The First, The Last, My Everything (What Barry White’s song has to do with suffering)

God First

This is the last blog post in the series on suffering and what you’re about to read are the most important words written in the series. You can do everything written so far concerning suffering, but if you don’t have this right, it all falls apart. (To read the whole series, just click on Suffering under the CATEGORIES heading in the right hand column of the God Running home page.)

Barry White’s Take On Love

Barry White used to perform a song called You’re The First, The Last, My Everything. And in that song, he’s singing about a woman, and here are a few things he says about her:

You are “my everything, …the answer to all my dreams.”
You are “…my sun, my moon, my guiding star, …that’s what you are.”
“You’re all I’m living for, you’re love I’ll keep forever more”
“…see so many ways that I, can love you ’til the day I die.”
“You’re the first, you’re the last, my everything.”

When a young man loves a woman like that, nothing else seems to matter. The head gasket blows out in his car, so now he has to borrow his parents’ champaign colored 1998 Lincoln Continental with a torn headliner, but he doesn’t care so much. Because he has her. And like the song says, she’s all he’s living for.

Then the new video game he bought arrives from Amazon. He’s excited about it until he finds it doesn’t work with one of the components on his home built computer. But that’s not so bad. Because he has her. And she’s his sun, his moon, his guiding star.

Then his best friend tells him he lost his trilogy of the Rings DVD set (Blu-ray). But it’s not such a big deal. Because he has her. And she’s his first, his last, and his everything.

But, what happens when it’s over?

It’s worth noting, Barry White’s first wife Continue reading

Do This In 2015 And See What Happens

bible study new years resolution 2015Life And Growth vs. Lifeless Rearrangment

Living things grow and change. A redwood tree begins as a seed in the ground. Then it grows, it changes, it transforms into a noble conifer more than 300 feet tall. An eagle begins as an egg. Then it grows, changes, and transforms into a great bird who can see what others can’t, and can soar where others aren’t capable.

Things without life don’t grow. They don’t transform. Things without life, they just rearrange. A sand dune shifts its shape in the wind. The waters of a flood are really just waters rearranged. Even an avalanche, as awe-inspiring as it may be, is just rearrangement. It’s not alive.

But you are.

Do this in 2015:

Continue reading

Top 10 Posts of 2014 On God Running

God Running Top 10 2014God was so good to us in 2014 here at God Running. The highlight for me personally happened when Kathy and I were able to meet up with a few readers on the other side of the country from where we live in Oregon. (If you’re interested, you can read about that here: Brothers in Christ)

Of course anytime you like you can see what’s trending at the present moment on God Running, simply by looking at the list of titles in the right hand column on the home page. But if you’re interested in which posts were the most popular for 2014, check out the list below. (not in reverse order–for your viewing convenience)

1) Steve Mays’ Life Of Suffering (And how God healed him) Growing up, Steve Mays was a good student and a well behaved son, at least until junior high school. That’s when he was molested, by a teacher. And that event changed his life. After he was sexually abused, Steve raged against any authority figure, including his parents. He struggled with drug addiction. He joined a motorcycle gang. The police were after him for murder.

Then God intervened.

2) The Holy Spirit: How to Know if You Have Him Easily the most popular post of all time on God Running.

If you’ve ever wondered whether or not you’ve received the outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit (in the way Jesus’ disciples did when God used them to save the souls of 3,000 men in one morning) then this is the post that will answer your question.

3) Both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by their father–Genesis 19 Continue reading

The 5 Different Types Of Christmases

Christ in Christmas

The photo at the top of this post is of my family and me during one of our past Christmases. Christmas takes different shapes for different people different years. Today we identify five different types of Christmases and what they look like. As you read about them, see if you recognize yours.

1) The Going to Dad and Mom’s Christmas

On the way to Dad and Mom’s, your stream of consciousness sounds something like this: “I’m bored already and we’re not even there yet. The Cavs play the Heat tomorrow, and I won’t see it. I wonder if any bad blood will boil over. I hope Dad doesn’t bug me about my job. Battle of the 5 Armies is out. No chance we’ll see that. I hope he doesn’t tell me why he thinks libertarians are “clueless.” Yeah, “clueless.” That was the word he used last time. I think I have one of the Lord of the Rings movies on my phone–maybe, if I sit at the table and hold my phone low…”

2) The People Coming Over Christmas

Oh those three words, people-coming-over, and what they mean. The People Coming Over Christmas means, do these things, and do them fast: Clean the house. Fix the broken doorknob. Run to the store and buy a new doorknob because you couldn’t fix the broken doorknob. Hide the Continue reading

How Ken Hutcherson Hated

Born Into A World Of Enemies

Ken Hutcherson was born eight days after his mother’s fifteenth birthday in Anniston, Alabama. The year was 1952. His grandmother, who Ken called “Big Mom,” was the true mother figure in his life. Ken says his biological mother was more like a sister to him. His father lived on the “right side of the tracks” and wasn’t involved in Ken’s life. He was an illegitimate black child in a world that looked down on blacks. And even other blacks looked down on illegitimate blacks.

Ken’s Role Model (Not The Role Model You Were Expecting)

With his grandmother as his only source of stability, one of Ken’s role models was the person who lived next door. This person ran the “local liquor house.” This role model was distinguished by a long scar that ran across the right side of the neck. This person didn’t take any flack from the liquor store patrons or from anybody else. According to Ken Hutcherson this person was the toughest person he ever knew.

This person was Ken’s Aunt Mae.

The cause of the scar was a woman named Essie Mae who lived across the street. Aunt Mae was having an affair Continue reading

My Atheist Friend’s Memorial Service

atheist funeralI attended a memorial service for an atheist friend last night. And I want to share my heart with you after experiencing that service.

He Was Made In The Image Of God

My friend was made in the image of God. That’s what I remember about him. I say that because of the way he loved his granddaughter with all his heart. And in his awkward way, he also loved other people too, even people who had a worldview opposite of his own. I know from talking with his family members that he was funny and anxious to cheer people up when they were down. I remember him bringing his granddaughter to family gatherings when her grandmother was too sick to come. The last time I saw him he was bringing his granddaughter to the local YMCA to swim, something he did often. He was a fixture in her world. He was consistently present for a little girl who didn’t have much stability in her life.

The Secret Things And The Revealed Things

There’s a Bible verse that says,

“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us…” (Deuteronomy 29:29)

The way I described my friend is the way my friend was revealed to me. But the secret things belong to the Lord. And death is one of those secret things.

Death is a hard thing to accept. When we lose someone we love there’s a tearing that happens to our soul. Life has its rhythms but death can come to anyone, at anytime, in any place, in any way. We just don’t know what each day might bring.

I just saw my friend one Saturday, an everyday average Saturday where everything was as normal as could be, and then  Continue reading

How We Forget God’s Name While We Suffer (and Why That Makes It So Much Worse)

Christian Suffering Pain Depression

Continuing our series on suffering, in this post we’ll look at how forgetting God’s name contributes to suffering and a crushed spirit.

Forgetting God’s Name

I’m just going to be frank here. Many times you and I as believers suffer in a way that’s not necessary simply because we forget God’s name. Oh sure, we believe in the redemptive work Jesus Christ did 2,000 years ago on the cross to pay for our sins. And we believe somewhere down the road we’re headed for heaven, ultimately. But there’s a huge truth missing that dramatically affects us as we suffer, and even when we don’t.

Often times you’re a lot like Continue reading

Lies Told About You And God’s Strong Medicine For Suffering

Gratitude and Suffering

Continuing our series on suffering, in this post we’ll look at the lies told about you when you suffer and the potent medicine God prescribes for our suffering.

A Man-Eating Lion

I was watching National Geographic one evening and they were telling the story of a man-eating lion. This lion had killed a villager which instilled terror in the hearts of the people in the area. So what they did was form a large group, and they left their village, and they walked out into the bush, banging on drums and whatever else they could find. Their goal was to drive the man-eater out into the open where they could kill it. And I was struck by how confident the people were as they walked through the jungle, the very jungle where that man-eater was lurking. As long as they stayed together, and as long as they continued to bang on their drums, the lion would stay away.

There’s a powerful weapon God gives us to use against the lion who stalks you, the one Jesus said, Continue reading

Thankful

Thankful

Father,

I am so thankful for You and for Your presence in my life. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me. You are beautiful beyond measure. My wife Kathy is beautiful too, and so are my two sons Gabe and Nathaniel, and my two daughters, Charise and Anastasia, and my grandson Andrew, and my nephews and parents and all my family. I’m so thankful for You and for the family You blessed me with. (Psalm 16:6)

And I’m thankful for my church family: A peculiar church, in a peculiar, remote and beautiful place, full of thousands of peculiar people. I give thanks You have allowed me to be a part of that church. (1 Peter 2:9)

And I give thanks for the place on the space-time continuum where You allow me to live, it is also full of beauty. I give thanks for the place where I can share Jesus Christ and His words with people from all over the world.

And I give thanks for those who take the time to read this blog. I give thanks for those who believe in You, I give thanks for their desire to draw closer to You. I pray they will never stop pursuing You. I give thanks for the ones who are seeking answers. I’m so thankful for their desire for truth. I pray they don’t stop until they find You. I’m so thankful You provided a place where I can connect with them. I’m so thankful for the brothers and sisters in You, too many to name.

There is not room enough or time enough to account for all the blessings You pour out upon me. You pour them out in such great measure: they overwhelm me.

I am so thankful for You and for Your presence in my life. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me. (Psalm 16:6)

Father,

Thank You.

Atheist Professor Becomes Christian

kurt bennett:

Dr. Holly Ordway, an atheist professor of literature, describes herself, in her own words: “At thirty-one years old, I was an atheist college professor–and I delighted in thinking of myself that way. I got a kick out of being an unbeliever; it was fun to consider myself superior to the unenlightened, superstitious masses, and to make snide comments about Christians.” (p.15-16) Her story is fascinating to me.

Originally posted on Thomistic Bent:

Dr. Holly Ordway has published a book titled Not God’s Type, telling her personal story. She begins “I had never in my life said a prayer, never been to a church service. Christmas meant presents and Easter meant chocolate bunnies–nothing more.” But her views get hardened: “In college, I absorbed the idea that Christianity was historical curiosity, or a blemish on modern civilization, or perhaps both. My college science classes presented Christians as illiterate anti-intellectuals who, because they didn’t embrace Darwinism, threatened the advancement of knowledge. My history classes omitted or downplayed references to historical figures’ faith.” Still later, “At thirty-one years old, I was an atheist college professor–and I delighted in thinking of myself that way. I got a kick out of being an unbeliever; it was fun to consider myself superior to the unenlightened, superstitious masses, and to make snide comments about Christians.” (p.15-16)

Ordway was a…

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