Posts Tagged ‘love’

Ravi Zacharias advises the Christian on how to share their faith in a secular society with grace.

“If our method is in violation of the message people will see it quite quickly.” 

I have had many conversations with secularists, humanists, atheists, etc. Sometimes arrogance rears its ugly head and there is no hope of an honest exploration of one another’s view. I cannot fault them for behaving within their nature. But I have a new nature and the ability to love unconditionally, I have no excuse. If I want to be heard, I must die to myself and approach others in humility. It’s not about me, it is all about them and their salvation. If I truly have the heart to see them grasp the truth, then my method must match the message.

As a Christian, we have an unfair advantage because we have the Truth. Recognize the need in the other person and view him or her as one in bondage to the lies that once entangled you. Grace can break those bonds when paired with reason. We can boldly proclaim the truth, with respect and humility leading others to Living Water. We cannot make them drink, but the next time they thirst, perhaps they will trace their steps back to that conversation. And when his head hits the pillow, his thoughts will drift back to the discussion he had last week. And he will think to himself, “Maybe I need to re-examine the evidence, maybe there is more to life, maybe this is not all there is . . . ”

I recognize that it is unfathomable to people to think that a stranger would genuinely care deeply about their eternity. But it is this reckless abandon of self that moves Christ followers to place themselves in harm’s way just to love a lost soul. I do this by entering into discussions with atheist and secularist enduring attacks on my faith and on my intellect. Others may sell everything and move to Africa to minister to the hungry and the sick, some day I hope to as well. To me when a person recognizes her need for a Savior, it is well worth enduring a few verbal assaults.

I pray earnestly that my actions imitate the object of my faith.

“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace. “

The Holy Bible : New International Version. electronic ed. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984, S. Ac 20:24

I initially wrote this in response to a question posed by one of the women in a Bible class I taught a couple years ago.

 Psalm 91

1     He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2     I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
3     Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
4     He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5     You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6     nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7     A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8     You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.
9     If you make the Most High your dwelling—
even the Lord, who is my refuge—
10     then no harm will befall you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
11     For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
12     they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13     You will tread upon the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
14     “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15     He will call upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
16     With long life will I satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”

v     Why do you think someone might think that God does not keep His promises? Some say, “People suffer, even people who love God and in our eyes serve Him well.” or “We pray and pray and He doesn’t seem to rescue us.”


Sometimes when we read scripture and it seems contradictory we can be sure of one of two things. God’s Word is inerrant in the original text so either our translation is in err or our understanding is in err because God cannot err. His Word is true and infallible, but we as fallible beings do err in our dealings with His infallible Word. So when we inspect this scripture that has brought hope to  millions, we will look at the context of the time of the author, who the author is addressing, what it meant to the first receivers of the song and what is the meaning of the text for us today.


v     When reading Scripture that seems contradictory, what are some things we can do to resolve the doubt? How might you study the passage?

 First consider the context of the passage then ask yourself some questions: 

Who is being addressed?

What were their circumstances?

 What was the orignal understanding at the time?

 What is God telling us today?


 Context: This Psalm was composed by Moses at the beginning of the 38 years of wilderness wandering, it was also during this time that the Pentateuch was written, the Law, much of which were rules intended to preserve the nation.  Paul says if it were not for the Law I would not have known what sin was. The Law reveals our depravity. And the nation of Israel was walking through that revelation and subsequent guilt from rebellion towards God.




v     Why is it vital that I believe God is Sovereign in relation to His promises?



 We have looked at God’s sovereignty and how important that truth is. Because if I am not convince that God is sovereign, then His promises will mean nothing to me. In fact I might even observe that God doesn’t keep His promises because my understanding of God is superimposed with my experience with man. Man fails, doesn’t keep promises and really has no power to ensure that any promise is kept. We wrongly transfer those weaknesses of man onto God, but God is not limited as man is. He is perfect love, complete, lacking nothing. The promises of God are identical with His character, to us as temporal beings, they are a revelation of the character of the Most High.


Even John Calvin at the time of severe persecution of the Protestants in Scotland created liturgical versions of this Psalm as a comfort. How did he find comfort in this Psalm when it didn’t seem to be true for his own life? Could it be perhaps because Calvin had an understanding of the whole picture?  

So let’s look at the Big Picture!

Psalm 90 focuses on man’s brevity, the fallenness of man, the spiritually dead, the state of existence every human being is born into.

Then Psalm 91 speaks of the hope salvation in the Lord, the gift for those who receive forgiveness.

And Psalm 92 praises God’s omni-benevolence, why a good and holy God can love a sinful and rebellious people.

  •  Who is the receiver of these promises?

 Verse 1 introduces a key characteristic of the intended audience. Who is the receiver of these promises? He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High. This opening is a confession of faith, “If you confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that Jesus Christ is Lord, then you will be saved.”

  •      What do the names of God reveal of His character in this passage?

 Most High – whenever a name of God is used, it is a reference to that unique character trait of God that the passage reflects, in this case Adonai demonstrates His sovereignty

Almighty – Shaddai, demonstrates God’s power 

  •  What is unique about a person who dwells in the shelter of the Most High?

 Verse 2  is a revelation of the character of such a man. Instead of “I will say” the passage should read “He says”. Someone who trusts and reveres God, finds comfort within His presence.

 Verse 3 – “fowler’s snare” – capturing birds for food and other uses was a very popular method of employment, the traps were everywhere, temptation is everywhere. Falling into temptation is easier than avoiding personal sin.

“pestilence” – A literal translation would be “plagues of mischief” referring to the consequences of sin as a result of living in a fallen world.

 Verse 4 – the word translated “shield” in this instance is “buckler” which is a type of round shield that surrounded the soldier protecting him from all sides.



 Jesus says, in Mt 23:37-39

37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. 38 Look, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’
The Lord’s protection is freely given, but it must be freely received. For as long as followers of Christ are living on this earth, the enemy will have access to us, but he does not have authority over us. Unless we give him authority, and we all do make this mistake. What a gift of grace that we can choose to rest in His presence when we repent and seek His face!

 Part 2 will address the difference between enemy oppression and enemy opposition and how the hope of heaven drives us to persevere when our circumstances offer no visible hope.

Father God,

Gunman Identified as University Student


BLACKSBURG, Va. (April 17)Virginia Tech  on Tuesday identified the gunman responsible for the deadliest shooting rampage in modern U.S. history as an undergraduate English major at Tech.

A news release identified the gunman as Cho Seung-Hui, 23, of Centreville, Va.

The bloodbath ended with the gunman’s suicide, bringing the death toll from two separate shootings — first at a dorm, then in a classroom building — to 33 and stamping the campus in the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains with unspeakable tragedy.


Online Child Porn More Brutal, Group Reports



LONDON (April 17) – Child pornography on the Internet is becoming more brutal and graphic, and the number of images depicting violent abuse has risen fourfold since 2003, according to an Internet watchdog report published Tuesday.

Of the 10,700 Web sites surveyed, more than three in five were hosted in the United States, while nearly a third were based in Russia.

The British-based Internet Watch Foundation said in its annual review that it received nearly 32,000 reports of potentially illegal content on its hot line last year, marking a 34 percent increase from the previous year.


About 80 percent of the children in the abusive images are female, and 91 percent appear to be children under the age of 12, it said.

Why must people suffer? Why doesn’t God just take out all the bad people?


Rom. 9:14-23

14 What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! 15 For he says to Moses,

“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,

and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”f

16 It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”g 18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.

19 One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ ”h 21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?

22 What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? 23 What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory— 


From this verse what can you see of God? Who is God in this verse? What are His attributes?

What riches do you see gained from tragedies such as these?


Persecution of the Early Church

Peter and John had just returned from meeting with the Jewish leaders after healing a blind man. They had captured them and threw them in jail, but when they were allowed to speak many were saved. Although the leaders did not like what they said they were allowed to go warned not to preach the gospel anymore. We are joining them just as Peter and John join their church family after their frightening ordeal as the believers join in prayer.


Acts 4:24-31

24 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. 25 You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David:

“ ‘Why do the nations rage

and the peoples plot in vain?

26     The kings of the earth take their stand

and the rulers gather together

against the Lord

and against his Anointed One.a’b

27 Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the peoplec of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. 28 They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. 29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.


What do we learn of God’s character in this selection?

What does “sovereign” mean? What do you think God’s sovereignty meant to Peter and John?

What are the attributes of a believer verses the lost highlighted in this verse?

Is it possible that, depending on your perspective or where you stand (objects of justice verses an object of mercy), we see God as the cause of pain rather than the source of healing?

In the face of severe persecution for nothing other than professing faith in Jesus, what was the attitude of the church?

How does the condition of your heart alter your perception of world events?

What have you learned about the opposition of the power of darkness from the course of events in your life?


There was an interview on the morning show at Va. Tech between a reporter and a psychologist. The reporter wanted to know how can we be sure our children are safe and the psychologist said, “well, parents need to realize that this is very rare, 1 in a million chance of this happening.” She was asking for answers, but he had no hope to offer.


1 Peter 3:10-17 (NIV)

10 For,

“Whoever would love life

and see good days

must keep his tongue from evil

and his lips from deceitful speech.

11     He must turn from evil and do good;

he must seek peace and pursue it.

12     For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous

and his ears are attentive to their prayer,

but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”a

13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fearb; do not be frightened.”c 15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17 It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. [1]



Imagine your next door neighbor’s daughter was murdered in this school shooting. You know the parents are not saved. The mother met with psychologists and friends, but for some reason she turned to you for answers knowing you believe in God. “How can you worship a God who would allow this to happen?” she demands from you.


What do you say? What is the reason for the hope you have within you?


If God asked you to allow your child to go on a journey that promises tribulation, pain, suffering, who among us would say yes?  What if He added, “On this journey your child will experience tribulation, pain and suffering. But I will never leave his side. I will promise to pick him up when he falls. I will carry him when he no longer has the strength for another step. I will comfort him in his sorrow and rescue him from the evil one. And as a result your son will know Me as Father and Friend. He will trust Me in all his ways. He will recognize My voice. And he will cause many to seek My face. Now will you allow him to go with Me?”


John 12:23-29 (NIV)

23 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

27 “Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!”

Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.



In order for one seed to bear much fruit, it must die. We are the harvest of the many seeds that have died before us.

What does it take to die everyday and live for Christ? Why would that lifestyle be one that would draw your grieving neighbor?


Jesus was clothed in the flesh, he saw his circumstances and knew full well it was within his power to escape it. And yet he stayed on the cross. He stayed when the “objects of wrath” taunted him to come down. He stayed to redeem those the Father had given Him. He stayed on that cross for me.


When have you asked to be released from your circumstances only later to say “Father, glorify thy name!”




Father, redeem our pain and loss. Give us a fresh faith. A bold faith in the face of the opposition of this world. God we mourn sin and the consequences of sin, the pain and suffering it causes. Lord, when I entertain a thought or action that would grieve you, I pray that I would feel physically ill immediately and reject it. Take captive the thought and toss it away. Help us to resist Satan so that he will flee from us. We trust you with our husbands, children, friends and family. You hear our pleas for mercy and see our hearts breaking over the acceleration of end times. While we rejoice that you are coming soon, God we ask for your protection from the evil one.



f Exodus 33:19

g Exodus 9:16

h Isaiah 29:16; 45:9

a That is, Christ or Messiah

b Psalm 2:1, 2

c The Greek is plural.

a  Psalm 34:12-16


b  Or not fear their threats


c  Isaiah 8:12


[1]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. electronic ed. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984


[2]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. electronic ed. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984


Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl said, “Despair is suffering without meaning.”

The problem of evil. Atheists and Theists alike seek resolution to human suffering. Does any one group hold the secret salve that eliminates meaningless suffering?  If you are an atheist and you don’t mind my inquisitive mind, where do you find hope in the midst of suffering?  I am not asking to be facetious, I truly want to understand your viewpoint. So if you don’t mind taking a few minutes of your time, please post a response. I learn so much about life from my atheist friends, many have had very thoughtful insights and I would love to hear from you, too.

Philip Yancey wrote a book originally printed in 1977 called Where is God When It Hurts?  In it he examined human suffering and interviewed many people who had experienced horrific trauma. What I learned from these precious souls is that life hurts…a lot, but they insisted suffering is bearable when it has meaning. Those who have suffered the most understand this truth to an extent that most of us can never appreciate.

Is suffering necessary? I don’t think so, I don’t think that we were designed for suffering, we were designed to love and to be loved. Much of human suffering seems to be caused by other humans, and sometimes it is self-inflicted. And what about all those innocent children suffering form disease, poverty and crime? In many dark corners of this world, love seems to be absent. So how can suffering have meaning?

I want to share a story with you.

One sunny afternoon, I was pushing my precious, brown-eyed baby boy in his swing in the courtyard. It was one of those days when I woke up and thought, “Life is good! God is good!” The sky was such a bright clear blue that the purity of it caused me to immediately take in a deep thankful breath. Joshua giggled at some playful squirrels near the oak. It was one of those moments when my heart could not contain the emotions swelling inside, and I spontaneously laughed out loud.

And then a still small voice whispered in my ear.

“Nancy, will you give your son up for suffering?”

Startled at the cruel intrusion, I froze. What mother in her right mind would agree to such a request? “Absolutely not! And I’ll fight anyone who tries to hurt my baby! I’ll make them wish they were dead!”  I trembled as a mixture of fear and anger bubbled in my gut. I felt nauseous, my head pounded with a whirlwind of thoughts–horrific terrifying thoughts. My eyes graced my son’s trusting cherub face and in desperation disguised as defiance I shouted, “God, you cannot have my son!”

What was I saying? Didn’t I trust God? He created my baby, He knew better than anyone what would be best for him, right? That is what the preacher said on Sunday. And defying God is not a very “Christian” thing to do. Where was my belief? But how could a good God allow my child to suffer? How can Joshua’s suffering be good? No, I didn’t trust Him. God wanted to hurt my beautiful perfect son.

Every mother wants a better life for her child. I had to protect him from the prowling lion seeking to devour him, to shield him from torrential storm threatening to snatch him out of my loving arms. Like most women, I have known loss, sickness, loneliness and rejection. I pride myself on being a survivor, an overcomer, a fighter. As I contemplated all of the life lessons I planned to endow upon my son, I suddenly realized that it wasn’t the tranquil times in my life that created my strength of character. 

Was I the strong woman I am today inspite of the suffering I have endured? No, because of it. The abundance of priceless life lessons that I impart to Josh, I only have to give because I have known suffering. His inheritance is a string of pearls cultured with my pain.

“I will never leave Joshua nor forsake him. He will trust Me because he will know Me and recognize my voice. My words will encourage him daily. He will walk with Me and I will comfort him. When he is weary from the journey, I will carry him. He will lean on My promises and live in My grace.  Many will be encouraged by the strength of his character and the depth of his faith.  He will become a conduit of My love and His life will bring hope to many hurting people. Nancy, I have begun a good work in Joshua and I promise to carry it on to completion. Do you trust me?”

I felt an overwhelming peace that I could not explain as I sensed the loving arms of my Creator embrace me. I swept up my little gift from God and with grateful tears flowing from my healed heart I surrendered all.

Romans 5:1-5  “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”

1 Cor. 13:13 “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”






Have you ever crawled through a wilderness, chained by the weight of the past?  Have you ever been thirsty for something more than this menial existence has provided?  Do the wounds from your journey throb with each tedious step that you take? 



Jeremiah 2:13 says,” My people have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” 


There is a spring of living water found in Jesus Christ.  In Him you will find all that you’ve ever longed for.  In Him the aching in your heart will be stilled, and you will know the fulfillment of your dreams.  Yet, how often do we turn to dig our own cisterns with the belief that they will quench our thirst, heal our scars, and fill our emptiness. 

Perhaps it’s the cistern of money, offering security and pleasure.  Or maybe you’ve dug a reservoir within yourself, meant to hold knowledge and independence.  Still, there is the constant lure to hewn for sufficiency in the strength of others.  These are all splintered promises and cracked dreams, holding only a façade of joy. 

Nevertheless, we toil without ceasing, trying to keep the walls from crashing in around us.  We lie awake at night, disappointed and broken; wondering what went wrong.  While we strive and struggle, the spring of hope continues its peaceful surge, waiting for us to come and drink. 

So, here before you stands a choice.  Which will you choose:  life or death, fulfillment or emptiness?  A shattered vessel will never fill the longing of your heart, but the sweet taste of the Savior’s love will quench your thirst forever.


Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians records the gospel as it was preached by the early church. Some estimates have placed this creed to 6 A.D., the year that Christ is thought to have been crucified. This is the same gospel that Christians today profess belief in.


3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.


You may still have questions. Could all this be true? Does a theistic God exist? What about the Bible, it’s so old how can it be relevant or even true? I encourage you to post your questions here. What do you have to lose? You just might find what you’re looking for—answers to the meaning of life.