Friday, December 06, 2013

Why Does God Allow Evil to Persist?

This may be one of the hardest questions that we all face at some point in our lives. It is true for both Christians and non-Christians as well. We look around at the world and wonder why things are so bad at times. It seems pretty obvious that things are not as good as we would like them or as we think they should be. And that can lead to one of the all time hardest and most pointed question that Christians will face from non-Christians.

The question can be sincere and come at a time of struggling to make sense of personal or even global tragedy. We can look at the senseless killing and violence in the world; the untimely death of a loved one; the injustice perpetrated on one group of people by another; the high death count found in a natural disaster and earnestly seek to understand why these things happen.

Sometimes the question can be very pointed–even accusatory–and come out of great bitterness when looking at the personal consequences of these events.
And still other times the question can be very judgmental and meant to put those that believe in a God like the Christian God in their place.
"If your God is so good, all knowing and all powerful then why doesn't he do something about all these bad things that keep happening?"
And that is a fair question.

I have touched on this question before and that post has a number of good links to help make sense of the problem. But I came across an answer this morning as I was reading Romans 2 that I had not noticed before. Let me be clear that this answer is not meant to be a complete answer. It doesn't really address the natural disaster or illness aspect of the question. Rather it gets at why God allows evil people to commit evil seemingly without immediate consequences.
Paul starts off chapter 2 of Romans by saying in verse 1:
"Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgement on another you condemn yourself, because you the judge, practice the very same things."
Paul ended chapter 1 by making the point that when we give up worshiping God we end up doing a whole bunch of evil things which he lists:
  • Unrighteousness
  • Evil
  • Covetousness
  • Malice
  • Envy
  • Murder
  • Strife
  • Deceit
  • Maliciousness
  • Gossips
  • Slanderers
  • Haters of God
  • Insolent
  • Haughty
  • Boastful
  • Inventors of evil
  • Disobedient to parents
  • Foolish
  • Faithless
  • Heartless
  • Ruthless
That is quite a list and Paul's point is that we cannot condemn those actions in others without also condemning ourselves. We have to be honest about our own shortcomings which is one of the major points of Christianity. Here is where Paul offers us a brief glimpse at why God allows evil to persist. In Romans 2:3-4 Paul says:
"Do you suppose, O man–you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself–that you will escape the judgement of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?"
Paul is telling us that God doesn't immediately punish evil because he wants us to repent. He is giving us a second...third...fourth...fifth...sixth...hundredth...thousandth...(you get the point) chance. God is giving us the opportunity of our whole lives to repent and unfortunately that means allowing some fairly serious evil to happen in this world.

But that isn't the end of the story.

Paul tells us in Romans 2:5 that God is keeping track of what is happening:
"But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteousness will be revealed."
There is coming a day when all those evil acts will have to be accounted for. There is coming a day when all those that thought they were getting away with doing these things are going to find out that they didn't really get away with it.
This means that none of us are getting away with anything.
The only thing we can do is understand that God's kindness is meant to lead us to repentance. We have to honestly admit to God that we have all done things that we know are wrong and that we understand that we deserve to be punished for those things. And this is where Christ comes in. He took on that punishment for us and all we have to do accept his offer of forgiveness. I explain this in more detail here.

So in Romans 2:4 Paul is offering us a glimpse at the answer of the question of why God allows evil to persist. He does so in order to offer us a chance at repentance and forgiveness.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Dealing with Unemployment: Feeling Worthless

Attribution: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-R79053 / CC-BY-SA
"Industrious Young Man Looking For Work"
One of the most insidious aspects of prolonged unemployment, in my experience, is not the anxiety and stress that come with experiencing a lot of rejection or having a lack of patience. The hardest and most dangerous thing to deal with is the feeling of being worthless.

I want to be clear right up front. I am not saying that those who are unemployed are worthless but that we (I am one of those unemployed right now) can very easily struggle with an overwhelming and invasive sense of worthlessness. This feeling of worthlessness can very easily lead down the dangerous path depression.

In preparation for writing this post I came across an article written by Ed Welch called Being a Burden that dealt with this same topic. He starts off his article by saying:

"If you hear yourself say, "I am such a burden to _________ [my family, friends, loved ones, the world]," you are in danger. Your mind will go to very dark places, and you are developing immunity to the encouragement of both other people and Scripture. For example, you will hear others say that they are happy to serve you, yet you do not believe it. Instead, you believe their lives would be much easier and, therefore, better if you were gone."
If you ever start thinking about hurting yourself or others please seek immediate professional help. Depression is a very serious thing and can lead to other serious complications. The only help that I can offer to those already suffering depression is to encourage you to not go it alone. Please seek help.

Even without suffering from depression it is very easy to start thinking of yourself as worthless or as a burden. I have struggled with this as my wife has been the main source of financial support for us during this time. It hits me hard whenever her job is particularly stressful. I have a tendency to start thinking that if I had a job then it would help mitigate some of the stress of her job. Which is partly true. If she was not the sole source of income then her job would not be nearly as important to us in terms of our income and it would relieve some stress from that standpoint. But at the same time if I was working it wouldn't do anything to change the actual stresses of her job. What ever project she is working on would still have the same deadlines and problems. It is important for me to remember that having a job would not be the magical cure that I want to think it is.

But short of getting a job what have I done to combat this worthless feeling? What have I done to help out and not be a burden?

As funny as it might sound I have become a "house husband."

I aware of situations where the husband has been unemployed and did almost nothing around the house. The wife had to come home from work and do all of the cooking, cleaning and house work. How those men are still married baffles me.

I have undertaken most of the household chores. I cook dinners, I clean and I do the laundry. Let me go on record and say that any guy that claims to not be able to do laundry is simply lying. Most guys can do far more complex things than laundry and are being lazy when they claim that they cannot keep things straight. Men get this straight. Helping your wife around the house is not beneath you. I have a new found respect for house wives. It isn't an easy task and is a lot of work; especially if there are kids involved.

So while trying to do as much as I can around the house might not be the best long term solution for either myself or my wife, it can go a long way to helping you to see the value that you do have. My wife is very grateful for not having to do all of these things on top of working.

One of the other things that has been important for me is to remember that God does not value me for the things that I do. Rather he sees worth in me based upon who I am as an individual. Matthew 6:25-33 says:

"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."
I know that it can be easy to read this passage when it doesn't seem that God is providing everything that you need...or want. But the point of this passage is to speak of the immeasurable worth that we have in God's eyes. God is far more concerned with our eternal well being. It can be really hard for me to understand why God doesn't give everyone a good and comfortable life. Sometimes it just doesn't make any sense. What cannot be lost here is that our worth to God isn't based on what we can do or provide.

As one dealing with long term unemployment it is important for me to not look at myself as a burden but to try and find ways to be a blessing to others. It is very necessary for those of us going through this to not allow ourselves to go to the dark place that Ed Welch wrote about in the article that I mentioned above. I highly recommend reading it. For the spouses, family members and friends of someone dealing with a long term unemployment, I would highlight the importance of continual encouragement and affirmation for the unemployed. It has been very helpful for me when my wife has taken the time to recognize all that I am doing to try and help out. She has been very important in keeping me from heading to that dark place.

It is very important to recognize this potential issue and to work proactively at preventing any deep and long term problems from fully developing.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Have you ever noticed: Men and Women

I'm just sayin...

A Bad Way To Argue

One of the things that I find particularly annoying is when people approach a debate in a poor way. One of the worst things you can do, at least from my perspective, is to misrepresent the opposing view point. Just as a matter of being transparent I have to admit that I have not and sometimes still not always careful in how I represent an opposing view point. It isn't just dishonest to do so but it actually undermines your argument. Let me explain:

There is snow falling in Chicago

Just wanted to let you know. Here is something else that I wanted to let you know as well:

As I mentioned in the video I do have a couple of more videos to post today. Each one is going to be a separate blog entry and will come out one at a time.

Here is a link to the next post: A Bad Way To Argue (Will be live after 11:00 a.m. Central Time)

And finally: Have you ever noticed: Men and Women (Will be live after 12:00 p.m. Central Time)

Friday, February 22, 2013

Dealing with Unemployment: A Lack of Patience

Attribution: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-R79053 / CC-BY-SA
"Industrious Young Man Looking For Work"
"But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires."
-Galatians 5:16-24

Last week I dove into the topic of how to deal with an abundance of rejection while going through an extended time of unemployment. If you are sending out resumes and applying for jobs you are going to end up dealing with some level of rejection. In my experience most people don't like to be rejected. Dealing with rejection is a part of life but that doesn't mean that it is fun. And repeatedly getting rejected over a long period of time will start to wear down even the strongest and most resolute person.

It was easier to deal with the rejection early on but after a while I started to become less and less patient. As we can see in the passage that I quoted above, patience is one of the Fruits of the Spirit. But even beyond this and other Scripture passages we can see the virtue of patience. So for me to say that going through an extended period of unemployment is going to test your patience should be fairly obvious. I also don't want to spend a lot of time going over how to be patient. A quick Google search will give you more resources than you can shake a stick at. (What an odd saying.)

What I would like to cover is that a lack of patience can be a pretty good indicator of being under chronic stress. Consider some of the symptoms of chronic stress that are also manifestations of impatience:

  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability or anger
  • Angry outbursts
  • Muscle Tension

And while we should be patient being under the chronic stress of unemployment is going to affect even the most patient person. Chronic stress is a very serious problem and can lead to a number of very serious health problems. The Mayo Clinic has great resources for identifying stress sources and how to deal with chronic stress. I highly recommend that if you are dealing with unemployment that you look over their resources in order to become aware of the potential problems and possible solutions.

From a theological stand point, my lack of patience is often due to a lack of trust in God. I start to get anxious and lose patience during this time because I start to doubt that God is in control of the situation. My guess is that anyone going through a prolonged difficult situation has those same doubts. Just look at what happened to Peter when he got out of the boat to walk on water in Matthew 14:22-32. He started to focus on the waves and wind and started to doubt that Jesus would keep him safe. The same is true for those of us facing the waves and wind of life can very easily start to doubt that God will keep us safe.

Don't hear what I am not saying. I am not saying that trusting in God means that everything in life will be roses and puppy dogs. There are those who have immense faith and end up losing their homes, going hungry, face persecution or are even killed for their faith. But if we have faith that God will be faithful to us in an eternal sense then it becomes easier to patiently endure the hardships of this life.

Of course it is very easy to say, “Have more faith.”

Sometimes it isn't so easy to do.

One of the things that I shared in my last post is that it is essential that I continually remind myself that I have a wife that loves me and that I have a Savior in Jesus Christ that loves me. I have found that the more that I remind myself of God's eternal love and care for me the easier it is for me to be patient. I have also found it equally important to remain in God's Word. In my life there is a direct correlation between my reading the Bible and my ability to trust in God. So my encouragement for those that are going through a prolonged and chronically stressful situation is to read God's word and to dwell on God's love. You may not be able to remove yourself from the stressful situation or to shorten the time frame. The solution to a lack of patience isn't a shortened wait. Rather what we can do is change how we react in the situation and to keep our eyes on the eternal promises of God. When we do that we help improve our patience and our ability to endure what ever hardships that we may face in this world.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Dealing with Unemployment: An Abundance of Rejection

Attribution: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-R79053 / CC-BY-SA
"Industrious Young Man Looking For Work"

As I shared in my last post I have been out of school and without a paying job since July 1, 2011. That is a long time and I have discovered that being unemployed over an extended period of time has some serious challenges. My wife had the idea that it would be good for me to share some of those struggles and how we–as a couple–have navigated those issues. Today I want to deal with one of the first big issues that became clear.

Overall my wife and I expected this search process to be relatively short. But there were some early signs that this process would be a long one. One of the first few churches that I applied to was a small church in New England. Most of my church experience–both as staff and as an attendee–has been with small churches so I felt that I would be right at home. The average attendance for the church was about 80 people. Turns out they had between 300-400 people apply for the position. One of the next few churches I applied to had 200 people apply in a very short time. That is a lot of people. I know of churches that I have been involved with that would only get a few applicants. Part of the difference has to do with technology changes that allow churches and applicants to connect easier. And part of it has to do with the economic times. Regardless of the factors it became clear that I am just another fish swimming in a big pool of candidates. It's what we could call a buyer's (or employer's) market. There are less positions available than people wanting to fill those positions.

I need to pause and give a caveat here. I have been applying to more than just churches. I have been applying to para-church organizations, Christian businesses and organizations, and even secular businesses and organizations. I am going to share a few of my rejection stories that have come while dealing with this wide variety of organizations. Please do not take this as a commentary on individual churches, the overall church or any other organization. The only reason that I share any of these stories is to make a point of how dealing with rejection can be challenging.

Over the course of the last two years I have found myself at various points of the application and interview process. The most frequent response has been no response. Other times the response has been good with regular updates. Then there are those that have tried to keep people updated but I would have appreciated no response rather than the response that they gave. The best example of this is when I was essentially told, "We received 100 applicants and we narrowed it down to the top 25. Unfortunately you were not one of the finalists."

Why? Why would you put those numbers in? Did you even consider how that would sound? Being rejected is tough enough to deal with. Were you trying to crush me even further than just a simple no?

We're sorry but you could not even crack the top 25. Better luck next time.

Why not just say, "We have narrowed down the applicants and you were not one of the finalists."

Another good example is when I put together all of the information that the organization was requesting and sent it in. It took me a couple of days and amounted to 20 or 30 pages of writing. They had questionnaires they wanted filled out and essays that they wanted written. I sent them the information at 4 pm on a Wednesday afternoon and I received their rejection by 8pm that same night. The quick turn around made me really suspicious of whether or not they read all of what I sent them. A few weeks later I came across a posting for the same position that had an experience requirement that was not in the original posting.

Let me share one final example. The very first response that I received from an organization spoke about how good it was to speak to me and to get to know me better but that I just didn't fit what they were looking for. I am not sure who they spoke to but I am sure that it wasn't me.

I don't know that I have ever dealt with this much rejection before. And it can be tough to deal with. It messes with your confidence and it can be very frustrating. It is like being afloat in the midst of a storm. The waves keep crashing and pounding your ship. While it might hold together for a while, eventually something is going to give. First the things that are just setting on the deck start to get swept out to sea. Then things that are only loosely attached break off. Eventually serious damage can start to happen. Engines can get flooded and leave you without any drive. Structural pieces can get damaged and leave you bailing water. It can become a very difficult situation and lead to further issues. (I will cover some of the further issues that I dealt with in future posts.)

The two things that I struggle with as a direct result of this abundance of rejection is an overwhelming need for some sort of acceptance and the desire to start to give into the frustration of being rejected.

One of the great things that my wife has done for me is to keep encouraging me to continue on the current path. She has not wavered on the notion that we are heading in the right direction. And she has not demanded that I just find a job so that I have a job. We are sure that God has put us on this journey for a reason. The end point might not be exactly what we picture but there is a reason that I went to seminary and it wasn't just to end up doing what I was doing before I went to seminary. My wife through her encouragement really offset my frustration. It is because of her encouragement and positive attitude that I keep applying. She really expects that the next resume that I send out will be the one.

Her encouragement also served as a way to help me feel accepted. It is essential that I continually remind myself that I have a wife that loves me and that I have a Savior in Jesus Christ that loves me. I also have friends and family that continue to encourage me. This support system is essential in dealing with rejection. It can be easy to neglect your support system and is one of the pitfalls that I will cover in a later post.

The circumstances of why you (or someone you know) are unemployed may differ from mine. In this economy there are many who did not choose to change jobs or careers like I did. But the difficulty of dealing with the rejection that is guaranteed to come with an extended job search is going to be the same. The two bits of advice that I can give to those seeking a job is to keep pushing forward and to make sure that you have a good support system around you.

For those of you that are married to someone looking for a job be sure to remain encouraging and to show forms of acceptance toward your spouse. You are going to have the biggest and most important impact on your spouse.

For those of you that are friends with a job seeker make sure you reach out to that person. Simply being a friend during the storm can be a big help.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 says:

"Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him–a threefold cord is not quickly broken."

When we are down we really need others to help pick us up. That is true both when we physically fall and when we fall spiritually or emotionally. Do no underestimate the power of picking someone up when they are down. It is especially important when they are dealing with an abundance of rejection.


Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Weathering the Storm of Unemployment

Attribution: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-R79053 / CC-BY-SA
"Industrious Young Man Looking For Work"

I have been out of school and without a paying job since July 1, 2011. For those slow at math that is 1 year (with a leap day) and 220 days or 586 days or 14,048 hours and 25 minutes...26 minutes.

That is a long time.

Now I realize that there are those that have been out of work longer than I have. There are those that are in more dire financial straits than my wife and I have been in. But it has been a significantly difficult time in my life. It would be my guess that it has been the second most difficult thing that I have endured. This time has tested my faith, patience, resolve and confidence just to name a few things. However, this is not in any way meant to be a "woe is me" post.

Rather this series of posts come from an idea that my wife had. We have been fortunate enough that God has provided her with a good job to support us. And while we count ourselves to be truly blessed that she is working we both really want our roles to be reversed. She is eagerly anticipating the day that she can retire from full-time work and I am eagerly anticipating the day that I am working full-time.

She has also been a great support in other ways as well during this time. Without her this would have been by far the worst two years of my life. Her idea was for me to share my struggles and how she has supported me so that other wives might get some insight in how to support their out of work husbands. My hope is to also share some insight for how those same husbands can support their working wives. I also hope that sharing my struggles and some of my pitfalls will also help people endure their struggles easier and to avoid those same pit falls.

Near the end of 2005 it had become clear to both me and my wife that I was extremely dissatisfied with working in the business world. After much discussion and prayer we decided that I should quit my job and return to seminary. So in the fall of 2006 I enrolled at Western Theological Seminary in their Distance Learning program in order to earn my Masters of Divinity with a graduation date of July 2011. Of course what we didn't know then was that 2006 would prove to be the peak of the housing market and the bubble was about to burst. Then economy started it's downward spiral. Even with these events I don't know that our decision for me to enter seminary would have changed. To add to the struggles my wife lost her job in 2009. Fortunately she received an excellent severance package and was later able to find another job. We can only thank God for his provision during this time.

In January of 2011 I started to do some preliminary job searching as my school schedule would allow. At this point, even with the condition of the economy, we both figured that I would find something by the fall of 2011. The fall of 2011 came and went. There were a few cues that probably should have indicated that this might be an extended search process but we were still pretty confident that something would come along in the early parts of 2012. The early parts of 2012 came and went. Then the late parts of 2012 came and went. Now it is February of 2013. And we figure something will come in the early parts of 2013.

Yes we are still confident that God will provide the right position for me when the right time comes. But I have to admit that keeping this confidence and weathering the storm has not always been that easy. Over the next few weeks I plan to share some of that storm. This storm has been a large part of why I needed to take a break from blogging. Right now I have a few topics that I am going to address and I may add more.

The initial topics that I am going to address are:

  • Dealing with an abundance of rejection;
  • A lack of patience;
  • The feeling of a lack of personal value;
  • The feeling of a lack of direction;
  • The pitfall of an abundance of seclusion.

Also I plan to be as transparent about my journey as I can. To that end, if any of my readers have questions or issues that they would like me to address please feel free to pass those on to me and I will address them as best as I can. My sincere hope is to help others (both those that are unemployed and those around the unemployed) through what can be a very difficult time. I also hope that there will be something of value in these posts for those struggling with similar issues even if it is not due to unemployment.

14,049 hours and 47 minutes...


Friday, February 01, 2013

A home going worth remembering

A friend of ours, Mr. Simon Lane, passed away in January. It was really sad to hear especially because we had not seen him or his family for a number of years. My wife used to work with Mr. Lane's wife a number of years ago but both ended up getting laid off. The first time that I met the Lane family was when they came to our church to sing.


The Lane Singers were impressive. I had seen good singers before. I had been to professional concerts before. But there was something special about this family. There was Mrs. Lane and what seemed like 20 daughters singing (they only had 6 daughters and I can't quite remember how many were singing with them at the time) with Mr. Lane on guitar and their son on bass. I could have sat there and listened to them for hours.

I had just started to play the guitar and get involved in helping out with worship at church so I was particularly drawn to Mr. Lane and his guitar playing. As I got to know Mr. Lane over the years I heard rumors and stories about how he made his way up to Chicago from Mississippi. One story that I particularly liked was how he had come up to Chicago to audition to play with Muddy Waters but instead ended up becoming a Christian and meeting his wife. Mr. Lane gave me the best piece of musical advice I have received. At one point I was telling him how I was struggling to learn to play a song the same way that the original artist was playing it. Mr. Lane told me that I needed to make the song my own instead of trying to playing it exactly the way someone else did. That forever changed the way that I approached playing music and leading worship.

The other stories about Mr. Lane that I really appreciated were the ones that his children told at Mr. Lane's "Home Going" service. They didn't have a funeral service rather they had a home going service. One of Mr. Lane's favorite sayings was that his citizenship is in Heaven. He was a devoted follower of Christ and knew that his sins were forgiven. He knew that when he died that he would be going to meet his maker in a very positive way. He knew that because of his faith in Christ that he would spend eternity in Heaven. And his family was also strongly aware of this and they celebrated his going home to Heaven. That celebration was filled with great singing, powerful spoken and written words as well as many tears.

Sardis Lane, Mr. Lane's son, gave the eulogy. It was equal parts remembering the impact that a strong Christian father had on his son and telling the Gospel message which gave the family the hope of seeing their father again one day. Sardis spoke with great passion about the need to share the Gospel message. In that moment Sardis was a living example of 1 Peter 3:15:

"But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect."

And Sardis credited the reason that he needed to give the Gospel message to the impact that his father had on him. I don't know any greater legacy that a parent can leave for their children. I hope that whoever gives my eulogy feels that same great hope and need to share the Gospel message.

I count myself blessed for having known Mr. Simon Lane and his family. I count myself blessed for the opportunity to hear the Lane Singers singing of their great faith. I also count myself blessed for the opportunities that I had to be involved as a musician in their concert events. Although I wish that I had taken greater advantage of those opportunities. But then I do have the great hope to once again be able to sit and play guitar with Mr. Lane. The next time we do so will be in Heaven in the presence of God. That will be a glorious time.


Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Why repeatedly hearing the Gospel is important

Last week I posted a video on the core message of Christianity. This week I am following up on that video with a little more on why as Christians we need to hear this gospel message over and over. The scripture passage that I am using is Ephesians 2:1-10.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Absurdity of a First World Problem

An Olivetti rotary dial telephone, c.1940s
There is a person (let's call him Mr. Smith) that has always had problems with cell phones. Mr. Smith is in his 90s and just doesn't quite grasp the full concept of how to use a cell phone. He forgets to turn it on. If he remembers to turn it on he forgets to recharge it. And most often he forgets to bring it with him. Mr. Smith has had a number of relatives try to show him how to use his cell phone which has usually been an older style flip phone. But those instructions usually are forgotten within a matter of days or weeks simply because he doesn't use his cell phone with any regularity.  Mr. Smith decided that he needed a new phone because it must be that his cheap phone just doesn't work. It also doesn't help that Mr. Smith loves gadgets and always wants the best possible one; or at least what he images to be the best possible one. And Mr. Smith has seen his family using their smartphones with ease.

So Mr. Smith went to the store in search of a better phone.

They sold a 90 year old senior citizen that has trouble with cell phones (and even cordless phones for that matter) a Samsung Galaxy S3

And they did so without showing him how to use it. 

The salesperson told him that they do have classes on how to use the phone but that they don't have any scheduled anytime soon.

Now Mr. Smith has a far more complex phone with features that he will never understand let alone use and presumably a two year contract that includes data, messaging and a exorbitant number of minutes that won’t get use. 

There is a part of me that sort of wants God to dole out a bit of extra judgment on salespeople that take advantage of people. There is also the part of me that wants those salespeople to find forgiveness. And I need to remind myself that I am only imagining a sales person and a transaction that I did not observe. It could be that Mr. Smith went in and demanded the "best phone." It could be that the sales person tried to talk him into something different but Mr. Smith wouldn't budge on what he was going to buy. I worked in retail for a long time and actually had these types of experiences. 

Knowing Mr. Smith this isn't completely outside the realm of possibility or even the realm of probability.

In the end it doesn't really matter what events occurred that led to Mr. Smith sitting there trying to figure out how to use his new Samsung Galaxy S3. All I can really do is shake my head and try to laugh at the absurdity of the situation.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Welcome back

Today I return to blogging with a video post sharing a little about what has been happening since the summer. I also take time to share the core message of Christianity.