What Good is Christianity, Anyway?

Picture this: You are driving down the road, happy and content, when you realize that you have a flat tire. You pull off to a nice level spot. In your trunk is a new spare tire as well as a good jack, tire iron and lug nut wrench. Your Bachelor's Degree is in auto mechanics and you have recently completed your MSTC (Master of Science in Tire Changing). You, however, just sit in your car and wonder, "What's the use of having the right tools and proper training? I got a flat, anyway!" A bit foolish, isn't it?

Yet, how many people go through life just as happy as can be until something goes wrong. Maybe they were raised in a good Christian family. Maybe they went to worship and Bible classes every week. They might be daily Bible readers and regular in their prayer life. But then, disaster strikes! Maybe it's health related. Maybe it's their job or finances. Perhaps someone has let them down. Maybe someone very close to them has died. Whatever the hardship, they are in great despair and they ask themselves something along the lines of, "What good is Christianity, anyway?"

None... if you don't use it!

We must understand that Christianity is not a magic talisman that will prevent us from experiencing harm. God did not design His perfect way of life as insurance against discomfort. While no one but God can answer why some people seem to suffer so much, while others seemingly have it made, we can be sure of these two things: 1)This world is not Heaven, and 2) Life is a test. Will we be faithful to God in good times, and in bad, or will we be "fair weather" servants? Will we lean upon God and Christ when we cannot make it on our own, or will we try to hold Them accountable when things do not go our way? Will we praise Their holy Names, come what may?

Or... will we in difficult times just ask, "What's the use? What good is Christianity, anyway?" The answer to that question may well determine both our quality of life on this earth as well as our dwelling place for all eternity. The fact is that God will always be there for His children. If we will serve Him, in good times and bad, He truly will help us every step of the way. Life will not always be easy, but God and Christ will never let us down.

What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such a faith save him? ...faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. 

James 2:14 & 17, NIV

 

What Are We Here For?

Bad news travels fast. Old American proverb

Have you noticed that the news of late is not all that cheery? From riots and protests, to the prices of food and gas to the harsh political climate, all of the news just seems to be bad. Such news has a way of instilling fear and uncertainty. We worry about what the turmoil in different areas of the world will result in. We worry that we will not have enough money to pay our bills. We worry about the state of our nation. Add that to uncertain job outlooks, a drought of historic proportions, and that general sense of gloom that just seems to permeate the news and it's enough to give even the most optimistic among us the blues.

That's when it's good for us to remember what we are here for. We are not here for eternal peace on earth. We're not here for wealth and comfort. We are not here for perfect climate and health. We're here because our loving Father put us here and, sometimes, "here" is a test.

Could that be why there are challenges in our lives? Could it be that life is a test to determine who will be faithful? Could it be that God is watching from above to see who rises to these challenging times and actually lifts the burdens of those who are struggling, as opposed to those who just seem to add to the difficulty of an already difficult test?

The truth is that there has always been bad news in life and there always will be, but there is also an abundance of really good news for those who will listen. In fact, Jesus came into this world to announce the "Good News" - the news that saves men's souls. When you boil life down to its essence, you will find that we are here to go to heaven. Since that is the case, maybe the bad news isn't so bad after all. What are you here for, anyway? 

For you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. I Peter 1:9, NIV

He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Psalms 112:7, NIV

 

What a Life!

There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other as though everything is a miracle. Albert Einstein

When I was a kid, one of my favorite things to do was go grocery shopping with my Mom. If you were to know my history with shopping, you might feel that I am stretching the truth a bit, but it's completely true - I loved to go grocery shopping with my Mom.

The reason for this was found in the way Mom let me shop. You see, Mom didn't always appreciate the pearls of wisdom that I dropped in my everyday conversation (She tended to agree with her friend who kept me once. After following this poor woman around the entire day, dropping the afore mentioned pearls, she asked my Mom, "How do you stand him talking all the time?") Well, the way Mom stood it was revealed in the way she went grocery shopping. She would let me use my allowance to buy a bag of licorice and a comic book and then she would send me out to the car to enjoy my quiet moment while she enjoyed hers. And we think Einstein was smart!

Anyway, some of my best memories are of lying down in the floor boards of the Rambler - feet propped up on the door and head propped up on the "hump", a mouthful of tasty red licorice and a long, uninterrupted period to enjoy some classic literature. This was living!

As I look back on life, I realize that it has been packed with such moments. Special moments don't require a lot of cash, designer coffees or quiet places with spectacular views. They merely require a quiet spirit (molded by clever Moms and Dads) and the ability to savor life's simple pleasures. We all knew how to do that... when we were younger. Maybe the secret to being satisfied with life is to remember the pleasant qualities we had when we were children, when all that was required for true satisfaction was the not so small miracle of just enjoying whatever circumstances you happened to find yourself in.

Now when it seems that everywhere I turn I see dissatisfaction and the continual lack of harmony that the multitudes of people seem to have in this life, I find it very pleasant (and uncharacteristically wise) to leave the crowded market place and find myself whatever passes in our modern times for the floor board of a Rambler, a bag of licorice and a good comic book. God has given a lifetime of everyday miracles to those who will open their eyes and look. They are found in the faces of our loved ones, in the laughter of our children, and in the floor boards of the Ramblers of our minds.

I know that there is nothing better than for men to be happy and do good while they live. Ecclesiastes 3:12, NIV   

 

We Will Praise God!

At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised."

Job 1:20-21, NIV

The event quoted above came after a series of tragedies. Job had lost all of his oxen, donkeys, sheep and cattle - in other words, all of his wealth. Then Job learned that all of his children had been killed. He did two things that are worthy of our attention. The first was something that we would all expect: He mourned his loss.

It's the second thing that he did that I want to dwell on for a few moments though, for the second thing was unexpected: He praised God!

The results of this year's election have brought a profound sense of grief to me. I truly expected more from our nation, but those expectations turned out to be poorly placed. I am disappointed, and more than a bit bewildered.

But one thing I know: God is still in control. He still loves those who love Him and who attempt to serve Him in His way. The amazing thing is that He also loves those who do not love Him and who do not even try to serve Him in His way. I am grateful for that... for to my shame I have been in that exact position in the past, and I am glad that He was patient with me and gave me time to repent.

I pray that our nation will repent. I pray that we will turn away from our love of sexual immorality and from our hatred towards the unborn. I pray that others will come to their senses someday so that they can repent - and I pray that if I am missing some such wickedness in my own life, that I will also come to my senses and repent.

I am disappointed by the outcome of our election and what it says about our nation, but I am not defeated! I am determined to serve my Creator! I pray that you will have the same determination.

And, I will praise God, for He is worthy of praise!

Will you join me?

I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies.

King David - Psalms 18:3, NIV

 

We Will Trust God... And We Will Praise Him!

If we win we will praise God, and if we lose we will praise God.

from the movie, Facing The Giants

I love this quote from Facing the Giants. It is the theme of the movie and it reminds us that, win or lose, we must trust God and, therefore, win or lose, that we should praise Him. This is the way we should be looking at every election for the leaders of this nation. 

If you are like me, you have more than just a passing interest in today's election. Big things are at stake - at times, it seems as if the soul of our very nation is at stake. Of course, nations do not have souls, but people do and we therefore should be very serious as to how we vote. God is watching. Further, I believe, He has just as great of expectations for us to do the right thing as we have expectations for Him to do His part.

Will we meet God's expectations today? God will do His part so, win or lose, we must be prepared to do ours. 

It is vital for us to trust God in today's election - for He is powerful and He will give us exactly what we need, be it punishment or reward, peace or persecution. So, win or lose, we must not fail to praise Him.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6, NIV