Evil and Suffering: A Cause to Hold Fast to the Names of God.

Some come to know God because of evil and suffering, they have nothing left to hope in. Some turn away from God because they can’t fathom the purposes of evil and suffering. Some use it to argue there is not a God and some are pushed closer to God because of it. Some don’t like to think about evil and suffering at all and some thats all they can think about. Some have never seen suffering, some choose to ignore it, and some cant help but look for it. Some have only ever seen suffering and some have seldom experienced it. Some reject it altogether and some embrace it and become the essence of it. If you are not at least one of the above, you know someone who is.

Evil and suffering have been present since the fall of mankind; it dominates and plagues our culture, even if it isn’t constantly in your face.

I’m sitting at a suburban Starbucks, drinking a 5 dollar latte. I’m using my Macbook Pro to type the words in my head and the emotions in my heart while wearing an old Nike baseball T that ended up costing 50 bucks, and sneakers that cost me 70. I rarely scoff at my own ability to write about suffering; you may be wondering, how can I even write about such a thing in those circumstances?

What you may not know or believe is that suffering is relative. On a grand scale, I have not even come close to suffering but looking at just my own life, suffering has not only hit home emotionally and relationally but has burdened me as I watch and hear of the pain of others.

If you have seen the new movie that recently came out in theaters: “God’s not Dead” then you may have clearer inkling to the kinds of pains in people lives and their thoughts/feelings towards God because of evil and suffering. I’m not going to give a synopsis of the positions, you can watch the trailer by clicking the link above or can see the movie for yourself but maybe your own life is enough to show some of what I’ve already said. Maybe you fully understand what I’ve just argued for, but even if you don’t, you know there something wrong with us. You know there is something wrong with this world, something you can’t explain. You know there are let downs and disappointments; there are things that we all wish would never happen to anyone. Even if you can’t think of anything other than death, death is enough to say there is pain present. There is pain in losing something you love, even if its not a person. Maybe death for you has been a lost toy as a child, a lost health, a lost home, community or idea, maybe its a lost relationship, or desire. Whatever the loss is for you, you know it’s real and it has hurt.

There is an answer for that, but before I give it. I’d like for you to contemplate what it is that you have experienced the death of. What have you lost? what have you mourned over?

I am speaking at an Undergraduate Theological Conference at the University of Northwestern-St.Paul next Thursday, April Tenth and would love for you to come and hear what my thoughts are on the solutions to evil, suffering and loss. If you cannot make it, I will post again after the conference with my answer and a link to my entire paper.

.

Advertisements

Holiness

I am currently training for my second half marathon and this week was mile 7. Sometimes I listen to music when I run and sometimes I just pray and think and let my brain process the hustle-bustle of life. Last week I had been with my little sister all week while my brother and parents were on Spring break so painting her room and running from activity to activity had me pretty drained. I was hitting overload with music because I pretty much have it running all day long so I decided to turn on a sermon.

Last year I had the privilege to attend the Children’s Desiring God (CDG) conference which focused on The Splendor of Holiness. I had really enjoyed Kempton Turner, Pastor for young adults at Bethlehem Baptist Church, so I turned on the message I wasn’t able to hear during the conference. I was challenged and convicted by the assumptions I make towards the young, the weak and the limited and motivated to look at my abilities as more powerful, influential and lasting.

You can find the talk I listened to here:

Watch Video

(To watch you must scroll down the page, the Title of it is called: “Great Expectations: Embracing a Massive, Christ-Exalting Vision for the Young People that You Serve”)

Listen to Talk

Family Evangelism & Sanctification.

5 years ago I went on my first summer project. and each day of the week we have a certain type of training. On Sundays we have life training, which talks about the practical areas of life the gospel affects such as: Finances, Family, Free time and Anxiety. Now, during my time in college, I went to 3 projects and each year heard a talk about moving home in August and how you can have an impact on your family. Each year of hearing this talk I pretty much ignored what was said about evangelism because some students don’t come from families of Christ followers, I do. I always have. My whole family goes and enjoys church, My mom works in a church and my step dad serves in the church. My little sister gets notebooks for her birthday to do her bible studies in and my little brother leads worship in the youth band. I never really considered needing to be intentional when moving home in August because my family already knows Jesus. 

As believers we are called to make disciples of all nations. How many of you think about going to the world and telling everyone when hearing this? I do. I think about my co-workers who proclaim to be agnostic or those who think church is a bunch of rules, I think about the somali men sitting in the Starbucks downtown Minneapolis and the classmates I have that profess to be Christians but live far from the reality of the gospel. I think about the kids I met in palestine that didn’t know the thing I called church, I think about the muslims who do honor killings or the FARC revolutionaries in colombia who are training children to kill, steal and destroy. I had forgotten that in the verse I mentioned above it  says, make disciples, not just converts. Making disciples is a process of sanctification and in that process there becomes a point in which the individual can pass on what they have learned. Am I positive that my family can all articulate the gospel? Yeah. Am I positive that they, not to be just like me (in gifts or talents) but do they know what I know? Do they have the ability to share the gospel the way I do? Well…., we are different. We don’t have to do it the same way. Yes, that is very true but if they don’t posses something that I have, then I guess I have the ability to share things I know. My family isn’t perfect, obviously… no one’s is. They aren’t perfect which means they still need to be sanctified. We are called to build up the body. We are called to encourage and exhort one another. 

1 Thes 5:11
Heb 10:23-25
1 Pet 4:8-10
Eph 4:29
Gal 6:2
Eccl 4:9-12
Prov 27:17

This list goes on, you can find more here

Last night right before dinner I got in an argument about something really stupid with my dad and he was so gracious to me. He called me out for having an attitude and then calmly restated something he had already told me 3 times in the last few weeks. All the sudden it dawned on me how imperfect I am not just with my coworkers and with my friends but in my heart and mind (in which the effect it has on my family never occurred to me before.) especially at home. I am still a sinner at home, and maybe even more so because I don’t have a guard up. My mission at home, just as it as at work and with my friends and at church is to know God and make him known. I need sanctification at home and so do my family members. I have new reasons to be intentional where I live!

Praise the Lord for revealing himself to me in my sin and through my dad’s graciousness to me. God’s kindness surely lead me to repentance. I owe my dad an apology and a thank you for his kindness.

Dad and I on my birthday
Dad and I on my birthday

Lent: a season of preparation

I am not a huge fan of church traditions because of the way a lot of practices have become mere ritual; but this year I have decided to think about lent in the same way I think about Advent. Advent is a time to prepare ourselves for the coming of Jesus. God became man, he left his throne and the riches, known authority and power he possessed to walk among us and in the same way Advent is for Christmas, Lent can be a season of preparation for easter. Lent is 40 days and traditionally a time to give up something. I decided to take all social media off of my phone and not use all but Facebook on my laptop. I do occasionally look up things on Pinterest, (only from my laptop) because I am remodeling my bedroom but merely for specifics, not to browse. I often use social media to be a time filler, it usually ends up being a time waster and a huge way to feed the struggle I have with comparison. I decided to continue to use Facebook on my laptop because I am in the process of moving overseas and will be networking soon. I decided to continue to leave it available for connecting and posting updates of my blog and my moving statuses.

I think instead of filling time with browsing twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or updating my whereabouts on Foursquare, I have decided to spend “time fillers” with things that are more productive. I am not saying that those things are bad; they can be mighty tools for the expansion of the gospel but in this season, I have found they are not being used as such. I have chosen to take advantage of Desiring God’s daily devotional “Solid Joys” (its free!) and the “Ask Pastor John” app. (also free!) If I have already done those, I spend time reading the proverb of the day, (there are 31, one for each day of the month) or praying for the Jesus followers I am supporting. Prayer is a great tool because it requires nothing but self to exercise. Its been 2 days so far and I have been blessed to not spend so much of the precious time I have been given on my phone. Its helped me to be more social at places that are easier to ignore people, and a way for me to be more aware of opportunities to say please and thank you, hold open doors, and make friendly conversation. I have the joy of Christ in my soul and I want it to be evident wherever I am. This season of Lent I am praying will be one of much preparation to behold the beauty of the journey Christ took to the cross. The “sacrifice” if you can even call it that, to take those things off of my phone are merely a way for me to spend more time focusing on the things of eternal value. I encourage you not to give something up because so many others are, but to consider giving up something so that your heart would be more full of admiration and gratitude for what Jesus came to do Easter weekend.

time filler