Why Did Lazarus Have To Die? (And why do I have to suffer?)

Why do I have to suffer?

Why Did Lazarus Have To Die?

I’ve been reading Eric Metaxas’s Miracles again and there’s a section where he addresses the miracle of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. And Metaxas really made me think. Why did Lazarus have to die anyway? Why did Lazarus have to endure the suffering? Why was it necessary for his family to mourn? I mean, Jesus could have shown up earlier and healed him as he did for so many. But he didn’t. So Lazarus suffered–and died.

By the time Jesus got there his sisters and his friends were weeping. And in answer to anyone who would say that God is some sort of impersonal metaphysical force, Jesus, God incarnate, was overcome with grief himself. And he wept for his friend, and for his friend’s family, and for his friend’s friends. Jesus wept. (John 11:35)

Lazarus, Jesus’ friend, had been dead for four days. Four days. That’s significant because there was this idea in Jewish culture at the time, that when a person died their spirit hung around for three days. And here we find Lazarus dead beyond that time period. In fact when Jesus directed the men to remove the stone that sealed the tomb, Lazarus’s sister Martha protested.

“Hang on, he’s been dead for four days. He’s been decomposing,” she said, “Lord, by this time there will be a stench.”

But Jesus went ahead with it anyway.

He prayed out loud, not so God could hear him, but for the benefit of the people there.

And Lazarus walked out of that tomb.

And here’s where I have to ask: Why? Why was that necessary? Why did Lazarus and the people who loved him have to suffer that way? Why couldn’t Jesus have just healed him?

And the answer is found when we ask the question: Continue reading

How One Mistake On Twitter Destroyed A Woman’s Life (And what we can learn from it)

This one mistake on Twitter destroyed a woman's lifeMorbid Fascination

Last night (at the time of this writing) I read this very insightful article in the New York Times. I was so morbidly fascinated I just couldn’t put it down. It was about a woman traveling from New York to South Africa to visit family. While she was on a layover in London, she sent out a tweet. This tweet of hers, it was an awkward attempt at humor. But it had to do with AIDS and race–and it was definitely more awkward than it was humorous.

After she sent this tweet she checked for a response but there was none. She only had around 170 Twitter followers, so that’s not too surprising. But what happened next was very surprising.

During the eleven hours she was in the air between London and Cape Town, South Africa, a writer and editor of a blog with 15,000 Twitter followers got wind of her tweet. So he posted it on the blog he edits, and this began a chain of events the woman never anticipated. Continue reading

The Thing I Never Noticed About Jesus, Why Christians Are Creatures Of Two Realms (And what that has to do with praying together)

Praying Together

I Never Noticed This About Jesus

I recently noticed something about Jesus I never realized before. He never talked much about how to preach (or how to blog), but he did talk about Continue reading

My Desperate Prayer (and how God answered)

Meaning of LifeYes, I know. Last post I said it was the last post on suffering. But I couldn’t let the series end without a short word on prayer. Prayer and suffering are just too connected to end it without addressing the issue of prayer.

My Desperate Prayer

I walked alone into the woods of the Rogue Valley, in Oregon. I wasn’t a Christian, but I was there to pray. I was making that hike and praying like that fairly often, because I was desperate for two things. One, I needed a job. Kathy was eight months pregnant with our first son Gabe. We were living in an 8′ x 24′ travel trailer and borrowing from my parents to make the rent. The shower was so small, and Kathy was so pregnant, that she couldn’t pick up a bar of soap if she dropped it. And I was unemployed.

The second thing I prayed for was strange because I wasn’t a Christian. The second thing I prayed for was Christian friends. Peculiar, I know. But I was so intrigued by Jesus that I wanted to learn more. And I felt the need to connect with other Christians so I could find out all I could about him.

I never saw God’s answer coming. The way He answered that prayer was completely outside of my imagination. I’ll share what He did Continue reading

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

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

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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