Witness Well

Witness Well

How come God didn’t listen to my prayers and spare a loved one?

Life has a way of hurling a stone and shattering the window into our soul. The wrenching pain of an exposed heart can cripple us emotionally, physically, and even spiritually. The tragedies of life have caused many to turn away from God. Many people of asked, “How can I loving God allow this to happen? Where can a person find peace and solace in the depths of suffering? Where can we turn for answers when God seems far away on some distant planet? We need someone who understands our pain — to share our grief, embrace our hearts — to put a hand on our shoulder and say, “I am always with you.

I cannot answer why an Almighty God would take a loved one in the prime of their lives. I don’t know why God chose to not answer fervent prayers to save them. If it was not for sin in this world, painful tragedies would never occur. As a result of sin and its consequences, God weeps too.

Jesus Christ is not an adversary during times of suffering, He is our cure. Jesus Christ suffers with us in our suffering. His unconditional love is the only source for healing and peace. Through his participation in our pain, he redeems it. By his ultimate suffering on the cross, he heals our own suffering. He is not off on some distant planet, but is with us each step of the way. This truth and promise reveals to us the magnitude of God’s love for us. A loving Father sent his only Son to a dirty, sinful world. Jesus experienced the hellish depth of all that is nightmarish in human existence on behalf of us. He loved the unlovable. He befriended the friendless. Finally, he suffered for a world that is at once so beautiful and so ugly. 

Questions are going to remain while we deal with the pain and suffering of life. Jesus’ answer for us is to trust in him. Christ wins our love and trust through the healing compassion of his Word and the warm understanding of his silent embrace. He provides an understanding in the heart which the mind can never fully grasp. This trust rests on the belief that God works good out of all situations, whether good or bad, for the purpose of bringing us closer to him.  He wins our love in a way reasons could never do. And finally, we rest in the comfort that despite our existence in a sinful world, we place our hope in an eternal existence with God where all pain and suffering is removed. That’s where we look to to help us stand firm until the end.

 

** This question and answer was inspired from the book, “Letters from a Skeptic” by Dr. Gregory A Boyd and Edward K. Boyd, Chariot Victor Publishing, 1994. 

The mystery of the human brain is an observable reality of a Creator

One of the great mysteries of life is on how life began. There have been many educated guesses throughout the centuries. The theory of evolution presents a process but seems to fall short on inception. It seems that some sort of intelligent design is becoming more widely accepted. The study of the human brain is a great example. The more scientists uncover the intricacies of the brain, the more baffling it becomes on how it all came into being.

Scientists are discovering that the mind is far more than a network of chemical reactions. It is still baffling how the mind is able to comprehend the physical aspects of the world and define reality around us. We can create mathematical equations. We know and remember the difference of what is good and bad (morality). We are self-aware. We can be angry or sad, laugh or be shocked, love or hate. Such observations can only indicate that some kind of “force” or “intelligence” created the cosmos, the universe, the earth and ourselves. Furthermore, this “intelligence” must be personal and moral. The human brain is probably the most observable reality that God was the designer and creator. 

Another observable reality is that God created us with longings. We long for food and water and God feeds and quenches us. We long for companionship, God provides. We long for a closer relationship with a higher being and he provides his Son, Jesus Christ. God created the heavens and the earth just for us. He not only provides, but he provides perfectly to meet every need of all creation. This, simply put, cannot be by chance, nor can it be a product of an impersonal “force.” 

Faith in God is a belief in the Creator of all things. Faith is not just a theory, but a relationship. We are made right with this “moral force” through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We are made right by faith in the death and resurrection of our Savior. We come to faith, not because of a rational decision of our mind, but through the power and testimony of God’s Word. All that we need in life is found in our relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Through the Bible, we are assured of the presence of Jesus. Our relationship with him is enough to prove his existence and satisfies the deepest longings of our innermost being. 

 ** This question and answer was inspired from the book, “Letters from a Skeptic” by Dr. Gregory A Boyd and Edward K. Boyd, Chariot Victor Publishing, 1994.    

How to be the perfect Proverbs 31 woman

Many standards are offered by the world on how to be the perfect woman.  They include television, movies, magazines, books, billboards, even a husband’s desire. Another standard presented is even more difficult than what the world offers. It is found in Proverbs 31 of the Bible. Many women cringe to the standard presented. Read just some of her attributes:

“Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.”

“Works with eager hands”

“She gets up while it is still dark and provides food for her family”“She sets about her work vigorously, her arms are strong”

“She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy”

“She is clothed with strength and dignity”

“Her children arise and call her blessed, her husband also, and he praises her” 

Talk about depressing. Women are dealing with enough guilt already. Why pile it on even more? I think many women would agree that a man must have written this proverb.

When basking in the gloom of not measuring up to a certain standard, I am reminded of the purpose behind such passages. We look in the mirror and see failure in our efforts to meet our own standards, but also the standards placed by others (family, media, etc..). Then, we are confronted by the standard set by God. He desires for us to be perfect. To be perfect is the only way to receive God’s stamp of approval. The message God desires for us to know is that we need to stop trying to measure up to a worldly or a self-imposed standard. God’s standard is tough enough! But, fix our eyes on the only way we can achieve that standard and that is through faith in Christ.

Faith means surrendering our self, confessing that we fall way short of God’s standard and that we need His help. Through our weakness, faith receives the power of the Holy Spirit. Christ dwells in us and we are perfect. How can that be possible? Because this is what Christ did for us on the cross. He became our substitute and through His life in place of ours, we are perfect. The removal of self allows the fruit of the Spirit to pour forth. We become a new creation. We begin to respond to life, to people and to difficult circumstances with peace, patience, joy, gentleness and self-control. 

So, to all those woman who groan at the words written in Proverbs 31, I have a encouragement for you. You are forgiven. You are loved. You are perfect. Not because of who you are, or what you are doing, but what Christ has done for you. With this confidence and assurance of God’s promises, we can begin to experience the fruit of a surrendered life.   

Why isn’t God more obvious?

The greatest evidence that God is not only obvious, but a personal being, lies in his most magnificent creation of all; ourselves. God created us with a mind that is self-aware and a heart with the ability to love. We are created with a conscience that calls us to be morally responsible and a soul that longs for meaning and significance. Together, they become the essence of what humans were designed to be and the strongest evidence of a personal God.

Isn’t it interesting that the world around us is fully compatible to our physical longings and desires? We hunger and there is food. We thirst and there is water. We have sex drives and behold, there is sex. The world created for us remarkably provides for those natural drives within us.

Isn’t it also interesting that humans instinctively assume that something like love is a reality? Love becomes the only ideal in our lives worth living and dying for. On the other hand, nature seems to be indifferent, loveless, and a brute process of colliding chemicals. Is our ideal for love within us just a case of reacting chemicals? And where do we obtain our moral convictions?

Humans instinctively hunger for meaning and purpose. We strive to fill our lives with significance. If our cosmos or “evolution” is indifferent and purposeless, than all we are, all we do, all we believe in and strive for is “dust in the wind.” Everything becomes ultimately meaningless.

This must mean that we live in a created environment that is ultimately personal. All of nature takes care of all our personal needs. We have been created to be self-aware, rational, loving, moral, and purposeful. God created a perfect environment that is in perfect sync with his ultimate creation, mankind. If God is left out of the picture and our existence is solely based on human reasoning, then human existence becomes only a “freak of nature”, out of place, tortured, and extremely painful. We become the product of a cruel, sick, cosmic joke. So, unless the ultimate source of all existence is at least as personal as we are, than who we are, our very being, is both un-explainable and extremely difficult to swallow.

** This question and answer was inspired from the book, “Letters from a Skeptic” by Dr. Gregory A Boyd and Edward K. Boyd, Chariot Victor Publishing, 1994.

If God is loving, why does He allow suffering?

As a result of sin, our world suffers and we suffer the consequences. Nobody likes to suffer, because its intensely painful. Even though we take great pains to achieve comfort, there are times when we can’t avoid suffering.

With that in mind, let me ask you a question. What is the main point of our lives? The Bible tells us that the main point of life and the reason for which we were created is to glorify God. The only way we can fulfill God’s purpose is through faith in Christ Jesus because Christ accomplished glory and through Christ, we receive His glory. It is God’s will that we not only come to faith, but grow in the faith as well. And God is glorified! 

The hard truth of the Bible is that the process of Christian growth can only be obtained through suffering, not when we are comfortable. Suffering was the process the Lord ordained for Christ Jesus on behalf of us. He suffered and died on the cross for us. It was God’s will. It was part of the plan. In fact, three times in the garden Jesus asked that if it was possible that God could take this cup of suffering from him. Yet, through Christ’s suffering, it was made possible for us to glorify God and fulfill his purpose. 

The Bible also says that we need to share in Christ’s suffering in order to share in his glory (Romans 8:17). There are seven other Biblical references that state that we as Christians “must” suffer with Jesus. Why? It is through suffering that we learn obedience, a firmer trust in our Lord. Because of our sinful nature and our sinful world, God has ordained suffering for us that we may draw closer to him. With this knowledge and understanding in Scripture, we can truthfully and confidently pray the same prayer in the garden, “not my will, but yours God.” Instead of bitterness or worry, the book of James says that we can have joy in facing sufferings. We can “rejoice” in our suffering because of the fruit of faith it brings to our Christian lives. 

In our Christian life, we must remember that joy is not happiness. Happiness rests on circumstances in our life. Joy does not depend on circumstances in life, but depends solely on our relationship with God. Each one of us goes through some type of ongoing suffering in our lives. Sometimes its little things, sometimes it’s a crisis. As Christian, we are encouraged to go to the Lord in prayer and confidence. Yet, with the fruit of trust hammered out by suffering, we are refrained from praying, “Lord, get me out of this!” but “Lord, thank you for putting me in the middle of the process of suffering.  This is your will for my life and I know that as a result, I will be stronger Christian.” 

For those who are suffering, I pray that God will make things better. When answered prayers goes against our desires it is painful. I encourage all of us to place our hope on the sure foundation that is found in Christ. Jesus. Our lives and the history of the world is not a random series of events, but it is a river whose flow is directed and guided by God in the channels he chooses for it. The ultimate goal God has in mind for this river is to flow into the ocean that is Christ.   

There are those who look at the cross, the circumstances in their life and at world events and say, “Where is God?” For those who are rooted in faith, we look at the circumstances in our life and world events and say, “I trust you, God!”  With joy, hope and confidence, we let go and allow our boat to go down the current and toward the victory found in Christ Jesus. 

Is God really in control of our lives and this world?

God is the creator of the heavens and the earth. He is the creator of all things. His ultimate and perfect creation is you and me. He created us in his own image and declared, “It is good.” He has power over life and death. He is in control of the fiercest storm and at the same time, fully aware of a tiny sparrow’s death. God even controls history. His plan for our world and its ultimate conclusion has already been established long ago. Even though a spiritual battle still exists between the forces of good and evil, there is no chance God is going to lose. His victory has been assured. Satan does have immense power, but he can never threaten God’s ultimate purpose — to have his creation share in his love. 

Even though humans have the capacity to reject God’s love and choose to deliberately sin, God is still in control of their lives. He orchestrates the blessings and the tragedies with the intent of drawing us closer to him. God does not call on us to understand his wisdom, but to simply trust in him and his plan for our lives. Sometimes after a tragedy, we hear the words “God is in control” or “the purpose of God.” What is God’s purpose of “taking home” a young girl killed by a drunken driver? What is God’s purpose in allowing a young mother to succumb to cancer leaving three small children at home? I honestly don’t know. Sometimes, God simply does not make sense. Yet, it is logical to conclude that we can never completely understand God’s wisdom since he is a higher being. 

We must remember that the focus of the Christian hope derived from faith is not on this life, but on the next. Our physical life on earth is only temporary. What matters the most is where we will spend eternity. If heaven were not true, life is ultimately tragic and absurd. By believing in Christ as Savior, we receive the hope that all things will work out for good and our citizenship in heaven is assured. In the meantime, a person can receive through faith the fullness in life God always intended them to have. It is a fullness that no evil in the world can touch. The Apostle Paul tells us that “nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.” God still exercises today the dominating influence in the world. Only he knows what this world would be like without his constant, holy influence.

 

  ** This question and answer was inspired from the book, “Letters from a Skeptic” by Dr. Gregory A Boyd and Edward K. Boyd, Chariot Victor Publishing, 1994.   

Why did God create Satan?

Lucifer was perhaps the greatest of all angelic creatures. He was created by God to be beautiful and perfect in many ways. The problem began when Lucifer began to notice his own beauty. Pride seeped into his heart and it was pride that led to self-will (he wanted to be like God) and self-will to rebellion. He became the Adversary (“Satan”) to God and apparently led other angels (“demons”) into rebellion sometime before the creation of man.

God created man in his own image to love and be loved. Because of Satan’s hatred toward God and his consuming desire to be worshiped, he successfully tempted Adam and Eve to fall into sin and condemnation from God. This act of rebellion became a curse for all mankind which is referred to as “original sin.” Satan continues his unrelenting, world-wide struggle against God and all goodness today. His goal is to defeat the divine plans of God’s grace and to seduce people to reject God and worship him instead. His primary method is through lies and deception — about himself, his purpose (man’s eternal ruin), his activities, and his coming defeat.

God had the power to destroy Satan at the moment he became the Adversary. Instead, God, in his divine wisdom, chose to tolerate Satan and uses him according to His purposes until that final Day of Judgment. On that day, Satan and all the other enemies of God will be cast into the “lake of burning sulfur” called hell.

In the ongoing conflict between good and evil, it does seem as though God has given Satan every advantage. Yet, we can be assured that God’s victory is certain. Victory was accomplished for us through Christ’s death on the cross. God created us perfectly. We can’t on our own make ourselves what God intended us to be. We need a new start, a new creation, a clean slate.

God only declares us perfect through Jesus Christ. God became man and died on the cross to reconcile us with God and to give us a new life in Christ. He became our perfect substitute. It is only through Christ that we enter a personal relationship with God and are declared holy and perfect; just like God originally intended us to be.

Why did create Satan? God created Lucifer to be perfect, but Lucifer was the one who chose out of pride to be the Adversary, not God. It’s pride that separates us from God, because God does not do the separating. As a result, we suffering the consequences of rejecting God’s grace.

 

 

** This question and answer was inspired from the book, “Letters from a Skeptic” by Dr. Gregory A Boyd and Edward K. Boyd, Chariot Victor Publishing, 1994.     

Since God is loving and in control of all things, why does he allow bad things to happen?

Questions like these become very difficult, especially when they can become so personal. How does one comfort a grieving mother with the words “God is in control” when she has just lost a young daughter in a car crash?  You can’t. 

We can only offer words based on the faith and hope that all will be resolved and understood when we get to heaven. 

We must remember first that we are all sinful people who live in a sinful world. So much pain and suffering is a result of our sinful behavior. Political strife often causes famine. Economics create unsafe living conditions and even faulty equipment.  Idealism spawns fanaticism and acts of evil terror. Alcohol or drug abuse can cause fatal accidents. A tumultuous world brings pain and suffering into our lives. 

The Bible also indicates that our world contains a spiritual realm made up of angels and demons. These evil spiritual forces are in a state of war against God and everything good. Our earth is the battlefield. This “problem of evil” has a direct influence on everything. All people, including Christians, are potential victims. Like Job in the Old Testament, we become innocent casualties of a spiritual war by getting caught in a cross-fire of good and evil. We don’t know exactly how these forces work. We do know, however, that God preserves and protects us according to his will, because God is stronger than evil. He has already conquered evil and the victory is ours who call upon his name.

God, who is in control of the universe, works out all things (even evil) for their own good. We are not called upon to understand the wisdom of God, but simply accept circumstances in our lives like a small child and simply place our trust in our Heavenly Father.  

** This question and answer was inspired from the book, “Letters from a Skeptic” by Dr. Gregory A Boyd and Edward K. Boyd, Chariot Victor Publishing, 1994.