Got Questions?

by Justin Windham, Associate Pastor of Outreach & Discipleship

got questionsMany of us are a part of a unique generation–one that lives in the “internet age,” but also remembers a time before the World Wide Web.

In middle school, I can distinctly remember the tedious task of using big, physical, multi-volume encyclopedias to do research for homework assignments.
Yet, just a few years later in high school, I was browsing the internet to find information as though I had been doing it my whole life. Today, I can’t imagine not having the internet at my fingertips at any moment during the day.
As a child being raised in a Christian family, I learned a lot about God and the Bible through my parents and church. But when I had questions about faith, doubt, Jesus, the origins of the universe, pain and suffering, sin, and more–I didn’t know how to find the answers.
Aware of my frustrations, my parents bought me a reference book called, Where to Find It in the Bible: A Reference Guide from A to Z. I tattered that book’s pages as I would regularly scour it for biblical answers to very real questions I had.
Once our home PC became “web-enabled,” I began searching online for those same answers but quickly realized there was no “biblical orthodoxy” filter that ensured the results I found were actually from a Christ-honoring, bible-based perspective.
A few years later, a new and unique website called GotQuestions.org was published with the explicit mission of seeking “to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by providing biblical, applicable, and timely answers to spiritually related questions through an internet presence.
Since that discovery, this has been my single most treasured online resource in my personal life and ministry.
The website does not just offer certain theologians’ opinions, but uses the Scriptures as the primary source of drawing conclusions. If a potential claim cannot be soundly backed by Scripture, the claim is not made.
And when ambiguity remains and clear-cut answers cannot be arrived at with confidence, the website gives the most compelling Scriptural arguments from the most prevalent views and leaves the reader to arrive at his/her own conclusions.
I have long believed that God is not afraid of our questions. If He’s truly God, there will always be satisfying answers to our most daunting questions.
Certainly, some of those questions won’t be answered on this side of heaven, but until then, www.gotquestions.org does a fantastic job attempting to fill the gap.
To understand the depth and breadth of this resource, I’m posting their current Top 10 most frequently asked questions. Click the links to view the related article.
As much as I love this website, like any extra-biblical material, no man-made resource is perfect and no one has all the answers except God Himself. I hope you enjoy using this website, but remember to always search the Scriptures for yourself and ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom and guidance as you seek truth.


Have You Ever Purchased Something You Didn’t Use? God Hasn’t.

Useless purchase
by Justin Windham, Associate Pastor of Outreach & Discipleship
 
Growing up, I observed a fascinating phenomenon. I refer to it as the Two-Week Shift. It centers around the unique and mostly spontaneous purchases my parents would make on occasion.
 
Ab Roller

Ab Roller (abcbeachabs.com)

Whether it was a bread making machine, a hand-held steam cleaner, a multi-horsepower electric back massager, a vacuum sealer, the Ab-Roller (or really any piece of exercise equipment), or a fancy juicer—all of these items produced grand aspirations in the minds of my parents as they imagined how owning a particular gadget would change our lives for the better.

Maybe you can relate. If so, you know that after about two weeks of owning one of these “life-changing” products, a shift occurs when the item loses its initial luster and appeal, resulting in the owner being much less enthusiastic about its use.

The following two-week span introduces another shift as the owner realizes that because the product requires time, maintenance, and energy to use it effectively and achieve lasting results, such dedication to the product actually makes owning it more of a burden than a blessing.

Ultimately, the final two-week span involves 1) the owner coming to grips with the fact that the product is no longer being used and 2) finally gathering the courage to box it up and place it in the garage—otherwise known as “The Black Hole,” “The Abyss,” or my favorite, “The Island of Misfit Toys.

The Two-Week Shift is really just a demonstration of an underlying issue:
 
Things that we purchase are rarely used to their full potential. For instance:

*My wife & I paid for 4-sessions of swim lessons for our daughter this summer, but we only went to two of them.

*Americans allowed $41 billion in gift cards to go unspent between 2005-2011.

*An all-you-can-eat buffet might cost just $12 for a unlimited smorgasbord of food, however the average customer only eats $2.50 worth.

Fortunately for us, our human tendencies to lose interest and not use things to their potential are not at all attributable to God in relation to His possessions: us.

First of all, did you know that we were purchased through Jesus Christ for God’s glory (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)?

Indeed, if you have repented of your sins and placed your trust in the risen Christ, you have been lovingly purchased by your Creator—saved from the consequence of sin and prepared and preserved for an eternity with God (Acts 17:30; John 3:16; 1 Peter 2:9; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:13-14

Let me assure you, none of God’s special possessions are treated the way we tend to treat ours. Check out these encouraging comparisons:

*We choose possessions on a whim; God chose us from before the world existed (Ephesians 1:4)!

*We enjoy things for a limited time; God will enjoy us—and we will enjoy Him—for eternity (John 3:16; John 14:1-3; Colossians 1:16; Revelation 21:3).

*We put things away or throw them out when we get tired of them; God will never leave us or let anything separate us from Him (Hebrews 13:5b; Romans 8:38-39).

*We blame the object when it doesn’t work right; God sees us as blameless in Christ, even though we continually fall short of God’s standard (1 Corinthians 1:8-9 & 30; Romans 3:23-25)!

*We get frustrated when the things we own are flawed or don’t work right; God knows we are flawed but is patiently changing and maturing us along the way–until the day we will be perfected in Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 2:10-11).

Have you ever felt discarded by God? Have you ever felt abandoned by Him—in a void without direction or usefulness? Have you ever felt like a burden to God—as one whose benefit is not worth the necessary upkeep and maintenance required by Him?
 
Those feelings and perceptions about God and yourself are not what He desires for His children. So, look up and meditate on the above passages for some reassurance and inspiration. If you think you may need to establish a relationship with God, go here (www.needgod.com).


The “I’m Scared” Excuse

By Justin Windham, Associate Pastor of Outreach & Discipleship

Lexi, our nearly two-year-old daughter has learned a new word: scared.

Seemingly out of nowhere, she’s suddenly “scared to get down,” “scared of the dog,” and “scared of the song” that popped up on her Pandora lullaby station.

It’s as though she realized that claiming to be scared gets her immediate attention from mom and dad and is a free pass out of any situation that she does not find to be ideal (although we have now caught on and no longer allow “being scared” of her vegetables as a reason not to eat them).

Yet somehow in our Christian walks we too often seem to use being “scared” as an excuse to not do certain things.

I’m scared of…

*…being a missionary, so I won’t go to the lost.

*…sharing Jesus with my neighbor, so I’ll just smile and wave.

*…engaging a homeless person, so I’ll just pretend to be on the phone when I walk by.

*…what God might call me to do, so I won’t pray.

*…change, so I won’t apply the Bible to my life.

Sounds a bit ridiculous, don’t you think? What would happen if we stopped letting “scary” be our excuse? Now, that’s a scary thought!

The beauty of the Bible is that God does not just give us challenging things to do. He tells us what to do and then empowers us to do them–with confidence and courage.

Look at the Great Commission for example:

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

I will be the first to admit, the huge responsibility of making disciples of all nations can be a very scary thought. Not only does this include sharing our faith to make converts wherever we are and may go, but we are also to baptize and teach others all that the Lord has commanded. *Gulp!*

However, look at how God has equipped us to take on this responsibility. Jesus, the Creator who has “all authority in heaven and earth,” is with us…and will continue to be through the end of time! We know that our loving and all-powerful Father is with us. In fact, he’s even living inside of us right now (1 Corinthians 3:16).

There are times when Lexi is legitimately scared. Her body quivers, her voice gets shaky, and her eyes lock quickly on mom or dad. When she sees her loving “all-powerful” parent next to her, hears our words of assurance, and trusts in our promises that we won’t leave her side–suddenly the fear evaporates. The same happens when we lock eyes on the Savior and trust in His promises to never let us go.

So what are you fearful of when it comes to seeking God and obeying Him in all areas of your life?

How can trusting the Lord’s promises move you from fear to freedom as you follow Him more faithfully?

Here are a few more incredible promises from our loving God. May the Lord use these verses to remind you of the confidence you can have in Him…no matter how scary life may be!

Psalm 56:3-4; Isaiah 41:10; 2 Timothy 1:7



Does God Owe Us an Answer?

By Justin Windham, Associate Pastor of Outreach & Discipleship

 

Screen Shot 2014-04-21 at 12.06.34 PMWhen we find ourselves going through trials, tribulations, and suffering, one of the most natural questions to ask God is, “Why?”

It’s common to think that if we only knew why we were experiencing pain, it would somehow be easier to go through.

If you are like me, you may have gotten frustrated when you ask, “Why, Lord?” and He simply does not answer–not through an audible voice, not through the wisdom of others, not through a perfectly timed Bible passage–nothing.

So this begs the question, does God owe us an answer?

In the book of Job, the title character suffers much! Experiencing death of family, destruction of possessions, disease, and more, Job is the epitome of a “sufferer.” His friends come to him and together they spend a long time pontificating about the possible reasons why God is bringing so much pain into his life.

Finally, God shows up and speaks at length. However, you might be surprised to discover that God does not ever address the answer to why Job is suffering. In fact, God asks Job an extensive list of questions!

Look at what the Lord says to Job (Job 38:2-7):

Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words? Brace yourself like a man, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them. Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much. Who determined its dimensions and stretched out the surveying line? What supports its foundations, and who laid its cornerstone as the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?

Job’s response to God’s line of questioning (Job 42:2-6):

I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you. You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me…I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.

God does not owe us an answer to the question of why we suffer. Can He choose to provide a specific answer? Yes. Is it a sin to ask God, “Why?” Not necessarily.

Yet, before we demand answers from God, we should learn from Job’s experience and remember that God can do anything He chooses for any reason(s) that He chooses. The comfort comes in knowing we can have full confidence that His decisions will always be in line with His character and His Word.

Therefore, we can rest assured that whatever trial we are experiencing is for God’s ultimate glorification (Isaiah 48:9-10), for our ultimate good (Romans 8:28), and for our growth in holiness as His sons and daughters (Hebrews 12:5-10).

One parting piece of food for thought: before we ask “Why, Lord?” let’s be sure to recall and reflect on the Scriptural reasons that God has already given us.

First Corinthians 1:3-7 tells us that one reason suffering comes is so we can cling all the more to Christ for comfort and then in turn be able to comfort others who are suffering as well:

God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us.

So the next time you experience a painful trial, instead of asking God, “Why?”, consider asking yourself…

How might I draw closer to Christ through this time and in turn encourage others who are hurting as well?