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? Continue reading

#corollaries, #learning, #loneliness, #relationships, #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. Continue reading

#prayer, #psalms, #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.

#suffering

Is the book of Job about forgiveness?

shards-job

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: Continue reading

#book-of-job, #divine-sovereignty, #evangelism, #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)

#life-questions, #questions-and-doubts, #suffering

Reminder about the Apologetics Press 2014 Debate

Please keep this upcoming event in your prayers:

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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.

#agnosticism, #apologetics-press, #debate, #god, #suffering

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).

#baptism, #conversion, #discipleship, #fruit-of-the-spirit, #gift-of-the-holy-spirit, #joy, #suffering