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  • J. Randal Matheny 9:42 am on 2017-01-18 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , suffering   

    Those feelings of loneliness 

    Do you ever feel alone? When we feel that way, we’re probably not really alone. Feelings don’t do a good job of reflecting reality. They’re a result of our interpretation of events and situations. Since our views of reality are often skewed, our feelings seldom reflect what’s really happening.

    But let’s say, for sake of argument, that there are times when we’re really alone. Isolated. Estranged. Closed off from people. What would that be like? How would we really feel? (More …)

    • Karen 1:19 pm on 2017-01-18 Permalink | Reply

      The feelings of loneliness used to be an everyday occurrence for me. Even though I had lots of friends around me, there was always a feeling of emptiness and alienation. Something major was missing from my life, and sometimes the feelings of loneliness overwhelmed me.
      This past summer I discovered what that “something” was. It wasn’t a something but a someone. When I opened my heart to God last July and began to truly seek him, the loneliness started to subside. When I became involved with his church and was surrounded by a loving and caring group of brothers and sisters, I started to feel like I belonged…that I was not alone any more. After my baptism, I realized that not only did I have a wonderful local church family, but I was part of a very large family…a worldwide family. God is my father and Jesus is my brother. The warmth and love of such a family continually surrounds me. Although there are times my emotions fluctuate, I no longer feel that deep piercing loneliness. In Ps.68:6, it says that God places the lonely in families. I thank and praise him that he placed me in an eternal family!

      • J. Randal Matheny 3:35 pm on 2017-01-18 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks for your honest words, Karen. I missed that passed in Psalm 68, or I might have included it. Great reference there!

  • J. Randal Matheny 7:02 pm on 2016-10-06 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , suffering   

    ‘The granddaddy of all laments:’ Psalm 88 

    By Sean Ashberry

    The Bible is not casual about evil and suffering. The Bible in fact is brutally honest about pain, misfortune, and the challenge it presents to faith. The fact of suffering continues to stand as one of the greatest challenges to the Christian faith. Its distribution and degree seems random and unfair. People have always asked how one might reconcile this reality with God’s justice and his love. Those are fair questions. (More …)

    • Eugene Adkins 8:14 am on 2016-10-08 Permalink | Reply

      We talked about this last Wednesday night while going through Revelation 6 where the martyred souls ask God how much longer will he allow the things to happen that happened to them; God’s reply was to rest and wait because more people would have to suffer and die. It’s then that I brought up the topic that the first paragraph talks about. I reminded the class that God readily tells his people that he works in ways for a purpose that we don’t understand at the moment because we often forget to tie moments together with eternity (Isaiah 55:8-9, 2 Peter 3:8).

      • J. Randal Matheny 8:31 am on 2016-10-08 Permalink | Reply

        Very good!

  • J. Randal Matheny 8:42 pm on 2016-09-09 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: suffering   

    The ‘passion’ of the Christian 

    Word has it Mel Gibson wants to follow up his movie on “The Passion of Christ” with a film on his resurrection. But a film that nobody will make is one about the passion of the Christian—passion in this phrase meaning “suffering.”

    I’m doing a series in the Urbanova congregation on Sundays about the pains of the disciple of Christ. They include the pains of growth, service, persecution, God’s discipline, and Christ’s suffering.

    These pains do not overwhelm the joys in Christ nor the peace of God. But they are real and ought to be shared ahead of time with those who are considering discipleship of Christ. Let there be no surprises upon becoming a Christian.

    Jesus was, after all, the Suffering Servant, and his followers will be as well.

    • docmgphillips 9:18 pm on 2016-09-09 Permalink | Reply

      Agreed…but no pain here will be anywhere near the joy there…

      • J. Randal Matheny 8:04 pm on 2016-09-10 Permalink | Reply

        So true, Doc. All present pain but momentary.

  • J. Randal Matheny 10:17 am on 2016-05-05 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , suffering   

    Is the book of Job about forgiveness? 


    Sometimes I wonder if the book of Job is not so much about the man after whom the book is named, as it is about his friends. Or about his discussions with his friends as he maintains his integrity and defends a proper vision of God, although he himself is in the midst of intense struggle and suffering.

    Yes, you’ll probably accuse me of making even the book of Job into a book about evangelism. And you will not be far from making a just accusation.

    The lessons of the book are many for those who seek to influence others for Christ: (More …)

  • Eugene Adkins 7:16 am on 2015-03-04 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , suffering   

    Why the suffering? 

    Did God’s plan of redemption make Jesus suffer, or did it know that he would?

    Is it one or the other, or is it both?

    From the prophecies of old to the sweat soaked prayer in the garden, aspects of each avenue can be seen.

    Regardless of the answer to the above question(s), Jesus chose to suffer for us. He chose to lay down his life so we could have our life (John 10:15-18).

    Some stumble in the face of such questions while others grow closer to God through it. But how should we react according to the suffering servant himself?

    Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” (Luke 24:25-27)

  • TFRStaff 2:07 pm on 2013-12-23 Permalink | Reply
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    Reminder about the Apologetics Press 2014 Debate 

    Please keep this upcoming event in your prayers:

    AP Web Logo

    Tickets Available for Kyle Butt/Bart Erhman Debate
    The Christian Student Center of the University of North Alabama will be  hosting a debate between Apologetics Press author Kyle Butt and University of North Carolina professor Bart Ehrman. Professor Bart Ehrman has written more than 20 books, including the New York Times bestsellers Misquoting Jesus, Jesus Interrupted, and God’s Problem.  He is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He is a self-avowed  agnostic who claims that the pain and suffering he sees in the world make it impossible for him to believe that the Christian God exists.  Thus, the debate will be on the subject of suffering and the existence of God. Ehrman will be affirming: “The pain and suffering in the world indicate that the Christian God does not exist.” Kyle will be denying  that proposition.
  • Michael Summers 11:10 pm on 2013-07-22 Permalink | Reply
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    The Joy of the Baptized 

    Joy exploded through my mind as I burst from immersion in the baptistry that evening. I submitted to Christ in baptism decades ago, but memory of that burst of joy remains clear. No one told me to expect that experience. I’ve noticed that many others seem extremely happy after baptism. Sometimes, their expression of joy even makes some people uncomfortable. However, converts in the book of Acts experienced joy also when they obeyed Christ in baptism.

    An Ethiopian government official, returning from worshiping God in Jerusalem, read from the prophet Isaiah as his chariot bumped along the road to Gaza. He did not understand all that he read; however, a passerby joined him and explained how the difficult passages pointed to a man recently executed in Jerusalem, a man that the official’s passenger said had risen from the dead and was God’s Messiah. As the official listened, he learned that immersion in water was part of joining the Messiah’s cause. He noticed a body of water nearby. “Look, here is water,” he said, “what hinders me from being baptized?” After the chariot stopped, he and his passenger went down into the water and the passenger baptized him. Afterwards, the passenger left him, the official went on his way rejoicing (see Acts 8:36-39).

    The official was not unique in his experience of post-conversion joy. A prison guard, awakened by an earthquake that he was sure had freed all his prisoners, learned from two of his prisoners (all had remained in the prison) about this same Messiah, Jesus. After cleansing his prisoners’ wounds, he too was baptized. Then “the jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God – he and his whole family” (Acts 16:34).

    The Apostle Paul wrote to converts in Thessalonica and recalled, “You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit” (1Thessalonians 1:6). This passage makes clear that this joy would continue, but that it would not erase suffering. Christians would still encounter difficulties, some because they had confessed Jesus as Lord, but they would retain hope because of their newfound capacity for joy.

    Galatians 5:22-25 identifies joy among the fruit of the Spirit that identifies those who keep in step with the Spirit because they remain faithful to Christ. Life as a disciple of Jesus may become difficult sometimes because we forget our baptism and the joy we felt as someone brought us up from the water, cleansed from guilt, forgiven of sin, and added by God to Christ’s church. Like the government official, the jailer, Paul and the Thessalonian Christians, remember your baptism. Imitate Christ and faithful Christians. As Paul wrote to another congregation in Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. and the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:4-6).

  • J. Randal Matheny 4:52 pm on 2013-03-07 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , suffering, ,   

    Hard times 

    My mom found an old book of wisdom and scrapbook cuttings in a local store. She bought it for me. Here’s one entry:

    Why hard times come can easily be explained, according to Roger W. Babson, leading American financial authority. Mr Babson a few years ago said, “Every business depression has been caused by monkeying with either the Ten Commandments or the multiplication table.”

    The copyright of the book is 1954. His wisdom is timeless.

    Another entry talked about the “rising national debt.” The author could never dream of the American national debt today.

  • TFRStaff 5:04 pm on 2013-02-21 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , suffering   

    Bad-hair day? Read this 

    By Carla Carlson, used by permission

    As most of you know, over the past five years I have lost my Mom, my husband, and diagnosed with cancer. It’s been really hard. But oh the lessons I have learned from these heartaches. Things that I would get upset about in the past, no longer bother me. Some things are so insignificant in the whole scheme of things.

    While I’ve never really thought of myself as being a materialistic minded person for the most part, I am even less so now. Does it really matter if we wear clothes from Wal-Mart or Dillards? (or any department store).

    When I hear women complain about a bad hair day, etc. I often tell them, just be thankful you have hair. I”ve been through that hair loss thing twice and it has just crushed me.

    Friends, material things do not matter. Materialism is another of American’s sins which is leading to our downfall.

    • lindseyandtish 7:41 pm on 2013-02-21 Permalink | Reply

      Definitely true… after seeing friends go through cancer treatments I have found myself to be much less materialistic. In fact, just went through a major binge of clothes this afternoon. I know that what really matters is their health, my relationships and how I can use myself to help others and make the word a better place.

  • TFRStaff 1:35 am on 2012-12-05 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , suffering   

    Never ashamed to trust 

    Once a little boy remembered how his mother would draw him to her knee and spoke solemnly of the importance of trusting the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.

    The young man would say, “Well, mama, I would like to do it, but the boys will all laugh at me.”

    His Mother would say, “Henry, remember, they may laugh you into hell, but they can never laugh you out of it!”

    The laughter and ridicule of this world may move many to places of discomfort, but there is joy when Christians can know the comfort of trusting the precious Christ!

    Proverbs 3:5-6 – Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.

    “Thoughts For Today to Brighten Your Day” by Glenn, Mercedes and Lauren Hitchcock

  • Eugene Adkins 6:37 am on 2012-08-13 Permalink | Reply
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    An Excellent Question 

    In the teenage class we’re finishing up a study book called “The Life of Christ” by Olen Holderby. At the end of the book there are two review sections that go back over all the previous lessons with highlight questions. We started the first section yesterday and there was one question in particular that I thought was an excellent question; I’d love to hear what the fellows, or any other reader, would give as an answer.

    Question: Other than his death on the Cross, what do you think was the greatest suffering of Jesus?

    There are no right or wrong answers – just answers. So what’s your answer to this excellent and thought provoking question?

    • Sandra Moore 6:49 am on 2012-08-13 Permalink | Reply

      I think it must have been the fact that the people that he had created rejected him.

      • Eugene Adkins 6:17 am on 2012-08-14 Permalink | Reply

        I agree. I think rejection would be right at the top of the list. Just think of what He did while looking over the city of Jerusalem before His death. I think that says a lot.

        Thanks for replying, Sandra.

    • doug post 7:25 am on 2012-08-13 Permalink | Reply

      Not sure if you are including the scourging and beating with the cross, but if not, I would add that. Being human, He did experience emotional trauma when His family and friends rejected Him. What human wouldn’t? Perhaps also the emotional shock of His disciples and others not understanding His teaching, especially “simple” teaching. Folks love to say that Jesus kept things simple, especially with illustrations and parables, yet there were many who walked away not being “fulfilled” as some today declare.

      • Eugene Adkins 6:20 am on 2012-08-14 Permalink | Reply

        I think the phrase “death on the cross” is meant to include the scourging. I think the rejection of His family is a good answer; especially when you think about how brothers challenged Him to show himself while they knew that they there were people who were trying to kill Him. Jesus’ lessons were clear enough for people to want to kill Him because they understood who He was saying He was.

        Thanks for replying, Doug.

    • Don Ruhl 10:48 am on 2012-08-13 Permalink | Reply

      Wow, that is a difficult question to answer. His beatings and the scourging were certainly horrific. I Sandra Moore touches upon something significant, which I have always thought about when I read John 1.10, 11, “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.” That must have made Him a man of sorrows, who was acquainted with grief, as Isaiah foretold.

      • Eugene Adkins 6:22 am on 2012-08-14 Permalink | Reply

        It is a toughy ain’t it? I thought about the Isaiah scripture too. I believe there’s more to it than the cross. I think rejection is a good answer – it’s what I thought of. I also thought of witnessing pain would be John. For example, at Lazarus’ grave in John 11. It hurt Jesus to see others He loved hurting.

        Thanks for replying, Don.

    • John Henson 2:38 pm on 2012-08-16 Permalink | Reply

      All of those things were horrendous, but it was “Why hast thou forsaken me,” that brought the Christ to speak.

  • Stephen R. Bradd 9:56 pm on 2012-08-04 Permalink | Reply
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    Letter to the Editor — A Purpose to Our Suffering 

    [draft; your input is always welcome; will submit to the paper Monday]

    Paul Williams wrote in Dr. Weinberg’s most recent column: “If God sometimes seems indifferent and uncaring, it might be He has chosen not to know. Maybe, when he created all that is now, he also chose to remain unknowing until this grand play comes to its final act.”

    Williams was careful to use “might” and “maybe” as he speculated on the nature of God. Such is a wise course when one’s position is conjecture. Of course, if Williams is right then it is certain that the Bible is wrong since the Scriptures affirm that God “knows all things” (I John 3:20). If the Bible is true, then God does indeed know all things and is not ignorant of anything. If the Bible is false, however, then perhaps Williams is correct. I affirm, without hesitation, that the Bible is true. It would be my pleasure to sit down and study with anyone on this matter and provide a logical rationale for why I believe the Bible is true and why it should be the guide for our lives.

    The “problem of evil,” as it is often called, has been around since before the birth of Christ: If God is all-knowing, all-powerful, full of love and kindness, then why doesn’t He put an end to all the evil that exists in our world? Atheists would suggest that God must not exist since there is so much suffering. Williams doesn’t seem to doubt God’s existence but does suggest that maybe God is purposefully remaining in the dark about the misery of this realm. I think there is another solution to the alleged problem.

    The book of Job (located in the Old Testament) is a masterpiece all should study to better understand human suffering and our proper response to it. In that inspired work, it is implied that God knows all humans thoroughly since He told Satan there was none like Job on all the Earth (1:8). Job was blameless and upright. Yet, despite these facts, God permitted Satan to strike Job with a tsunami of suffering. In one day the man who was rich in possessions, influence, and offspring lost them all. But he did not curse God or doubt His existence. He mourned and worshiped God. Next, Satan was allowed to destroy Job’s health and make him suffer like few other humans ever have. Most of the book deals with dialogue between Job and his friends, who are convinced he must have committed some heinous sins to have fallen like this. Job gets a bit sassy at times, but stays true to God and generally speaks what is right (42:7). In the end Job is held up as a model of perseverance (Jam. 5:11).

    Why bring all this up, Stephen? Because it shows that God can have full knowledge of human suffering and even permit it to happen because there is a greater purpose to be served. Job grew through his suffering and turned out better for it in the end. As James 1:2,3 puts it – “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” Sometimes we suffer because of poor choices, and sometimes we suffer for no reason we can discern. But, merely because we cannot discern such doesn’t mean that no reason exists! Job didn’t understand at the time, but came to learn what we all must: namely, that God’s ways and thoughts are beyond ours (Isa. 55:8,9). Let us all trust God and believe in the final analysis that He will work all things out for good–for those who love Him (Rom. 8:28). For more info on this important theme, please visit: Evil.AudioEvangelism.com.
    -Stephen R. Bradd, Clinton Church of Christ

  • Richard Mansel 9:54 pm on 2012-06-05 Permalink | Reply
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    Where is God When We Hurt? 

    “The testing of your faith produces patience” (James 1:3).  Pray and become filled with Scripture, understanding that we are a part of a larger spiritual war (Ephesians 6:10-12). Know that we have all sinned and will continue to do so (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:10). Since we have freewill, we will sin and others will sin and we will suffer as a result. Not everything can be attributed to God testing us or be blamed on God. However, God will place obstacles before us to make us stronger, so we can grow. Trust Him and stay humble & strong.

  • Chad Dollahite 10:52 am on 2012-02-13 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , suffering,   

    Illustration: Adversity 

    A daughter complained to her father about her life and how things were so hard for her.  She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up.  She was tired of fighting and struggling.  It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

    Her father, a chef, took her to the kitchen.  He filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire.  Soon the pots came to a boil.  In one, he placed carrots, in the second he placed eggs, and the last he placed ground coffee beans.  He let them sit and boil, without saying a word. (More …)

  • Chad Dollahite 1:46 pm on 2012-01-11 Permalink | Reply
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    Illustration: Crisis 

    FYI, I verified this illustration with my father-in-law, who is fluent in Mandarin, and it is true!

    When written in Chinese, the word “crisis” is composed of two characters – one represents danger, and the other represents opportunity.

    Remember…with every crisis in our lives, there is certainly danger, but there is also opportunity!

    “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2-4, NKJV).

    “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,  casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Pet. 5:6-7, NKJV).

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