Don’t miss a single post! Stay connected.
Have a question about spirituality or practical Christian living?
Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.
A place for heartfelt, honest answers to your questions from a caring pastor
Pastor, I grew up attending a church that had a sign saying, “Expect a Miracle” on the front of the pulpit. I saw it every week but now that I’m older I’ve begun to wonder. Should I expect a miracle?
Let’s start by defining the word “miracle.” Some people use it to describe the birth of a baby. These people see miracles in all kinds of everyday experiences. Although every new life is an awe-inspiring event, babies are not miracles. Others use the word talk about an impossibility. They say miracles don’t happen now; they never have and never will happen. I think the true definition is somewhere in between these two meanings. Miracles are acts of God that defy the usual way things happen. They are neither common or nonexistent.
Miracles are acts of God that defy the usual way things happen.
Now, who can expect a miracle? Are they available to everyone or to a select few? I believe God will do miracles to accomplish his will. It also seems to me that you can expect a miracle if you meet the following conditions.
Do you know someone who experienced a true miracle? Please share the story.
Wars, earthquakes, tsunamis, famines and epidemics cause pain on a global level. Crime, sickness, death,abuse, divorce, poverty and unemployment inflict pain in a more personal level. No matter how it may come into our lives, pain is unavoidable in this world.
Pain also raises all kinds of questions for many people — Christians as well as others. I am one of those people. The question of pain is one I wrestle with from time to time. Here are a few thoughts about pain that are a result of my reflections.
“We have found the enemy and he are us” said by POGO in the comic strip of the same name.
Father Cavanaugh: Son, in 35 years of religious study, I have only come up with two hard incontrovertible facts: there is a God, and I’m not Him. (from the movie, Rudy, 1993)
There is one thing we can all be sure of — we will experience pain. I know my thoughts do not answer all the questions and doubts you have. They don’t answer all of mine but they bring me to the place where I am more comfortable trusting God than not believing in him.
In your opinion, what good is pain? Will it ever stop? Take a moment to tell me in the comment box below.
When a loved one dies, grief moves into our lives. When my mother passed away several years ago, I thought for a while that I would never stop grieving. I must admit that there a still days when I feel sad and I realize that I’m missing my mother. Although grief did not move into stay, he’s an unwelcome guest who sneaks in for surprise visits from time to time.
I have felt anger, sadness, fear, disappointment, self-pity, and depression. All of these feelings are part of the grieving experience — sometimes all at the same time.
Denial may be your initial response. After all, no one wants to admit their loved one is gone. However, the time comes when we must accept. Find at least one person who will listen to you as you express your pain. Keeping the grief bottled up will only make you feel worse in the long run.
Have you thought “when things get back to normal, then I will do this or that”? I’ve thought it and heard people say it too. Even so, after a loss there is no getting back to normal. There is only getting used to a new kind of normal.
Reminisce and remember dreams you shared with the one who passed away. Make plans to do something. Give yourself something to look forward to doing.
Take charge of your life even when you feel unsure of yourself. Fulfill your obligations. Get up and go to work. Actually accomplishing something concrete will make you feel better.
Share your feelings with Jesus. He knows how you feel. He wept beside the grave of a dear friend. (John 11:35)
If this post was helpful for you perhaps you would also appreciate How can I comfort someone who is grieving?.
Let me assure you that this a common experience for all Christians. You are not alone. you are not the only one to ever feel this way. David wrote about it in the book of Psalms.
How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? (Psalm 13:1-2)
There are several causes for feeling as though your prayer simply fall lifelessly to the floor. Some of these causes are spiritual while others are not. This list of questions can help you discover which cause needs your attention.
Whatever the cause be honest with God. Tell him how you feel about your prayers and what you think is causing the problem. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you know if you’re right or not.
If you have more questions, the following posts to this bog may help you.
This is a complicated question. It refers to the fifth commandment from Exodus 20. ”Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20:12)
Before going further, let’s determine what it means to honor your parents. It means to “care for” them. It means to “show respect” to them. I think we should remember that the Ten Commandments were addressed to the adults of Israel. God was commanding them to respect and care for their parents. But that still raises the question of how an abused child can show respect and care for his/her abusive parents.
Abused children who are not yet adults are in a vulnerable situation. Since, they cannot protect themselves those who work with them must be vigilant to follow-up on any signs of abuse, whether physical, sexual or verbal.
Adult children from abusive families are in different circumstances. They can take steps to protect themselves and at the same time learn to honor their parents. Here are a few suggestions for these adult children.
Honoring an abusive parent is impossible without the Lord’s help. He will provide that help through counselors, support groups and good Christian friends. He will give you the inner strength to forgive and to care for the ones who hurt you. Make prayer you constant companion as you work through these issues
For a long time, humans have used this God-wants-me-to-be-happy line to explain why they can do something God clearly prohibits. It reminds me of a member of the first church I served as pastor. She told me she had an understanding with the previous pastor that made what she wanted to do all right. The rules that applied to everyone else did not apply to her. We all act as though God owes us special treatment and we say things like:
These lines may sound good to you when you say them, but how would you feel if your spouse or employee said them to you. When someone else uses that argument to leave you or to take your hard-earned cash, you will see them for what they are — an excuse to seek immediate pleasure no matter what the long-term consequences.
Let’s get back to your question. Yes, God wants you to be happy. However, he knows better than you do what will give you true happiness. He knows the pain you will experience if you insist on transgressing one of his laws. God gave us the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-21) and the Great Love Commandments (Mark 12:28-34) to protect us from pain and to provide real happiness for us.
So I guess the real question is this. Do you want to be truly happy or do you simply want to have your way?
One day a man came to Jesus and asked him to declare which of Moses’ commandments is the greatest. Jesus answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:35-40) Since he did not say “respect God” but “love God” I think that’s the most important thing to teach our children. However, the process of teaching both love and respect have many things in common.
My parents and my wife’s parents taught us to love and respect God in this way. It is the way we have raised our three daughters. It’s worked well in our family. Do your best to live without regrets as you raise your children. Trust God to take care of the rest.
In the process of moving, many urgent tasks can crowd out the choice of a church. I’m glad you’re thinking about this vital decision. Here are a few guidelines that may assist you in your search.
As you visit, consider whether or not the people in the church have similar values to yours. Do you and your family members feel you can make friends and grow with the individuals in a given congregation?
Yesterday I wrote about the benefits of reading the Bible. The primary benefit of reading and understanding the Bible is that it has the power to change your life. Let me give you several guidelines for investing your time in reading the Bible.
Here is a series of questions to help you read the Bible for transformation and not simply information. They are based on an ancient pattern for reading the Bible called Lectio Divina (divine reading). Start by asking the Holy Spirit to show you what he wants you to learn from your Bible text. Read slowly through a passage that’s long enough to reveal a complete thought (for example, a chapter or a story). Read the text at least three times before you begin to work with the following questions.