Where Was God?

Tonight makes one week since an EF-2 tornado touched down one mile from here and cut a jagged path of destruction for a little over five miles. It was only on the ground for a few minutes but that was enough to change lives forever. I had seen the results of tornadoes and hurricanes before moving up here so the carnage is all too familiar to me. Truthfully, I have seen much worse along the Gulf coast of Louisiana and Mississippi. I have seen much worse in my home town of Rocky Mount, North Carolina. I am fully aware of the destructive power of wind and water. This storm system did not kill anyone and there were no serious injuries reported. That alone is a miracle. When you look at the numbers, it affected only a small number of people. It would be easy to be write it off as an insignificant event. However, to those who were touched (quite literally) by the twister; life is different now.

I am encouraged to see that neighbors have stepped up and stood alongside those who now have to rebuild. There is something about a disaster that causes people to push aside whatever issues they have with one another and help. I am also encouraged to see people from our congregation stepping in and getting involved. We are a small group with limited resources but the response has been humbling. It is good to see God’s people acting like God’s people. I don’t know that I have ever been more proud to say that I am the preacher at Granville Center Church of Christ than I am right how. I am blessed to be among such loving people.

I do want to explain the title of this post. During one of my conversations last week I heard someone say, “I am kinda mad with God right now.” The logic was that God had spared some houses but not theirs. I will be honest. I can understand. Sometimes things just don’t seem fair. Those who make it through the storm unscathed thank God for sparing us. What about those who lost everything? How do they feel when we talk about God watching out for us? Does that mean God wasn’t watching out for them or worse…does He have something against them? Sometimes I get questions that I just can’t answer. “Where was God?” is one of them. I can give all the Sunday School answers I know but sometimes they just aren’t enough. They don’t bring the joy, the peace, or the hope that God says we can have.

I hate giving cliche’ answers and I especially hate throwing out cliche’ Bible verses in times when people are truly hurting and wanting comfort.  Romans 8:28 is one of those but the older I get and the more life I experience I realize that it really isn’t a cliche’ at all. It is the truth. God does work through these bad things. We may not see it at the time and we may suffer greatly but I do believe a time will come when we are able to look back and see He was there all along.  I really didn’t know what to say to those who were angry at God and before I had a chance to potentially make things worse the same person said, “Even though I’m mad I know He is going to do something good from this.” There it was. The cliche’ answer coming from the lips of one who admitted the pain and the confusion.

In my sermon this past Sunday I said that hope is a gift from God. I really do believe that. I don’t know how I would get through this world without it. Even when life is difficult and there is pain I have hope that it is temporary and one day Jesus will make it all right. That’s the only thing I can cling to sometimes. It takes faith and I believe that’s a gift from God as well. There’s an event in the life of Jesus where a father comes to him asking for his son to be healed. Jesus has been up on the mountain with Peter, James, and John. They have experienced a true “mountain top” moment and have come down to discover that the remaining apostles have failed to help this man. Jesus asks this father, who is hurting for his son, if he believes. The man’s response is powerful. Mark 9:24 (CSB) words it like this:

Immediately the father of the boy cried out, “I do believe; help my unbelief!”

How many times have I had to pray that same prayer? How many times has my faith been shaken to the core? How many times have I been angry and cried out? Sometimes the only thing we can say when it feels like God isn’t there is:

Lord, we believe. Help our unbelief.

Grace and peace.

EGBC 6.15.18The remains of the old East Granville Baptist Church at Bailey Corners. Taken by the author on June 15, 2018.

 

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Here I Am

This is my first post in over five months. There have been many times when I sat down and contemplated writing something but for whatever reason, I never did. Life is still busy. I no longer have the second job (Walmart in case you’ve forgotten) but that doesn’t mean that things have gotten simpler. In fact, they’re probably more hectic than they’ve been in quite a while. I will now provide a brief summary.

Robin has had numerous health issues since having surgery a few years ago and they finally culminated with her having seizures back at the end of February. Because of those, she had to surrender her driver’s license until the end of August. Of course, that’s only if she remains seizure free the entire time. She’s currently taking medication for them and has not had one since the one that put her in the hospital  back in February. Fortunately, her job has made accommodations for her so she has continued to work. In fact, she actually got a promotion. She had to have iron infusions and has adjusted her diet to try and fix some of the issues she’s been dealing with for a couple of years now. As is common with folks dealing with multiple health problems, there has been quite a bit of anxiety and even depression. She is moving forward and getting herself healthy physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

As I already mentioned, I quit the Walmart gig. It wasn’t planned but I do believe it was inevitable. Geo, Becca, and Marcus moved back to North Carolina earlier this year so Jamie was going to have to be at home alone during the day. I didn’t want that so I agreed to go to overnight shift (10-7) so I would be there. I did that for two weeks before severely injuring my foot one night in the basement at home. I went down to put wood in the furnace without shoes on. I stepped on something metal and deeply puncturing the bottom of my foot. I got infected after a couple of days and I took a doctor mandated two week medical leave of absence. Half way through the second week I knew that I wouldn’t be going back. I realized just how much Walmart had been distracting me from things that were more important. I left on good terms and haven’t looked back. The extra money is missed and things are a bit tighter but I do believe it was the right thing to do.

Those are the two big things. Robin and I are getting ready to celebrate our twenty-seventh wedding anniversary in ten days. Jamie turns thirteen in five days. Chris will turn eighteen in December. Geo turned twenty-two back in May. He and Becca have been married three years now. Marcus will be three in August. This November will make five years here In Granville Center. Life has changed quite a bit since we packed up and headed this way. Life has changed quite a bit since I posted last. That’s just the way it goes I guess. Hopefully this won’t be the last post I make this year. There are a couple of brand new albums out that I want to talk about. There are a couple of movies that I recently watched that would be good topics to delve into as well. I have considered recording video posts and just posting them here instead of writing. I still haven’t made up my mind so we’ll see what happens.

Until then, grace and peace.

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First Post Of 2018

I’m slightly disappointed with myself that it is the last day of January and I just am making my first post of the year. I haven’t done a video either. The truth is that life is very busy right now and I just haven’t taken the time to sit down and do either. I haven’t really been inspired to write anything lately. I’m working four or five days a week at Walmart in addition to my church responsibilities. I have not been motivated to do any sort of additional writing outside of what I do for church. I do a very short devotion every morning for the church’s Facebook page and then I work on Bible studies and sermons. I’m not doing any extra reading and I rarely sit down and watch movies or television these days. I’m not listening to much new music at the moment so there isn’t anything to review or critique. I do want to get back into the habit of regular blogging but I just can’t make myself write when there’s nothing to write about. I honestly debated about whether or not to make this post. I guess the only reason I am is because I know there are a couple of folks out there who read this and I didn’t want them to think that I dropped off the face of the planet.

So, there. I posted something. I don’t know when I’ll be back.

Grace and peace.

Okay. Let’s Try This Again.

I obviously didn’t re-launch the way I had intended. Things are really busy and I am still trying to figure out a schedule that works with family, church, and Walmart. I’m not there yet. That being said, I will try to make posts over the next three weeks but I don’t plan to officially jump start this (or the videos) until January 1, 2018. I do have some things I want to share and I do plan to look back at 2017 but as far as jumping out with all new content I plan to wait so that the new blog will be worth it.

 

This is my current favorite Christmas song. Enjoy.

May God our Father give you grace and peace.

 

Two Days Until Re-Launch

Today is Wednesday, November 29, 2017 and I am two days away from seriously re-launching this thing. I was making daily posts just a couple of years ago so I know that it is possible. I have gotten busy with life that I just didn’t make time for this. I have always used the excuse that I don’t have time but the truth is that you make time for the things that are important to you. This just wasn’t high enough on my list of priorities. It still isn’t near the top but it is more important that some of the things I waste time on so I have decided to trim some of that stuff away and give this thing some attention. I am using Colossians 3:17 as a sort of motto for everything that I write about here and post videos about on YouTube.

And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (CSB)

 

That has kind of been my “pet” verse for quite a while now but I really do believe it applies to everyone in all situations. I try to live it out whether I am teaching a class, preaching a sermon, writing a blog post, or greeting people at Walmart.

I do know that one of the first posts I will be making is my top ten albums of 2017. I hope to have that one done on Monday, December 4. I am working quite a bit at Walmart right now do I am planning to write at night before I go to bed and then post the next morning before I go to work. We’ll see how that works.

I will leave you with U2 performing a new track, Get Out Of Your Own Way, live in London.

May God our Father give you grace and peace.

Re-Launch This Blog

Okay. I have taken enough time off. It’s time to get back to writing consistently. I have used the video blog as an excuse to ignore this one but they’re really supposed to go hand-in-hand with one another. I am not going to attempt to go back and recreate a written post for every video I’ve done. That would be time consuming and confusing on my end. With that in mind, I am cleaning the slate here. I am currently working through the Sermon on the Mount with the videos. However, I have decided to do other things with the videos and I will not be recording and posting one every single day. My goal is three a week for the time being and I would like one of those to be geared towards reviewing books, movies, and music. I have also started writing daily devotions that I am posting on the church Facebook account. That takes planning because my Walmart schedule is getting weird now that the holiday season is upon us. I also want to start using Twitter more so I’ve got to start planning this stuff. We’ll see how well I do. I do want to keep this particular passage in mind while doing all this planning because ultimately I don’t know what tomorrow brings. I think it is perfectly fine to plot out a course (I kind of believe God expects us to) with the knowledge that ultimately we’re not in control.

13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will travel to such and such a city and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.” 14 Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring—what your life will be! For you are like vapor that appears for a little while, then vanishes.

15 Instead, you should say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16 But as it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 So it is sin to know the good and yet not do it.

James 4:13-17 (CSB)

 

What I do want to do is take advantage of every opportunity God has given me to use my talents to point people to Him. While I would honestly love it if thousands of people followed this and shared all the things I write I don’t know that I could handle it. I can definitely see myself getting conceited about it. I will just concentrate on using all of these things to influence the little circle of folks I walk with. I think that is all God wants me to do.

May God our Father give you grace and peace.

Let’s Get Back To It

Okay, I haven’t posted in a week and for that I plead…well…I plead nothing. I’ve been doing other things. The video blog which is intended to supplement this one is going well. I’m posting every day which means I have no excuse for ignoring this one. I have actually finished the walk through the Beatitudes there and have moved on to the next section of the Sermon on the Mount. I do want to go back and make actual posts here that go along with the videos but honestly, that will take some time and I don’t have a lot of that this week. I will EVENTUALLY get that stuff caught up and figure out a way to link it all together. I may go back and add the link to each video in the corresponding post. We’ll see.

I just finished recording tomorrow’s video (it takes FOREVER to upload them) and it is on Matthew 5:14-16. Here is that passage in both the CSB and The Message.

14 “You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. (CSB)

14-16 “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven. (The Message)

I made a comment in the video (which will post tomorrow) that there are three Newsboys references in that Peterson’s rendition of that passage. When I was filming I wasn’t sure when his version came out in relation to the two Newsboys’ albums referenced. Well, Not Ashamed came out a year before The Message NT was released and Going Public came out the year after. I wonder.

Anyways, I am going to get this thing back on track if you all will be patient with me. It may take me a week to get things in sync but that is my eventual goal.

May God our Father give you grace and peace.