Snow in 49 States

On January 11, there was snow in 49 states, with the exception of Florida.

This reminds me of Psalm 147:15-17, which affirms God’s control of the weather:

“He sends out his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly.  He gives snow like wool; he scatters hoarfrost like ashes.  He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs; who can stand before his cold?”

Think of it: snow in 49 states at one time!  God is amazing.

10 Christian Books on the Problem of Evil

I wanted to recommend some books on a very controversial topic, the problem of evil.  Like the prophets of the Old Testament, we will inevitably face questions of injustice and evil in our own lives and in the wider world.  Destruction occurs somewhere every day, suffering is either our current or coming experience, and we must process these realities in ways which honor God and His word.

God has given great thinkers to His church who look at what the Bible says and offer help on this difficult topic of evil in the world.  While I may not endorse everything in the books below, they’re worth our reflection.  Though some of these books cover more subjects than the problem of evil, their treatment of the topic is worth the mention of the whole book.

In no particular order, I recommend:

(1) The Doctrine of God, by John Frame
(2) Suffering and the Goodness of God, edited by Christopher Morgan and Robert Peterson
(3) Evil and the Justice of God, by N. T. Wright
(4) Suffering and the Sovereignty of God, edited by John Piper and Justin Taylor
(5) The Benefits of Providence, by James S. Spiegel
(6) God’s Greater Glory, by Bruce Ware
(7) The God I Don’t Understand, by Christopher Wright
(8) How Long, O Lord? by D. A. Carson
(9) Spectacular Sins, by John Piper
(10) The Secret Providence of God, by John Calvin

If you want a short treatment on the subject, I recommend Spectacular Sins by Piper.  If you want a huge book to chew through, I recommend The Doctrine of God by Frame.  If you want an academic treatment, I recommend either Frame’s book or God’s Greater Glory by Ware.  If you want a book that deals with a continuum of issues related to suffering, yet isn’t overly complex, I recommend How Long, O Lord? by Carson.

If you purchase one and read it, let me know what you think.  Happy reading!

God is Knitting My Baby

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb” (Ps 139:13).

God has not entrusted the formation of life into anyone else’s hands.  His mighty hands are tender, knitting with care the baby in a mother’s womb.

My wife Stacie and I prayed tonight for our baby, due this June.  I was reminded of Psalm 139 and how God exercises intricate care and precision when he designs a person.

Our baby is in God’s hands, and it is a helpless feeling.  We need to feel helpless, though, so that we remember to trust God.  He is good, capable, loving, and faithful.

Wonder of wonders, there is a baby in Stacie’s womb who is being fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps 139:14).

Start With One Word

“If you’re afraid you can’t write, the answer is to write. Every sentence you construct adds weight to the balance pan. If you’re afraid of what other people will think of your efforts, don’t show them until you write your way beyond your fear.

If writing a book is impossible, write a chapter. If writing a chapter is impossible, write a page. If writing a page is impossible, write a paragraph. If writing a paragraph is impossible, write a sentence. If writing even a sentence is impossible, write a word and teach yourself everything there is to know about that word and then write another, connected word and see where their connection leads.”

–Richard Rhodes

 

When Satan is Preying, Jesus is Praying

These words of Jesus disturb me, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat” (Luke 22:31).

The context doesn’t answer my questions, like “How did Satan present his demand?”  And, “Why should God grant what Satan demands?”  Also, “Why focus on Peter?  Satan had already entered Judas and tempted him to betray Jesus.”

After his ominous warning, Jesus shines a ray of hope, “but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail.  And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:32).

What does it mean for Peter’s faith to not fail?  I think Jesus means that Peter would not ultimately abandon faith.  His three denials didn’t constitute an abandonment, since he is a follower after Jesus’ resurrection (John 21) and ascension (Acts 2).

If Peter’s denials meant that his faith failed, then Jesus’ prayer went unanswered.  But the Son doesn’t seek what is contrary to the Father.  Besides, Jesus told Peter, “…the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me” (Luke 22:34).  Jesus knew that Peter would deny him.

By praying that Peter’s faith would not fail, Jesus was asking the Father that Peter’s denials would not lead him to apostasy.  And Jesus’ prayer was answered.  Peter, though weak in faith, did not abandon faith.  He was sifted, yes, but he was sustained by the intercession of Jesus.

We are too weak to sustain our own faith.  Rather, the strength and power of Jesus enables us to persevere in spite of our weaknesses.

Be encouraged, believer: when Satan is preying, Jesus is praying.