Still Waters

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord


Have you ever noticed these two verses in the same Psalm?

"He leads me beside the still waters."

"...I walk through the valley of the shadow of death...."

Peace in the midst of extremely turbulent circumstances is nothing but supernatural.

A couple of things to ponder:

1.) Is the Lord your Shepherd?

2.) Do you feel like you're walking through the valley of the shadow of death, and it feels like there's no way out? Well, He can walk you through it to the other end. He can even make that valley feel like the banks of a quiet stream.

3.) One of the things that makes Jesus our great High Priest is the fact that He came to earth as a man and dealt with all the junk of life just like we do. He walked through the valley of the shadow of death (and really died), and that's what allows Him to minister to each of us in an incredible way. He looks at us and says, "I know exactly how you feel...I've been there, and I'm here for you." In much the same way, if we go through the valley, that equips us to help others, to have compassion on others. God may allow us to go through that valley to equip us for ministry.




The Problem of Death

When a loved one dies, family and friends usually show up in town to honor that person, to pay last respects, and to say goodbye.

I've kind of been mulling over this argument by atheists and agnostics dubbed "the problem of evil," which is supposed to be a logical conclusion about the non-existence of God. I could spend a great deal of time researching and taking up the typical arguments against this "problem of evil," but I don't really feel like it would be a good use of time.

Nevertheless, my mind gets going and I sometimes stumble into something worth saying...or at least I think I do.

Those who subscribe to the argument that since evil exists God doesn't use horrible tragedies to prove that God does not exist. Since atrocities occur and God won't do anything about it, He must not exist. But I think one of the greatest atrocities on the earth is to say that God does not exist and the logical conclusion to that argument. Since God does not exist, what use is there in honoring the dead? They are merely the result of an improbability and a great deal of time. And when they are gone, they are gone. Their lives are worthless vapor, here today and gone tomorrow. To suggest to those who are grieving passed loved ones that the dead are inconsequential, that their lives were mere biological function, trying to survive, to gather food, build shelter, and reproduce, is an unspeakable blasphemy. Where then is morality? Where then is justice, mercy, and truth? Why then is the death of just another animal so painful? After all, I see dead possums every day on the road. If God does not exist, then let us eat, drink, and be merry, for our lives are of no eternal consequence.

I guess what I'm saying is this: the act of love that is portrayed through the grieving process, along with numerous other appearances of love can only suggest that God is real. I maintain that since we see love here on the earth, God must be real, for love cannot be mere biological function. We learn love from Love Himself. After all, we were created in His image. This pain we feel from missing our loved ones must be derived from Him. It must be the pain He felt when He called out to Adam, "Where are you?"

Those who subscribe to atheism because of the "problem of evil," when attempting to prove their point, play on the very love nerve about which I am speaking. Since all these incredibly horrific things happen to "innocent" people, we are moved with compassion, then look heavenward and wonder what is happening up there that these things are still continuing. I claim that if God is not real and we are simply a biological anomaly, there would would be no moving in the heart; there would be no compassion; there would be no, "why, God?" We would be animals, and like animals we would live if there was no God. But there's nothing animalistic about people saying goodbye to a loved one for the last time. Those tears are real. And I would venture to say that no one has a bigger broken heart about these things than God Himself.

When I see grieving people, I think, "None of this was ever God's will. Death, dying, pain, loss, suffering...none of this is God's will." And it isn't. Look at the resurrection of Lazarus. Jesus wept when He got there. I always found that interesting because Jesus had to know He was going to raise him from the dead. I wonder if Jesus wept because these people had to go through the pain of losing Lazarus. I wonder if Jesus still weeps at funerals today. I bet He does.




The Problem of Evil

A number of months ago I happened upon a blog wherein the authors were attempting to "debunk" Christianity. I find it interesting that they were attempting to use a blog to provide incontrovertible evidence that Christianity is false, and that we are all a bunch of dolts for believing it--this religion that has survived centuries of persecution and hijacking by psychopaths. Nevertheless, there was an argument that I had run across on this blog: the problem of evil.

I don't really know all that much about this kind of an argument. I only visited the website a few times. But there are a number of folks out there who believe that since evil exists in the world, then one of three things must be true: If God exists, since he won't step in and stop gross evils from happening to people, then He is malevolent. Or, if God exists, he is incapable of stopping the gross evils that happen to people, which means He is not all-powerful. Or God simply does not exist. In other words, why do bad things happen to good people?

I've heard this kind of argument before from people with whom I tried to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. The reasoning goes something like this: 'If God exists, then why is there evil in the world? Why doesn't He just step in and stop this or that from happening to people?'--The thinking being that since these evils exist, God does not exist, and therefore I do not have to consider religious matters.

It's a clever argument...but it cannot beyond the shadow of a doubt prove that God does not exist. It's more of an argument for trying to convince oneself that God does not exist, and since He doesn't, I can live my life in the fashion I want. I'm not responsible to God because some poor kid in Africa is dying of AIDS and God won't do anything about it.

My problem with this line of reasoning is that I don't think we are as well-informed about these kinds of spiritual matters as much as we think we are. I think it's much more highly probable that we just don't know what we're talking about, rather than that since evil exists God doesn't. Besides that, if an infinite God exists, I'm not so sure we can apply our high school geometry class logical reasoning to such spiritual matters higher than ourselves. We approach the argument with the assumption that we can understand the supernatural through mere logic, which is patently ridiculous. The supernatural is exactly that: beyond nature, beyond human logic and reason.

Anyway, these thoughts came to mind the other day as I considered these things:

God may not necessarily intervene and stop horrendous situations from happening. With respect to that, He continues to regard the free will of men: hence Adam's sin and the curse. However, God is the Master of taking intensely horrible situations and using them for the greatest good. Because of this, we should not look to God and say, "Why don't you stop this or do that?" but rather we should say, "This horrible thing has happened (which by the way, is probably a result of the curse we brought on this earth because of our rebellion against what God said). Will You please look upon the situation and use it for Your glory?"

Our God is a God of love not because He will stop bad things from happening, but because He can more than restore to us the years that famine, pestilence, and disease have stolen from us. He can work peace in the midst of disaster. This is how He is. To say that He doesn't exist just because He won't operate the way we want Him to operate proves nothing--actually, it proves that a god of our own fancy doesn't exist. The invention of our imaginations, our genie-god, doesn't exist. Thank God.

Our God is a God of love...and we are all idiots.




Sensitive to the Call

Here's the next part of my essay I started awhile ago:

Sensitive to the Call

“Come to Me” He says…”Come to Me.” It’s an interesting parallel passage to God’s call to man in Genesis: “Where are you?” “Come to Me” looks forward to what Jesus was going to accomplish on the cross. It’s an invitation back into His Presence…and this invitation, “Come to Me,” is saturated with the love that only our Father has for each of us.

A sensitivity to this call exists in a great number of us. Note what happens just before the feeding of the 5000 in John 6:

“Then a great multitude followed Him, because they saw His signs which He performed on those who were diseased.” ~ John 6:2

Jesus performed signs on those who were diseased. He had developed a reputation for making whole those who were sick, lame, blind, and diseased. He set people free. He forgave sins. He ached for people in His incredible compassion. There was something about Jesus that caused the hurting to look to Him. There is still something about Jesus that causes the hurting to look to Him.
After feeding those all those people He went off by Himself for awhile and then met the disciples on the sea. The people then got into boats and went looking for Him. When they found Him, they asked Him when He had gotten there. His response was quite revealing:

“Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.” ~ John 6:26-27

Before John had said that they were following Him around because of the signs He performed on the diseased. Now Jesus says they were following Him around not because of the signs, but because they themselves ate the food He gave them. He said they had been filled. They got a taste of that which satisfies. For a brief period of time, that restlessness, that toiling, that hole in their hearts had been satisfied. It was nothing less than Jesus Himself. Remember our curse from Genesis 3?

“…In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread….” ~ Genesis 3:19a

No longer…. No longer will we eat bread in the sweat of our own faces. Jesus calls us to no longer labor for the food that perishes. Jesus calls us to Himself. Jesus says, “Come to Me.” Jesus says,

“I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” ~ John 6:35


©Bill Sines



It's been awhile since I've posted...there are a number of things going on.

1.) I'm reading a book by Andy Stanley called Visioneering. It's a great read. I recommend it for anyone in a leadership position. The basic premise of the book is the story of Nehemiah and how God birthed a vision in him for rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem. If you have a burden or passion in your heart that you feel is from God, pick it up and read it. It's a leadership strategy/Bible study book. Good stuff. Here are a few things I've learned so far:

Sometimes God-ordained visions are near impossible or completely impossible so that when the thing is completed, God gets the glory.

What God originates, He orchestrates.

"Then they said to Moses, 'Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you so dealt with us, to bring us up out of Egypt?'" ~ Exodus 14:11

God doesn't bring you halfway in a vision just to leave you in an impossible situation to die. Remember God's faithfulness in the past to motivate you and those around you to continue to "put your hands to the good work."

2.) God is at work at New Life Fellowship in Topeka, Indiana. Today we broke ground for our new church building. I see a connection between what I'm learning in this book and what God is doing at NLF. God has a vision for us...and I want to be part of that vision. I can see God orchestrating some out-of-the-ordinary circumstances in order to reach out to lost, hurting, and dying people. I'm not so sure I can put the words together to describe what all is going on. It's an exciting ride to say the least!

3.) Hopefully I can find some time to finish that series of blog posts I started (see the last two posts). Spring break just got over, so it's back to the mayhem!

That's all for now...