Why Does God Let Bad Things Happen?

Remember when you were a kid and you asked the question, “Why does God let bad things happen?”

That’s no easy question to answer.

The older I get the better perspective I have on issues like this. Thank God for the word, though, right? Man, without scripture we’d all be at a loss for how to respond to His working in us.

Romans 8:28 says, And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”  In this we see that in his providence, God orchestrates every event in our lives—even suffering, temptation, and sin—to accomplish both our temporal and eternal benefit. In Deuteronomy 8:16 God is giving his reason for the Israelites’ tough journey out of Egypt: “…that he might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end.”

His ultimate purpose was to do them good even though they couldn’t quite see it at the time. Our circumstances and the struggles we go through today are crucibles to help shape and mold us into the people we will be tomorrow. And the people we will be tomorrow will respond differently than who we are today because of those circumstances.

Not only do we gain patience and perseverance through trials (James 1:3-4) but we also gain perspective. That perspective will help us out down the road when we again tread through rough waters. “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him,” 1:12.

All creation eagerly awaits the future glory which God will bestow upon us at the time of His coming (Romans 8:18-25). And we also believe that “Every good gift and perfect gift is from above…of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures” James 1:17-18.

Saying all that, we now have a better understanding of suffering. We are tested and put through trials so that we might persevere and continue on in the work He has for us.

God must take away everything in our lives that we depend on until we come to lean on Him as our source; as the psalmist said, “All my springs are in You” (Psalm 87:7). Our barriers must all be stripped away so we can realize that nothing else can satisfy our needs.

“Why does God let bad things happen?” Well that all depends on our definition of “bad”. We have the choice to see our circumstances as good or bad. Remember Romans 8:28 in your response to that question.

What speaks loudest about our faith is our response to God’s hand in our lives. Heavy as it may be, it is all ultimately for our good.

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How To Avoid A Guilty Conscience

We’ve all done something before that we felt was wrong. In the moment there’s this tug of war that happens and we often feel stuck, not sure which side of our conscience to please. Sometimes we feel like Kronk in “The Emperor’s New Groove.” emperors-new-groove-kronk-and-shoulder-angel

Man I love that movie.

First lets ask “What is our conscience?” Webster defines it as, “an inner feeling or voice viewed as acting as a guide to the rightness or wrongness of one’s behavior.” Oswald Chambers has a similar take on the word:

Conscience is that ability within me that attaches itself to the highest standard I know, and then continually reminds me of what that standard demands that I do. It is the eye of the soul which looks out either toward God or toward what we regard as the highest standard. This explains why conscience is different in different people.

God created man with a conscience as his self-judging faculty. Because God has written his law on man’s heart (Romans 2:15), man knows the basic standard of right and wrong. When he violates that standard, his conscience produces guilt, which acts as the mind’s security system that produces fear, guilt, shame, and doubt as warnings of threats to the soul’s well-being.

So, how do we avoid a guilty conscience? Well, for starters, stop sinning. As ideal and yet difficult as that sounds we do know that God’s word points us in the right direction. Hebrews 10:22: “Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.”

By drawing near and obeying God we can prevail against sin and temptation thus ridding us of a guilty conscience. When a believer does God’s will he enjoys the affirmation, assurance, peace, and joy of a good conscience.

This, of course, begs the age-old question, “What is God’s will?” 1 Peter 2:16-17 lays out pretty clearly for us to “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.” Peter answers our question just before that in verse 15: “For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.

What does Peter mean by “Put to silence the ignorance of foolish people”? That we live our lives to such a standard and level of holiness that we keep our conscience clean and at the same time bring glory to God. 12Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.”

The ultimate goal of God’s will is for us to glorify Him and bring his name glory. We fulfill that by acting in obedience in accordance to His word and commands for our lives.

We avoid a guilty conscience by drawing near to God, living our lives free of unrepentant sin and abiding in Him.

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The “High Road”

About a month ago I started delivering for Marco’s Pizza a few nights a week. Great money if you’ve never considered it and need quick, easy cash.

Last Saturday night as my shift was winding down I took a stack of ’em to a house in my neighborhood. The bummer about delivering once the sun goes down is that it’s hard to see the address numbers on dark houses but when you’ve got 4 large peps and a cheesy bread the house with 8 cars piled up really narrows down your options.

When I got to the door they let me in and I was greeted by a resounding “Pizza man is here!”, a friendly licking pooch and a left hook of dank stash fresh off the pipe.

The great thing about house parties is that there’s always plenty of cash floating around. And with a little alcohol and weed people are more than willing to pitch in when they’ve got the munchies. So the $12 tip wasn’t so bad.

While I waited for the party to collect the cash they kindly offered me a drink and some weed. As I thought back on it later it kinda surprised me how quickly and naturally my “no thank you” nod and grin answered for me. Like I was on autopilot. It seemed like it didn’t even register to me what they were asking before I answered. I’ve never had an issue with drugs but spending 4 years on the road around plenty of partiers and lads of less conviction has helped to say no.

I pass no judgement here and by no means am praising myself for taking the “high road” (no pun intended) but now recognize that it’s truly by the grace of God that He has delivered me from drugs. The party scene offers plenty of opportunities to minister and build relationships with those who need a positive voice but it’s definitely not the best place to plant roots and seek godly, admonishing friendships.

As I told my mom over the phone a few months before I quit touring in 2012, “I see it so clearly now, mom. Touring was never the goal; it was only a stepping stone. Whatever I do next is where God needs me and what He has been preparing me for these past 4 years.” I firmly believe that and am so grateful for His grace and plan for my life. I’m thankful that He gave me godly family and friends who raised me and cultivated a life of conviction and vision for His purpose .

When you’re placed in an odd situation that could compromise your beliefs or convictions try to ask yourself, “Is this worth it? Will this decision bring me into further fellowship with the Father?”

There’s nothing wrong with taking the high road when it leads to the right place. Remember: there are only 2 paths (Matthew 7). Everyone chooses a path. Which will you take?

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How To Rob God

My last post entitled “Stewardship” was all about how to be a faithful, obedient servant. As I thought more about it I remembered the outstanding debt I owe. What debt?

For years I drove around the country with some friends playing music. At night we’d either crash on someone’s floor, stop at a Wal-Mart parking lot and sleep in the van or drive on through to the next town. We even invaded some Lowe’s storage sheds on one occasion (Funny story behind that one).

In recent years I’ve been home working, plugging into my church community and trying to find my niche. As bands come into town I do my best to go connect with them and support them as so many did when I was in their shoes. I keep saying that I’ve got an outstanding debt to repay for all the hospitality that was shown to me. There’s nothing like a hot shower, warm food that’s not from a can or gas station and free wi-fi. So naturally the door to my house stays open when bands or friends need a place to crash.

How this ties in with stewardship is seeing and understanding our role in accommodating and serving those in need with the resources at our disposal. The bible talks a lot about tithing and giving away with the attitude of a servant. A lot of that is trusting the Lord to be faithful to replenish and restore to us what was rightly His in the first place.

Malachi 3 God tells us that,I the Lord do not change.” He says that we are robbing Him when we withhold our tithes and offerings.
Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” 

Think back to a time when you really needed God to move and make something happen and in His perfect timing he came through and radically showed Himself to be faithful. Have we grown so thick and stubborn that we forget how good He is? His promises are true. He will never give us more than we can handle(1 Corinthians 10:13).

When we withhold from Him what he has faithfully provided us we are in a sense saying, “I earned this myself! It’s mine to keep or use however I please.” By not freely giving back into His hands we are not only withholding a blessing for someone but withholding from ourselves as well.

If God is the giver of all things, can we not trust Him to take care of us in our times of need? Like the widow in the temple(Luke 21) let us be willing to give back to God even out of our poverty and allow Him to pour out His blessing upon us.

As stewards of the Almighty, we all have a debt that we can never repay. Yet as slaves of righteousness(Romans 6) we are obligated to obey as faithful servants. Kind of an odd picture, right? We are slaves yet we serve through love because of the great love bestowed upon us. Thank you, Father!

May we not continue to rob God with our entrusted time, energy and resources but be ever willing to offer them up to Him as faithful stewards of the call.

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The Grace Portion

Last night I had a dream that got me a little worked up. Ever had one of those?

I dreamed that I was in Texas at a party of some sort with some friends and it was getting late. There was a guy there who offered to let me drive his truck back to his place and crash on his couch while the rest of them continued on to play a round of golf. At midnight? Yeah that’s how they do things in Texas I guess.

Perhaps crash isn’t the correct term here. Or is it?

So it’s around midnight and I’m flying down a state highway when I see my exit come up way sooner than I thought. Having no time to react I jerk the wheel and flip his big, beautiful, Texas-edition truck one and a half times until I lands upside down crushing the roof. The crazy part is that I somehow, at 70 mph, opened the door and stepped out-of-the-way before it started flipping so I was totally unharmed. I know right?

I was unharmed except psychologically cause if you’ve ever seen The Walking Dead this was the guy who had loaned me his truck:

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Yeah. Not too thrilled. To sum it up, I was expecting him to show up hammered drunk and proceed to pound my head in with an iron skillet.

So he shows up and instead of pummeling me, he talks slowly and calmly telling me it’s all okay and that he’s glad I wasn’t hurt. Are you kidding me? I got mercy instead of a severe beating. Grace instead of condemnation.

Sound familiar?

I saw a tweet the other day by Bob Goff that said something like, “Give grace away in huge portions as if it’s the only size it comes in.” That really stuck out to me and got me thinking about how I should deal with others who wrong me or offend me even when it is unintentional.

I have been forgiven much by way of the cross. Even so must I extend that grace so that others may see it and even though they don’t understand where it comes from, are attracted to it and are drawn in by the work of the Holy Spirit.

Give grace today, even to those who don’t deserve it. Isn’t’ that what Christ did for us?

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The Coast Guard

The danger of coasting through life without paying attention to our surroundings is that we can often do a ton of unintentional damage. I learned that valuable lesson as mentioned in this video.

The other thing that happens is that we miss out on golden opportunities to shed light, give grace and spread the gospel.

When we zone out and coast on auto-pilot we often miss out on what the Lord has planned for our lives.

We all have a purpose and the tragedy is when worthless distractions pull us away from the ultimate goal: sharing the gospel of Christ in our lives.

It’s your life, you’ve got a front row seat. Don’t you wanna be apart of it?

Always be on your guard not to coast through and check out when you can be most affective for the gospel.

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P.S. For your enjoyment, the greatest example of bad driving that I’ve found. I still question how this is even possible hahaha