Romans 8:37

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors [hupernikomen] through him who loved us. Romans 8:37

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Why does God allow suffering?

Why does God allow pain and suffering?

God didn't start it; humanity did. God made humans the stewards over creation at the very beginning and gave them one prohibition: "but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." [Gen. 2.15-17 ESV]

The knowledge of good was experienced through intimacy, walking with God in the Garden. The knowledge and experience of evil was unknown until Adam and Eve disobeyed God and allowed Satan to remain in the Garden. Stewardship includes protecting. Their disobedience led to the abdication of their stewardship and handing it over to Satan. Satan's stewardship of the earth, brought hate, depression, illness, war, disease and death. The first humans allowed it to happen; effectively they gave Satan permission to act in their place. With the knowledge of evil comes the experience of evil. The experience of evil includes sin, sickness and death. But the experience of evil was not God's plan.

Does God allow pain and suffering? Yes, in the sense that He gave Adam and Eve the freedom to both prevent suffering and the freedom to allow it, and they chose to allow it. They allowed it by following Satan's suggestion rather than adhering to God's warning. We humans blame God for what humanity allowed; what He prohibited. Then we have the audacity to blame Him for the decision our human family made.
We ask "Why does God allow all of this suffering?" as if we had nothing to do with it. As if we never participate in evil as did our first parents. We want the ability to choose for ourselves but we don't want to be held responsible for our decisions. We want the freedom to love and to be loved but we talk like we don't want the freedom to reject love, even though we frequently reject love and chose selfishness. We want to be independent and free but we don't want a Hitler to be free and independent.

This feels acceptable to us because we do not honestly evaluate the hypocrisy of our own desires. We conveniently ignore our own inconsistencies and selfish desires, while pointing out other's errors and blaming God for it. This attitude also feels acceptable to us because we have such a warped view of righteousness; we don't really consider what holiness is. Our convenient view of righteousness is that if we can find someone, anyone who seems worse than us, then we declare ourselves "holy". As if we are God and get to write the definition of good and bad. And why not? Wouldn't we make that same decision at the very beginning? Isn't it ok to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil if I want to - especially if it makes me happy?

But God has shown us that real righteousness and true holiness do not include any amount of wrongdoing or wrong thinking. In reality, we do not have permission to rewrite the definitions of holiness and righteousness. Paul, an early follower of Christ, observed "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." [Romans 3.23]

Please do not misunderstand me. I am not suggesting that you are suffering with an illness because God is punishing you for a specific sin that you committed. Rather, I am saying that all of us are suffering due to the sin that has infected humanity since the fault of our first parents at the dawn of time.

Even so, God has guaranteed our escape from pain and suffering. Through the Son of God, the man Jesus, our escape from pain and suffering is guaranteed. [Romans 5] This life of pain and suffering is temporary, but the next life is free from all of that. Jesus invites us to make Him the steward of our lives and so be free from the control of Satan. God does care about our pain and suffering and wants us to be free from it more than even we do. God desires our freedom to such an extent that He sent His Son Jesus to bear the penalty for our rebellion and to destroy the outcome of death. [1 Peter 3.18-22]

At this time we still experience pain and suffering, but if we put our faith in Jesus and follow Him we will not continue to live in pain and suffering for ever. God will not allow any amount of sadness, illness or suffering to follow us into His presence, and He will exact perfect justice. [Revelation 21.3-8] This is why Jesus said, "The thief [Satan] comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they [us] may have life and have it abundantly." [John 10.10]

The solution to pain and suffering is following Jesus. [John 3.16]

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Jesus - Bread from Heaven, Part Two

This is the second in a two part lesson studying Jesus as the Bread of Heaven in John 6.

Jesus - Bread from Heaven, Part One

Jesus alone can satisfy our deepest longings.

In this lesson we review the background to Jesus' claim that He is the Bread of Life that came down from heaven.

Click the link below to listen to Fr. Van McCalister teach on Jesus as the Bread of Heaven. This is the first lesson in a two part series.

Audio Link:

Key passages are: Deuteronomy 18:15f, Exodus 16 & 17, John 6, Psalm 95:7-8, Hebrews 3:8, 1 Corinthians 10:4

Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Parable of Lazarus and the Compassion of Jesus

An mp3 file of a teaching on the Compassion of Jesus as shown through the Parable of Lazarus is linked here (small file size), and a larger downloadable file size is here. (These files may also be played directly from host site without being downloaded.)

Luke 16:19-31English Standard Version (ESV)

The Rich Man and Lazarus

19 “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's side.[a] The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house— 28 for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”


  1. Luke 16:22 Greek bosom; also verse 23
English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Journaling through the Psalms

Those who love the Psalms and enjoy journaling will find The Psalms Journal to be the ideal companion for both. The Psalms Journal provides a convenient place to record your devotions, prayers and reflections, as you meditate through the Psalms.

This version of the Psalms comes from the Psalter of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. The psalms are printed on the left page and are faced on the right page with blank unruled paper for notes. The Table of Contents is divided up into 60 segments for those who follow the Benedictine method of praying through the entire Psalter each month.

The Psalms Journal is available through Saint Austin's Press for $10.55 each, plus shipping. Bulk pricing is available. The Psalms Journal is available for $13.55 on CreateSpace and Amazon.

Wisdom for men

My son, don’t forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commands; for they will bring you many days, a full life, and well-being. Never let loyalty and faithfulness leave you. Tie them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will find favor and high regard in the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths. Proverbs 3:1-6 [HCSB]

Monday, October 24, 2016

Gossip and Verification

The following words of wisdom remind us of the admonition from James chapter 3 about the danger of an ungoverened tongue. We are also reminded of the direction from Jesus to talk directly with the person who may have offended you. This gives him the opportunity to repent or correct a misunderstanding. 

Below, the teacher is warning us that a rumor we have heard may not be true. We must verify it with the source. Along with James, the teacher reminds us of the destructive nature of gossip, and our weakness in keeping secrets. 

Christian leaders especially must be faithful in holding words shared with them in confidence. Priests are bound by their vows to keep confessions in absolute confidence.

Gossip is corrosive. We know this from personal experience as well, don't we? So, why do we participate in it? The teacher tells us, the one who hates gossip reduces evil!

Ecclesiasticus 19:4-17
4 One who trusts others too quickly is lightminded, and one who sins does wrong to himself. 5 One who rejoices in wickedness will be condemned, 6 and for one who hates gossip evil is lessened. 7 Never repeat a conversation, and you will lose nothing at all. 8 With friend or foe do not report it, and unless it would be a sin for you, do not disclose it; 9for some one has heard you and watched you, and when the time comes he will hate you. 10 Have you heard a word? Let it die with you. Be brave! It will not make you burst! 11With such a word a fool will suffer pangs like a woman in labor with a child. 12 Like an arrow stuck in the flesh of the thigh, so is a word inside a fool. 13 Question a friend, perhaps he did not do it; but if he did anything, so that he may do it no more. 14 Question a neighbor, perhaps he did not say it; but if he said it, so that he may not say it again.15 Question a friend, for often it is slander; so do not believe everything you hear. 16 A person may make a slip without intending it. Who has never sinned with his tongue? 17Question your neighbor before you threaten him; and let the law of the Most High take its course. -- RSV