I wrote a post in June titled Whats the Point? I wrote of several life changing events in my life. Among them, being born, becoming a christian, meeting my wife etc. I am pretty sure after this week I'm going to have to add a few.
First epiphany. For Fathers' Day I purchased a book by Paul Coughlin titled "No More Christian Nice Guy". I stumbled across this tome while searching for the Ideal Dad's day gift for my father. Our men's bible study group at church has been trying to figure out how to get more guys involved in our church. A very nice lady at our local christian bookstore was kind enought to point this book out to me. Bells ring! This clicks with what dad has been working on. Round peg, round hole, Happy Fathers Day.
A day or two goes by. I pick up the book and start reading it. You could have knocked me over with a brick. The Author and I have something in common. A life ruled by fear. Even though we have a lot of differences there were still many similarities. But the common denominator was fear. While recovering from my surgery I have had a lot of time to think. I believe God has used this time to wean me off of fear and this book was the icing on the cake. I understand the author's gut wrenching fear he experienced in childhood. The lack of worth. When you read about his experience, if you can relate at all, you will vividly understand. Paul brings it to life. I recomend any man struggling in life with this stuff to read this book.
People don't understand that most of what we struggle with is fear driven. Addiction, co-dependency, lying, pornography, alcoholism all are fear based. I want to share the verses he put in the book that got my attention. The ones I have been meditating on. Jeremiah 29:12 If you invoke Me and pray to Me. I will listen to you. We know this but do we really? We say it, we read it but do we know it. Roll it into John 16:33 "In this world you will have trouble. But Take Heart! I have overcome the world." Fear is starting to tremble now. We all know we have problems but Jesus is saying It's gonna happen, people are going to pick on you. Abuse you. Not treat you right. But look, It isn't anything I haven't experienced. I have conquered the Grave! I have overcome the world! I will take care of you! How awesome is that. Thank God for Paul Coughlin putting this together. I needed to see the context. In my mind I knew these things but not in my heart. The last verse will blow you away. Romans 8:15 "You did not recieve a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you recieved the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, Abba, Father."
Epiphany number two, I have also been reading Lee Strobel's "The Case For Faith," a book about the eight "heart barriers to faith". Examples, Since evil and suffering exist, a loving God Cannot, Evolution explains life so God isn't needed. Strobel is a former atheist and investigative reporter who uses his investigative skills to track down answers to tough questions we have regarding faith in God.
Stobel was interviewing Peter Kreeft a professor of philosophy at Boston College. I plan on reading much more of Kreeft's writings. What follows is the climax to the question of how can God exist if he allows suffering.
This is what blew me away. Strobel asks, "The answer, then, to suffering. Is not an answer at all."Kreeft responds. "Correct, It's the answerer. It's Jesus Himself. It's not a bunch of words, it's the Word. It's not a tightly woven philosphical argument; it's a person. The person. The answer must be someone, not just something, because the issue involves someone--God, where are you? Jesus is there, sitting beside us in the lowest places of our lives, Are we broken? He was broken, like the bread, for us. Are we despised? He was despised and rejected of men. Do we cry out that we can't take any more? He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Do people betray us? He was sold out himself. Are our tenderest relationships broken? He too loved and was rejected. Do people turn from us? They hid their faces from him as from a leper." "Does he descend into all of our hells? Yes, he does. From the depths of a Nazi death camp, Corrie ten Boom wrote: 'No matter how deep our darkness, he is deeper still.' He not only rose from the dead, he changed the meaning of death and therefore of all the little deaths--the sufferings that anticipate death and make up parts of it. He is gassed in Auschwitz, He is sneered at in Soweto. He is mocked in Northern Ireland. He is enslaved in the Sudan. He's the one we love to hate, yet to us he has chosen to return love. Every tear we shed becomes his tear. He may not wipe them away yet, but he will."