Why Does God Allow Bad?

This first appeared in the August 28, 2002 LaPlata Home Press with the title “What?”

In 1977, Becky Conway of Urbana, Illinois, learned she had cancer in her knee. The cancer was bad enough that the doctors saw the need to amputate the leg. She was homecoming queen, a cheerleader, and an outstanding track athlete with a promising future and she was a PK (Preacher’s Kid). Everyone, even her parents, were down about her loss, but she never once lost her faith, never complained, and remained filled with joy because she knew God had something greater in store for her other than track. She had the opportunity to witness to schoolmates that wouldn’t have listened to her before because she was a PK and it was expected of her to be a witness. Several did come to faith in Christ because of her character and witness following the amputation (Moody Monthly article “…why is she smiling?” by Kay Oliver, Volume 79, #10, June 1979, pages 17-19).

Too many people see difficult and tragic events as unjust and unfair. Usually the question that is thrown around is “Why would a loving God allow or cause such terrible things to happen, especially to good people?” A lot of people have a pessimistic outlook and are actually looking for bad things to happen or to come out in people. They usually find it and then blame God, not knowing nor understanding all the details involved. So they ask “why” or “how?” These are the wrong questions. The proper question is what does God have in store?

Job is often called the most patient man in the Bible. To some extent this is true, but he asked the wrong questions when he lost everything and kept wondering what he had done that would cause God to allow or even bring such calamity upon him. God spoke with Job and asked, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” Job 38:4. God’s emphasis was that HE IS IN CONTROL. Nothing is beyond his knowledge and understanding is beyond his grasp or power. God’s plan may allow calamity simply to bring you to faith. Job, you, and I are just people. God (sic) on the other hand is Almighty God, the creator and sustainer of all life. When bad happens, God still has something outstanding in store, or as Peter wrote, “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold-may be found to result in the praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” 1 Peter 1:6-7

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The Flush Toilet

What innovation had the most impact on life n the twentieth century? A popular survey asked this question when (sic) we approached the year 2000. Many conveniences were suggested; washing machines; hair dryers; canned food; improved communications; radio; TV and more. However, the number one response was indoor plumbing, specifically, the flush toilet. People are most grateful that not only do they not have to carry in water from an outdoor well but they do not have to visit the outhouse. Of all the great technological marvels of the twentieth century, indoor plumbing captured the hearts of most Americans.

What will be the number one innovation in the twenty-first century? Voice activated computers; cars that drive themselves or air travel like on the cartoon The Jetsons; cures for disease or something else? Who really cares? Stuff happens and things change. Who would have believed that the Wright Brothers first flight in 1903 would have led to air travel being such a major source of transportation, or that the first computer (which was as big as a house and had millions of parts) would lead to computers being so important.

Innovation and invention are the result of God-given abilities (thinking, creativity, and ability to produce ideas). The Bible says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” Hebrews 13:8.* Things and times change, Jesus doesn’t. The Hebrew writer continues with a warning to not be carried away by many and strange doctrines (verse 9). Beliefs change and deceive many people. There are many gods, materialism, sexual addictions, drugs, alcohol, and more. Innovations come and go. Religious beliefs come and go and many are rehashed. However, Jesus never changes. Christianity under Jesus’ rule is never altered. Whatever comes, whatever goes, there is one we can trust who does not come and go, who never changes, Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

* Scripture reference is from the New International Version of the Bible

This first appeared in the July 31, 2002 LaPlata Home Press

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Distressed

A few years ago, I transported a pre-school child to Macon (Missouri) and back for school. She had mental and learning disabilities and needed special teaching, but was a very, very sweet girl. She was curious about everything, asking a lot of questions all the time. She thrived on all the attention she received. I believe her smile could melt any heart.

She had difficulty pronouncing my name correctly. One day on the way to school, she asked, “Jeff Jord you goin’ pick up me?” She was really concerned that someone other than myself would be picking her up that day.

“Let not your heart be troubled, believe in God believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many dwellings-for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself. That where I am, there you may be also” John 14:1-3. Jesus and his disciples were in the upper room when he spoke these words to them. He had washed their feet (John 13:1-20). He identified who would betray him, which baffled them (John 13:21-30). Jesus predicted that Peter would deny him three times before the rooster crowed (John 13:31-38). He even gave them the Lord’s Supper which represents his death (Matthew 26:26-29). Before all this happened, Jesus predicted his own terrible death (John 12:27-50).

All of this troubled and confused the apostles. Jesus’ words had dashed all of their kingdom hopes. He was going away and was going to die. They didn’t like what he said as well as not understanding what he was telling them either. In their troubled hearts they were in essence asking the same thing little Julia asked that one day. “Are you goin’ a pick up me?”

Jesus reassured them that in fact, he was coming back for them. They were even going to stay with him in his Father’s place. How like children we are with questions and doubts, seeking reassurance from Jesus that he didn’t just leave us but will for those become children of the Father through faith in Jesus.

This first appeared the August 10th, 2002 LaPlata Home Press

(Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Version of the Bible)

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Silly Road Signs

This article first appeared in the August 21 2002 LaPlata Home Press. for a time, I wrote a devotional article called “Flowing From The Mouth Of The Jordan.”  I’d like to share some of these devotionals with you over the next few posts.

Have you ever noticed how silly some of the road signs are that we see on highways around the country?

For instance: FRESH OIL; LOOSE GRAVEL. The street or highway department sprays oil and tar on the road or shoulder, than they cover it with chat which sticks to the tar like flies on a no-pest strip. When this is done in town* (see explanation below), it seems everyone is upset and grumbles and gripes about it because it messes up our cars. On the highways in particular, in the right circumstances, it can be dangerous and wrecks can happen as cars slide around on the loose chat. The sign is warning us of a possible hazard ahead.

Or, DON’T DRIVE INTO SMOKE. January 1978 was my first experience on the Will Rogers Turnpike as I drove into Oklahoma. As I was heading toward Vinita, Oklahoma, I see these signs with a peculiar warning, “Don’t Drive Into Smoke.”  I’m think, “What? What a stupid sign. This is a highway. Where would smoke be coming from on a highway?” My limited intelligence, experience, and imagination could not figure a good reason for the warning. When it was explained to me by an Okie, I finally understood. Sometimes, people burn off their fields near the highway and the highway department burns off the shoulders of the road and the smoke may roll onto the highway obscuring your vision. It could hide the danger of a slower or stopped truck or car. The sign is warning us of a possible hazard ahead.

Or my favorite, BRIDGE MAY ICE WHEN COLD. I’ve seen these signs mostly in Arkansas and Louisiana. The first time I saw one of these signs I began to imagine the bridge with a mind of its own and the highway department is warning drivers to beware. I could see someone driving across a bridge in the winter when the bridge decides to ice over and cars begin spinning.

In Louisiana, I saw a couple of bridges with the signs on the exit side of the bridge, as if some demented highway employee is playing a joke on drivers. The bridge ices and you start spinning. As you spin past the bridge and see the sign, you yell out, “O yeah. . .thanks. . .for the. . .warning!!!!!” But, ice on bridges when the road is clear is a very real danger. The sign is warning of a possible hazard ahead.

The Apostle Paul says, “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes  Ephesians 6:11. The devil is a liar and a deceiver. He plots and schemes ways in which to trap you in sin. The Bible warns us about the devil and his tricks. Beware, the devil has a trap ahead, around most every turn in life, just over the rise each day may be one of his tricks.

  • He may trip us up, and cause us to stumble: FRESH OIL; LOOSE GRAVEL.
  • He may hide behind a smoke screen of grumbling of some sort: DON’T DRIVE INTO SMOKE.
  • He may change the conditions quickly to cause you to slip up: BRIDGE MAY ICE WHEN COLD.
By knowing God’s word and way, we can, with the help of God’s own Spirit, see the road signs and dangers and YIELD AND STOP, keeping us out of danger. Beware, the devil is a roaring lion looking for whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). He may be around every corner trying to snatch you away from God.
* Many small towns such as in northern Missouri pave their roads (and on some two-lane highway shoulders), tar and oil is spayed on the road surface and chat spread to cover and adhere to the tar and oil and it makes a sort of pavement type surface and until it settles in, cures or whatever the correct term is, the dust and the tar mess up your car.
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Nothing is What it Seems

The movie “The Recruit” starring Al Pacino and Colin Ferrell is an interesting story of a CIA agent who recruits and instructs prospective CIA operatives. The story has its twists and we learn from beginning to end the reality of the training and the real world of espionage is that “nothing is what it seems.” Al Pacino’s character Walter Burke repeats this truth throughout the movie and in the end is caught in his own farce and is told by James Clayton (Colin Ferrell’s character) “nothing is what it seems.”

What appears on the surface to be true is not what is real.  It may seem real, it may seem to be true, and everyone believes that it is, but reality lies somewhere else, somewhere underneath, it is buried beneath the surface of life and is manipulated by someone who is controlling reality.

One of the problems with modern Christianity is that we have ceased to fight a spiritual battle. We are fighting individuals and organizations and governments and movements and joining movements and organizations to fight all of these where they differ from or we believe that differ from our Biblical and religious beliefs and practices.

So we fight against the organizations of abortion, homosexuality, economic irresponsibility by the government, sexual immorality on TV and in the movies, pornography on the internet, liberal feminism, and so much more. But attacking the establishments of these values is that where the battle for Christians and the church is at?

Before I go further, please don’t get me wrong, I appreciate those who go to battle in the courts and before congress to protect Christian values and rights and work hard to overturn or enact legislation to set things right. It is needed and certain individuals and groups such as Focus on the Family and others are certainly called by God for that purpose, but is that where the Christian and the church is to focus? The government? The courts? Abortion clinics? Is it? Should I complain to television producers that I am offended by almost every TV show that is on TV now? Should I lobby for greater restraints on the Internet so that people cannot access immoral sites? What?

Here’s the truth of scripture. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” Ephesians 6:12.

Our fight is not the immoral or misguided organizations, or even individuals who believe and/or follow these belief’s and practices. They are not the enemy. As one preacher I heard say more than 20 years ago, they are prisoners of the enemy. The devil has them trapped. Our fight is with the the powers of sin that influence our world. Satan, the devil, his demons and evil spirits, their influence in individual lives.

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