Thoughts 'n Theology

Running on Empty

Social media is great, but because of the onslaught of information and news its so easy to become numb to it all.

And its not just the fact that its all there but the fact that you're expected to know what's going on at every moment–not to mention the irrational fear of missing out.

The real tragedy though I'm realizing is the fact that because of all the horrible news I'm not able to feel or empathize the way I want to.

These past few days have been crazy with the shooting of Christina Grimmie, the mass murder at the Pulse nightclub, and then this morning learning about a toddler being taken by an alligator at Disney World in front of his parents.

Its just too much and I don't have enough tears, emotions, or words for it all.

And that is just a drop in the bucket compared to what is going on in the rest of the world that I don't even know about.

I have to ask myself though, is it because I'm getting too much information or is it something else? How can I prevent the numbness? How can I empathize with everyone?

I can't.

But, I know someone who can.

“You keep track of all my sorrows.
You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
You have recorded each one in your book.”
— Psalm 58:6

And its not just that he knows and feels our sorrows, but that he is in the process of making everything sad come untrue. Because Jesus substituted himself for humanity there will be a day when there is no ugliness, no sin, no pain, no sorrow and no tears.

When I've reached my end of empathy and sorrow I can take comfort because there is one who's compassion is infinitely greater.

The Paradox of Suffering

Every once in a while I run across a verse that completely blows me over. It's not just the "Hey, that's is nice and it applies to my life" kind of verse, but rather a verse that you can't get out of your head. It's a verse that challenges your thinking and raises all sorts of questions in your mind. It's the kind of verse that lets you know God is working through His Word and is speaking directly to you. I had that happen the other day going through Philippians. Philippians 1:29 to be exact. Let me quote the verse for you in the New Living Translation.

"For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him."

Read it again and meditate on it a bit.

When we think about salvation and what God has given to us through His Son Jesus Christ, you can't do anything but stop and marvel in wonder about the glorious gift that it is. Too often I don't give my salvation the proper awe and respect it deserves. God's gift of grace to us cannot be explained in mere words nor could we ever express back to Him our thanks in a manner that He deserves. We have been saved from an eternity separated from God and even in our sinfullness God still wants us to be with Him! Incredible!

Now, here is the part of that verse that completely and utterly blows my mind...suffering is equated with salvation. Paul says that salvation is a privilege and that suffering is a privilege. What? Huh? Back up, what did you say? Suffering is a privilege.

I'll be the first to admit I don't find it pleasurable to suffer persecution for the cause of Christ. In fact I pretty much avoid it all costs. It's not a lot of fun. But that is exactly where our thinking needs to change. I believe that Paul actually enjoyed suffering for Christ. I think that Paul found pleasure when he was in jail. I think Paul smiled to himself after being whipped. I think that Paul sang praises after he had been stoned and left for dead. Why? Because Paul understood what suffering meant. He understood that when he was suffering for something he had done for Christ, Christ was being glorified. And since Paul's ultimate goal was to glorify Christ in all he did, he understood that his suffering meant glory, and that made him happy.

When you think of suffering in these terms it really doesn't sound bad. We need to stop thinking of suffering as negative and think of it as positive. When I am made fun of or verbally abused because I just shared the gospel, I need to pump a fist in the air and get excited! And really, here in America what persecution do we really have to fear? Are we going to be beaten, thrown in jail, killed? Probably not - but how much more glory could we give God if those things could happen? You see, we in America have gotten lazy and fat and we are content to just do the "church thing" serve a little here and there, and make it through life without a lot of conflict and strife. But is that what we are called to do? Look at what Paul says about the subject again in 2 Corinthians 1:4-5.

"You can be sure that the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. So when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your benefit and salvation! For when God comforts us, it is so that we, in turn, can be an encouragement to you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer."

If you have the opportunity, pick up a copy of Jesus Freaks, a modern day Fox's Book of Martyrs, and see if your thinking isn't challenged by the testimonies of these revolutionaries.

We need to experience a revolution in this area of thinking. We need a complete 180 degree about face. We need to be asking God to let me "suffer" as John Leonard has "suffered" and not to allow me to just go through my normal pain-free day.

No Baby, Yet...

Well here it is. Almost May and no baby yet. We thought it might happen last Saturday, but it wasn't ready to come. We are ready how ever... Everything is still okay as far as we know. It is interesting how emotionally attached you become to a person you don't really even know. I already love "it" (I hate calling it that..but we want to keep the surprise) so much. I know that most of you can totally relate and this is nothing knew but it's pretty cool. It is also interesting how emotional I have become about other babies and newborns. My Greek professor has a sister who recently had a baby that they thought would die and now his brother's wife just found out that their baby is dying. I am not normally an emotional person but the thought of losing a child like that brings tears to my eyes even as I type. I praise the Lord for working in my life and giving me more compassion.

I am ashamed that I don't pray more for this is my own family. We can always be confident that God is in control however and his will is perfect. The Psalmist said that "my times are in his hands." What an incredible and personal thought.

My first car bit the dust last weekend. I loaned it to Caleb for the weekend and as he was driving it to Southern Iowa it blew a head gasket about 40 miles outside of Des Moines. The repairs were estimated between $1200-$1500. Needless to say I am not going to get it fixed. Caleb did however put me in contact with a guy who wanted to buy it. When the potential buyer showed up he wondered where the truck was. (I was standing right next to it) Come to find out Caleb told him it was a Chevy 1500 (It is really a small Toyota pickup) However he had driven 3 hours and was not going to go home empty handed. We had originally agreed on $250 and settled for $175. I was a bit sad but I will get over it soon. He was a good friend-a little rusty around the edges but reliable none the less. He will be missed.

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Since we lost the truck we have been searching for a new car. We need something will more room, low miles and a good price... We are looking at Bonneville's and Impala's. We have test driven a few but haven't found anything that works. We almost bought one yesterday but thankfully our heads took over our hearts and we didn't buy it.

We got a new digital camera in lieu of the baby coming so I thought I would try it out. It has a neat video feature, so I thought I would take a tour of our house. Click this link for the tour. (you will need realplayer) and the video is sideways... I will update it soon.

School is almost done. We have finals next week. I need to do a lot of studying on Greek and Hebrew between now and then.

Well, I need to go pick up Mickie from work. Hope the Nuggets win tonight. Good to get emails from a lot of you. Dan and Lilian, we are praying for you.