God Doesn’t Make Sense by Bill Sweeney

The fact that God’s nature was difficult for me to understand used to be a real challenge to my faith. This was especially true after being diagnosed with ALS. I don’t remember ever asking God “Why me?” but I naturally wondered why God would allow this or any other horrible disease to strike anyone. I began to rethink everything I knew, or thought I knew, about this being we call God.

One of the first things I studied was the Christian definition of God; the Christian belief that God is made up of three separate beings (Father, Son and Spirit) that are actually one being. This doesn’t make sense! I have heard many different analogies that attempted to explain this concept of this three-in-one God by everyone from children’s church pastors to highly-educated Theologians, but I still don’t get it! I know better than anyone that I’m far from being the sharpest knife in the drawer, but after many years of trying to figure out this concept of what we simply call the Trinity, I’ve concluded that no one is able to explain this Triune God in terms that are understandable to even the razor-sharp knives among us. And, I’m now okay with this because – If we were able to understand God in human terms, He wouldn’t be God; He’d be a man.

C.S. Lewis was one of the best Christian apologists of the twentieth century, but before becoming a follower of Christ, he was an outspoken atheist. He concluded that there was no God because the idea of God didn’t make sense to him. He wondered why a supposedly loving God would allow his mother to die when he was just ten years old. He also wondered why a God that claims to care so much for His creation would permit the horrors he witnessed as a soldier in World War One. I imagine a lot of people asked similar questions after seeing innocent people being killed and maimed in Boston and in West, Texas. But, ironically, it was also this seemingly nonsensical nature of God that brought Lewis back to the God of Christianity. “Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17)

As a professor at Oxford, Lewis and some other professors, including his fellow professor and friend, the author J.R.R. Tokien (Lord of the Rings) formed a group where they would meet and discuss Philosophy, Theology and other “Big issues.” Tolkien was a Christian and he began challenging Lewis’ conclusions about God. Like me and so many others that have come to a crossroad, Lewis began to rethink his beliefs about this mysterious God.” “Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17)

As a professor at Oxford, Lewis and some other professors, including his fellow professor and friend, the author J.R.R. Tokien (Lord of the Rings) formed a group where they would meet and discuss Philosophy, Theology and other “Big issues.” Tolkien was a Christian and he began challenging Lewis’ conclusions about God. Like me and so many others that have come to a crossroad, Lewis began to rethink his beliefs about this mysterious God.

Lewis also came to the conclusion that mere mortals were unable to fully comprehend what we call the Trinity. And, like me and those who understand the implications of this conclusion, this idea of an incomprehensible God intrigued Lewis. He eventually ditched his “simple” atheism and turned to a complex God.

He wrote: “On the human level one person is one being, and any two persons are two separate beings… On the Divine level you still find personalities; but up there you find them combined in new ways which we, who do not live on that level, cannot imagine…If Christianity was something we were making up, of course we could make it easier. But it is not. We cannot compete, in simplicity, with people who are inventing religions. How could we? We are dealing with Fact. Of course anyone can be simple if he has no facts to bother about…Reality, in fact, is always something you couldn’t have guessed. That’s one of the reasons I believe Christianity. It’s a religion you couldn’t have guessed.”

Why do we expect to understand why God allows tragedy and heartache when we cannot even comprehend the makeup of God? We haven’t yet even figured out why people do the things they do. God sees the Big Picture – the eternal picture, the picture that we’re incapable of seeing. For that reason alone we should give Him the benefit of the doubt when tragedy strikes.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. 9“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

About Bill Sweeney
In 1996, Bill was diagnosed with ALS (“Lou Gehrig’s Disease”) and the doctors told him he had 3-5 years to live. He is now completely paralyzed and unable to speak, but by God’s grace, he’s still alive and through his blog shares a message of hope in Christ – Unshakable Hope!

Faith Without Works is Dead

Why is Faith Without Works Dead?

Answer:

“As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” James 2:26 NIV

Faith without works is a dead faith because the lack of works reveals an unchanged life or a spiritually dead heart. There are many verses that say that true saving faith will result in a transformed life, that faith is demonstrated by the works we do. How we live reveals what we believe and whether the faith we profess to have is a living faith.

James 2:14–26 is sometimes taken out of context in an attempt to create a works-based system of righteousness, but that is contrary to many other passages of Scripture. James is not saying that our works make us righteous before God but that real saving faith is demonstrated by good works. Works are not the cause of salvation; works are the evidence of salvation. Faith in Christ always results in good works. The person who claims to be a Christian but lives in willful disobedience to Christ has a false or dead faith and is not saved. Paul basically says the same thing in 1 Corinthians 6:9–10. James contrasts two different types of faith—true faith that saves and false faith that is dead.

Many profess to be Christians, but their lives and priorities indicate otherwise. Jesus put it this way: “By their fruits you will know them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. So by their fruits you will know them. Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’ Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers’” (Matthew 7:16–23).

Notice that the message of Jesus is the same as the message of James. Obedience to God is the mark of true saving faith. James uses the examples of Abraham and Rahab to illustrate the obedience that accompanies salvation. Simply saying we believe in Jesus does not save us, nor does religious service. What saves us is the Holy Spirit’s regeneration of our hearts, and that regeneration will invariably be seen in a life of faith featuring ongoing obedience to God.

Misunderstanding the relationship of faith and works comes from not understanding what the Bible teaches about salvation. There are really two errors in regards to works and faith. The first error is “easy believism,” the teaching that, as long as a person prayed a prayer or said, “I believe in Jesus,” at some point in his life, then he is saved, no matter what. So a person who, as a child, raised his hand in a church service is considered saved, even though he has never shown any desire to walk with God since and is, in fact, living in blatant sin. This teaching, sometimes called “decisional regeneration,” is dangerous and deceptive. The idea that a profession of faith saves a person, even if he lives like the devil afterwards, assumes a new category of believer called the “carnal Christian.” This allows various ungodly lifestyles to be excused: a man may be an unrepentant adulterer, liar, or bank robber, but he’s saved; he’s just “carnal.” Yet, as we can see in James 2, an empty profession of faith—one that does not result in a life of obedience to Christ—is in reality a dead faith that cannot save.

The other error in regards to works and faith is to attempt to make works part of what justifies us before God. The mixture of works and faith to earn salvation is totally contrary to what Scripture teaches. Romans 4:5 says, “To him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness.” James 2:26 says, “Faith without works is dead.” There is no conflict between these two passages. We are justified by grace through faith, and the natural result of faith in the heart is works that all can see. The works that follow salvation do not make us righteous before God; they simply flow from the regenerated heart as naturally as water flows from a spring.

Salvation is a sovereign act of God whereby an unregenerate sinner has the “washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” poured out on him (Titus 3:5), thereby causing him to be born again (John 3:3). When this happens, God gives the forgiven sinner a new heart and puts a new spirit within him (Ezekiel 36:26). God removes his sin-hardened heart of stone and fills him with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit then causes the saved person to walk in obedience to God’s Word (Ezekiel 36:26–27).

Faith without works is dead because it reveals a heart that has not been transformed by God. When we have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit, our lives will demonstrate that new life. Our works will be characterized by obedience to God. Unseen faith will become seen by the production of the fruit of the Spirit in our lives (Galatians 5:22). Christians belong to Christ, the Good Shepherd. As His sheep we hear His voice and follow Him (John 10:26–30).

Faith without works is dead because faith results in a new creation, not a repetition of the same old patterns of sinful behavior. The Apostle Paul wrote:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)

In Christian † Love, Susan Osten

by “Got Questions”

How Can We Have Hope When Everything Looks Hopeless?

How Can We Have Hope When Everything Looks Hopeless?

In Romans 5:3-5, Paul says that we can rejoice in our sufferings because we are a people of hope: “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”(Romans 5:3–5, ESV)

So, how can we have hope when everything looks hopeless? In the midst of suffering, we can rejoice because these challenges cause us to:

1. Rely on God’s presence

Rejoicing in suffering does not mean celebrating when bad news comes. But, it does mean that we can believe that God is doing a redemptive work. This word “redemptive” means that God does not waste a hurt or disappointment. He is using them to shape and build us into the image of Jesus, which is his highest passion.

When we go through suffering, we often pray and seek God more intensely than at other times. My greatest times of growth have been when I’ve reached the end of my resources and all I have left is Jesus. God uses suffering to make us rely on His presence.

In Psalm 23:4, David writes that he does not fear because God is with him. He relies on God’s presence, and it brings him strength and comfort. Remember that for there to be a shadow, there has to be a light. I don’t know what your “valley of the shadow of death” is, but I do know who the Light is that is walking with you in that valley.

In another Psalm, David reveals that one of the reasons for his joy is that he is forgiven. (Ps. 31:1, NIV). We can’t determine God’s love for us based on good or bad circumstances. We determine His love based on the cross and what He did for us on it.

2. Rely on God’s provision

In 2 Corinthians 12:7, Paul reveals that he has suffered from a “thorn in the flesh.” God was so concerned about Paul not becoming proud he allowed this to happen to him to prevent him from becoming conceited.

In our current situations, God is saying to us that His grace is sufficient, and even when we feel weak, He is making us stronger than we have ever been. His grace is not an abstract idea. It is the person of Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit. The hell you are going through may be the very circumstance God uses to take you to a whole new level.

3. Rely on God’s power

“Therefore   I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Cor. 12:9b, ESV).

What is your weakness? Maybe it is a son or a daughter that hasn’t quite turned out the way you thought he or she would. A job situation that has gone awry. A medical diagnosis that has scared you. Maybe, like Paul, it is also insults, hardships, or persecutions. Whatever it is, Paul says he will boast in those things because when we are weak, the power of Christ rests on us.

The greater the enemy comes at you, the greater Jesus is in you.
Maybe you hear voices telling you to just quit, give up, and let it go.

DON’T STOP! When you are weak, then He is strong. Remember the greater the attack against you, the greater Christ is in you, but you have to rely on His Presence, His Provision and His Power.

Write down what you are suffering from or struggling with and place it in an envelope. On the outside, write, “God’s got this, and He is transforming me.” Now when that challenge comes to mind remember to rely on Him.

-Derwin L. Gray, Gospel Of Grace

How Do We “Live The Abundant Life” Jesus Promised?

Living the abundant life that Jesus promised us includes facing our challenges, overcoming our obstacles, and walking patiently, with hope, through our sufferings and sorrows. Persevering through life’s struggles is vital to our Christian growth. It will not be easy, so we must believe in ourselves, and God’s Word which says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:13 (KJV)

God’s protection is not like a magic force field that keeps us from all adversity. We must keep in mind that we live in a fallen world, and we have a free will. We are capable of creating our own troubles when our decisions do not include God, and they are not well thought out. When we reap the consequences of those decisions, we expect God to bail us out.

On the other hand, accidents will happen, and difficult situations that we have no control over will arise in our lives. During those times, we need to remember God’s promises of protection, provision, and comfort – He is faithful to His Word! Jesus warned that we would have troubles in this World: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

God works in ways that we cannot comprehend. I can give you some scenarios of God’s protection, such as: His protection might come in the form of peace and strength in the middle of despair, or it might come as an ending because He sees something more on the horizon that we cannot see.

All we need to understand is that as a believer in Jesus, we are promised a new life covered under the protection of God in which NOTHING can separate us from His love. We can rest knowing that no matter what hardship we face, God is our protector, provider, and comforter!

Why does God allow us to experience suffering and sorrow?

The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 1:6 (NIV), “Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same.” Unless we know the personal results of God’s comfort in our tribulations we are not able to comfort others in their trials. To have compassion is to enter in alongside of the other person. Suffering enables us to better understand the needs of others.

Prayer for Fear and Anxiety

Lord Jesus, the stresses in my life often reach a dangerous proportion—or so it seems. My body, mind, and spirit struggle to keep up physically, mentally, and spiritually. Some days anxiety stalks me like a deceitful predator, and the temptation to worry draws me in. I know better, but some days the challenges outweigh the truths buried inside. My trust in You fades into the background, giving fear and concerns permission to discourage me.

In those moments of apprehension, help me remember that I belong to You, and that You are not the author of fear or anxiety, but the giver of love and a sound mind. Teach me Your ways to respond to problems by giving thanks in them. Your Word assures me that You are always there with me. You are the Blessed Controller of all things, and nothing escapes Your attention in my life. You have given me every tool and spiritual blessing to fight against those things that try to steal my peace. You’ve promised that when I’m stressed and burdens are trying to weigh me down, I can come to You. You will give me sweet rest! In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

In God’s Love and † Grace, Susan Osten

Was it God’s Vengeance? You Decide.

“Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: It is mine to avenge; I will repay, says the Lord.”  Romans 12:19RRoman 12:19 (NIV)

The Bible is very clear about seeking revenge. In Romans 12:19, God tells us to never take revenge and to leave it in the Lord’s hands. God is the ultimate judge and when we seek revenge, we are taking His place. When we become overwhelmed with what others have done wrong, we become filled with anger and find ourselves focused on hate.

I was married when I was seventeen years old, and I became a Christian when I was nineteen years old. Shortly, after I became a Christian, my husband divorced me. I was heartbroken, and the pain from losing him was overwhelming.

There were several circumstances that caused our divorce:

1.) After I became a Christian, my ex-husband told me that he didn’t want anything to do with religion, because his mother made him attend church during his adolescence and he hated it.

2.) After I became a Christian, he started a new job, and met a man named:

Jud, my husband’s friend, started to take him out at night drinking. It escalated to the point that my husband didn’t come home at all at nights when he went drinking with Jud. When I did see my husband, there was nothing I could say or do to stop him from leaving the house to party. Jud was a bad influence in my ex-husband’s life, and it ruined our marriage.

One day, I went to the store and Jud pulled up beside me in his Van. I said nothing to him at all; but, I did tell God, “Jud was hurting me.”

Time passed, and we were divorced. The Bible says, “But if the husband or wife who isn’t a believer insists on leaving, let them go. In such cases the Christian husband or wife is no longer bound to the other, for God has called you to live in peace.” 1 Corinthians 7:15 (NLT)

By the time the divorce was finalized, I had found a job working for a man in a one girl office, typing letters and doing his bookkeeping. I had also moved into my own apartment.

The emotional pain began to subside, and between my families’ support, my churches’ support, and the support of my friends, I felt that my life was returning to some sort of normalcy.

One day, not to many months after my divorce, I went into work as usual. I will never forget this: it was about 10:30 in the morning when all of a sudden, I felt this persistent urge to call my ex-husband. I knew that it was the Lord, and I told Him that I didn’t want to call my ex-husband because it would open up old wounds.
The persistent urge continued. I was so frustrated by it that I picked up the phone and called my ex-husband. As soon as he answered, I said, “WHAT IS THE MATTER?” He replied, “Jud is dead.” My heart almost stopped – I couldn’t believe that this was what God wanted me to know. I offered my condolences and hung up the phone.

You may be wondering if I have ever had an experience like that again: the answer is “No.” That experience shocked me – never would I have ever ask God to take a life.

“God’s blessings are endless. It comes every day and sometimes in different forms. Sometimes it comes so big that we become speechless. God is always faithful and I love Him. Thank you Lord for completing yet another important stage in my educational pursuit. It was tough, yet I made it, and made it out excellently. Glory to Him, the giver of all Blessings!” 

– Terry Mark

In God’s Love and †Grace, Susan

God Protected My Son and I

“My God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior – from violent people you save me. I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and have been saved from my enemies.” 2 Samuel 22:3-4 (NIV)

The phone call came at about 10 p.m. My husband, son and I were sleeping. My husband was a Locksmith, and it was a call to go and unlock someone’s car. My son, Jeremy and I got out of bed to wait for his return.

While waiting, I left the room to go to into bathroom, when all of a sudden, I ran down that hall, and no sooner than I got to the living room, there came a knock at my door. I went to the door, and said “Who is it?” and there was no answer. I looked through the peep hole in the door, and there was someone standing there wearing a black hoodie with his head down. All of a sudden, the door knob began to turn. I stayed by the door, and told my son to get our gun. After Jeremy gave me the gun, I told him to call the Police. When he had them on the phone, I took the phone, and explained the situation to them. The Police told me to shoot, if that man come through the door, and they were on their way. They arrived about 20 minutes later but, he was gone. Shortly, thereafter, my husband returned.

God protects His children! But when He speaks to you, it is very important to listen and to obey Him.

“But the Lord is faithful, and he will stengthen you and protect you from the evil one.” 2 Thessalonians 3:3 (NIV)

May the PEACE of GOD be with you;
May His LOVE overshadow you;
May His HOPE fill your heart;
And may His JOY be full in your soul.

“He will guard the feet of his faithful servants, but the wicked will be silenced in the place of darknes. It is not by strengh that one prevails;” I Samuel 2:9 (NIV)

In † Christian Love, Susan