WHEN THE BAD NEWS AND THE GOOD NEWS ARE THE SAME NEWS

The Bad News

When the Bad News and the Good News Are the Same News -- the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ (by Jean Wilund via InspireAFire.com)

I knew she’d be mad but I didn’t expect out of control rage from such a young child. But then again, she does take after her momma.

Our daughter had just finished fourth grade at Pineview Elementary. We loved Pineview. I loved Pineview. But I loved my mom more.

And if the doctors were right, Mom only had one more year before she’d succumb to cancer. I had two choices.

If I kept our kids in school, I could visit Mom in Georgia on weekends. But if I took them out, I could homeschool them and have the freedom to create many sweet memories with her in the short time we had left. The choice seemed obvious, but not easy.

Our daughter loved her Oma, too, but she was 10 years old when we broke the news to her. We were pulling her out of Pineview.

At that age, all she could hear was we were taking her away from her friends and favorite teachers. As a rising fifth-grader, she was going to be an elementary school “senior.”

Rage burst from her tiny body. She flew out the back door, sobbing. I sat in the living room stunned. Silent tears spilled down my face. I was losing my mom, and now I’d just broken my little girl’s heart.

Help my child, Lord. Help my mom. Help me.

I wanted to run after her and hold her and beg her not to be angry, but Larry held my hand and told me to give her space.

Lord,
how do we make this okay?

When I couldn’t wait any longer, Larry and I walked out to the back yard and found her curled up in a chair, tears still falling. Her clenched fists trembled. She glanced back and forth between us. I saw in her eyes, rage and resolution battled for control. Keep Reading . . .




Can We Trust the Bible? Is it Reasonable? Part 2 – The Resurrection

Can We Trust the Bible? - Is It Reasonable? Part 2 - The Resurrection (From the Bible Study series: Fear Not! You Can Do This. Easing in the Bible One Toe at a Time) via www.JeanWilund.com

Dead Man Walking

The credibility of the New Testament hangs on one event — the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Jesus could have lived a perfect, sinless life and died on the cross, but if He didn’t rise from the dead and walk out of the grave, the entire New Testament unravels.

All 27 New Testament books might as well be thrown into a fire as worthless kindling.

The resurrection of Jesus birthed the Christian church and led to the completion of the Bible as we know it.

If God’s enemies wanted to destroy the church and discredit the Bible, disproving Jesus’ resurrection would have done it.

It should have been quite simple.

Huge crowds followed Jesus for most of His three-year ministry, but by the end of it, His enemies far outnumbered His friends. Few would’ve supported any claim of Him having risen from the dead.

Why So Many Haters?

Jesus’ haters didn’t come together to demand Jesus be crucified over the vast number of people He fed or healed — although a surprising number of Jewish leaders took offense at His good deeds.

His enemies hated Him for His claims and the impact it would have on them.

Jesus said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30).

With these six words, Jesus declared He was God.

Jesus also said, “I tell you the truth … before Abraham was born, I am” (John 8:58).

The Jewish leaders understood His claim. No one but God could stand before them and declare he existed before a man who’d lived 2,000 years earlier.

Jesus’ enemies wanted to kill Him because He threatened their religious power and influence over their people. They used His supposed crime of blasphemy — dishonoring God and His name by claiming to be God — as justification.

If Jesus isn’t God, His bold claim is a crime against God of the highest, most offensive order. But He is, so it isn’t.

Most of the Jewish leaders couldn’t see the truth, though. They’d hardened their hearts against Him especially as His miracles stirred up the whole region.

Many of the people who saw His miracles wanted to make him their king.

Jesus — A Blasphemer and a National Threat

Jesus didn’t just threaten the Jewish leaders’ religious power. He also threatened their peace with Rome.

If Caesar suspected mutiny against his rule over them, they knew he’d squash them with his heavy hand.

Even the Jewish leaders who rarely seemed to agree on anything, agreed on this one point: Jesus had to go. And stay gone!

As motivated as they were to kill Jesus, they were even more motivated to keep Him dead. (Executioners rarely face such a concern, but then, Jesus is rare.)

Jesus had said He’d rise from the dead. They couldn’t allow it.

No matter what it took, Jesus simply must remain in the tomb. Stone cold dead.

His resurrection would confirm His claims and indict them for having crucified God’s Son.

After Jesus’ followers laid Him in the grave, the Romans rolled a stone in front of the tomb and sealed it. The soldiers guarded it with their lives.

No one could get in. Or out.

Nevertheless, three days later, reports of Jesus sightings spread across the land.

When word of these eyewitness reports of Jesus’ resurrection reached the Jewish leaders, they tried to squelch them.

Displaying Jesus’ dead body would’ve done it.

For Want of A Body

Jesus’ enemies had everything to lose if He’d risen from the dead.

If His dead body existed anywhere on planet earth, they needed to find it and parade it down the Via Della Rosa for all to see.

They needed to chisel the parade into stone and order a national day of remembrance to ensure the whole world knew Jesus Christ was still dead.

But over 500 people said Jesus appeared to them.

His dead body on display would’ve silenced them.

And yet it never happened.

They never produced a body.

Is it reasonable to believe that the combined forces and resources of Rome and the Jewish leaders couldn’t produce His body if He were still dead?

Or that they could produce it, but simply chose not to?

For want of a body, the leaders resorted to storytelling.

The Disciples — Master Conspirators?

The Jewish leaders concocted a story that the disciples were master conspirators and stole Jesus’ body while the Roman guards slept.

Their conspiracy theory expected everyone to believe that:

  • the same men who’d run away when the soldiers arrested Jesus and cowered behind a locked door after His crucifixion only three days earlier suddenly came together after His death and, without anyone seeing, successfully stole Jesus’ body and hid it forever (Matthew 28:11-15).

  • that even though the Roman soldiers knew they’d be executed if they failed to perform their duties, they willingly admitted to falling asleep. And apparently without any other motivation than honesty.

  • that the guards slept through the rumbling sounds of the massive stone rolling away from the grave, and the disciples carrying Jesus’ body away.
  • that despite all the resources the Jewish leaders and Rome possessed, the simple disciples outwitted them all and hid Jesus’ body so well no one has yet to find it.

Is it reasonable for us to believe that Christianity has survived over two thousand years simply because the disciples were able to hide a dead body that well?

And then dedicate the rest of their lives to keeping that lie by enduring persecution (and some even execution) in order to lead others to trust in and believe in Jesus — the dead guy they’d stashed away?

Is it reasonable to believe that not one of the disciples would’ve finally caved and admitted they stole and hid Jesus’ body?

Is it reasonable to believe they could also convince Saul, the infamous Christian persecutor, to join their conspiracy? That he’d accept the lie and give up his position as an esteemed Jewish leader to become Paul, the impoverished, beaten, imprisoned, and shipwrecked missionary?

And is it reasonable to believe the disciples convinced over 500 people to agree to say they saw Jesus alive again and to take that lie with them to the grave?

It would’ve been so easy to dismantle Christianity before it even got started if His enemies could only have presented His dead body.

Instead, Jesus presented Himself. Alive.

Next Time – Tangible Evidence

So far, abductive reasoning has encouraged us to conclude it’s reasonable to believe God exists, and thus the seemingly wild claims of the Old Testament are reasonable to believe. (See Can We Trust the Bible? Is It Reasonable Part 1.)

Abductive reasoning also leads us to conclude it’s reasonable to believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, on which the entire New Testament hinges.

Next, we’ll look at evidence we can hold in our hands that show us we can trust the Bible.




I & II Samuel — Super-Short Summary

I & II Samuel -- Super Short Summary (Welcome to the Bible Series) (Fear Not!) via www.jeanwilund.com

Theme Verse for I & II Samuel:

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” ~ I Samuel 16:7

Super-Short Summary:

In I & II Samuel, God gave his people a king to protect and rule them with righteousness and to lead them in godliness. Through the kings, God pointed to, Jesus, the one true King. He would come through King David’s enduring dynasty and bring mercy and forgiveness for sin, which Israel’s kings vividly demonstrated.

Less-Than-Super-Short Summary:

Coming Soon


Check out the entire Welcome to the Bible Series.




Can We Trust the Bible? – Is It Reasonable? Pt. 1

Can We Trust the Bible? - Is It Reasonable? Part 1 (From the Bible Study series: Fear Not! You Can Do This. Easing in the Bible One Toe at a Time) via www.JeanWilund.com

A talking donkey, a global flood, and a virgin birth. These sound like the stuff of fables, not facts. But the Bible includes them as historical events.

How can we know the Bible is inspired, trustworthy, and infallible when we read about phenomenon such as these?

Sure, we can believe it by faith. But we don’t have to. We have evidentiary proof.

Before we look at some of the evidence we can hold in our hands, let’s consider the Bible’s trustworthiness using good old-fashioned detective work—abductive reasoning.

This means we’ll consider the observable facts and then look for the simplest and most reasonable explanation.

Can We Trust the Bible? - Is It Reasonable? Part 1 (From the Bible Study series: Fear Not! You Can Do This. Easing in the Bible One Toe at a Time) via www.JeanWilund.com

Considering the Inconceivable

In order to answer the inconceivable oddity of a talking donkey or a world-wide flood, it’s helpful to first reason together whether we believe that the God of the Bible even exists.

Is it reasonable to believe God exists?

Consider our world, our bodies, and the cosmos.

Complex DNA strands.

Crazy creatures at the bottom of the sea with lighted fishing poles for noses. Crazy stuff like that. I still marvel at electricity.

Consider the precise alignment of the planets and stars that enable life on earth to neither burn up nor freeze solid.

The Bible says God created the heavens and the earth, including all living beings within them. It seems reasonable that something this complex would have a highly intelligent designer.

But what if we don’t believe?

What If We Don’t Believe?

If we look at the complex universe around us but don’t believe it’s reasonable that God exists, we must produce an alternate explanation for how everything came into being.

Thus far, scientists who don’t believe in God have offered only theories, like the Big Bang Theory – the “something came from nothing” theory. (Not the TV show.)

Let’s imagine if the Big Bang Theory were true. We’d now need to explain why other things haven’t “started from nothing” ever since that initial bang.

Is it reasonable to believe that the creation of the world was the sole incident of spontaneous creation in history?

The Big Problem with the Big Bang

Can We Trust the Bible? - Is It Reasonable? Part 1 (From the Bible Study series: Fear Not! You Can Do This. Easing in the Bible One Toe at a Time) via www.JeanWilund.com

In support of the Big Bang Theory, atheist and biologist Richard Dawkins presented in his book, The God Delusion (published in 2006), his “Ultimate Boeing 747” argument.

This argument asserts a Being that could create the world would have to be more complex than a 747. And something would have to create the Being.

Ironically, rather than presenting evidence to prove God doesn’t exist, Dawkins’ 747 argument supports the Bible’s view that God is more complex than His creation and anything His creation could build.

But Dawkins ignores the possibility that God, being supremely complex, was never created. He’s always existed with no beginning and no end.

Interestingly, an article on his website from 2016 discusses a new theory that involves the universe having no end and no beginning.

The author of the article explains the need for their new theory, which is: the Big Bang theory simply doesn’t work.

Here a clip from the article:


Although the Big Bang singularity arises directly and unavoidably from the mathematics of general relativity, some scientists see it as problematic because the math can explain only what happened immediately after—not at or before—the singularity.

“The Big Bang singularity is the most serious problem of general relativity because the laws of physics appear to break down there,” Ahmed Farag Ali at Benha University and the Zewail City of Science and Technology, both in Egypt, told Phys.org.

Ali and coauthor Saurya Das at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, have shown in a paper published in Physics Letters B that the Big Bang singularity can be resolved by their new model in which the universe has no beginning and no end.

— No Big Bang? Quantum Equation Predicts Universe Has No Beginning


What Does Your Reasoning Tell You?

Using our abductive reasoning, we now ask ourselves, which is more reasonable to believe?

Is it more reasonable to believe that the universe has simply existed without beginning or end and that one day that abyss of nothingness collided and created our intricately complex universe as we now know it?

OR

Is it more reasonable to believe that God is the intelligent designer who has always existed and created the universe?

If neither seems reasonable, what’s the alternative origin of the universe? The one that Richard Dawkins and others who don’t believe in God have yet to discover?

I believe the God of the Bible is the Creator, and He’s always existed.

Which leads me back to the talking donkey.

A Powerful and Creative Creator

If God can create the universe and give mankind – and parrots, and a few dogs on YouTube – the ability to speak, can we then also believe He’s able to make a donkey speak?

Can we also believe He can cover this globe we live on with water? And do everything else we read about in the Bible that seems impossible?

“Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?” (Jeremiah 32:27 ESV). 

“But Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible’” (Matthew 19:26 ESV).

If God can create the world, it’s reasonable to believe He can and will perform miraculous works, whether on a small, talking-donkey scale or on a massive worldwide flood scale.

To be continued in Part 2 . . .





Two Great Questions to Ask a Friend (Or Yourself)

Two great questions to ask a friend or yourself (via www.JeanWilund.com): 1. If you were the devil, where would you attack yourself? 2. What are you not believing about God that makes you weak in this area?

Go ahead. Ask a friend or yourself this question:

Question #1

If you were the devil, where would you attack yourself?

I sort of don’t want to answer that question because what if Satan hadn’t already figured it out?

What if I clued him in?

It could feel like putting a club into his hands. Except . . .

Satan has been studying human nature since Adam and Eve walked in the Garden of Eden. There’s nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

Our human nature hasn’t changed since the beginning so we’re not throwing Satan any curveballs. He’s seen it all.

He could tell us our area of weakness if we asked him. But don’t. Ask your friend or yourself.

What’s the area Satan would target to take you out at your emotional, physical, or spiritual knee cap?

Where are you most vulnerable?

Then ask yourself this next question:

Question #2

What am I not believing about God that makes me weak in this area?

Every emotional and spiritual weakness sprouts from a lie and/or pride.

Satan — and our selfish pride — both use these lies to attack us.

The truth destroys the lies and humbles our pride. Not my truth or your truth, but real truth, which comes from the Bible.

God’s Word will reveal whatever it is we’re not believing about God and defeat whatever it is the devil can use against us.

The Holy Spirit will remind us of verse(s) that teach — or remind us — of the truth that strips the lies of their power over us.

and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.
– John 8:32 NASB

Think You Got What It Takes?

I used to thank God for revealing the thinner areas of my character, and then I’d set my heart to shore them up with intention and the force of my will.

If I just tried hard enough, I’d have what it takes because I’m a daughter of the King! Hear me roar!

The next sound would be me whimpering.

I didn’t — and don’t — have what it takes any more than Adam and Eve did.

And neither do you.

But Jesus does.

He proved it in the wilderness when Satan tempted Him with relentless vigor (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13).

Jesus stood strong against Satan’s temptations even while His body was weak. Forty days of fasting will do that. (Jesus was not only 100% God, but also 100% man (Philippians 2:5-8). A famished man at that point.)

Jesus has what it takes. And we have Him — if we’ve trusted in and called on His name for salvation (Romans 10:9-10).

The Lord shores up our weaknesses through the strength of His character, not through our believing we have what it takes.

Look for verses that reveal aspects of God’s powerful character. Study and memorize ones that will hold you up in your specific areas of weakness. And then believe.

Believe the truth and walk in it.

Know. Believe. Walk.

Walking in the truth isn’t a separate step. We naturally walk in it like water that naturally flows from a faucet.

When we turn the faucet handle, the next step isn’t to tell the water to flow. The gush of water is the natural result of turning on the faucet when the line is clear. And walking in belief is the natural result of believing God’s Word when our faith is clear of lies and pride.

If we’re not walking with confidence in the truth we’ve learned about the Lord, then we don’t really believe it.

Some days I believe, and I flow through the day, head high and peaceful.

Other days, Satan or my selfish nature clogs up my faith with a hairball of pride or a glob of lies. My confidence dries up and I wither back into unbelief. Sigh.

But each day is a new day.

Every moment we can remind ourselves of the truth we know, set our hearts to believe, and trust God to do the work in our hearts (Philippians 2:13). And then walk in the belief that day, that moment.

Slowly but surely we’ll stagger less in seasick faith, rising up and down in belief and unbelief like waves tossed on the sea (James 1:6).

We’ll stride more in steady faith and send Satan scrambling. He’ll be hunting for another lie to throw at us, but it will also fail so long as we keep our eyes off our human pride and Satan’s lies and locked onto Christ and His truth.

Don’t give up and your weaknesses will become glorious strengths. Whenever the world sees my weaknesses become strengths, they know there’s a God in heaven.

In summary:

Grab a friend and ask them these two questions:

1. If you were the devil, where would you attack yourself?

2. What am I not believing about God that makes me weak in this area?

Then PRAY, search the BIBLE together for TRUTH, and hold each other accountable to BELIEVE and OBEY.

Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

— 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 NASB


A post on Tim Challies’ blog inspired this post. Check it out: One Great Question to Ask a Friend. While you’re there, check out his other posts. He’s great!

And then come back and hang out here. Leave a comment. I’d love to connect.




Running from Sin Like We’re Running from Samson

The first inkling I had of my future as a track star was the day I sprinted across the yard with Samson close at my heels.

Running from Sin Like We're Running from Samson by Lori Hatcher via www.jeanwilund.com

Samson was every newspaper delivery girl’s nightmare. His shaggy black fur made the perfect backdrop for his pearly white fangs. Kinda like diamonds on black velvet, except much scarier.

And he snarled. Ever been around a mean dog that snarled? Samson sounded like a cross between a pig in a food trough and the Tasmanian devil.

Samson was so mean his owners kept him in a pen with a latched lid. Or maybe his owners kept Samson in a pen with a latched lid and that’s what made him so mean, I don’t know. Either way, he was mean.

The lid to his pen, unfortunately, was secured with a simple eye hook, which meant if he lunged against the top hard enough and angrily enough, he could sometimes work the hook loose.

And chase the paper girl, who infuriated him by coming onto his property every afternoon at 3:30 pm.

As soon as I’d turn the corner onto Oliver Street, I could
hear him barking. The knot in my stomach formed.

The closer I got to his house, the tighter the knot would
grow.

And when I’d round the corner of his house for the long walk
to the back door, a mere 20 feet from Samson’s pen, the knot became an icy hot
poker that didn’t cool until I was once again safe on the sidewalk.

On that particular day, the day I tried out for the track and field Olympics without planning to, I rounded the corner cautiously. Don’t let him see your fear, my Dad’s voice rang in my head. And never run.

Resisting the urge to bolt down the driveway, fling the
newspaper into the space between the storm door and the inside door, and run back,
I strolled toward the door.

Running from Sin Like We're Running from Samson by Lori Hatcher via www.jeanwilund.com

At the first glimpse of me, Samson erupted into a slobbering,
demonic rage. Infuriated that I would dare set foot on his property, let alone
approach him, he lunged against the top of the pen.

BAM. His head crashed against the lid as it lifted.

BAM. The hook held, and the lid crashed back down.

BAM. His head crashed against the lid again.

BAM. The hook held, and the lid crashed back down.

BAM. His head crashed against the lid as it lifted.

Click. The hook slid from its hook.

Squirm. Slither. Grunt. Snarl.

Samson wormed his way out of the pen and lunged for his prey
– ME!

That’s when I accomplished my record-breaking 20-foot dash.
Knowing speed was my only defense, I cast Dad’s advice to the wind and ran with
all my might toward the apartment door. I knew if I could beat Samson to the
door, I might live to run another day.

And I did.

But there was a flaw to my desperate plan. As soon as I flung the screen door open and reached for the inside knob, I knew I was in trouble.

The door was locked.

I was 12 years old at the time. Skinny as a branch from Auntie Bea’s weeping willow tree. My classmates teased me mercilessly. Even my dad called me String Bean. Usually I hated my figure-less figure, but that day, I was thankful to be skinny.

In a feeble final attempt to escape Samson’s snapping jaws, I turned myself sideway, tucked my newspaper bag between me and him, and shut myself into the miniscule space between the two doors, yelling like I was about to be devoured –which I was.

Samson’s barking and my screaming attracted quite a crowd. One neighbor grabbed him by the collar and pulled him away from the door. Another slapped a leash on him and dragged him back to his pen. The homeowner finally opened the door from the inside, causing me to tumble backward and land in a blubbering heap at his feet.

I was safe.

My only regret is that this event happened during the era
before security cameras. I sure would have liked to watch a replay of the best
race of my life.

I thought of Samson recently. Nightmare experiences never vanish completely, I guess. But unlike the walking-up-screaming-drenched-in-a-cold-sweat replays I sometimes experience, this reminder came in the daylight – during my quiet time.

I read 1 Corinthians 10:13, one of the first verses I memorized as a young believer:

“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.
And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.
But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand
up under it.”

This verse continues to remind me that God doesn’t send us into each day without protection. Instead, he always provides a way of escape. We don’t have to sin.

Thankfully, most of us won’t face a snarling, slobbering threat like Samson, but sin and Samson are a lot alike.

We can sometimes grow complacent or overconfident about our
vulnerability to sin, thinking we’re immune to its destructive nature.

Sin can catch us unprepared, without a plan to protect
ourselves.

If we fail to prepare, sin can injure, scar, devour, and
destroy us.

Samson taught me several valuable lessons that day. You don’t have to be a newspaper delivery girl to benefit from them:

  1. Know your enemy. What’s your weakness? Your besetting sin? Sexual temptation? The tendency to abuse alcohol? To go along with the crowd? To gossip? To lie? Knowing Samson was always waiting for me helped me be ready when the threat came.
  2. Know when to call for help. We can fight some battles alone, but others are too big. Don’t be prideful. Ask a godly friend to pray for you and hold you accountable.
  3. Avoid temptation whenever possible. Put up hedges of protection around your vulnerabilities.
  4. Look for the way of escape and take it. God promises it is always there.

Running from Sin Like We're Running from Samson by Lori Hatcher via www.jeanwilund.com

Three years after my foot race with Samson, I joined the high school track team and lettered in hurdles. I never again came close to my personal best time that day at Samson’s house. But then, he never chased me again. You’d better believe, though, every time I rounded the corner to his house, I was watching and ready to run.

May we be similarly ready for whatever danger comes our way and run from sin like we’re running from Samson.



Running from Sin Like We're Running from Samson by Lori Hatcher via www.jeanwilund.com

Lori Hatcher is the editor of Reach Out, Columbia magazine and the author of several devotional books. Hungry for God … Starving for Time, Five-Minute Devotions for Busy Women won the 2016 Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year award. Her most recent book, Refresh Your Faith – Uncommon Devotions from Every Book of the Bible is due out in the spring of 2020. A blogger, writing instructor, and inspirational speaker, her goal is to help women connect with God in the craziness of life You’ll find her pondering the marvelous and the mundane on her blog, Hungry for God. . . Starving for Time . Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter (@LoriHatcher2), or Pinterest (Hungry for God).