilcoxson
Now the earth found itself in a state of chaos. Darkness covered the waters. There was neither shape nor form; all was empty. But God’s Spirit was there, ready for what came next. Genesis 1:2 The Easy Bible

I come back to this passage because here we are.

God gives form to those things that have not yet taken shape. When our lives don’t make sense, God is here, giving shape to our dreams and our experience. The day will come when our eyes are opened and we will see what has always been there, but is now hidden from our sight.

God fills what is empty. Sometimes we don’t have what we should have. In the place where we should find love and assurance we find only desolation. Jesus still welcomes the little children to Himself. He still puts His hands on them, prays for them and blesses them. Though it may seem strange for the grown up you and the grown up me, Jesus still has room on His lap for the little child within.

God’s light overcomes the darkness. Light dispels darkness effortlessly. No incantations are needed. When Jesus enters the darkened room, it will never be the same.

The Spirit of God is hovering—waiting—ready to do the impossible.

Remember, you are designed to make a difference!

Dwight

Photo credit: Adapted from an image by Scott Wilcoxson, Flickr, Creative Commons License

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