"He does according to His will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth, and none can stay His hand or say to Him 'What have you done?" – Daniel 4:35
- Living with the realities of a broken, sinful world can leave us wondering, "Who's in charge around here?" Those without faith conclude that life is fate or chance because if God was truly loving and good, the world would not be the mess that it is. Since it is, God cannot possibly be real. Before we go wandering down that road let's remember: we can't hold God to promises He never made. He said that we would have trouble in this world (John 16:33), but that He has overcome that same trouble. Hebrews 2:8 is another good reminder: all things are subject to Christ, but we do not see them as such… yet. As Joseph found in Genesis 50, what others (our world) might intend for evil, God can – and does – use for good and the greater purpose of the "saving of many lives." If you look at the Bible, it is a story of great pain and suffering, but God is the One behind the scenes, sovereignly pulling the strings to bring about His purposes. Joseph was thrown into a pit and sold into slavery by his brothers, yet that evil act was used by God to ultimately save His people. And Jesus was thrown into the pit of evil and death, but God used it once more for the salvation of His people. No matter our circumstances, God is the One who is in charge, and He uses suffering and evil redemptively in our lives. It's never wasted. Further, ALL things are beneath His authority, including life and death, kings and rulers. There is no such thing as fate or chance. God reigns. He has shown that He is infinitely wise and perfectly loving; thus, we trust that while we may not see it, it is His purpose and plan that will always prevail, all to His glory.
- The other amazing thing about the life of Joseph was his willingness to forgive. I don't know about you, but if my siblings sold me into slavery and then wanted forgiveness, I'm not sure I would have responded the way Joseph did. However, he recognized he was not in the place of God as Judge. Only He knows the human heart and only He can determine what is truly righteous. I don't want that job because I sure don't know. Even so, as humans, we are tempted to condemn the lives of others that we haven't even met! Yes, we can judge actions, but no one knows the heart. Let's leave God as judge, and having received His grace, then offer forgiveness to others. He has absorbed the debt of our sin, so how can we refuse to do the same for others? Further, forgiveness is the gift we give ourselves by freeing us from the burden of obsessively wondering how to settle the score, how to "give them what they deserve." That is a path to bitterness and anger. Absorb the debt of the offense as Christ has absorbed yours.
- For the perfect example of this, read the victim statement of Rachael Denhollander in the Larry Nasser trial. She was the first to come forward and the last to speak - and the only one to indicate God as Judge while extending Nasser, yes, forgiveness.
- SETTLE THIS DEBATE: Leigh and I have been married almost 30 years, and we still don't agree on how to put utensils in the dishwasher. She says "user end" up because they get cleaner. I say "user end" down because 1) the person who empties doesn't have to put their grubby hands on the end I'll be eating from in order to put them away, and 2) it saves that person from getting stuck by forks and knives. Clearly, I am right – so validate that please!
- THIS WEEK'S SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE: The WSJ reported that in this age of meeting via dating websites, it is now taboo for people to share last names at first. Seriously. They described a couple that had been going out for three months – three – and only at that point agreed to "take the big step" and share last names. When the last name is shared, then all sorts of social media information becomes available, so it's a way of protecting the process. I get it. There are a lot of people impersonating people on social media, but wouldn't that make you WANT the last name before the meeting?
- COFFEE CAUSES CANCER: At least that's what warning labels in California will soon tell you. By state law, anything that contains acrylamide, a chemical produced during the roasting process, must have a warning label. Most argue the amounts in coffee are harmless, but right now, the law stands. Pretty soon, we'll feel safe about eating and drinking… nothing.
- For those of you obsessed with car accessories, the new Subaru Ascent SUV comes with 19 cup holders.
- I find our sense of smell one of the most amazing gifts we possess as humans. Just by catching a single aroma – the smell of a winter fire, my wife's perfume, a freshly baked apple pie, a hospital room, or even a sweat-stained t-shirt – we can be transported to all manner of memories and feelings, good and bad, all in an instant.
- Leigh and I put the finishing touches on The Marriage Retreat this weekend. February 8–10 at Mission Inn – I can't wait!