Monthly Archives: July 2021

Is God still Good?

We see the announcement of a pregnancy, and we rejoice. “God is so good!”

God hears our prayers and a job opportunity arrives and we rejoice. “God is so good!”

We recover from the disease. We heal from the surgery. A care package arrives and we rejoice. “God is so good!”

He is good to us, isn’t he? We see the sun and the moon and the stars and we rejoice. We taste the apricot and the wine and the olive oil and we say, “God is so good!”

But what happens when you are on hour number eight- again – in the Emergency Room, fully expecting, “All your tests were normal. Follow up with your regular doctor tomorrow.”

What happens when the specialist that your wife REALLY needs to see as soon as possible can possibly squeeze you in in October?

What happens when you spend year after year watching the one that you love suffer so much and there is nothing anyone can do about it?

What happens when your friend is dying from cancer?

Is God still good then?

Is God still good when the baby is born blind?

Is God still good when your children turn their backs on God?

Is God still good when your friends are suffering and you can’t help at all?

When you are outside the wall of the best health care in the world but you can’t get access?

Is God still good then?

And all you can say is “Lord, save me!” and you know above all that God is good.

It goes deeper than “he has a plan”. That too often just seems trite.

I think it is more like silver in a furnace. Like a launderer’s soap.

Even then, though – that doesn’t really speak of the goodness of God.

What language shall I borrow? What words can I stammer? When “Lord save me” doesn’t quite cover everything, what else can I say?

And yet, there he is. In the bottom of the well. In the depths where I cry. There he is, because he is good.

And if I didn’t spend hour after hour in the emergency room, if I we didn’t suffer together, we wouldn’t have seen it. We would have thought that the goodness of God is the same as oil and wine and bread and new babies.

They are great gifts of God. But they are not God. And when we suffer in the depths, that is where we most often meet him.

He is there when the dross is burning away, where the last remnants of self-help and our arrogant pride and self-assurance are being burned away in the fire, when we are exhausted from the race, and just want to throw in the towel….there he is.

In the valley of the shadow of death. He takes us through because he knows it is the only way to the green pastures.

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Men, women and sex

things on my mind today…

For those who haven’t read it, here is what this verse says:

4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. (1 Cor. 7:4)

When you read the whole verse, you can see something jump right out at you off the page. It is NOT saying that it is the woman’s duty to have sex on demand whenever the husband desires it. According to the text, her right to say “no”, or “yes” for that matter, is as absolute as the husband’s.

It does not say that the husband has a sex drive and the wife does not. It does not say that the wife has to put up with the lust of her husband and satisfy it or she is to blame if he turns to porn.

So, that being said, take all of your “Christian” sex books and throw them away.

What this verse means is this: God designed sex to be mutual, exclusive, egalitarian – the joining of two into one flesh. Two bodies, male and female, exploring, joining, touching, giving pleasure, receiving pleasure. Neither is “in charge” in the bedroom, for both have “authority” over the body of the other. They truly become “one flesh”.

Both the husband and the wife have equal authority when it comes to sexuality. This means one flesh, not dominance. This frees the body and the soul to explore, to love, to truly unite, to be free.

Explore this. Think about it. Learn how your wife ticks, what she feels, how she loves. Learn what her triggers are, learn what she fears, what she loves. Wives, explore your husband, learn what his fears are, what his triggers are, what he fears. What causes him shame. What causes her shame. How can you make the other safe in the midst of the greatest vulnerability there is.

When she is safe with you and when you are safe with her, then you can truly know what it means to be naked and not ashamed, as you were created to be.

For this reason, most of what passes for marriage counseling misses the mark completely. It is so frequently taught that sex is just for the man, and it is the wife’s duty to perform.

But, men, if the only reason your wife is having sex with you is because you are making her, that is not Biblical sexual morality. That is called “rape”.

If you are using this verse (the first part of it) to manipulate or coerce your wife into having sex with you, that is also called “rape” and it is the worst kind – cruelty under the name of “Biblical womanhood”.

True sexuality is not coerced, not manipulated, not used as reward for good behavior. True sexuality is not “for the man”. It is not something that the wife has to endure. It is mutual, joyful, fulfilling, intoxicating, loving.

But first, you have to pursue it diligently. You have to put aside all ideas as to “Who’s in charge, here” and simply learn to love her. Find out what makes her rejoice.

Women, if you have never enjoyed sex before, there is help available. If there is pain, if there is trauma, if there is anything getting in the way between you and your husband, this is not how God intended you to live. There is help available.

If you have never had a mutual, fulfilling sex life, there is help available.

Start with Sheila Wray Gregoire’s book “The Great Sex Rescue”.

By the way, men. Learning how to please your wife isn’t a suggestion. It is a command from God. When you obey this command, implied in the seventh commandment, you will be surprised at how much more responsive your wife will be.

A word to the wise is enough.

(Deu 24:5)   “When a man has taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war or be charged with any business; he shall be free at home one year, and bring happiness to his wife whom he has taken.

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Filed under Marriage, Men and women, Sex

Odds and ends

It has been a rough week. Sometimes I get tired. Sometimes I struggle through God’s goodness. But there are glimpses now and then. I am certain, though, that I am accepted by God not because I have everything together, but because of what Jesus has done for me. I think I can rest now.

I know that the God of peace walks with me. But sometimes I don’t feel very peaceful. I think I’m getting there, though.

I just found out that Bugs Bunny ate carrots because Clark Gable ate a carrot while talking to Claudette Colbert in “It Happened One Night.” It wasn’t because bunnies particularly like carrots. In fact, that myth came from Bugs Bunny, not the other way around.

Outside right now it is 109 degrees. Tomorrow it will reach 113. Please pray for our community, if you think about us.

Paul, speaking the very words of God, addresses the church as “my joy and crown.” Did it occur to you that the church causes God to rejoice?

Irenaeus said that the glory of God is a living man. That is profound. God raised us from the dead that we might have life, because we glorify him when we are alive.

When we were children, calling someone a “nimrod” was an insult. It meant a buffoon, a foolish person. As I got older, I wondered where this came from. I remember chuckling as a child at Genesis 10:9. “Like Nimrod, the mighty hunter before the Lord”… This also came from Bugs Bunny. In one early cartoon, Bugs is being hunted by Elmer Fudd. He mocks Elmer by saying, “What a Nimrod!” It was meant as sarcasm. “What a mighty hunter right here!” When we were kids, we didn’t catch the sarcasm.

My wife signed me up for a study at UC Davis Hospital for a new treatment for sciatica. They are going to pay me, if I am accepted. There are two ways I can report this. I can say, “My wife signed me up for a paid scientific study that will maybe help my sciatica.” OR I can say, “My wife wants to sell my body for scientific experimentation.”  I’m not sure which would be more interesting. Words are so interesting, aren’t they?

I truly wish that I had taken courses in linguistics. The study fascinates me.

I don’t know why I’ve been thinking about Looney Toons lately. Maybe the heat is getting to my head.

Find a place where the gospel is proclaimed. Listen to those who tell you about Jesus and what he did for you. It is the only way you will find peace.

I hope you find peace tonight.

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Why did Lazarus die?

Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.
  2 It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.
  3 Therefore the sisters sent to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.”
  4 When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
  5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.
  6 So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. (Jn. 11:1-6)

As I was reading this over my coffee this morning, it struck me. (Funny how that works – I’ve read this countless times, and I didn’t exactly miss it before, but it didn’t strike me like it did today).

Because Jesus loved Lazarus and Mary and Martha;

And because he heard that Lazarus was sick…he waited two more days.

Think about that. Lazarus is dying. Jesus can heal him. But instead, Jesus delays. Lazarus dies. And he loved them.

This is astounding. Imagine what Mary and Martha were going through. For days and days they wait for Jesus to show up. Jesus delays. He dawdles. He stays two more days. Lazarus gets sicker.

Finally Lazarus dies. Mary’s heart breaks. Martha’s heart breaks. Where was Jesus? Why didn’t he come? Does he not care?

(If you have never asked those questions, have you really lived on this earth? How often do we wonder the same thing. How much more? How much longer? Why won’t he stop this? Why won’t he heal?)

But at the beginning of it all, Jesus tells them why. “That the Son of God might be glorified through it.”

There is something about Jesus that hadn’t been revealed yet. He hadn’t been “glorified”, that is, he hadn’t been seen for who he truly was – the Resurrection and the Life.

They all thought that not even Jesus could do anything about death. Lazarus is dead. It’s over.

And then Jesus says, “Lazarus, come forth!”

When God allows the pain to take hold; when God allows yet another thing to strike a blow; when God allows the devil to ravish and devour; when God allows us to go as low as we think we can – and then he takes us even lower –

It isn’t because he hates us. It isn’t because he hasn’t forgotten us. It isn’t because he is negligent or evil.

It is because we close our eyes and think we can solve all of our own problems. We can fix this, if we do just one more thing.

But when death occurs, when we reach that point where there is NO fixing it, NO coming back, NO solution – THAT is when we begin to see Jesus for who he is.

Not even death can stop the power of the Son of God.

Not great sin, not great despair, not great pain or great illness – not even death.

We have a hard time seeing it until we do. And that is worth everything.

If the Son of God can be revealed in our suffering and weakness, our pain and sorrow, then it is worth it all. No one falls through the cracks. He never fails.

The day will come when he will call you out of this tomb as well. And there will be no more tears and no more curse.

When we’ve seen the tears and the curse and know what it is to suffer great loss, then we are the first to shout for joy when victory comes.

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Filed under Encouragement, Gospel, Hope