On Man’s Sinfulness & God’s Goodness

Since hearing the tragic news about the shooting in Aurora, Colorado, I have wanted to write out my thoughts because everything in my heart seems so jumbled.

Many bloggers, authors, journalists, newscasters, reporters and more have an opinion and a voice they want to bring to the table in light of such a tragedy. I think in some way, we all want to voice our feelings. But at the end of the day, more than anything, we want to know why? 

More specifically, why God?

I was flipping through Twitter on Friday morning and saw a tweet about praying for two people who had been shot in Colorado. I wasn’t sure what it was all about so I went to Fox News and that’s where I saw the story. My heart grieved and my mind instantly went back to my high school days when the Columbine shooting hit the news.

I can vividly remember my fears as a junior in high school. I remember the bomb threats our school had and being let out of school early because of those threats. Of course, the being let-out-of school part wasn’t so bad.

But here it was again in a different town. Darkness, evil, and sin exposed like no other. This time not in broad daylight but at midnight. In a movie theater of all places where people go to kick back and relax and have a good time. My heart raced as I read more details and it broke for the victims and the shooter.

As a follower of Christ who loves Jesus and strives to live by faith, I have struggled and wanted answers. I have wondered if God is still good in the midst of such horrific evil. I have questioned:

What in the world will God do in all of this? Is He concerned? In control? What about the victims who didn’t know Christ? Why do innocent people have to die? Will justice be done?

Then a few days ago I read a post that went viral by a woman named Marie who made it out of the theater with her two teenagers. Marie’s post didn’t answer all my questions, of course. Only God has most of those answers. But these words did strike a chord with me:

God is always good.

Man is not.

Don’t get the two confused.

I thought about the historical event in the Garden of Eden when God gave man a choice to obey or disobey his commands. He didn’t force Adam and Eve to follow His ways but out of love, He gave them a choice. They could choose to eat from the forbidden fruit or abstain.

Tragically, they ate from it, choosing sin over God. And their sin ushered in death, brokenness, and pain for all mankind. For you and for me. No one would be exempt from such a consequence.

The bottom line is that left to himself, without God, man is not good. And does not choose good on his own.

But thankfully, God already had a plan in place to restore what had been lost. He had a plan to heal all brokenness and to help man choose good again, instead of evil. He sent his Son Jesus, in place of you and I, to die a horrific death on the cross to save us from ourselves.

Jesus’ death allows us to live. To know Him and live life to its fullest. But we have to accept His gift of grace into our life. We have to acknowledge that we are broken sinners and cannot make it in this life without Him. We have to allow Him to change us from the inside out.

This is the gospel story that you and I have heard countless times but we can’t allow it to get old. We must embed it in our hearts and remember God’s story isn’t over.

Thank goodness.

In the midst of trying to make sense out of such evil, God continues to welcome our questions, doubts, anger, and frustrations. And even though we may not receive the answers we want in our timing and even though some questions remain unanswered, that’s okay because God is still working and God is always good.

And that is enough to trust Him in our lives today.

Why Haiti hasn’t escaped my mind


I sometimes wonder if I’m the only one feeling this certain tension.

Since the day we were awakened by the tragic news of Haiti, my heart has been burdened by its devastating horror, the countless babies, children, and people in distress, what our nation needs to offer in terms of aid, and what my family and friends can do to help. But it’s also been filled with something else.

If “Haiti”- all hell breaking loose, suffering, pain, and the deepest agonies ever imaginable, were to enter my life here in America, would I still trust God?

I have never known suffering like the Haitian people are experiencing at this moment. I want to trust that God is good all the time, but sometimes I just really fear suffering. I’d rather put my security in comfort.

Oh, but is that really all there is?

There is T E N S I O N because I know that as a follower of Christ, it won’t always be an easy road. I’m figuring that out as the hands on the clock get faster. I think we have to come to the point in our relationship with Christ that we will love him, trust him, serve him, and surrender to him regardless if we experience his blessings or not.

I don’t know if I can say that I’m there right now, but I want to be. And while I question God and wonder what in the world He’s doing at times (especially right now), I have to lean in on the truth that He is a good God and is worthy of my life in times of suffering and in times of joy.

He’s got the whole world in his hands, even Haiti.

Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! – Psalm 46:10

Defending Those Who Can’t Help Themselves

The summer before my junior year in college I went to Guatemala with a team of students at Liberty. During the first month all of us stayed at a small orphanage in a town called Llano Verde. Not only did we stay with a few orphans, but we visited several orphanages on the weekends. I remember the pain I felt in my heart for those babies whose parents had abandoned them. It was also difficult to only have one day to play with them and love on them and then say “goodbye”. But I knew I was not only sent there for those babies, but for my own sake. To realize what was at stake and how I could play a part in helping those who cannot help themselves. Even after I had gone away.

As Christ followers, we’re called to help the poor and needy in their distress. This is not an “oh I will do it one day.” But an action that is required of us now- whether it’s to a neighbor in great physical or spiritual need, a young girl or boy who is fatherless, a widow who’s experiencing great loss, or actually going overseas to help orphans and those in poverty. Jesus invited the poor, the broken, the lost, those who smelled, those who lied, those who hated him… all to sit and dine with him. He was never too “good” for anyone and didn’t care where they’d come from. The invitation remains for us today.

Lately, I’ve been realizing all the more that I am really broken. I am no better than the homeless guys I see huddled under the bypass on 75 every morning. God’s grace is the only thing that holds me today.

This 50 second video (from Francis Chan’s blog) reminded me of our responsibility to defend those who cannot help themselves. To visit them in their distress and bring the love of Christ to them. How can you not just want to wrap your arms around them and take them home?

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iz1t88kaadg&feature=player_embedded]

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. – James 1:27

Monday Wake-up Call

This past Monday, I went to bed consumed by fear, worry, and anxiety. It all started when a few coworkers of mine were briefly talking about the potential Health Care plan and its implications on our insurance and America as a whole. After we talked, my thoughts just began to snowball into thinking about the crazy czar’s that Obama is surrounding himself with (Just check out GlennBeck.com), communism, socialism, a one world economy, end times, the anti-Christ, the rapture, and wondering if a New World Order is coming? I know it sounds crazy. And I’m really not I promise.

Everything just kind of got to me that day. I acted differently around Jeremiah. I laid down with a headache and woke up with one. But on Tuesday, something changed.

I realized I had been a little ignorant of what’s been going in our world. Maybe for a reason because turning on the news can be depressing. But I realized that I was letting all those things affect me so much as if I had never heard about them. As if I had no hope. I was encouraged by a friend to be more aware of what’s going on. To be educated. And most of all- TO WAKE UP! to the crisis that we’re really in as a nation.

So… my goal this month is to be more informed but not to be so affected that I’m not the person I want to be. To worry a little less and trust that whatever the next few years hold for our country, that God is moving at the same time- somehow, some way. Even though evil is clearly and tangibly at work, Good is right there with it. His plan is unfolding and if anything, we’re getting a little bit closer to His return…

So if that’s the case and His return is in fact near, then I need to get back to work and start focusing on eternal things.

Michael Jackson’s Dash

the-jackson-5.0.0.0x0.432x355.jpegMichael Jackson’s Thriller album was released the year I was born (1982) and it was in my elementary years in South Carolina that the king of Pop ruled the world. In the third grade, I remember dancing with my friends to the songs “Black or White”, “Billie Jean”, and “Beat It.” I remember the lines and beats to this day. I remember the particular inappropriate, awkward move that he displayed on stage once… that my classmates would try and imitate! (you know what I’m talking about!)

Regardless of the good and bad in his life, I remember Michael during my childhood so those were good memories of him for me. I lost track of him completely after that and I didn’t care much about him. Today, I’m amazed at how for so long, not much was said about him but all of the sudden since his death, the world is texting, twittering, emailing, and calling all those they know in shock. And I don’t know if it’s just because of his unmatchable talent, or how we associate our memories with his music. It takes us back.

The one thing I noticed about his death yesterday is the dash between 1958-2009. A simple dash yet so critical. The dash represents his life and what was done in that time. The dash compared to eternity is so tiny, like an ant in a mountain of sand. I thought about my life and that some day I too will have a dash- whether I want one or not! God’s word says that every man has his appointed time to die. We cannot ignore the reality that death will come to us too one day. We cannot ignore the reality of heaven and hell and the consequence if we do not choose to accept Jesus Christ, God’s son as our personal Lord and Savior. How we live on earth does impact us when we die.

I don’t know where Michael truly is now, only God does.

But because of the seriousness that’s involved in his dash, I’ll never forget the day the king of Pop died.

Man on the Street: Who is Jesus?

crossFor Bluefish, we recently did some man on the street interviews here in Dallas. The interviews will go into our upcoming youth series about the tough questions we have about Jesus with David Nasser. I’m working on host copy (the words that our host will say to introduce segments in the series). Mac Powell with Third Day is going to be our host (I’m a big fan). Mac and David are good friends and have done a lot with the Glory Revealed album together.

Here are some of the comments we got off the street:

Our question: Who is Jesus?

I don’t really have an opinion of Jesus I believe that religion was created to control the masses.

He was a dude lived back in the day pretty awesome he had a beard.

Jesus is a person that existed that continues to enrich the lives of people everyday.

I think that he is a pretty cool guy he had a peaceful philosophy I think he’s misinterpreted by a lot of people.

He is the Savior of this world.

I don’t know because I don’t really believe in him so I don’t really think anything of him.

I mean he could have been a real person I mean I am sure he was I mean I am sure he was just good at what he did or something.

I kind of feel that Jesus is a modern day scapegoat.

Jesus is God I think, yeah, I just learned that.

Jesus was a man from what I figure.

He was just kind of a guy with a really unique positive message that kind of gave a lot of people a lot of hope.

He probably existed but I don’t believe he was the Son of God or anything.

Who is Jesus? is the one question that we all must come to terms with. Our destiny depends on who this figure in history was. What sets Christianity apart from any other religion is the Resurrection. If all Jesus did was live on this earth, claim to be God, die on a cross, but never rose from the dead (to prove He was God), our faith would be pointless.

The resurrection proved that He was God. Josephus, a Jewish historian, wrote about it. Archeology proves it. Over 500 eye witnesses after his resurrection proves it. Disciples who turned from cowards to courageous leaders for the gospel proves it. Prophecy upon prophecy fulfilled proves it. The list goes on.

We just simply cannot get away from dealing with Jesus and what he means for our lives. He was either a Liar, a Lunatic, or was Lord as C.S. Lewis coins it and it’s a choice we have to make. Is Jesus fully God and did he die on the cross for me to save me from my sins? Do I believe that God loves me unconditionally, right where I’m at?

Who do you say that He is?

Do Justice, Love Kindness, Walk Humbly

haugenGary Haugen, CEO of International Justice Mission, spoke at my church yesterday. I couldn’t believe this man. He was so humble and real. And God has used him to do So much in helping those who cannot help themselves. He has freed countless lives around the globe from oppression, victimization, sex and human trafficking, and the list goes on.

What spoke to me the most was his authenticity in saying how every day he wakes up he thinks about “me” and battles self. Every day he has to choose to go outside of himself and do something bigger. I kept thinking, Man, he struggles with this too? It’s Gary Haugen!?

Then I realized we’re all pretty much the same and we all battle the “me” within us. Because we’re so consumed by “me”, many of our inadequacies keep us from doing God’s will. We simply don’t believe in Him. We believe too much in ourselves. Gary encouraged us out of Matthew’s gospel to give God the fish and loaves, so that He can multiply. Clearly, this is what Gary has chosen to do.

One way we can do this is to obey God’s word by tangibly seeking out ways to do justice, love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God. We’re called to do it as Christians. There’s no way around it. I’ve been challenged more than ever to be involved in these critical affairs on a world-wide level and to encourage others to do the same.

And I’m so thankful that all I have to do is give God my loaves and fish, so that He can feed the people and so that His glory may be revealed. And not my own.

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8

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