Saturday 31 August 2013
Wednesday 14 August 2013
I often hear the question asked: "Why do bad things happen to good people? "
And for Christians that seems like a fair question. After all, once we are saved, aren't things supposed to go all our way? Shouldn't we be without sickness, prospering financially, never having to worry about another thing? Unfortunately, even though this is sometimes taught in some churches, this is not scriptural or correct. The fact is; bad things do happen to good people!
My father passed away when I was 24 years old. He had battled cancer for about 4 years when he died. We (my family and many Christians around the world) had prayed and believed for his healing, however it didn't come, at least not in the way we expected it.
I have seen people live through, and die as a result of tragedy, heartache, poverty and sickness and wondered that very question: Why? There are plenty of examples both in scripture and in church history of people who weathered the storms of life. Some never made it out the other side. One great example is the prophet Elisha, who, even though he had a double portion of the anointing of his predecessor Elijah, was not taken up in a horse drawn chariot into heaven. Instead he became ill in his old age and died. (See 2 Kings 13:14).
You only need to think of the faithful thousands who lived (and died) in the many Wars we have witnessed in our history. Many of them innocent civilians who had no choice and no option in the decision or consequences of war.
Every day we are confronted with tragedy, heart ache and disappointment. I have witnessed Godly people taken from this earth or permanently adversely affected as a result of car accidents, plane crashes, cultural violence, religious zeal, the list goes on. And still we ask: Why? Why do bad things happen to good people?
This is not a sign of the times. We live in a broken world. The Bible says death is the result of sin; Sickness and disease from our disobedience to God. This is what we are born into...
The apostle Paul, one of God's greatest advocates responsible for 2/3 of the New Testament suffered much at the hands of man and nature. Listen to his sufferings:
"From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness"
And yet his concern was not for himself, but for seeing the good news of the Gospel made available for all people.Did bad things happen to him?
What about Job? His wife told him (Job 2:9-10)
"“Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!”
But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips."
Note Job's response? In all this he did not sin with his lips. Did bad happen to Job?
Death, sadness, sickness, tragedy, all these are a part of living in this broken world. I really think to a large extent Christians are not going to be exempt from this. However, there is one major difference between those who walk with The Lord and those who don't.
Paul in his letter to the Philippians gives instructions on how to overcome these trials that come our way:
" Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things."
This doesn't mean we don't acknowledge the bad things when they come to us, but don't stay there... Don't dwell on these things. Often when people are confronted with a terrible tragedy, they can't get over it. They find it difficult to move on. I have seen people become so absorbed in their pain, that they have been incapacitated by it, totally unable to get on with their life, and missing out on the best life has to offer. Their suffering has become the focus of their life. But remember Philippians 4 say?
Joni Eareckson Tada writes in "365 days of Hope":
"My wheelchair is a suffering that came from the sovereign purpose of God. And since that time more than three decades ago, I've also suffered things that have come upon me as a result of being in the kingdom. I have chosen to flee temptation, to drag my body from church to hospital, to endure the scorn of those who don't know God. And I have suffered as a result. Such is the will of God for my life.
The result? The common suffering he comforts. The godly suffering he rewards. And I wouldn't want to exchange either for anything."
At the beginning of this article I talked about the death of my father. As I watched his lifeless body lying there in that casket, I called out to God :"Why? Why did you let him die in this way? Surely he was a good man who loved you, whose children all love you, who didn't do bad things to anyone?"
And as clear as the day came the response from my Heavenly Father: " Son, will you trust Me?"
Finally I leave you with the words of the hymn written by Horatio Spafford, who literally lost everything, finance, business, his home and later his daughters in a terrible shipping accident, and was still able to pen these beautiful words:
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!
And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.
Have a great week!
Thursday 8 August 2013
One of my favourite times if the day is breakfast. Not because of the food (although lately I have been enjoying various arrangements of bacon and eggs...) No, because in my family breakfast time is family time. This is the time when we are all together at the same time in the same place.
We began the family routine thing many years ago when our eldest daughter Zoey started going to school. We found out the hard way that waking her up half an hour before catching the bus was no way to to get any of us off to a good start of the day. I was taught at a young age the importance of starting the day with God, and I knew I needed to instil this same value in my children, so I began the routine of getting our children up earlier each day so that they could be ready and awake enough in plenty of time for their body to receive food; both physical and spiritual. We would all come together at a set time in the morning and enjoy that half hour together over breakfast.
The breakfast table was where a lot of our family fellowship occurred. This is where we not only ate, but we talked. In our family we don't need much encouragement to talk, conversation flows freely, and especially at the meal table. Challenges are addressed, problems solved, victories celebrated and instructions given.
We would end the meal with a devotion, normally picked by my wife, Tambrey; something suitable for the kids to take with them into the day, and then we would pray together. Prayer is something we encouraged our children to participate in, at mornings together at the table as a family, and evenings, one on one with just parents and individually.
The interesting this I have found about praying together is that everyone has a different view of life, and therefore sees and prays from a different perspective. As such, I don't think there is such a thing as a bad prayer, especially when it comes to young ones. Sometimes we need to guide their thoughts and emotions so that they can learn to pray in accordance to the requirements as laid out in scripture. Obviously if my little son or daughter prays that the bully will shrivel up and die, God is not going to grant that prayer, but at that point we can take the time to not only teach them what to pray, but also talk about why the bully is a bully, and maybe address the issues that are going on in his life.
Our children are no longer children. All are adults, some have married and left home, I'm now a grandfather of 2, and the 2 remaining young adults in our home live very different time tables according to study, social and church commitments. But one thing we all still have in common, is that time around the table. We all pray. And when the occasion requires it, we pray together.
Tambrey and I pray pray together every day still. It has been our routine since before we were married nearly 30 years ago. What I love particularly about when she prays is how incredibly specific she is in her prayer. She details people, situations and circumstances and prays them through. I sit with her, we hold hands and agree in prayer, together. We have witnessed many prayers answered over the years and give God the glory for each one. And we are greatly encouraged to see that the habit of corporate prayer has been taken into our young people's families and they too are making it a daily practice.
The bible says in Psalms 133:
"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brethren to dwell together in unity!
It is like the precious oil upon the head,
Running down on the beard,
The beard of Aaron,
Running down on the edge of his garments.
It is like the dew of Hermon,
Descending upon the mountains of Zion;
For there the Lord commanded the blessing—
And in 2 Chronicles 7:14
"If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land."
And in: Matthew 18:18-20
“ Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
“ Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”
Shall we pray? Together?
Have a great week!