Suffering. Evil. Death. All of us experience them. They consume the lives of our precious loved ones — sometimes in unspeakably horrible ways. They bend us to the ground and produce tearful groanings too deep for words.
Jesus was not immune from these realities. Nor were those who found themselves caught in the cosmic crossfire surrounding the Incarnation. In Bethlehem, babies were killed because Jesus was born.
Reading what is perhaps his most loved story, The Innkeeper, Pastor John has us look into the face of tragedy, as experienced by Herod’s brutal slaughter of little boys. Then he turns us toward the shining face of hope. If we have the eyes of faith to see it, the sting of futility …
For Lyle Dorsett, it was the sudden loss of his ten-year-old daughter Erica. She came down sick one night, and she died the next morning.
Years later, Dorsett and his wife Mary still are healing. Losing a child is a long, painful journey. There have been times, Dorsett says, when he’s thought, God, if I were in charge, I wouldn’t have done it this way. But his ways are higher than ours — and he doesn’t leave his children without a wealth of resources for comfort, even and especially when the path of pain is long and dark.
The Different Ways We Suffer
The Dorsetts found no silver bullets for lessening the loss, but they did find a God with broad enough shoulders, and tender enough hands, t…
Bethlehem was, is, and likely always will be, just a small town — a small town steeped in ancient history.
In the first century, the historical marker at the center of town — if they posted such historical markers — would have commemorated it as the birthplace of the mighty giant killer, King David. The cherished son of Bethlehem put the town on the map 1,000 years earlier, and perhaps, perhaps, one day the village on top of the quiet hill will pull off the feat again. Dusty scrolls left by ancient prophets told of such a thing (Micah 5:2).
But tonight, silence.
The prophecies are distant memories. All is now hushed and quiet, the hope of a king only a memory muffled by the pressing prior…
Ronnie Smith was shot and killed in Benghazi, Libya, on Thursday. He was 33. He was a husband and father. The leaders of his home church have given me permission to respond to his death publicly and carefully. You can read the fuller story at World or in the mainstream media.
One of the reasons I want to respond is because Ronnie wrote to us at Desiring God last year and told us that one of my messages was significant in leading him and his family to Libya.
Now Anita is a widow, and his son Hosea has lost his father.
Weep with Those Who Weep
How do I feel about sharing in the cause of his going to his death?
I came to tears this morning praying for Anita and Hosea. Weep with those who w…
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. (Philippians 2:3)
At Christmastime, it’s good for us to remember just how dangerous fantasies are.
I’m not talking about Narnia-type fantasies. I’m talking about how out of our self-centered desires we construct ideas and expectations of the way we want things to be and project them on to people and events. If those people or events don’t meet our expectations we grumble and sulk and lose our tempers.
Fantasy-fueled expectations can easily become tyrants. At Christmas they are often the Scrooges and Grinches of our celebrations. Less flatteringly, they are the devils in the garden o…
I was once an orphan with no hope, no purpose, no aim, but God in his kindness . . .
These words are true for all of us who are now in Jesus by faith. Oh how easy it is to forget it, and shy away from coming to a deep understanding of what it means to be an orphan, and what it means to be adopted, to be rescued, from hopelessness.
Aaron and Jamie Ivey were given a unique perspective on what it means to be adopted by God through their two-and-a-half-year journey to bring home their son. This is Amos’s story.
But God in his kindness brought Amos home and gave him a new name. May this story be a reminder of what a beautiful gospel shadow adoption is and that no matter what your past is, i…
How does an old man obey Hebrews 13:7?
Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.
At 67, who are my leaders? Who has spoken to me the word of God? Whose faith should I imitate? Whose outcome of life should I consider?
The older I get, the fewer leaders are left who spoke to me the word of God. The fewer faithful men in front of me leading the way. They are dying. The older I get, the more people there are behind me looking to me as a finisher. It’s a trembling place to be. Fewer to look to. More looking on.
What caught my attention in my devotional reading of this verse was the word “outcome.” “Consid…
Suffering has a way of pressing us to go deeper with God.
It’s sadly not the case for all, but many have testified that their embrace of God’s sovereignty and goodness was catalyzed during a season of profound suffering.
Sometimes it’s fresh truths about God intersecting with our lives in the hardest of times. But often suffering becomes a testing ground for what truths we’ve already built into our lives in the easiest of days. Such was my experience.
Wrestling with Hard Truths
It took me several years of “normal life” to believe that such truths — like God’s sovereignty, predestination, and election — should be called “truths” at all. I wasn’t sure they were biblical. I wondered, if God…
“What Child Is This?” is no chart-topper among the children. The minor keys and slower pace make it less engaging to little ears. It’s hard to compete with the brightness, cadence, and pep of “Jingle Bells” and “Joy to the World.”
And that repeated rhetorical question is puzzling to a child’s undeveloped sense of artistry. “What child is this?” It’s Jesus, of course. Why do we keep asking that when we all know the answer?
Nails, Spear Shall Pierce Him Through
But many of us eventually grew out of our childish disillusionment with the carol. For some, it’s even become a favorite. Especially those steeping their minds in the Scriptures. It’s that powerful couplet in the second verse soundin…
One day we will stand before Jesus.
If we could see through the clutter of our lives now, if we could envision that day when everything is said and done, it’s clear that the enduring mission in and under and beyond every detail of our lives should be about pleasing him. What does he think?
What will he say?
We don’t know the exact words Jesus will speak to us on that Day, though the Bible gives us some ideas (Matthew 25:23). Whatever it is, we can be sure it will be glorious and full of grace. We will hear his voice. It will be amazing.
But what if we turned the question around? Instead of just wondering what Jesus might say to us, what will we say to Jesus? Imagine with me for a moment …