Don’t Give Up

Sometimes in life, we really just want to quit. We want to lay down, just stop, and give up. We want to give in. There’s no point in going on, no point in trying, no point in worrying.

Why try?

Why worry?

What’s the point? There’s no point in it all.

Why pray? God doesn’t care, surely not. God isn’t worried about it. Why pray. Just quit.

I’m sure you’ve thought that way before. I know I have. I’m sure you’ve just wanted to lay down and quit before. I know have.

But you know what? Don’t give up. Listen to what happened in Luke 18: 35-43:

As he drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. And hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what this meant. They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” And he cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And Jesus stopped and commanded him to be brought to him. And when he came near, he asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me recover my sight.” And Jesus said to him, “Recover your sight; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.

106225_20130427_103353_IMG_20130426_234324This guy was blind. Just getting as far as he did in life was a real accomplishment. But he hears Jesus is coming. This is his chance. This is the moment that he can be healed.

After all, Jesus has been going around everywhere healing folks all over the place. This is the moment. This is when it can happen.

So, he goes to find Jesus. He goes to be healed. And folks tell him. No. Be quiet. Jesus doesn’t have time for this. He has others to attend to. He has other things that He had to do.

Go.

Leave.

So, he could. He could quit. He could leave. He could lay down and continue as it is. Or, he could say no! I will not quit! I will not lay down! I will keep going! I will keep doing! I will keep yelling louder, and louder, and louder for Jesus until He does something.

And Jesus does. He heals him. Because he wouldn’t quit. He wouldn’t give up. He keeps pushing; he kept the faith. He didn’t quit.

And neither should you. Keep fighting. Keep working. Keep striving. Keep going. Keep doing it.

You can. Keep at it. Don’t quit. No matter what. Keeping going.

You can do it. Keep at it. Good things will come. Even if you tire, or scared, or worried, or whatever.

Keep going. No matter what.

You can do it.

Dont’ give up.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones, and you thought our app, you can now watch our worship services from Asbury too!

Trusting

It is easy sometimes in life to think that things are spinning out of control. It’s easy to feel that the world is spinning out of control.

It’s easy to feel that our lives are out of control. That our families are out of control. That things are spinning too fast, that things are coming unglued.

What are we going to do! Ah!!!!! Oh!!!!!!

Seriously. Ever feel that way? I know I do sometimes. I know I am not sure of how things are going, worried about things in my life, my church, my family, the world.

As a worrier, it’s kind of what I do. So, it’s good for me to hear the words of Job 42: 1-3 this morning:

Then Job replied to the Lord: “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.

trust_actionWhat purpose (or plan) of God can be thwarted. What plan of God can be ended? What plan of God can be stopped?

By who? Me? You? The world?

Nope. God knows what He is doing. He’s got a plan. He’s got a purpose. He knows what He is in the midst of accomplishing.

And it will be accomplished.

It will.

So today, trust in Him. No matter what. No matter what is going on. No matter how crazy it may seem. No matter how bad it mean seem. No matter how uncertain it may seem.

Trust. Trust in Him. He’s got it. He knows what He is doing.

Trust. No purpose of God can be stopped. It’s going to be ok. He’s got it. When you don’t know what He’s doing, trust in who He is. You can trust Him, in all things.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones, and you thought our app, you can now watch our worship services from Asbury too!

The Fields are Ready

Yesterday we talked about how part of what we are called to do it to join into what God is doing. There are opportunities; there are so many things that God is doing!

He is at work in ways that we can’t even think about or realize. He is doing things that our brains can’t fathom. He is at work in different ways and places that are literally too much for us to handle.

And, to restate. He wants to us me and you to accomplish His goal and purpose. Listen today to what it says in Matthew 9: 35-38:

And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

landscape_shutterstock_120849595The harvest is plentiful. As a Christian, everywhere you look, you will see someone.

Someone broken.

Someone in need.

In need of Jesus. In need of hope. In need of someone to care. In need of just a chance today.

They are there. They are. They are waiting. They are. They are needful. They are.

And God will bring them into your path today. He will. God will bring someone into your path today that only you can influence. Only you can speak to. Only you can effect.

Only you.

God will bring them to you today.

The fields are ready. There are needs all around us. What will we do? We will meet them; we will see them.

What will we do. Today, may we work in the fields that God has placed us in.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones, and you thought our app, you can now watch our worship services from Asbury too!

Join In

One of my favorite Bible Studies that I’ve ever taught and that I’ve ever been a part of is Experiencing God. This is one of those classic studies; it was nearly 20 years ago when I taught it for the first time.

There are so many classic, true things that we learn there in this study, but this is one of my favorites. See what God is already doing and then join in.

There is a great notion there. God is already at work. God is already doing something. Our job is to see what He is doing, and then join in. God is doing amazing things. Where can we plug in? Listen to what it says in today in John 5: 15-17:

The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”

Join-in-the-fun-and-do-the-Big-Fish-Little-Fish-dance-nowJesus tells us this. His Father is working. He is working.

So, here is your homework for today. Where is God working? Where do you see God working?

In your life?

In the lives of others?

In your neighbors? Co-workers? Friends? Enemies?

God is at work. God is always working.

Today take time. Look. Notice. See.

And take a note of it. See what He is doing. And see where you can join in! That’s our job. God is doing amazing things all around us. Let’s see where we can join in and be part!

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones, and you thought our app, you can now watch our worship services from Asbury too!

The Church and Domestic Abuse

I really love football. I really do. I’m more of a college guy than a pro guy. I joke that my three loves in life are my God, my family, and my Ole Miss Rebels, and sometimes Ole Miss climbs that list based off how they are doing,

I don’t have a pro team, I guess the Saints, but in truth I root for whoever has the most Ole Miss players on their team.

So, I’ve watched the whole Ray Rice saga more from the perspective of a passive football fan. I’ve not been impressed with the leadership of the NFL as it seems like it’s more about damage control than anything else.

And I have become discouraged about where we are on issues of domestic abuse. It’s easy to fixate on Ray Rice, but as mentioned above, I’m a fan of Ole Miss. And one of our former Rebels is in some very hot water over this very issue, as well.

domestic-violenceMy perspective on this issue comes, though, not from being a football fan, but from someone who has seen the effects of domestic abuse first-hand, and from being a pastor. This past Annual Conference, Bishop Swanson asked me and Ginger Stevens from the Wesley House in Meridian to help him lead a workshop on domestic violence and think about the ways that we as churches and pastors can respond.

I think that we, as the church, and as Christians, and really as humans, miss the point. For instance, I mentioned Ray Rice and Greg Hardy. What Hardy did to his girlfriend is appalling. Why is there not the same outrage? Simple. There is no film of it. When we see what happened, we instinctively pull back. The written word is not as offensive. A picture (or video) really is worth a thousand words.

There are so many others who have written more eloquently, and put into words what I’m thinking. But here, for me, is the bottom line.

Abuse is always wrong. Physical, emotional, verbal. Any abuse is wrong.

This has shaped me, and is one thing that I have no patience for as a man, a husband, a father (to a daughter – and a son), and as a pastor.

We as Christians, and as the church, have to speak out on these types of issues. We have to help the women (and, yes, sometimes men) and children that are in these cases find the help and safety they need.

But here’s the reality on these types of cases. They are messy. They are confusing. It’s often a “he said/she said” type of situation. There are conflicting stories. There are in cases like the in the Ray Rice situation where the victim reconciles and doesn’t want to press charges.

So it’s easier for us as the church and as Christians for us to look away and walk away.

But we can’t. We can’t look away. We can’t walk away. We can’t. Even when it’s messy or hard. We can’t look away. We can’t walk away. Because we serve a God that saw us in the midst of mess and didn’t look away or walk away. But instead, through Jesus Christ, entered into our mess to save us. How?

By being abused. Beaten. Mocked. Spit upon.jesus_crucified

Jesus keenly understands that type of abuse. Because He (for the sake of our redemption) received the same type of abuse.

What do we do? I’m not 100% sure. But I know we can’t look away. And I know we can’t walk away.

Here at Asbury, we have a list on file of resources for individuals caught in this situation. We have friends that work in this area and we know where to refer people, if they are ready to receive help.

We will do all that we can to help get them there. We can’t make or force the decision. But we can help, when the decision has been made.

There is more, much more we can do. But I know this. I will not, and our church will not, look away or walk away.

As believers, that’s simply not an option.

Thirteen Years Ago

image-911crossToday is September 11, 2014.  Thirteen years ago I was sitting in the break room at Memphis Theological Seminary watching what was happening on a old television.  This break room could maybe hold 50 people and we must have had over a 100 crammed in there.

Watching.

Praying.

Weeping.

We were stunned. Stunned at what we were seeing.  We couldn’t understand it.  And with MTS being such a diverse seminary, we had a couple of folks that had family in New York.  One of my classmates, their spouse was in the Pentagon that day.

We were all like the walking dead after that day, just stunned at what had happened.

But, that was 12 years ago. And what happens?  We forget.

We get busy.  Life returns to normal.  Those of us that remain, we eventually return to the normalcy of life.  We forget.

Today, though, stop.  Remember.

One of the things that we do as humans is build monuments. In scripture we build altars. As governments and people, we build monuments and memorials. Why? Because it’s human nature to forget.

We just do. We forget.

Today, go back in your mind to 13 years ago. Remember where you were. Remember what you felt. Remember. And then, go and thank a first responder. Or someone in the military. Any of these persons that would run into the fire while we ran the other way.

Remember. And then let that memory prompt action.

May we never forget where we where 13 years ago today. May we remember. And may we be faithful today.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones, and you thought our app, you can now watch our worship services from Asbury too!

Why God is Patient

Ever wonder why God is so patient with us sometimes? I mean, God can be really patient. We can make the same mistakes over and over again.

We can go looking for trouble sometimes, or better said, lots of times.

We can fall, every day of our lives. We can be so frustrated and disgusted by our failings and yet each time, each time we go to God for forgiveness, each time, He forgives us.

Do you ever just wonder why? Why does He show us that compassion and that mercy? Why does He show us grace after grace after grace?

Listen to what it says today in Psalm 103: 10-14

He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.

God shows us such mercy because He remembers. He remembers who He is. And He remembers who we are.

He remembers that He is loving Father. He remembers that He loves us. That we are His. That He is God, not a man. That He is a God, who has promised compassion to those that fear and love Him.

He remembers not that He loves us but that He IS love. He remembers not that He shows us mercy, but He IS mercy. He remembers who He is.

The word 'DUST' written on car rear windscreen following Saharan sand deposited in England by strong south easterly windsAnd He remembers who we are. I love that last verse. He remembers our frame. He remembers that we are dust. We are made of dust, and we shall return to dust. He knows that we are weak. We are frail. We are fallen. We are human.

He remembers who we are. We will make mistakes. We aren’t perfect. We will blow it. He remembers our frame. He remembers that we are dust.

He remembers that He made us. And He remembers that He loves us.

Why is God patient? He remembers.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones, and you thought our app, you can now watch our worship services from Asbury too!

Nothing He Can’t Do

In the readings for this week, we see a picture of who Jesus is. He is epic. He is divine and powerful and strong and eternal.

Why? Why do the readings this week focus so much on how big Jesus is, on His divine Majesty, on His power, on His might? Why are we reminded of these things?

Because we need to remember that this is His world. He is King. He is Lord. He is in control. He is in charge.

We are not. Seriously. We are not in control. He is. Listen to what happens today in Matthew 9: 2-8:

And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And he rose and went home. When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men.

downloadJesus says, not just be healed, but be forgiven. Because as great as the healing was, the forgiveness is even more amazing. That’s the kind of God that Jesus is. He has the power to heal. He has the power to forgive.

There is literally nothing that He can’t do. He can do everything. There is not a portion, a part, an inch of your life that Jesus can’t restore, can’t rebuild, can’t bring new life to.

Nothing. There is nothing that He can’t do.

Nothing.

Today remember His power. Remember that He has the power to heal. He has the power to forgive. He has the power to do everything. Don’t forsake that power. Don’t forget that power.

Live as a child of risen and resurrected King. There’s nothing He can’t do.

Nothing.

Do you believe that? Do you live like that? We should. We have to. Because that’s who He is.

Today, let’s live like we believe that Jesus is who He says that He is. Let’s live in the power that He grants to us. Let’s live.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones, and you thought our app, you can now watch our worship services from Asbury too!

Who is This?

We like for faith to make sense. We like for things to be neat and crisp and wrap up neatly into a little bow.

We like for faith to fit into our schedule, into our plans and to have its role within our lives. A role that we like, that we can monitor, that we can keep under control. A role that benefits us, but doesn’t really change too many things about us or our lives.

That is what we often wish that faith could be and would be.

But, in reality, that’s the one thing that true faith never is. It is never predictable. It is never safe. It never fits neatly into a box. Listen to what happens today in Luke 8: 22-25

One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” So they set out, and as they sailed he fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water and were in danger. And they went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?”

jesus_calms_storm-1Who is this Jesus that the wind and the water obey Him. That’s not something that is safe. Jesus is never predictable. He is never just safe. He is never just ordinary.

He is the Son of God. He is savior of the world. He is the Lamb that was slain before the foundations of the world. He is God Himself. He is part of the Trinity. He made all things, and all things were made through Him and for Him.

He is the Christ. He is the Messiah. He is the Master and Lord of all. And He is our Lord and our Savior.

He is not ordinary.

He doesn’t want to be ordinary in your life. He wants to change it. He wants to change you. He wants you, today, to know real, awesome, amazing life.

He does.

Have you considered who He is today? His power. His majesty. His mercy. His grace. His love. His life.

And wants you to share in that power today. Really. You. Power. Today. That’s what He wants. Really.

Today, your faith doesn’t have to be plain or vanilla. It can be more alive than you’d ever think possible. It can be.

Who is this Jesus? Today, may He be Lord of all. And may His life give us the life we seek.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones, and you thought our app, you can now watch our worship services from Asbury too!

Bring Your Cell Phone to Church 2014 Questions

iphone-screenHere are the questions that I couldn’t get to Sunday.  If you’d like to listen to the one’s that I was able to answer, you can hear our podcast here, or click here to watch it online.

I do want to readdress a question that I was asked, because it leads to another question about Asbury.

Part of my salary is cash which I tithe on. Part is not which I don’t tithe on. Is this wrong?

I answered this question basically by saying that God is a giver and that He is not (nor am I legalistic) about giving. Give to God what you think is the proper amount.  Really.  God is giver (John 3:16) and we are called to be like Him and give.  I do a straight 10% of everything that I make and give it as a tithe.   But honestly, that’s between you and God.

In this, I made the statement that our church is not as far along financially as we should be.  Which lead to this question.

Our bulletin says we are in the black by 18K. So can you or finance committee explain how we are in tight times?

Great question. Our finance committee meets monthly, and any member is more than welcome to come and be present. Times and dates are always in the bulletin under the calendar and also on our church calendar on our website.

Where we currently are right now is we are in better shape than it appears, based off a single large gift that has placed us further in the black. Take out that gift and we would be in the red (running a deficit). Our overall giving numbers have never kept pace with the growth of our church. There are lots of reasons why that is so; we are middle-class church, with few large donors. We are a young church with over extended families, and to just be frank, I have done a poor job of teaching stewardship.

We are good shape, but we are not where we’d like to be. But, that’s true for all of us in probably every area of our lives! Our job is just to be faithful, in all things!

What’s the best way to explain the Holy Trinity to a Jehovah’s Witness?

Great question.  I was doing some reading on this, and I found a website that reminded us first – “Remember that JW’s are people first, and JW’s second. Be really, really nice to them. People who come out of this cult say that they were led out more by love, and less by the arguments. Provide them snacks when they come for the appointments!”

I think that’s the key to really any interaction to anyone that’s trying to convince you of their point.  They are there to show you that they are right, not to be persuaded.  Show them love, first and foremost.  They are people that Jesus died for.

Specifically, they will say that the word is Trinity is not mentioned in the Bible, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not found in scripture.

My favorite example of the Trinity is at Jesus baptism as seen in Matthew 3: 13-17.  What I like about it is that in this passage we see all three person of the Trinity present.   The Son being baptized, the Father speaking, and the Spirit descending like a dove.  We see them as separate and distinct, while at the same time, they are one.

If God’s a selfless God, why does he want us to worship him?

Great question.  How can a loving God be all about Himself like that?  Here’s the thing, worshiping God is our purpose. It isn’t that God really even needs our worship.  He doesn’t need us to complete Him.  He is complete as it is.  But, as we talked about last week, we are made in His image, and He is a God of trinity.  And the trinity is about relationships.

And so God really desires relationship with us.  As we desire relationship with Him.  And for us humans, one of the ways that we best experience that relationship with Him is through worship.  In worship we can fully know and experience the glory of who God is.

In many ways, worship is how we most connect to God. And that is what God truly desires.  That connection. So the question is why does God want us to connect to Him?  It’s who He is. And it’s what we are made for.

Is there any correlation between Malachi 4:5 and Chapter 11 of Revelation?

There is, there is an established connection between the two, but there has never been a clear conscious of what it exactly means.  As I tell folks, I’m not an expert on Revelation, there are folks that know a lot more about it than I do.  I found a really good link that shows the connections between these two passages and some the different thoughts about what it could mean and who the witnesses are.  Click here to learn more!

If all is in God’s hand, what it is the purpose of prayer?

This is one of those great mysteries of God.  We know that God is in control.  We know that He has plans that no one can thwart or change.  We know that.  But yet, we are told that our prayers matter.  Scripture tells us that our prayers can change things.  So, which is it?

There is Biblical evidence that prayer has some effect on God.  So, our prayers do matter and do make a difference in our lives and in the lives of others.  But I think that the key thing for us to remember about prayer is not that it changes God, but I think the key to remember is that it changes us.  CS Lewis put it like this – “I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time- waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God- it changes me.”

The more we pray, the closer we are to God.  And the more we pray, the more He changes us into who He wants us to be.

Why is it the harder I try to be what God wants me to be I face more struggle?

Remember God is not the only force at work in the world.  There are the forces of evil at work in the world.  There is the power of the evil one at work through our flesh, through the culture we live in, and through his evil schemes.  The last thing that the devil wants to happen to any believer is that they grow close to God.  And sometimes these challenges and trials are ways that he tries to stop us from growing.

So see these things as things that can let us grow closer to God.  Let these challenges make you cling to Jesus even more tightly.  Listen to what it says in James 1: 2-4:

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

See these challenges for what they are, things that can draw you closer to God.  And all them hold onto to Jesus even more tightly.

How do you have a solid relationship with God/Jesus when you repeatedly do things that you know aren’t right to do by the word. How can you still have that relationship when you don’t feel guilt over what you do

Paul understood that feeling.  Listen to what Paul writes in Romans 7: 15-19:

For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.

We all struggle with that.  We do.  Don’t beat yourself up for your mistakes.  If you are a believer, then you are free in Christ.  You are not condemned.  You are forgiven.

But, how do you avoid it those things?  I think that is the key.  Stay away from things that are destructive. Stay away from things that are harmful.  And do the things that will help you grow.  The way that we put it at Asbury is we pray, we read our bibles, and we go to church.  We grow closer to God.  That gives us strength to resist the temptation that comes.

And it reminds us of grace that picks us up when we fall.

It is very mentally exhausting to be around someone who is sees the world through negative eyes. What is the best way to deal with them, esp if they are someone you cannot get away from?

Somes folks are just negative. They are.  And it can be a real challenge to keep ourselves optimistic and focused in those tough times. And so, in those times, the key for us is our focus.  In the midst of negativity, we have to be even more determined to keep our focus.

So, where is your mind at?  What are you thinking about?  Are you giving into the negatively all around.  We have to do what Paul says in Philippians 4:8: – Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Keep your mind on things above.  Keep your mind on the positive.  The hopeful. The good.

And also know that folks that are that negative usually just aren’t happy.  Let their negativity, let that drive you to pray for them.  Because that is the thing that will help them in the end.  The grace and mercy of Jesus, changing their lives.

If God is all-knowing, and he knew Lucifer would destroy God’s beautiful creation and beloved people, why did He create him?

It says in the Bible that Jesus was the lamb that was slain before the foundation of the world. So before He ever created us, or even the angels, this was his plan.

Why?  Because God so values our free will.  God wants us to choose Hm.  God want us to choose right over wrong, good over evil, life over death. That’s God’s plan and Gods’ will for us.  And here’s the thing, He used the devil to accomplish that.  As hard as it may seem to believe, God used the devil as tool to accomplish His ultimate plan. He used Him to draw us to Himself.

And He still does.  He still uses temptations to allow us to have to choose Him.  That’s God’s desire and God’s hope!

Who were Goliath’s parents?

So will say that they were Nephilim as mentioned in Genesis 6, but remember the flood reset everything.  So, that’s probably not likely.  More than likely, he was just a very large man that appeared to them to (rightly) be a giant.

Where is Jesus right now?

The bible tells us that He is at the right of Father.  And He is physically there.  It tells us in Acts that He physically and bodily ascended to heaven and He will physically and bodily descend in the second coming.  So, at this moment, He sits that right of God interceding on our behalf.

I thought I had forgiven someone that did an evil, horrible thing to me years ago. I’ve tried to heal and to rebuild my life. Hate and vengeful thoughts keep invading my heart. It is hard for me to feel joy in my life now. How can I find peace?

Believe me, I understand. I’ve been there myself recently. Just wrote about it.  And still, some days, I still am there. I think within this; we have to understand the difference between forgiveness and restoration. To forgive, in my opinion, is simply to wish no ill-will against someone. To hold nothing against them. To not wish them harm.

And let me say this. This is a choice. Not an emotion. It may be a daily choice for the rest of our lives. We may not feel anything but hurt or anger at this person that has wronged us. We may never feel good about that person. Hatred and vengeance may bubble up. The deeper the hurt, the more likely it is that we will feel that way.

And we have to choose to forgive. We have to give over and over and over to God. We may never “feel” right about it. But remember forgiveness (like love) is a choice. It is not a decision. It is not an emotion. It is a choice.

Reconciliation is everything being back to normal, back to square one like it never happened. And that may never happen on this earth. And that’s ok. Our calling as Christians to forgive. That’s choice.

And that choice i sonly possible through prayer. Through growing closer to God. To having Him change us. It’s not “us” that forgiveness. It’s God through us that forgives.

Keep giving. Keep choosing to forgive. And let God work through you. Especially when it is the hardest.

How do the seven years after the coming work? What happens? Describe the tribulation.

That is a great question, and as I often say when it comes to Revelation, I’m no expert.  The thing that I always take away from Revelation is that God wins in the end, and He will protect His people.  To me the book of Revelation is a book of great hope because of that.

Here is an a GREAT explanation of the different views of Revelation. I found this to be helpful and one of the better explanations I’ve ever found.

Where was God before people of the earth?/Who is God’s father?

Yes, God has always existed.  He was before time and always present.  The Triune God (Father, Son, and Spirit) have always existed and are the only uncreated parts of the universe.  Everything existed because God spoke them into being.  Where did God came from?  Excellent question.  No one knows.  That’s one of the questions that I’ll ask Him one day! :)

Is God and Jesus the same person or are they father and son?

When we say “God” we are actually referring the Triune God.  God that is Father, and Son, and Spirit.  They are one, the are made of the same “substance” and they are united in the Godhead. Jesus also tells us that He and the Father are one.   So, they are one, but at the same time, they are three distinct persons.  I mentioned above but think of Jesus’ baptism when we see the Father, the Son, and the Spirit all at work in the same place and same time.

So, they are one. But they are separate.  That is one of the mysteries of the Trinity!

I wonder if God cries when one of his children doesn’t love him?

I think it hurts Him when His children don’t love Him.  I think of Matthew 23:37, where Jesus is heartbroken over Jerusalem’s rejection of Him.  Listen these words.  You can almost hear the pain in His voice:

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!

He so wanted to love them but they wouldn’t let Him.  I think it broke His heart.  So when we don’t love Him, I do think it pains Him.

How do you politely tell an elderly Jehovah witness that comes to your home two times a week that u don’t believe what she believes?

As you said, politely. Just be gracious.  You won’t change their mind, and they think they have an obligation to try to change yours.  Just be nice, be sweet, but compassionate.  Pray for them.  But honestly, I am pretty direct with them, I’ve my religious convictions and they are going to change them.  I am loving, but I also am fairly direct with them.

Above all, let Jesus’ grace shine through.  You won’t convince them of anything by the words you speak.  But your grace may change them in powerful ways.

Are all sins equal? And is there scripture about related to it?

The first thing we need to understand in this question is that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). When we actually read through the book of Romans we see that so much of what Paul is trying to accomplish is this. He wants to show that all of us stand condemned in our sins. Our big sins, our small sins, all of our sins. All sins make us guilty before God.

And that’s the miracle of grace, no matter what the sin, we can be forgiven.

So, all sins condemn us, yes. But, there is some biblical evidence that God looks at some sins more severely than others.

First, in Matthew 18:6 it says – but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

So, it seems like those that cause someone weaker than them to stumble will face more serve judgement. Those who are strong have an obligation to those that are weak. And to cause them to stumble seems to be worse.

Also, look at Matthew 11:23-24 – And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.”

Capernaum rejected Jesus and His ministry, and He’s saying that choice will cause them greater judgement one day.

So, it seems like choices that negatively affect those that are weaker as well as an out and out rejection of Jesus seem to be more harshly judged.

What did it feel like for God to be alone before he created everything?

No one know what God was thinking; none of us can fathom the mind of God.  But we do know this.  When He made us, when He formed us, He looked at man and said this.  It is good.  So we don’t know how He felt before we were made.  But we know when He made us He felt great joy!  He delighted in us.  And He still does.

Any advice on getting my family into church?

That’s a tough thing.  Sometimes family is the hardest place to share our faith and tell others about church and Jesus.  It can be a real challenge sometimes.  I know I have felt that in my own family at times.  I think that the thing that we have to do is this – let our light shine before others.  Let the grace of Jesus shine though.  Live with grace, with mercy, with hope.  Live differently, so folks will want to know why we are like we are.

It says in 1 Peter 3:15 – but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.

So, live your faith.  Don’t pound, don’t nag.  Don’t beat up.  But, live our faith.  Read, pray, go to church.  Live gracefully and hopefully. And I promise in time, they’ll want what you have.  And that will make all the difference.

Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?

That’s one of the great questions of faith, why do bad things happen?  The easy (but not easy) answer is free will.  God gives us free will.  He let us make choices.  He gives us the power and the freedom to make good choices and bad choices.

As people that are fallen and sinful, we are going to choose wrongly a lot of (most of) the time.  Where there is free will, there will be bad things.

But, what about things aren’t choices?  What about tornados and other disasters?  Paul tells us in Romans 8:20-22 – For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.

What does that mean?  It means that when Adam and Eve fell, they didn’t just mess up things for me and you, but for all creation.  After they feel, there are natural disasters (that aren’t Gods’ will) and these things are consequence of the fall.  When Jesus returns, He will fix all that is broken.  And their won’t be any more disasters like this.  All will be right, all will be as He intended it.

And what I tell folks is this.  The power of God is not that He stops bad things from happening, but that He can bring good out of anything.  It says in Romans 8:28 that all things work for our good, all things.  God will bring good out of everything.  And it says in Genesis 50:20, what man intended for evil, God will use for good.

So, see that’s the thing.  Even the bad things, God will use.  God will use even the bad things and bring something good out fo them.  That’s what He does.  That’s’ His power.  Not that He stops bad things.  But that He brings good out of everything.