The Why Questions

Why doesn’t it stop? Why doesn’t God do something? Why does God allow this to happen? And the questions continue.

Today’s thoughts are a follow-up to Tuesday’s blog post, Bob Saget, Covid & Bronx Fire.

The “Why Questions” have been uttered for centuries and many without answer. Interesting enough, if our questions were answered, because of the next day of our lives producing more questions, we would never be satisfied.

Instead of focusing on the answers to the “why,” let’s focus today on the following:

Death is certain. You say with perhaps a look of wonder or a scowl, “Wow! That’s an encouraging first point!” Hebrews 9:27 declares, It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment. Man has no power to determine when he is born nor when he dies. Try as hard as you can to survive, the days of your life here on earth are known and determined by God (1 Samuel 2:6; Job 1:21; Psalm 139:16). Since these things are true, you are not ready to live until you are ready to die.

Life is in Christ alone. As I said in the previous post, my heart aches and is grieved by all the sin, tragedies and deaths in the world. I have watched folk die, believers and unbelievers. I have had to console and comfort the broken-hearted. I have preached the funerals of my stillborn daughter, my parents and of friends. The greatest comfort of all is knowing that I will be reunited with these folk in Heaven because of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:3-4) and the promises of the Word of God (John 3:16; 14:1-6). Since Christ is life, true life and the assurance of eternal life is only found in Him.

God’s mercy is continually extended. God could have wiped out Covid months ago, but He is permitting it to continue for reasons known only to Him. The same could be said about the Bronx fire and other tragedies. God does not give us explanations. Through each tragedy, He is reminding us of His mercy in giving man an opportunity to consider death, eternity and free gift of salvation through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. As I heard years ago, “The greatest tragedy on earth today is not a tornado destroying your house, or a death in the family or financial loss. The greatest tragedy everyday is that someone died and is in hell because they rejected the person of Jesus Christ.”

Friend, would you click on the verse links and read the following:

Ephesians 2:1-10 – The richness of God’s mercy

Titus 3:4-6 – The mercy of God in salvation

1 Peter 1:2-3 – God’s great mercy

2 Peter 3:9 – God’s mercy displayed

As I said in the previous post, this messed up, sinful world won’t always be this way (Revelation 21:1-4). Today, instead of focusing so much on the why. turn your eyes toward the Who, the mercy of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ! You are not prepared to live until you are prepared to die. Will you spend your eternity in heaven?

Bob Saget, Covid & Bronx Fire

On the last day of 2021, Bob Saget reflected on the passing of 99 year-old Betty White by saying, “She always said the love of her life was her husband, Allen Ludden, who she lost in 1981. Well, if things work out by Betty’s design — in the afterlife, they are reunited. I don’t know what happens when we die, but if Betty says you get to be with the love of your life, then I happily defer to Betty on this.”

According to worldomenters.info, as of Monday, January 10, 2022, Covid has been the cause of death of 861, 021 people in the USA and 5,511,396 in the world.

Sunday morning, fire broke out in a Bronx, NY, apartment complex killing 17 people. Eight of them were children. “It was absolutely horrific,” Firefighters Association President Andrew Ansbro said. “I talked to many veteran firefighters who said it was the worst fire they had seen in their lives. They were doing CPR on people outside. It was absolutely horrific. Members operated with upmost heroism. Unfortunately, not all fires have a positive outcome. It’s horrible. This fire will be with these members forever.” (abc7ny.com)

This world is filled with suffering and sorrow. It is not supposed to be that way.

Then why so much agony, angst, fear, disappointment, and death?

As God created the universe, He saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day (Genesis 1:31). Upon creating man and woman in His own image (Genesis 1:26) and from the dust of the ground (Genesis 2:7), He placed them in the Garden of Eden, blessed them, and . . . said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28).

What went wrong?

Sin. God gave man a freewill to choose and being tempted by Satan, he chose to go his own way and plunged the whole world into sin (Genesis 2:8-3:24). Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—for sin indeed was in the world (Romans 5:12-13a). You see, the world is totally broken because of sin.

Is there any hope for us? Is there anyone who can forever correct the sin problem? Will it always be this way? My friend, just as the world is completely broken by sin, Jesus is the complete answer for every sin, every wrong, every heartache, and every act of unrighteousness (Romans 5:14-21).

Covid constantly produces fear and reminds us of death. Man, even in his God-given mental capacity, has not figured out how to eradicate this pandemic. Yet, in the midst of it all, I hear these hope-filled words of truth at the tomb of death, Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live (John 11:25).

Sadly, mankind will continue to face fatalities due to such things as faulty space heaters and apartment doors that are designed to close in case of fire. Remember, the world is broken. Man cannot produce a perfect environment because we are imperfect creatures due to our sin. But there is hope! For where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 5:20b-21). The answer is the perfect Son of God (John 3:16-17; Ephesians 2:1-10).

Yes, there is immense pain and suffering in this world, and Jesus experienced it all (Isaiah 53; Hebrews 4:14-16). He bore the sin of the whole world, yours and mine (2 Corinthians 5:21), and He rose from the tomb to conquer sin and death (Matthew 28:1-10; Acts 2:24; Revelation 1:18). God wants you to have the security and assurance of eternity in His presence in Heaven (John 14:1-6).

My heart ached as I read Bob Saget’s statement about the afterlife. My friend, you can absolutely know where you are going. You do not need to hope that “things will work out by Betty’s design — in the afterlife.” You must not “happily defer to Betty on this.”

This sinful, broken world won’t always be this way. Please take time to read the scripture passages given above. There is eternal hope (confident expectation based on the promises of God in His Word); there is eternal assurance all found in the person of Jesus Christ. Please defer to Him!

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:1-4)

In the School Of COVID

“Sometimes we have to experience misunderstanding from unsympathetic friends in order to learn how to minister to others.” These were part of Warren Wiersbe’s commentary on Job 16:4, that resonated in my heart.

Seated by the fireplace reading, grounded again for the third Sunday in a row due to COVID, I found myself replacing the words “unsympathetic friends” with “COVID.”

“Sometimes we have to experience COVID in order to learn how to minister to others.”

How blessed I have been to be healthy for over two years with no colds and only my typical back issues. I’ve been hiking, running, navigating ministry through the pandemic, on and on and on! Then . . . everything changed in one day. Symptoms which led to a positive test, feeling miserable, infusion, recuperation.

What did I need to learn again? I needed a fresh reminder of what it looks like to be a minister of mercy/compassion just like Jesus as demonstrated in the parable of the Good Samaritan. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ (Luke 10:34-35).

What does that look like? Well, here are some thoughts, in random order, that I jotted in my journal to remind me in the days to come.

  • Life changes so quickly . . . live in the moment. That may be all that’s left here. (James 4:14-15).
  • If the Lord nudges you to minister to someone, go. (Luke 10:34)
  • There are times when you are feeling so bad you do not have the energy to pray beyond, “Lord, help me!” If you are strong physically and spiritually, be sure to pray for those who are weak and weary. They need your intercession (James 5:16). Perhaps, call them . . . not to chit-chat but to simply say, “I want to pray with you, and then I’ll end the call.”
  • Ask the Lord to give you wisdom as to something beyond “If you need anything, call me!” 99% won’t call (I’m usually one of those); don’t want to be a bother or an inconvenience. Here are a few acts of service that I was blessed to receive recently: 1) Bring a meal. 2) Send a text saying, “I’m out at the store. What can I bring you?” or “I’m at Dunkin. Want a donut and coffee?” 3) Do some project around the yard or house. It was a refreshment to hear the lawn mower crank up in the front yard. 4) Drop by with some cookies/snacks or leave something in the mailbox or on the front porch.
  • Having said that, accept other’s offers to minister to you. The other night a meal was brought to our front door. Before departing, the gentleman said, “It sure feels good to be on this side of the door” (the giving side).
  • Send a text every other day or so. Sometimes the one who is suffering may not have the strength to read it and respond, but don’t be afraid to reach out, either. Perhaps a card of encouragement in the mail.
  • Store up the Word of God in your mind for times like these, when you’re too sick to read or listen to anything.
  • Consider the caregiver. He/she has picked up the ball for two people all the while serving the ill. They need encouragement and help, too.

How blessed to have a wonderful wife, our dear immediate family and loved ones, close friends, and our precious church family!! Most of all, oh, the goodness of God in the midst of stuff like COVID!

Yes, “sometimes we have to experience “COVID” in order to learn how to minister to others.” Thank You, Lord, for being patient with me and teaching me again to be moved with compassion.

Cooped Up At Christmas

I am so glad my wife and I like each other.

We have spent many hours together this month due to my bout with covid.

So what have we done to merry up Christmas and keep our marriage on the scenic route?

  1. Trust in forgiveness and the grace of God. When you are not feeling well, you can be demanding and words can have an edge. Throw in our hearing issues, and . . . . Therefore, just like every day of marriage, you must rest in the grace of God and forgive, not apologize.
  2. Give each other space. My wife has taken up the hobby of water color painting. She has received refreshment from going to her craft room in the afternoons and/or evenings and losing herself in a winter scene.
  3. Read Paul David Tripp’s, Come, Let Us Adore Him: A Daily Advent Devotional, that our daughter gave to us.
  4. Go for a drive just for some sunshine and a change of scenery. My wife’s Jeep is good for that. Now that I am gaining ground, I feel like driving. So, I’m her chauffer dropping her off at the door as I wait in the car.
  5. Movies. Denise and I are not TV watchers, but we have joined the ranks as we viewed many Christmas movies as well as some others. In the early going of this bout, I had to just sit and be still. No movement. We enjoyed White Christmas, Mrs. Miracle, The Christmas Edition, Elf, The Christmas Lodge, It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, Christopher Robin, Father of the Bride, It’s a Wonderful Life (my very first time), etc. Miracle on 34th Street awaits.
  6. 12 Days of Christmas. Denise and I have shared in this way of exchanging gifts several times over the years. For twelve days, before going to bed, we give a gift to each other. In the early days, we kept it to around $1-5 gifts. Of course, inflation has struck and it’s around $1-$20. How did I shop? Thank you Amazon delivery and Walgreen’s curbside pick-up services!
  7. Listen to hours of Christmas music via Amazon Music on Alexa. This has helped with a light-hearted atmosphere all through our home.
  8. Enjoy the fireplace at our meals.
  9. Share with each other what the Lord said to us through our daily Bible reading or sermon podcasts. This has been a blessing of joy, tears, conviction, challenge and encouragement.
  10. Nothing much. A few days, my wife was on her own. Well, she had Liza Jane, family communication, friends and the rigors of being a sweet caregiver. But as for us, some lonely hours.

Well, here it is two days before Christmas, and we still like each other! (And love one another, too!) God is so very good. Merry Christmas!!

I Am Thankful . . .

Yesterday, my cousin in West Virginia forwarded the following to me. Here’s a portion of that email, written by Larry Pratt, for your encouragement on this Thanksgiving Day.

__________________________

Several years ago a good friend of ours, Mary, shared this following
email. It was found on a relative who had passed on. He had it printed
on a card that he carried in his wallet.

His name was Jim. He is dead now, but his message lives on. I hope
you enjoy it.

I am thankful . . . . . .

. . . . for the mess to clean after a party because it means I have been
surrounded by friends.

. . . for the clothes that fit a little too snug because it means I have
enough to eat.

. . . for a lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning, and
gutters that need fixing because it means I have a home.

. . . for all the complaining I hear about government because it means
we have freedom of speech.

. . . for the spot I find at the far end of the parking lot because it means
I am capable of walking.

. . .for my huge heating bill because it means I am warm.

. . . for the lady behind me in church who sings off key because it
means I can hear.

. . . for the piles of laundry and ironing because it means I have clothes
to wear.

. . . for weariness and aching at the end of the day because it means I
have been productive.

. . . for the alarm that goes off early in the morning because it means
that I am alive.

. . . for all the right and wrong in the world because it means I can tell
the difference.

_______________________________

May we, too, find our lives lived with an attitude of gratitude, a heart full of grace and words of continual praise to our God!

I will praise the name of God with a song, And will magnify Him with thanksgiving (Psalm 69:30).

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations (Psalm 100).

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever (Psalm 107:1).

HAPPY, BLESSED, PRAISE-FILLED THANKSGIVING DAY!!!

Dale

Burdened, Not Amused

The longer I strolled through the amusement park, the more burdened and sad I became. Everywhere I turned, people were trying to fit in, wanting to be accepted, living a lifestyle of sin, provoking their children to anger, flaunting their assumed freedom, living for the moment, trying to buy happiness, bowing down to the idols of their heart, motivated as described in Jeremiah 17:9

Then, the next morning while reading Ephesians 4:17-19, my mind was transported back to the day before and those dear soul’s greatest need . . . the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ!

Why? Because they are living in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness (4:17b-19).

If it were not for the grace of God, Ephesians 4:17-19 would describe me. But, how marvelous is the mercy and grace of God that has transferred me from darkness to light! As an old song written by Rusty Goodman says,

Had it not been for a place called Mount Calvary,
Had it not been for the old rugged cross,
Had it not been for a man called Jesus,
Then forever my soul would be lost,

The change this world needs can only be found in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ!! But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast (Ephesians 2:4-9).

Protesting on the street corner, shaking your head in disgust, or responding in anger or arguing will not change sinful hearts. These dear souls, just like you did, need someone to love them enough for God’s glory to share the love of God through the cross work and resurrection of Jesus Christ that can radically change their life for eternity. Real life and adventure is only found in following Jesus Christ!

If you are searching today, my friend, read these scripture verses again and again until your eyes are opened to see your condition before God. Watch the video “How can I go to Heaven?” at the top of the sidebar.

I share this because I care for you. No critical judgment toward you. Jesus is the only way, the truth and the life (John 14:6) Everyone must go by the way of the cross or forever be lost, . . . and Jesus Christ did all that was necessary for you to have a life worth living here and for all eternity!

Let’s Cheer ‘Em On!

Pulling into the Tweetsie Trail parking lot for our early morning run, there gathered around the trailhead were 30 or more college students. They were in fine shape bringing back memories of my pre-gotta-watch-what-you-eat, what’s-that-hanging-over-your-belt days! They were all lean, trim and in optimum running shape.

Andrew and I headed down the trail and about two miles in, we heard the sound of runners gaining on us. These college age gazelles in various groupings passed us with great ease.

As we approached the three mile mark, some of these students were gathered waiting for the rest of their gang. Are you ready for this? They saw us coming and formed lines on either side of the trail and began clapping for us and cheering us on!!! Wow!! They did not know us. We were not in their group. The only thing that unified us was what called us to be on the Tweetsie Trail . . . running.

As Andrew and I continued our run, a pertinent application struck a chord in my heart. This is how Christians should treat others, especially those in the family of God.

So, how should we treat others in the family of God? Should we carry long-term grudges against them? Should we withhold forgiveness? Should we just write them off? Should we misapply scripture to fit our reasons for distancing ourselves from our brother and/or sister in Christ? Should we gossip about them? Should we make them feel like a nobody when seen in public? What does the Word of God say?

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35)

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. (Romans 12:10, 16)

Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. (Romans 15:7)

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3)

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

You may not run races here on earth, but if you are a believer, you are running a race that will count in Glory (1 Corinthians 9:24-27; Hebrews 12:1-3). Hence, may I encourage you to cheer on your brother and sister in Christ? Should we treat them different here than we will in Heaven? Who needs to hear you clapping and cheering them on?

Incredible Grace

2019 VBS

As the last of the children got off the van and headed to their apartment homes, I got back into our church van with tears in my eyes.  Vacation Bible School is over for 2019.

God, in His incredible grace, gave us an awesome week! Grace enabled a young boy to be born again.  Grace gave tired, faithful workers the ability to love, serve, and be energized every night.  Grace overcame the flesh and led our workers to be unified around the gospel.  Grace overwhelmed us with answers to prayer.  Grace provided wisdom for the workers to overcome obstacles.  Grace produced compassion for all kids of every race. God’s incredible grace was on display every night!

My tears, though, were mostly for these kids who rode the van.  Their world is one of drugs, sin, selfishness, abuse, alcohol, and no hope. They will not be under the sound of biblical teaching every night next week.  They will be allowed to roam in the night.  They will have to fight to survive.

We will seek to follow up with these kids in the days to come.  We will pray for a miracle of God’s grace to break the chains of sin in the hearts of their parents and in that apartment complex.  We will trust in God’s incredible grace to do the miraculous for His glory!

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work (2 Corinthians 9:8).

Praying with tears that soon they will be tears of rejoicing because of God’s incredible grace!

Taking the Scenic Route in Marriage #11

pothole

OH, NO!!  I tried to avoid it, but….

Nailed it dead center! Yes, that huge pothole in the road.  It was pitch black at night, raining and I didn’t see it in time.  After about needing to see a chiropractor due to the jarring we received and a loan officer to pay the tire bill, I learned again that potholes are definitely to be avoided!!!

Continue reading “Taking the Scenic Route in Marriage #11”

Taking the Scenic Route in Marriage #8

IMG_20180308_223805122.jpg

“Enjoying the Pleasures; Avoiding the Potholes”

As we continue on the scenic route taking in all the pleasures of marriage, let’s move from Protection (Scenic Route Posts #4 – #7) to  . . . Pillow.  Pillow?  Yes, pillow, and no, it’s not time to take a nap!

Continue reading “Taking the Scenic Route in Marriage #8”