A screaming room in every hospital

A woman once stepped out of the room of her dying loved one and asked a doctor if there was a room anywhere in the hospital where she could go to scream. After directing her to a quiet room for prayer, the doctor thought to himself that there should be a screaming room in every hospital

After C. S. Lewis lost his wife to cancer, he wrote down a few of his thoughts.

“I am not in much danger of ceasing to believe in God. The real danger is of coming to believe such dreadful things about Him. The conclusion I dread is not ‘So there’s no God after all,’ but ‘So this is what God is really like.'” (A Grief Observed)

He observed that the God who held his dear Joy Lewis in His hands did fearful things with those hands. “Time after time when He seemed most gracious, He was preparing the next torture…I wrote that last night. It was a yell rather than a thought.”

Unbelief doesn’t shout bewilderment at a personal God. It shouts at blind fate. Belief shouts at a faithful and loving Heavenly Father when He seems to tolerate unimaginable suffering.

With our Savior, we cry in agony, “My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest.”(Psalm 22).

We know that, “There is a time to be born and a time to die.” Yes, “The living know that they will die” (Ecclesiastes 3:1;9:5). Even the games and prayers of children rehearse this difficult truth.

Ring around the Rosie,

Pocket full of Posies,

Ashes, Ashes!

We all fall down!

Prayer

Now I lay me down to sleep,

Pray the Lord my soul to keep,

And if I die before I wake,

I pray the Lord my soul to take.

We groan and sigh during our earthly journey. Death is our enemy. It is also the gateway into the full joy of the presence of God.

Let’s remember that suffering and screaming have a place in this life. It’s ok and maybe even helpful to scream!

“While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God.” (Hebrews 5:7).

Written with prayers for those who are screaming,

Steve Cornell

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Human responsibility and God’s sovereign election

If God controls everything, is he not a cosmic puppeteer pulling our strings when he wants us to dance?

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The Apostolic Word
Beyond my own comments on this subject, I’ve included several helpful summaries related to God’s sovereign election and the moral responsibility of human beings. Consider the following excellent summary.

The Westminster Confession

“God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably, ordained whatsoever comes to pass: yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.”

Basis for Election

Election is solely conditioned upon the character of God. God will never do anything contrary His character (see: Ex. 33:19; 34:5-7; Deut. 32:3-4; Jn. 3:16-17; Rom. 2:11; II Thess. 1:6; I Tim. 2:3-4; Ja. 1:13,17; I Jn. 1:5; 4:8,16). There is a necessary connection between God’s character and his treatment of his creation. God’s anger…

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God so loved the world?

Who or what does “world” include?

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sun.earthScripture speaks of God’s love as world-wide. “God so loved the World that He gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

But who or what does “world” include?

Should we understand it to be a Creator’s love for all people or a Redeemer’s love for His chosen ones? Or, Is something else involved here?

“I know that some try to take world here to refer to the elect.  But that really will not do.  All the evidence of the usage of the word in John’s Gospel is against the suggestion. World in John does not so much refer to bigness as to badness.  In John’s vocabulary, world is primarily the moral order in willful and culpable rebellion against God.  In John 3:16, God’s love in sending the Lord Jesus is to be admired not because it is…

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What do we know about Jesus Christ?

The idea of a crucified god is not a message you make up if you’re going to start a religion in the first century A.D.

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It’s an indisputable fact of history that there existed in the first century a man identified as Jesus of Nazareth. We possess detailed accounts of his birth, life, contemporaries, and his death. We know when he lived– 5/6 BC through 30/32 BC. We know where he was born—the town of Bethlehem. We know where he spent most of his life— in Nazareth of Galilee. We know about many historical figures of the same period of human history.

We know of more details surrounding the death of Jesus Christ than any other person from the ancient world. We know of the events leading up to his death—his betrayal, arrest, religious and civil trial. We know what was said to him by the leaders of Israel and Rome, by the crowd, by those who were crucified with him. We know what he said to these people as well as what he said to…

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Two-fold daily encounter with God

I need a two-fold encounter with God each day. Do you feel this need?

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Like many of you, I work through my challenges in the presence of God. How amazing that He invites one like me into His presence!

The great paradox of this grace is how humbling and uplifting it is to be in the presence of  “the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see” Yes,  “To him be honor and might forever.” (I Timothy 6:15-16).

I need a two-fold encounter with God each day (perhaps more than once throughout each day. Do you feel this need? 

  1. Hebrews 4:12-13 encounter: Scripture“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (cf. Deuteronomy 8:3-5)
  2. Hebrews…

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Preoccupied with the perception of others

Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important or accepted.

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Audio version here

The most common argument among the early disciples of Jesus focused on their desire to be considered the greatest.

We might find it unusual and disturbing that they openly pursued self-promotion, but the core issues underlying their preoccupation with status are far more common than many would admit. Perhaps we don’t flagrantly advertised interest in greatness, but that doesn’t mean we are free from concerns about how others regard us.

Who is considered greatest?

During the final days of Jesus’ mission on earth, He ate with his disciples and during the meal drew attention to the bread as symbolic of the giving of his body for them and the cup as symbolic of “the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you” (Luke 22:19-20).

Then (as Luke’s gospel records), the subject turned to the one who would betray Jesus. “the hand of him who is…

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Power of forgiveness

Would God withhold forgiveness from you if you don’t forgive your offender?

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It is reported that when Thomas Edison and his staff were developing the incandescent light bulb, it took hundreds of hours to manufacture a single bulb.

One day, after finishing a bulb, he handed it to a young errand boy and asked him to take it upstairs to the testing room. As the boy turned and started up the stairs, he stumbled and fell, and the bulb shattered on the steps. Instead of rebuking the boy, Edison reassured him and then turned to his staff and told them to start working on another bulb. When it was completed, Edison demonstrated the validity of his forgiveness in the most powerful way possible. He walked over to the same boy, handed him the bulb, and said, ‘Please take this up to the testing room. Imagine how that boy must have felt. He knew that he didn’t deserve to be trusted with…

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Evil and death are conquered!

Evil is conquered as evil because God turns it back upon itself?

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As we approach the time of year when Christians focus on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we stand in awe of the way God chose for victory over evil and death. 

Take time to reflect on this great quote and the Scriptures and song of worship below:

“Evil is conquered as evil because God turns it back upon itself. He makes the supreme crime, the murder of the only righteous person, the very operation that abolishes sin. The maneuver is utterly unprecedented” (Henri Blocher).

  • “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ” (II Corinthians 5:21, NLT).
  • Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying” (John 11:25, NLT).

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Worship in praise!

I must learn to give the worship of  praise a higher place in my time with God!

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heaven-on-earthDespondency has a way of selectively focusing on certain aspects of life and conveniently overlooking others. When my heart is heavy, I easily fall for selective focus.

I need to hear the call of the psalmist to: “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise” (psalm 100:4).

During times like these, my prayers tend to be more focused on listing my burdens rather than reciting His blessings.

I know that the Psalmist admonishes us to “pour out our hearts before Him.” I follow the invitation to “cast all our care on Him because He cares for us.” Yet I must learn to give the worship of  praise a higher place in my time with God!

One of the greatest remedies for a heavy heart is praise to God for who He is, what He has done, and what He promises to do.

We have been saved by God…

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Restoring Vital Optimism

Do you want to leave the land of despair and restore vital spiritual optimism?

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According to historian John Keegan, in a particular battle during World War I, the British lost 70,000 troops and suffered an unthinkable number of wounded. With this loss, the British also lost a general mood of vital optimism that had prevailed in their culture for almost a century. Some believe British life has never fully recovered.  

“One terrible battle with catastrophic losses, and the cultural momentum (centuries in the making) of a great nation is arrested, dissipated. Keegan’s term vital optimism describes a quality of spirit possessed by a community or a person where there is a persuasion that the best is yet to be. Whatever the past, the future will be better” (MacDonald, Mid-Course Correction).          

Loss of vital optimism is a problem many struggle with in life.  Early childhood, youth and young adult phases are usually full of optimism…

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