Hey God, It’s Marcus, I Know You Are Good, But What are You Good For?

We want every love story to have a happy ending.  Too many don’t.  God’s does.  It just takes a long time.

Somehow we’ve gotten this idea that if God loves us, bad things won’t happen.  No earthquakes, hurricanes, bad government policies, war, disease, accidents.  There’s a voice that whispers, “Hey God, I know You’re good but tell me again, what are you good for?”

We think, “Because God is love, the abundant life that Jesus promised us means an abundance of blessings NOW, you know, all the GOOD things of life that makes us happy.”  Maybe our understanding of love is all wrong.

Where did we get that idea?

Jesus made it clear that life, real life,–the life he died to give us–centers not on nice homes, happy families, and good health in a safe world with a booming economy.  Rather, Jesus wanted us to know His Father as our Father–in good and bad times–and relating to His Father and everyone else the WAY JESUS DOES–in good and bad times.

Isn’t that what holiness is?  Holiness doesn’t consist of doing good things and not doing bad things.  Holiness is wrapped up in relating deeply with love.

The abundant life Jesus came to give us is (at least for now) an abundance of knowing God as our supreme treasure and relating to Him and others lovingly, not an abundance of material blessings.

What most needs changing is not our circumstances.  Blessings in the short-term may be dangerous to our long-term joy.

Black Friday Should Be Renamed “Ungrateful Friday”

A few years ago, my son, Micah, made an astute observation after watching news of Black Friday near riots and crime.  He said, “That’s ironic and sad. On Thursday we thank God for all that we have. We’re content. And then the next day we act like we NEED something so bad we’d trample other people.”

I think Black Friday should be renamed, “Ungrateful Friday.”

If you missed it…here’s one Walmart…from a few years ago.

Pray With Your Bible Open

I probably don’t pray enough.  OK, I know I don’t pray enough.  But my favorite way to pray is with the Bible open.  I get weary praying mostly for myself so I pray for others.  What I love most is when I hear from God.  Why?

I will listen to what God the LORD says;
he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants—
but let them not turn to folly.   Psalm 85:8

4 Qualities of Scripture make it valuable for prayer:

  1. The Bible is holy; it provides preparation for prayer.  By reading the Psalms for example, it helps me focus on the character and nature of God in relationship to His people.  It brings holiness into my thinking.
  2. The Bible is trustworthy; it provides guidance.  It guides us to be the people God wants us to be when we apply it.
  3. The Bible is enlightening; it provides wisdom. It gives insight into problems we have.
  4. The Bible is true; it provides subjects for prayer.  In other words there are lots of prayers in the Bible we can appropriate for our own use and to further teach us how to pray.

We Need to be Broken before we’re Made Whole

Sincere spiritual leadership can produce only the appearance of revival, never its reality.  Stirring music and passionate preaching, though good, have no power in themselves to change what is wrong in people.  Only death destroys evil.  Only death opens the door to resurrection, to a new way to live.  Without the Holy Spirit’s work, our “exciting” religious gatherings (and the boring ones too) do little that excites the heart of God.  He wants us to see beneath appearances to the problem that only the Son can solve.

Surface change is often mistaken for deep change.  When the medication of exciting worship and inspiring preaching relieves the symptoms of sin, the need for the surgery of brokenness is no longer recognized.

If we “follow Jesus,” believing that instruction, discipline, and inspiration are enough to keep us on track, we will see Jesus as merely our “religious cheerleader,” and not the holy Savior we so desperately need.