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AskMe #2893388 01/31/17 06:58 AM
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Psalm 86:5 (NIV)
5 You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you.

The goodness of God's nature is a great encouragement to us in all our addresses to him. His goodness appears in two things, giving and forgiving. He is a sin-pardoning God; not only he can forgive, but he is ready to forgive, more ready to forgive than we are to repent. He is a prayer-hearing God; he is plenteous in mercy, very full, and very free, both rich and liberal unto all those that call upon him; he has wherewithal to supply all their needs and is openhanded in granting that supply. [Matthew Henry]



NPR ran a heartbreaking interview with Robert Ebeling, an engineer who worked on the 1986 Challenger launch that resulted in the death of all seven occupants. In January 1986, Ebeling and four other engineers pleaded for the launch to be delayed; they anticipated the precise failure that would destroy the shuttle. That night, Ebeling even told his wife, Darlene, "It's going to blow up." The engineers' pleas were refused. Three weeks after the explosion, he and another engineer, since deceased, spoke to NPR. Ebeling was not identified by name until this past week. The NPR article continued:

Ebeling retired soon after Challenger. He suffered deep depression and has never been able to lift the burden of guilt. In 1986, as he watched that haunting image again on a television screen, he said, "I could have done more. I should have done more." He says the same thing today, sitting in a big easy chair in the same living room, his eyes watery and his face grave. The data he and his fellow engineers presented, and their persistent and sometimes angry arguments, weren't enough to sway Thiokol managers and NASA officials. Ebeling concludes he was inadequate. He didn't argue the data well enough. A religious man, this is something he has prayed about for the past 30 years. "I think that was one of the mistakes that God made," Ebeling says softly. "He shouldn't have picked me for the job. But next time I talk to him, I'm gonna ask him, 'Why me. You picked a loser.'"

[Howard Berkes, "30 Years After Explosion, Challenger Engineer Still Blames Himself," NPR The Two-Way blog (1-28-16)]


If someone would have just said, �The Lord is forgiving and good,� maybe Ebeling could have forgiven himself. He held onto a burden of guilt that he could have let go of so easily by turning it over to God. He believed he was a loser because of what happened, but I see him as a hero for standing up and raising a voice even though it wasn�t fully heard.

AskMe #2893713 02/02/17 07:37 AM
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1 Corinthians 2:9 (NIV)
9 However, as it is written: �What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived�� the things God has prepared for those who love him�

God loves each and every one of us. Some know of God�s love, some think of God as loving, while others may question His love for us. The truth is NO ONE fully understands the greatness of God�s love.




Theologian Michael Reeves notes that many people in our culture who have rejected God may be reacting against a certain sort of God�what he calls "a loveless dictator in the sky." Reeves writes:

In my own experience, when I ask atheist or agnostic students to describe the God they don't believe in, I am usually treated to what sounds like a good description of Satan: a self-obsessed, merciless bully. And if God is not an ever-loving Father, eternally pouring out his Spirit of life and blessing on his Son, then their descriptions are probably pretty accurate. If God is not Father, Son, and Spirit, then he must be an eternally solitary being who has managed to get through eternity without love.

[Adapted from Michael Reeves, "Three Is the Loveliest Number," Christianity Today (December 2012)]


However, Our God is not without love. 1 John 3:1 tells us, �See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don�t recognize that we are God�s children because they don�t know him.�

Do not be deceived by those who don�t know God; for God loves all His children. We all should learn to know how wide, how long, how high, and how deep is His love for us.

AskMe #2894193 02/07/17 06:20 AM
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Psalm 97:10 (NIV)
10 Let those who love the Lord hate evil, for he guards the lives of his faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.

The Lord despises the evil that fills the hearts of people. He therefore decrees that those who love Him should stay away from evil and God himself will deliver them from the hand of the wicked.



We often hear someone say: "Well, I'm not very religious, but I'm a good person and that is what is most important." But is that true? Imagine a woman, a poor widow with an only son. She teaches him how she wants him to live, to always tell the truth, to work hard and to help the poor.

She makes very little money, but with her meager savings she is able to put him through college. Imagine that when he graduates, he hardly even speaks to her again. He occasionally sends a Christmas card, but he doesn't visit her, he won't even answer her phone calls or letters; he doesn't speak to her. But he lives just like she taught him�honestly, industriously, and charitably.

Would you say this was acceptable? Of course not. Wouldn't we say by living a "good life" but neglecting a relationship with the one to whom he owed everything he was doing something commendable?

In the same way, God created us and we owe him everything and we do not live for him but we "live a good life" it is not enough. We all owe a debt that must be paid.


[Timothy Keller, Shaped by the Gospel: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City (Zondervan, 2016), page 3; Submitted by Van Morris, Mt. Washington, Kentucky]

AskMe #2894311 02/09/17 06:38 AM
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2 Thessalonians 1:3 (NIV)
3 We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing.

Here the apostle addresses those in the church who are caring for one another. Their love for one another is evident and the apostle said �we ought always to thank God�.



On a drizzly afternoon in early 2015 seven people gathered for Washington D.C.'s newest group�The Quitters Club. Tagline: "Let's Give Up on Our Dreams � Together!" One attendee was ready to cast aside her long-held ambition to become an actress. Same deal for a would-be writer. Another was ready to quit Washington D.C. The hodgepodge group of strangers were drawn together by the same invite that read: "Most of us have something special we'd like to do with our lives. At the Quitters Club we can help each other stomp out the brush fires set in our hearts, and get on with our lives."

Founder Justin Cannon has quit all sorts of things�filmmaking, music, graphic design. He is tortured by the dueling forces of grand ambition and intense self-doubt. Most often, the battle leaves him frozen. And despondent. At one point Cannon expressed his growing exasperation. "I was like, 'We should have a group where people want to give up on their dreams.' I was making a joke," he recalls. "But somebody said, 'You know, that's a really good idea.'"

A few days later he took action. He posted a note on Meetup for his new group. He thought he might be forming a club of one, but within 48 hours, 35 people signed up. And for the next two hours, one after another the attendees expressed their dreams and their inability to make progress. But surprisingly they end up encouraging each other to persevere. The actress, they decide, should give it a hard push for a year before tossing out her ambitions of making it on the stage. The unhappy Washingtonian should look for a new job before giving up on the city. The writer whose day job is getting in the way of her artistic pursuits should carve out time each day for her passion.

"Here we are at the Quitters Club and we're all encouraging each other to keep going," one attendee mused. "I knew that was gonna happen," Cannon says. They will meet again the following month to continue in their quest to help people quit. Or, as it turns out, to keep on trying.


[David Finch, Elk Grove, California; source: Ellen McCarthy, "The Quitters Club: Let's Give Up On Our Dreams Together," The Washington Post (3-25-15)]


In love keep on trying for God has faith in you, so the question becomes: Do you have faith in yourself?

AskMe #2895261 02/22/17 06:56 AM
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1 John 4:18New International Version (NIV)

18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (NIV)

Words to remind us there is no fear in perfect love. When we cause someone to fear are intent is not love, but is usually control, anger, bitterness and dishonesty.





In his sermon "Loving Your Enemies," Martin Luther King, Jr., said:

When Abraham Lincoln was running for president of the United States, there was a man who ran all around the country talking about Lincoln. He said a lot of unkind things. And sometimes he would get to the point that he would even talk about his looks, saying, "You don't want a tall, lanky, ignorant man like this as the president of the United States." …

Finally, one day Abraham Lincoln was elected president of the United States.… Then came the time for him to choose a secretary of war. He looked across the nation, and decided to choose a man by the name of Mr. Stanton. And when Abraham Lincoln stood around his advisors and mentioned this fact, they said to him: "Mr. Lincoln, are you a fool? Do you know what Mr. Stanton has been saying about you? Do you know what he as done, tried to do to you? Do you know that he has tried to defeat you on every hand? Do you know that, Mr. Lincoln? Did you read all of those derogatory statements that he made about you?"

Abraham Lincoln stood before the advisors around him and said: "Oh yeah. I know about it; I read about it; I've heard him myself. But after looking over the country, I find that he is the best man for the job."

Mr. Stanton did become secretary of war; and later, Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. And if you go to Washington, you will discover that one of the greatest words or statements ever made about Abraham Lincoln was by this man Stanton. As Abraham Lincoln came to the end of his life, Stanton stood up and said: "Now he belongs to the ages." And he made a beautiful statement concerning the character and the stature of this man.

If Abraham Lincoln had hated Stanton, if Abraham Lincoln had answered everything Stanton said, Abraham Lincoln would not have transformed and redeemed Stanton. Stanton would have gone to his grave hating Lincoln, and Lincoln would have gone to his grave hating Stanton. But through the power of love Abraham Lincoln was able to redeem Stanton.


[Martin Luther King, Jr., A Knock at Midnight, edited by Clayborne Carson and Peter Holloran (Warner Books, 1998) p.154]

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AskMe #2895341 02/24/17 07:32 AM
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Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV)

11 For I know the plans I have for you,� declares the Lord, �plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

The Lord knows the best course for our lives and it is up to us to rely upon God so that we may prosper in a healthy way.




Anyone who's lived near train tracks knows the hassle and inconvenience a passing train can cause. You're already running late, you're driving up to the track crossing, and then�the barriers start flashing. It's a frustrating feeling.

But imagine if that happened as you were trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

That's exactly what happened to more than 100 runners in Pennsylvania, as a train crossed the marathon course�and crossed it very slowly. One runner, who was using the race as his last opportunity to qualify for Boston, said that he "missed his qualifying time by eight minutes."

Race officials had communicated with the railroad line prior to race day, and had received "absolute assurances�that trains would be suspended" during the race. Yet those assurances didn't stop a train from crossing the course's seventh mile.

"The incident is especially regrettable and was quite unexpected," the marathon's account posted on Facebook, noting that those times that were affected would "be addressed on a runner-by-runner basis."

We may have a plan laid out for running our best race, and we may have set goals and dreamed dreams, but one truth makes itself abundantly (and sometimes painfully) clear: "In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps" (Prov. 16:9).


[Emily Lund, PreachingToday.com; "Slow Train Crosses Lehigh Valley Marathon Course, Damaging Finish Times," NBC Philadelphia, 9-14-16]

AskMe #2895500 02/28/17 06:49 AM
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2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV)
7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

God did not give us a spirit of timidity or weakness, but instead indwelled within us the power to reach out and love others through self-discipline.



The key to a happy and lasting marriage might be as simple as regularly expressing gratitude. So report researchers from the University of Georgia in a new study published in the journal Personal Relationships.

After interviewing 468 married individuals on relationship satisfaction, covering everything from communication habits to finances, they found that the "most consistent significant predictor" of happy marriages was whether one's spouse expressed gratitude. "Feeling appreciated and believing that your spouse values you directly influences how you feel about your marriage, how committed you are to it, and your belief that it will last," says study co-author Ted Futris.
And that goes for good times but perhaps especially bad ones�when couples experience stress and their communication devolves into what the researchers call a demand/withdraw cycle (i.e., one partner demands or criticizes; the other tries to avoid a confrontation). Gratitude can disrupt this, acting as a buffer.

"What distinguishes the marriages that last from those that don't is not how often they argue, but how they argue and how they treat each other on a daily basis," says Futris. Adds lead author Allen Barton, the study "goes to show the power of the key to a happy and lasting marriage might be as simple as regularly expressing gratitude." So saying thank you is a "practical way couples can help strengthen their marriage."


[This Might be a Key to Happy Marriage, USA Today (10-24-15); submitted by Van Morris, Mt. Washington,]



It only takes a minute to express your gratitude towards another. It doesn�t matter if it is a co-worker, friend, family member or spouse. Those few minutes you put into gratitude turn into years of delight for the other person. If you haven�t done so, start today looking for gratitude you canto express towards another.

AskMe #2895547 03/02/17 06:32 AM
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Job 23:10-11 (NIV)
10 But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. 11 My feet have closely followed his steps; I have kept to his way without turning aside.

It is a great comfort to those who mean honestly that God understands their meaning, though men do not, cannot, or will not. [Matthew Henry]




Dan McConchie, vice president of government affairs at Americans United for Life, was riding his motorcycle through a suburban intersection when a car came into his lane and pushed him into on-coming traffic. When he woke two weeks later in a Level 1 trauma center, he was a mess. Six broken ribs, deflated left lung, broken clavicle, broken shoulder blade, and five broken vertebrae. Worst of all, amidst all the broken bones, he had a spinal-cord injury that left him a paraplegic. The neurosurgeon told his wife that it would be a "miracle" if he'd ever walk again.

Eight years later Dan is still in a wheelchair.

"What I learned," Dan said, "is that this life isn't for our comfort. Instead, the purpose of this life is that we become conformed to the image of Christ. Unfortunately, that doesn't happen when everything is unicorns and rainbows. It instead happens when life is tough, when we are forced to rely upon God through prayer just to make it through the day. That is when he is most at work in our lives molding us into who he designed us to be."

"My prayers are different today than they were eight years ago. Back then, I looked at God like Santa Claus. I asked him to send nice things my way. Now, I have one prayer that I pray more than any other: 'Lord, may I be able to say at the end of today that I was faithful.'"


[Van Morris, Mt. Washington, Kentucky; source; Dan McConchie,"Prayer and Faith in the Midst of Personal Tragedy," Washington Times (3-22-16)]

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Romans 8:28 (NIV)
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

God has called each of us to His purpose to perform His will. No matter the circumstance, not matter the place, not matter where we are in life � God wants to use us for his purpose.



Richard Halverson, former pastor of Fourth Presbyterian Church in Bethesda, Maryland and also the former chaplain of the United States Senate used the following benediction at the end of each service/message for many years in his ministry. It reflects his deep conviction that his church was not only where the congregation met on Sundays, but at each place where they lived and worked through the week.

A Benediction
Wherever you go, God is sending you.
Wherever you are, God has put you there.
God has a purpose in your being right where you are.
Christ, who indwells you by the power of his Spirit,
wants to do something in and through you.
Believe this and go in his grace, his love, his power.
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Amen

AskMe #2896278 03/15/17 06:12 AM
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Acts 4:10;12 (NIV)
10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.
12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.�

The testimony of Peter and John about the death of Jesus Christ, His resurrection, and the salvation He brought to save mankind.




"I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me." I [Dale Bruner] had a personal, yet very public experience with this text not long ago. I was giving Bible studies in the morning at a week-long Lutheran pastors' conference, and Dr. Prasanna Kumari, a lovely Asian-Indian woman, was giving the evening platform addresses. Dr. Kumari is the president of the Lutheran Church in India and was (I believe) the executive director of the Theological Commission of the Lutheran World Federation. She is a very impressive woman.

In the mornings, I was teaching John, chapter 1, for all I was worth. The theme, as it is everywhere in John's Gospel, is the exclusivity of Christ. (One thinks, for example, of John 1:18: "No one has ever seen God before, but God the only Son, who is at the very heart of the Father, he has explained God.") In the evenings, Dr. Kumari was teaching that, indeed, Christ is the way for the Christian. But, she added, in India a sincere Hindu could also go to God, and Buddhists could find their way to God too. The ordinary way of salvation is sincere devotion to one's own religious tradition; the extraordinary way of salvation is Jesus Christ. As long as people are sincere, they can get to God or to saving truth as they understand it.

Dr. Kumari and I were going in two different directions!

It is bad form at a conference for one speaker to contradict another. All week long I wrestled with this inclusive/exclusive issue. This is the conclusion I came to and shared with the conference on the last morning:

In the past, when asked what my theological position was, I have described myself as a Christocentrist, but I now realize that that is not an adequate answer. I am a Christoexclusivist! Dr. Kumari is absolutely Christ-centered. She loves the Lord Jesus Christ�no questions about it. But I have come to realize this week that, for me, Christ is not only the center�he is the circumference. He is the only way to the responsible knowledge of, or participation in, saving truth. Christ is exclusive.

[Dale Bruner, Theology, News and Notes of Fuller Seminary (October 1999), pp.3-4]

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Ephesians 6:10-11 (NIV)
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil�s schemes.

The Apostle reminds us to believe in the mighty power of the Lord so we will be strong and find mighty power and courage to do things that stand against the devil�s schemes.




Hacksaw Ridge, a November 2016 movie produced by Mel Gibson, features the true story of Pfc. Desmond T. Doss, who won the Congressional Medal of Honor despite refusing to bear arms during WWII on religious grounds. Doss, a Christian who wouldn't touch a weapon or work on the Sabbath, enlisted in the Army as a combat medic because he believed in the cause, but had vowed not to kill. The Army wanted nothing to do with him. His fellow soldiers considered him a pest, questioned his sincerity, and threw shoes at him while he prayed. Doss' commanding officer, Capt. Jack Glover, tried to get him transferred. In a documentary based on Doss' life, Glover says Doss told him, "Don't ever doubt my courage because I will be right by your side saving life while you take life."

At Okinawa in the spring of 1945, Doss' company faced a grueling task: Climb a steep, jagged cliff�sometimes called Hacksaw Ridge�to a plateau where thousands of heavily armed Japanese soldiers were waiting for them. The terrain was treacherous. Under a barrage of gunfire and explosions, Doss crawled on the ground from wounded soldier to wounded soldier. He dragged severely injured men to the edge of the ridge, tied a rope around their bodies and lowered them down to other medics below. In the documentary, Doss says: "I was praying the whole time. I just kept praying, 'Lord, please help me get one more.'" Veteran Carl Bentley, who was also at Hacksaw Ridge, once said, "It's as if God had his hand on [Doss'] shoulder. It's the only explanation I can give."

Pfc. Demond T. Doss saved 75 men�including his captain, Jack Glover�over a 12-hour period. The same soldiers who had shamed him now praised him. "He was one of the bravest persons alive," Glover says in the documentary. "And then to have him end up saving my life was the irony of the whole thing."


[Adapted from Elizabeth Blair, "The Real 'Hacksaw Ridge' Soldier Saved 75 Souls Without Ever Carrying A Gun," NPR Morning Edition (11-4-16)]

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Psalm 62:7 (NIV)
7 My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.

God is out rock, the place where we can go when we face despair. Our salvation comes from God and it upon God whom we trust.



The 1960 film Pollyanna starring Hayley Mills, based on the novel by Eleanor H. Porter, written in 1913 was released. The lead character's full name was Pollyanna Whittier. After the death of her parents she went to live with her wealthy but rather unpleasant Aunt Polly in Vermont. The approach Pollyanna took to life was highly optimistic, to say the least. She called it "The Glad Game". Regardless of the circumstances in which you find yourself, you must always find something to be glad about. Pollyanna first thought of the game when instead of a doll for Christmas she ended up with only a pair of crutches. She made up the game on the spot, determined to look on the bright side of things. In this case, she was glad she had crutches because she didn't need to use them! And that's something to be glad about!

Playing "the glad game" is about the only thing that enabled Pollyanna to survive in the house of her Aunt. When she is confined in the attic, she is "glad" that there is at least a beautiful view from a high window. When she is punished for being late and her dinner is only bread and milk, she is again "glad" because she at least has something to eat.

Pollyanna's philosophy of life is genuinely put to the test when she is hit by a car and loses the use of both legs. Lying in bed, she comes to grips with the severity of her situation. But instead of falling into depression or bitterness, she decides she can at least be glad that she has her legs, even if they don't do her much good. Pollyanna eventually is sent to a hospital where she learns to walk again and thus once more finds a good reason to be glad.


God tells us to be thankful for everything that comes our way, not just the good, but also the bad. Pollyanna showed it was possible as she found gladness even in the moment of despair. This how God wants us to live.

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Isaiah 53:3-4 (NIV)
3 He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. 4 Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.

There were those who knew the good works of Christ, yet He was rejected and made to suffer. Then He took up our sin on the cross and bore our suffering. Some believed God was punishing Him, but it was God�s plan all along to offer the perfect sacrifice for man�s sin through Jesus Christ Our Lord.



In 1927, the famous English poet and essayist T.S. Eliot became a Christian and was baptized and confirmed. Prior to his conversion, Eliot belonged to London's Bloomsbury Group, a small, informal association of artists and intellectuals who lived and worked in the Bloomsbury area of central London. But when news of Eliot's conversion hit the news, the Bloomsbury Group responded with shock and even disgust. The writer Virginia Woolf, the de facto leader of the group, penned the following letter to one of her peers:

I have had a most shameful and distressing interview with dear Tom Eliot, who may be called dead to us all from this day forward. He has become a [believer] in God and immortality, and he goes to church. I was shocked. A corpse would seem more credible than he is. I mean, there's something obscene in a living person sitting by the fire and believing in God. [Joseph Loconte, A Hobbit, A Wardrobe, and a Great War (Thomas Nelson, 2015), pp. 124-125]

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Romans 5:6-8 (NIV)
6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Christ died not for the wealthy, the admired, the famous or any other notable group of people. Christ died for all the ungodliness in the world. That while we were sinners, God loved us so much that He allowed the Son He loved, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins.


No greater pain has ever been experienced on any level than the hell of Christ suffering in this moment. But why? Because he carried all of that pain, sin, guilt, and shame in that moment. Yet on a far deeper level he was forsaken and punished for us to reconcile us to God (2 Cor. 5:18).

Tim Keller illustrates it this way:

If after a service some Sunday morning one of the members of my church comes to me and says, "I never want to see you or talk to you again," I will feel pretty bad. But if today my wife comes up to me and says, "I never want to see you or talk to you again," that's a lot worse. The longer the love, the deeper the love, the greater the torment of its loss.

But this forsakenness, this loss, was between the Father and the Son, who had loved each other from all eternity. � Jesus, the Maker of the world, was being unmade. Why? Jesus was experiencing Judgment Day. "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" It wasn't a rhetorical question. And the answer is: For you, for me, for us. Jesus was forsaken by God so that we would never have to be. The judgment that should have fallen on us fell instead on Jesus.


[Stu Epperson, Last Words of Jesus (Worthy Inspired, 2015)]

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1 Peter 2:24 (NIV)
24 �He himself bore our sins� in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; �by his wounds you have been healed.�

God has a plan for our life, yet there are often obstacles that we face hampering our relationship with Christ. We need to remember Christ took on all our sins so that we could be healed.




Tim Keller was once asked to identify a few obstacles to revival in the contemporary church. Drawing on his experience in Manhattan, Keller started with one issue�the fact that almost all singles outside the Church and a majority inside the Church are sleeping with each other.

Keller illustrated the point by talking about a tactic, one that he admitted was almost too unkind to use, that an old college pastor associate of his used when catching up with college students who were home from school. He'd ask them to grab coffee with him to catch up on life. When he'd ask about their spiritual lives, they'd often hem and haw, talking about the difficulties and doubts now that they'd taken a little philosophy, or maybe a science class or two, and how it all started to shake the foundations. At that point, he'd look at them and ask one question, "So who have you been sleeping with?" Shocked, their faces would inevitably fall and say something like "How did you know?" Keller pointed out that it's a pretty easy bet that when you have a kid coming home with questions about evolution or philosophy, or some such issue, the prior issue is a troubled conscience.

Keller concludes that if the Church is going to see serious spiritual renewal, especially among the younger generations, we need to present an alternative view of sex that is beautiful, but different than the one offered in the dominant cultural narratives; a view of sexuality that affirms its goodness while placing it within God's intended framework.


Adapted from Derek Rishmawy, "Who Are You Sleeping With? My Conversation with Timothy Keller," Patheos blog (4-11-13)

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Hebrews 11:6 (NIV)
6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Faith is putting trust in what we fully don�t understand or know. Faith is often following God who we have never met face to face. Faith is the hope to see something greater that right now we are too blind to see.



Is it rational to trust God even when we do not fully understand what he is doing? One of the most illuminating answers was put forward by the Oxford philosopher Basil Mitchell in his celebrated parable of the resistance leader.

Imagine you are in German-occupied France during World War II and you want to join the resistance movement against the Nazis. One evening in the local bar a stranger comes up to you and introduces himself as the leader of the local partisans. He spends the evening with you, explaining the general requirements of your duties, giving you a chance to assess his trustworthiness, and offering you the chance to go no further. But his warning is stern: If you join, your life will be at risk. This will be the only face-to-face meeting you will have. After this, you will receive orders and you will have to follow them without question, often completely in the dark as to the whys and wherefores of the operations, and always with the terrifying fear that your trust may be betrayed.

Is such trust reasonable? Sometimes what the resistance leader is doing is obvious. He is helping members of the resistance. "Thank heavens he is on our side," you say. Sometimes it is not obvious. He is in Gestapo uniform arresting partisans and�unknown to you�releasing them out of sight to help them escape the Nazis. But always you must trust and follow the orders without question, despite all appearances, no matter what happens. "The resistance leader knows best," you say. Only after the war will the secrets be open, the codes revealed, the true comrades vindicated, the traitors exposed, and sense made of the explanations.

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1 John 5:14-15 (NIV)
14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us�whatever we ask�we know that we have what we asked of him.

God waits for us to stop in and take safe haven with Him. We can be confidence if we seek God according to His will we know we are heard and we will have an answer.




Christian trauma expert Dr. Jamie Aten notes, "When our friends and loved ones are impacted by violence and mass trauma it can leave us feeling helpless, cause us to 'freeze' up, or say things we wouldn't normally say," often relying on harmful clich�s. Dr. Aten claims that the best thing we can do is summed up in two words: "offer refuge." He explains:

Some examples of how you can serve as a refuge include listening with acceptance, being present in your helping, and giving the gift of connection � I learned the importance of refuge from a Hurricane Katrina research study my team and I conducted just weeks after the storm made landfall. I'll never forget the evacuation experience one of the survivors we interviewed shared. He described trying to escape from his home along the coast by car. However, as he tried to drive away the winds and rain grew stronger. He quickly started to loose visibility. He knew he wasn't going to be able to go much farther.

About the time panic started to set in he saw something moving just ahead off the side of the road. A neighbor he'd never met before was standing outside in the pouring rain and howling wind with a homemade particleboard sign with the words "STOP HERE" spray-painted on it. Rather than continue alone on his journey, the man turned into his neighbors drive and found a safe haven.


[Jamie D. Aten, "3 Things Not to Say After the Dallas, MN, and LA Shootings," Psychology Today (7-8-16)]

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Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV)
17 The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.�

The Lord our God loves us. He takes delight in us and provides us with His mercy and grace. He does not continue to rebuke us, but instead leads us in songs of praise that we can know He is with us.




When Marion Duckworth was in first grade, the Depression had just ended, and talking about anything related to sex�especially sexual abuse�was taboo. So when an older man coaxed her away from her paper dolls one afternoon and fondled her, Marion felt she had to keep her dirty secret to herself. And she did.

Marion didn't tell anyone about the incident until she was 21 and engaged. Her fianc�, John, was furious. He wanted to hunt the perpetrator down, but she pled with him to let it go. She insisted the man was too old to hurt anyone else.

What Marion couldn't tell John, though, was that she had suffered from flashbacks ever since the day of the abuse. She had no visual memory of the incident, but she could feel�vividly�the man's repulsive touch. Any lurid or sleazy image would trigger these sickening flashbacks.

One afternoon, as Marion and John perused a drug store, John showed her a steamy magazine cover, disgusted by what children were regularly exposed to. Experiencing a flashback, Marion quickly agreed with him, then hurried to another part of the store to be alone. She writes in Today's Christian:

While I pretended to contemplate Noxema, the Holy Spirit spoke shocking words to my mind. "You'll never relive these feelings again." The message rang with authority; I didn't doubt it was God's voice. I decided I'd know for sure this was a genuine miracle if the feelings never returned. They never did.

Not once through the years had I asked God to heal that memory. It hadn't occurred to me that He would do such a thing. I was too ashamed to talk about it to a Christian counselor�much less to a holy God. So I simply tried�unsuccessfully�to suppress it.

From that day forward, whenever I was exposed to some image of sleaze, I reminded myself with profound gratitude of what didn't happen. There was no flashback. Just sorrow over sin and a prayer for God's intercession in our broken world.


[Adapted from Marion Duckworth, "Stolen Innocence," Today's Christian (May/June 2006)]


What things do you need to say to God? Are you holding in pains of the past? Perhaps you are struggling with issues in life. Whatever they are you have a loving God that wants to help you and help you rejoice in life.

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Romans 15:2 (NIV)
2 Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.

We need to remember to encourage our family, neighbors and friends. We need to let them know that a Holy God loves them and will be there with them.





Someone told me the other night about an Anton Chekhov story called "The Lament." It is a simple story about an old man who drives a horse and buggy for hire through the city.

The story goes that the old man's son died recently and he wants so desperately to tell someone. A wealthy man hires the horse and buggy for a ride across town. As the wealthy man steps into the carriage, the old man says, "My son, my son. Let me tell you about my son." But the busy man doesn't have time to listen.

Well, after the wealthy man leaves, another man steps into the carriage. He wants to be driven to the other side of the city. Again, the old man says, "My son. My son. Let me tell you about my son." And again, this second man also doesn't bother to listen.

At the end of the day, the old man returns to the stables, unhitches his horse, and as he begins to brush the horse down for the night, the old man begins to tell the horse, "My son. My son." And he tells the horse the tragic story.


[Christopher de Vinck, Simple Wonders, (Zondervan, 1995), page 157]


Many of us are just too busy to listen, but there are many people who want someone to listen to them. They want to share their griefs, their conflicts and their emotions. When someone comes to you be ready to listen and build them up.

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1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 (NIV)
16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.

God promises His children that they wil be in heaven with Him. There will be a time when those who have died and those who are alive will all be together in the presence of The Lord.



In their book Building a Church of Small Groups, Bill Donahue and Russ Robinson relate the words of Lyman Coleman as he reflected on the death of his beloved wife, Margaret:

The most painful decision of my life was asking God to take her home. She had been suffering from repeated brain seizures and her body was wasted. I whispered in her ear: "Honey, I love you. I love you. Jesus wants you to come home. We are going to be all right. We give you permission to let go." She closed her eyes and fell asleep�.

As I write this letter, I realize I am without my editor. My greatest critic. My teammate. Soulmate. Prayermate. Partner in everything. We traveled the roads less traveled together in hard times and good times. Honey, I miss you. I miss you. I miss you. I will keep the light on for the kids. I will be there for friends. And one day, we are going to join you. All of us. Because Jesus promised it. "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints."


[Bill Donahue and Russ Robinson, Building a Church of Small Groups (Zondervan, 2001), p. 61]


I had a man tell me once, �I don�t know about me and God. I don�t know if I�m good enough for heaven.� I took the time to explain there is no one perfect in this world. All our righteous works are like dirty rags. There is no one who even comes close to the righteousness of God. It is why it is so important to understand Jesus Christ is God�s son as well as God. I know our minds have a hard time conceiving that, but it�s like an egg. There is a yoke, the white and the shell, yet it is an egg. With God, there is God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

Jesus Christ, fully God, was born of this world. He lived without sin, just as God the Father is without sin. Christ was tortured, beaten and crucified for our sake that we could be free from the punishment of sin. Jesus rose to life three days later showing us that we too would have a new life. John 3:16 says, �For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.� Trust, belief, faith that is how we enter God�s kingdom. The man I talked with said, �I want that today� so I prayed with him and he now knows that he is a child of God. One day will be in heaven with all God�s children.

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