Pain is one of the reasons why we search for meaning and purpose in life. We all suffer from time to time (or, in some cases, all the time). An untimely death, an unexpected illness, a particularly malevolent co-worker, or a terrible accident strikes and suddenly our perception of life is crushed by reality. We think, “life wasn’t supposed to be this way.” We wonder why we have it so hard when others seemingly have it so easy. Our sense of justice and fairness is violated. Why me? Why now? Why, God, why?Read more
I’m a Kansas City Royals baseball fan which means I have watched a lot of bad baseball for the past 25 years. Like many of my fellow KC seam-heads, I thoroughly enjoyed their return to relevance in 2014-17. What made the Royals’ championship in 2015 especially satisfying was their emphasis on tried and true baseball principles — speed and defense — combined with exploiting a facet of the game undervalued by the market: an outstanding bullpen. The Royals reminded an industry dominated by saber-metrics that there are multiple ways to reach the same goal.Read more
At the core of Christianity resides three key elements — faith, hope, and love — and all three elements share a common trait: they motivate one to act. James teaches us to live out our faith through works. John challenges us to love with deeds, not just words. And like its brethren, true hope compels one to seize a better future through action.Read more
Over the past couple of decades, neuroscientists inadvertently discovered something fascinating — our brains naturally default to thinking about the future. They happened upon this little gem through the use of control groups who were instructed in various MRI studies to “think about nothing.” As researchers learned, our minds quickly drift from nothing to something, and the something we drift toward is thoughts of the future.Read more
One of the more interesting books I read this last year was Making Hope Happen: Create the Future You Want for Yourself and Others. The author, Shane Lopez, was one of the lead researchers in the area of hope before his untimely death in 2016. Though Dr. Lopez takes a secular approach to the topic, I found a great deal of overlap between his conclusions and how the Bible presents hope. The empirical evidence along with revealed knowledge suggests we are “hard-wired” to be hopeful.Read more
After touring Galilee and the neighboring regions, Jesus returned to His hometown in Mark 6. Those who had watched Him grow up did not like what the Lord taught. "We know this guy and His family. Who does He think He is saying all of these things and performing these miracles?" Mark reports that Jesus marveled at their unbelief. Mark informs us that Jesus, "could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them." Let this sink in for a moment: unbelief prevented the Creator of the universe from performing mighty works. He cast out no legion of demons in Nazareth. No little girls were raised from the dead. No storms were instantly quieted with one word. The wet blanket of unbelief snuffed out the work of God.
I am struck by how the experience of Jesus perfectly illustrates the quenching of the Spirit. Paul warns, "Do not quench the Spirit," in 1 Thessalonians 5:19. The unbelief of Nazareth stifled the miraculous power of the Spirit so that few miracles could be performed. In like manner, unbelief hinders the work of the Spirit in our lives. How do we respond when confronted with a seemingly insurmountable trial of our faith? There have been times when, to my shame, I have found my faith fail simply because I do not believe enough in the one "Who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us..." Upon further reflection, I see that my weakness of faith quenched the Spirit, the power Who is at work in me.
Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!