Wednesday, January 23, 2008

the cause of the pain

I'm apologize for not posting sooner. I've been a little caught up in fixing up the house I'm renting. Forgive my lateness.
Now, on to the matter at hand.
The first and most important point of the matter is the cause. Why is it that these things have happened? Why have these children died? Why have these murders taken place? Why?

The answer is not easy, but I believe it with my full heart. The reason for these tragedies is so that God would be magnified. I do not say that lightly and I realize that this implicates God in every bad thing that occurs on this earth. I think, however, that He is quite capable of answering the question and that He has done so throughout the Scripture.

Below is a series of questions that may arise for you. Consider each carefully.

Do you think that God is surprised by these things? Do you think that when the young mother tried to back out of the rising water that He was unaware or ignoring the plight of those children? Far be it from God. He knows all things(Psalm 139). He is not caught unaware of any activity of this earth.

Do you think that God was unable to reach down and miraculously save those children? Do you think He was somehow incapacitated? Absolutely not. God is not bent by the will or the non-will of man. He has His own will and acts accordingly. (See Numbers 23 for the story of Balaam, who prophesied for God even though Balaam didn't want to do so.)

Do you think God is without pity? Do you think He was not grieved for the loss of life on this earth? He was grieved. He knows and shares our pain. He himself wept over the loss of Lazarus (John 11). He grieves in our grief and mourns with us, but still His unchangeable will goes on.

Do you think that God sins when He allows for men and women to murder? Or does he sin because He allows for some to perish without a known reason? This is not true. God is not evil and cannot do evil. He cannot sin.(2 Cor. 5:21, 1 Pet. 2:22) Jesus said that to sin is to be a slave to sin, and God is not mastered by any. (John 8:30ish)

Does God really hold life this delicately? Is He really actively involved in the life and death of individuals on this earth? To the fullest extent, God is willing that you and I at this moment are to be alive. And if He would like, in the next moment, He may strike us dead. (Deut. 32:39) He is intimately involved in the breath of us, His great creation.

I realize that these are short answers to deep questions. If you would like me to cover them in more detail, I will be more than happy to do so.

Tomorrow, I will unpack some of the purpose behind God's sovereignty over life. But, be warned, there are some things which are not for us to know. I cannot give an exact reason for the deaths in these past weeks. I cannot say it was this sin, or that sin, or so that this person would be saved, or that revival may break out. The cause of many things are a great mystery, but the result, the end, is not a mystery anymore.

Grace to you,


Monday, January 21, 2008

mike huckabee

I apologize if you receive this post twice in your feeder. My earlier one had an error that I could not correct without deleting it (it was misread by facebook and I couldn't edit the facebook entry).

So, the original post was something like this...

Mike Huckabee was asked to read one of Dr. Bill Bright's transferable concept books for an audio production. Huckabee also gave a mini-testimony to start out the book and below I have linked an mp3 of that 1.5 minute testimony. I encourage everyone to give it a quick listen.

Huckabee testimony.


Sunday, January 20, 2008

suffering and tragedies

This week I will be dedicating my posts to answer the question of suffering. "The Problem of Pain" as it has been called has come to a forefront in Rochester over the past few weeks (and year).

Within the last two weeks, three young children have died. Two in a flood, ages 2 and 5, I believe. The other was a three-month old infant, and I am unsure of the exact cause of death.

On Saturday there was a wreck in the county which caused one death and may lead to the death of another of the persons involved.

A young girl named Nicole died in accident on the 14th. She lived in Bourbon.

A helicopter crashed into Bass Lake, killing two people last April.

Two members of the Triplet family died on their way home to Lapaz from a Rochester golf tournament in July.

I believe it was last year that a young boy was killed in a go-carting accident on a rural road (I was unable to confirm the date).

A man named Rouse confessed to several murders last year after he was arrested on suspicion of murder of a woman in 2005.

Most of last year in Rochester was shadowed by the trials of Newgent and Baker for their murders in 2005 at a local motel.

And so, death has come into our town this past year in a way that I cannot remember. These last two weeks, in the wake of 4 young deaths, have been heart-wrenching for many.

I will do my best to leave room for grief and I will do my best to give glory to God for the things that have happened in this past year.

Take some time to pray for the families involved in these things. May God grant them peace and salvation for His namessake.


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

new house

Well, I am finally out of the house again. 4 months home was just a little to crazy to bear. Not that I don't love my folks and my little sister, but man...I've been gone for 5 years and I've got some habits (like late nights and not very much tv and guitarring) that don't jive very well.

So, I'm cleaning up the new place because it is a bit dirty and smoke-laden. Thankfully it is small, so it won't take much.

After this weekend I'm going to be posting for a few days on the "problem of pain" as it has been called. My brother has urged me to do so in light of several heart-wrenching events here in the county. Several young children have died in the past week. It is difficult to think about.

I hope ya'll are well and good. Be sure to visit my sister's blog and leave a comment.


Sunday, January 13, 2008

an encouragment

Today in Sunday School I taught of the necessity of Christian encouragement through the Gospel. So, tonight/today I'm giving you some encouragement. Here is where your hope lies:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things were created thorough him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

Colossians 1:15-20

May the God of peace be with you and give you comfort and wisdom today.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

sunday school

Well, it will be week two of teaching a new Sunday School class (which, I recently thought, is the only Sunday School class I've ever taught.) We're studying the book of Colossians and made it through v. 14 on Sunday. I stressed the order that Paul states things, that he prays for their knowledge and strength so that they can do things pleasing to God. Without the desire and the power given by God, then we are unable to please Him. Oh, how glorious the ways of grace.

This week we'll probably be stuck in v.15-25. The supremacy of Christ in all things, his sovereign rule and his creation of all things and how we are saved through faith in his atoning sacrifice.

May the Gospel become more precious to you than it was yesterday and may it continue to build as the Holy Spirit convicts and teaches you in all things.


Wednesday, January 9, 2008

fleeting happiness and soul-crushing grief

Today I received a great gift. I got a Marmot Nyx 2 and some sweet MSR cookware. For those who don't know...that's a $280 tent and $80 pots for camping. The weird part? I don't have any clue as to who sent them. I got them from the Oregon Mountain Company and the box contained no bill of lading and no original sender. A completely anonymous gift.

Someone who knows me well got these things, because the tent is the exact color and one of 3 models that I have been looking at and the pots are the exact ones that I wanted. So, to whoever it is...THANKS! I appreciate them more than you know.

And on to grief.

This day also made me realize how fleeting my happiness can be in receiving such presents. The last few days in Fulton County have been filled with about 7 inches of rain. Massive flooding everywhere, roads closed, schools closed and riverbeds overflowed.

Yesterday a young mother of 5 hit high water and attempted to back out only to be swept into over 7 feet of water. Her SUV quickly began sinking with all of her kids trapped inside.

A passing car stopped and called 911 as the mother desperately tried to rescue her children. She was only able to save 3.

The paper tonight gave the story of her relentless pursuit of trying to pull them from the car and the unsuccessful attempts at rescue by the fire and police departments (they responded quickly and acted quickly but not in time.) My heart breaks for her and her family. What heartache. What grief.

Let us bond together to pray for her, that she might fall upon Christ, that He may be glorified and that her family will bond and grow closer.

Romans 12:15 "Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep."

Join me in mourning and weeping the death of the two children and the pain of the family.



I bought an ipod mini a few weeks ago. It is unbelievable how useful this thing has been to me. I have it loaded with hundreds of sermons and now I can listen to sermons and books on tape anytime...anywhere.

If you don't own one and you can afford the expense, do yourself a favor and buy. Then, sign up for the Desiring God and Mars Hill (Driscoll) podcasts. Get the Don't Waste Your Life vodcasts and you will thank me.

I love it that I don't have to sit at my computer and listen to a sermon because when I'm at my desk, I like to work and not sit and stare at nothing. But now I can grab my ipod and put together furniture at the store, walk or drive and take in a sermon or two. What a great way to get more of God crammed into the day.

sidenote: My sister is safely to Honduras. Keep up with her at her blog.


Sunday, January 6, 2008

my sister...and some encouragement

For anyone who doesn't know, my older sister Amy, is a missionary in Honduras. She was down for 10 months last year and is returning after 7 months back in the states raising support. She goes down to Indy tomorrow (monday) and will fly out early (6am) on Tuesday. Thanks to Rachel and her roommates for housing her and getting her there early.

Please pray for my sister and the entire team down at Escuela El Sembrador. Pray that God would be magnified and the lives of the boys and the mission teams would be radically altered by the love of Christ and that He would redeem them for Himself.

And, on a completely unrelated note, I got some great encouragement tonight after youth group.

We just started a few week series on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and I asked for any questions after my intro to the topic. I got a couple of responses and one of them read like this:

Hey Joe...
I don't have a question, but I just wanted to say this is amazing...I feel so blessed to be a part of this youth group and I'm pretty sure this is changing my life so wonderfully!!.

It was good to hear that the at least one of the kids in my group is knowing Christ more.

Hope the weekend went well,


Friday, January 4, 2008


I just read a friend of mine's blog (ok, so...friend is a stretch. He's more of a facebook acquaintance) and feel conviction deep down. I'd suggest we all read this post and take to heart the words our brother is speaking.

You will probably need a facebook account to read the post, so if you can't see it, just let me know and I'll forward it to you. If you decide not to read...just try to deal with this quote:

I have a dare for you. Take your television and put it in a closet. Don’t open that closet for a month (and you’re not allowed to stay in the closet with it!). Too difficult?

Ok, take your Bible and put it in a closet for a month. Don’t open that closet for a month. For one month, don’t read a word of Scripture.
Which of those would you find easier to bear?

May God break down our heart barriers and make us holy.


Thursday, January 3, 2008

last Sunday

It has been an incredibly fast few days because of everything that has happened and me, being the emotional person I am, getting freaked out about deadlines and things that I need to do. I hate it when I let the world's worries bother me.

But, indeed they do. And so, I have resolved (in line with the esteemed Johnathan Edwards) to never let the worries of the world snuff out my life in Christ.

I have also resolved that I will live each day in the knowledge that I am a wretch who by myself have nothing but in Christ I have every true and perfect gift and in Him I have a righteousness that knows no bounds.

Read 1 Peter 2. I preached on the first 10 verses on Sunday and the message did much to prick my own heart. Oh how magnificent the grace and mercy of Christ. "Once [I] had not received mercy, but now [I] have received mercy."

Peace with you.


Tuesday, January 1, 2008

happy new year

Well, another year has gone by and we begin anew in many ways. To celebrate I'll be having Christmas tomorrow with my family, but I don't know when.

I'll also be trying to convince my Mom to let me have the rest of the week off to go hiking and camping (in the snow...sweet!) I hope you all have a great day. Remember that Christ is King of all and you, yourself, are worth nothing but He has graciously died out of His love for you if you believe on Him. So, believe and "meet me in heaven."