Thursday, March 31, 2011

Why is There Evil if God is Real?

A common argument against the existence of God is the presence of evil and suffering. How can God be truly sovereign if suffering and evil is allowed to exist? Is God all-powerful, but just doesn’t care, or is He caring but not all-powerful?

I think if we’re going to ask these questions, we need to reflect on what evil really is. Is evil just the actions, or does it extend to thoughts and intentions? Where do you want God to stop when it comes to eliminating evil from the world? Do you want Him to destroy all evil, or just some of it? Jesus stated that hatred and anger is just as evil as murder (Matthew 5:22), and lust as evil as rape (Matthew 5:27). If all of evil is purged from this Earth, we are going along with it.

Evil isn’t just something that exists on Earth that God can’t get rid of. Evil is a decision we choose every time we reject God in favor of the world. Evil is anything that opposes God. We create evil. We embraced it way back when Adam and Eve decided to turn against God. At that moment, we were banished from the Garden, where God does not allow evil, to Earth, where we have brought evil. We are separated from God because we chose to be. Evil exists because we brought it here. We gave into Satan’s temptation, and continue to struggle between Satan’s temptations and God’s promise. What happened when Satan turned against God? He was banished from Heaven (Luke 10:18, Revelation 12:9). What happened when we turned against God? We were banished from the Garden (Genesis 3:23).

The truth is: God can eliminate evil. He can get rid of it. He can, and He did. We have been separated from Him, and so has the Enemy. But the amazing and incredible part of the story is he allowed us to live, that someday we may return to Him. And yet we see in the scriptures that despite every attempt from God to show us His mercies and grace, there were still those who chose to reject Him. And from this rejection of God spawns all the evil that we witness in the world: the murder, the homocide, the rape, the slavery, the injustice. Do the victims deserve justice? Absolutely. Are the sins of those oppressing greater than the individual sins of the oppressed? Absolutely not. All sin is equal.

The fact of the matter is that no matter how oppressive someone may be, that person can never have an impact on the eternal fate of those who are oppressed. In the end everyone is judged according to what they have done (Romans 2:6). Everyone is responsible for their own actions. Too often we look at the suffering in the world and we blame God, when really man is to blame. Granted, there are circumstances where man does not directly cause the suffering (natural disasters, sickness, etc.), but even still, we should not blame God. God stated Himself that He would never again destroy the Earth by a flood (Genesis 9:11). If God were to destroy one people for their sin via natural disaster, He would have to destroy all peoples, because all sin is equal. We can rest in His covenant that states that He would never do this. We live in a fallen world not because God neglects it, but because man has corrupted it. Suffering and evil are products of this fallen world, not God’s neglect.

Many times people look at the book of Job and attribute his suffering to God letting it happen. This is not the case at all. God only let happen to Job what He knew Job could handle, and to prove to Satan that Job’s commitment to Him was not dependent on how well He provides for him. We should instead look at the book of Job as an example of God’s sovereign power. God forbid Satan from doing certain things. He drew lines and Satan obeyed. Satan rules over this fallen world, causing temptation, evil, and suffering, but we can rest assured that God triumphs over Satan, evil, and restores those who are suffering. Jesus stated that although we may face hardships in this world, we should take heart in the fact that He has overcome the world (John 16:33).

It is clear that God does not turn a blind eye to our sufferings. Jesus wept when Lazarus died (John 11:35), showing His deep compassion for His children. When we are sad, God is sad also, wiping away every tear (Revelation 21:4), and hearing our every cry for help (Isaiah 30:19). He LONGS to be gracious to us and He RISES to show us compassion (Isaiah 30:18). We are not distant from God when we are suffering, no matter how tough it may be. No, we are closest to Him! God reveals to us that His grace alone is sufficient for us, and that His power is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

So the real question is this: How can God truly be just and allow our sin to go unpunished? Why does He let us walk this Earth when we consistently reject Him in favor of the things of this world? How, although we sin, are we saved from God’s wrath? The answer is Christ. We deserve death, Hell, and the divine wrath of sin for all the crimes we have committed against an infinitely holy God, from our thoughts to our actions. Even still, we can be saved from that wrath by His grace through our faith in Christ Jesus, who He sent to bare the sins due us on the cross.

No amount of oppression can separate us from that Love. No wave of the ocean can wash it away. No bullet can pierce it. No words can prove it wrong. No evil can overtake it. Love never fails. First, however, we must accept His love. We must put our whole faith in to it. We must trust it, go all in, bet our lives on it. It’s all we’ll ever need, and we all desperately need it.

God cares and we can be sure of it: Jesus took on the cup of the wrath of God so that we may be re-united with Him. Let us rejoice in our sufferings and keep in mind that “suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” - Romans 5:3-5

in His grip,


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Conversation With My Mentee

The Student I Mentor: I wanna come to yall's wedding!
Me: Okay! We'd love that! It's pretty far away so we'd have to work something out.
Student: Cool. So yall coming back that Sunday?
Me: No, we're going to spend a week in the mountains, so we'd be back the next weekend.
Student: Oh, so if I went with yall, I'd be with you for a week?
Me: Well, I don't know if you could stay in the cabin with us, but we can hang out when we got back!
Student: Okay!

I love being a mentor!

PS - Tumblr 30 Letter Update:

Letter Four (to a sibling)
Letter Five (to my dreams)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Going to the Chapel

The Camp Pinnacle Chapel
(Photo Courtesy Kaitlin Rachel Wood)
Kaitlin sent me this photo last Saturday. It was my first glance at the chapel where were are getting married. My immediate thoughts were that it was perfect. So perfect. It seemed surreal, at that moment, that we are getting married. It's really really exciting, but also really surreal. It's something we've been waiting for and working towards for a long time, and it's actually happening. The chapel is booked, along with the reception area next to the lake. The rooms are booked for us to stay in the night of the rehearsal dinner. The honeymoon is booked. I have a solid job to provide with. It's happening. It's really happening. Its so exciting!! I could cry just thinking about it.

We drove up the following Monday to see everything in person. Y'all, this chapel really is the most beautiful and perfect in the world. I don't care where you have been, there is no place I'd rather get married. The whole campus is bursting at the seams with God's love and spirit. It's so evident everywhere. The chapel looks so amazing. And the whole time, I couldn't help fast-fowarding to June. The next time I see it might be the day before the wedding. So cool and surreal. The empty (yet still elegant) chapel will soon be full of people and joy (and, inevitably, stress and probably a little chaos, but still!). 

These pews will be filled with loved ones
She'll be walking down the aisle, beautiful as ever, in white
That's my bride! She got her hair down while we were up there and it looked so gorgeous (though, it is impossible to mess up her naturally beautiful hair). It was another little piece of what the wedding would be like (that I was surprised to be able to preview, but hey, I'm not complaining!). I can't wait to stand in front and wait for her to walk down that aisle. I'll be so nervous and excited and happy. 

God instituted and ordained this and I can't wait for him to lead our wedding and our marriage. I know it's going to be perfect. This is happening! It's really happening. =]

in His grip,

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Friday Favorites!

I've made myself a Tumblr. I really like Tumblr. But I also like Blogger. I need to blog more often, but anyway. That was random. I guess I just feel kinda silly trying to decide which blog site to use when I don't feel like I blog enough. But for now, I think I'll keep both. And just post the same main things in both. And if I ever decide to officially switch, I can.

Over there, I've been doing the 30 Day Tumblr Letter Challenge. Here are the links:

Letter One (which is supposed to be to my best friend)
Letter Two (which is supposed to be to my crush)
Letter Three (which is supposed to be to my parents)

I might eventually copy the entire letters over here, but at least my blogger people can get to them now. Not like they couldn't before. I'm sure facebook helped mediate this issue. Maybe I'm thinking too much into this?

Okay, enough with the blogging about blogging.

Today is Sunday. Which means tomorrow is Monday, the day I get to see the Camp Pinnacle Chapel. The new Camp Pinnacle Chapel, where I will be wed to Kaitlin! Do people use the phrase "wed" anymore? I just did. It feels so surreal that the wedding is so soon. In a good way. I love it. It feels really exciting and peaceful and joyful. It'll be in a little over 3 months. Which means I've been engaged longer than the time left until I get married. Crazy! Time flies so so fast.

I saw this Friday Favorites idea on Joanne's blog, who got it somewhere else. I liked it, so I'm going to try it. But I'm not a girl, so I will either replace or remove some of the items! I hope no offense is taken by my few loyal readers.

Favorite Time of Day: Probably the evening time because it's quiet and peaceful and I can rest and relax and do things I like to do. Unless I'm working the evening shift. In which case my favorite time is sleepy time.

Favorite Season: Spring! It used to be Fall, but now there is no Fall. There is just Winter. Winter is too cold. I love the snow very much, but I absolutely cannot stand freezing weather. A phenomenon of weather perfection could be achieved, in my book, if it could snow on a warm, clear, sunny day.

Favorite Month: Either April (my dating anniversary), June (my future wedding month), or December (because I love Christmas time)

Favorite Holiday: Christmas! Easter is a close second.

Favorite Color: Blue and green. Especially blue.

Favorite Movie: I love so many! Here are just a few:

This movie never  gets old! Not a lot of people I know have seen it.
Enough said.
I watch this movie a lot. It reminds me of how amazing my Savior is
and helps me through tough times.

All around great movie! And not just because Kaitlin loves it. =]

It's similar to Frequency, but different too.
Favorite Celebrity: Uh. I don't really know. My favorite actor is probably Tom Hanks, but I don't really keep up with celebrities.

Favorite Place to Shop:
The iTunes store! I love music.
Favorite Kind of Music: Just about everything Christian, and some secular pop/rock/country. I've recently been introduced to Christian Hip/Hop & rap and it is amazing! My current favorite bands/artists are: Lecrae, David Crowder Band, and Owl City.

Favorite TV Show: I don't really watch a lot of TV, but I do like Storage Wars. I used to watch LOST religiously before the disappointing finale. I just don't watch a whole lot of TV.

Favorite Thing to Do: This is hard. Obviously, I want to make everything in my life glorify God. I want my life to be a constant state of worship (in some way, shape or form). I know that isn't always the case with my life, but I try! Hopefully my life and the things I do come close to bringing Him glory. I've recently become addicted to geocaching. It's really fun. Other than that, I love to find new ways to make Kaitlin smile and surprise her and show her how much I love her. Really. I'm not trying to be cheesy. It's really fun!

Favorite Place in the World: Probably in Kaitlin's arms. Too cheesy? Deal with it! It's the truth. Want like an actual public place? Probably Camp Pinnacle at the moment because I am getting married to Kaitlin there in 97 days!

Favorite Hobby: How is this not the same as my favorite thing to do? Well. I love to geocache. Thats probably my current favorite. I also love to draw, paint, read, and play soccer.

Favorite Animal:
That is a wolf. It's a silly band my beautiful fiance, Kaitlin
got me from camp. This also doubles as my favorite
silly band
Hawks are my second favorite animals! I just so happen to
BE a hawk, too! Neat!
Favorite Place to Live: Probably Georgia since I've only ever lived here, but I would like to live in the country when I get older.

Favorite Place to Vacation: Anywhere peaceful, where I don't have to worry about any of the burdens of the world. I've been to Jekyll Island a lot with my family. So I like it for sentimental reasons. I also love St Augustine. It's so pretty and fun. I've been with Kaitlin like four times (with her family, of course!) and I love it. But I also love love love love the mountains! Probably the most. I haven't been a lot, but that's were Kaitlin and I are going on our honeymoon so that should be great.

Favorite Restaurant: The Cheesecake Factory. Hands down. Great food and great portions. I also like the Melting Pot, but it is really expensive.

Favorite Thing to Cook: I love cooking! My favorite thing to cook is probably chicken parmigiana. I also love to cook chicken francese. Italian recipes are always keepers. I think crab rangoons are fun to make too. And anything with eggs.

Favorite Drink:
Hands Down
Favorite Cologne: Abercrobe Fierce. $50+ a bottle, I know. And it's kinda fading in quality. But it's all I've ever used! I don't like the slutty pictures of half-naked men, though. I peel them off.

Favorite Books: The Bible goes without saying! Anything by C.S.Lewis. My lovely fiancee got me The Quotable Lewis for Valentines Day! I'm getting into Ted Dekker too. Also, David Platt's Radical is pretty sweet. OH! And John Eldridge's Wild at Heart. And the Shack.

Favorite Bible Verse: This is the hardest question ever. I love so many verses. Here are just a few.

"The LORD is like a father to His children, tender and compassionate to those who fear Him. For He knows how weak we are; He remembers that we are only dust."  - Psalm 103:13,14

"If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing." - 1 Corinthians 3:1-4

"I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven." - Luke 10:18-20

Okay, looks like I've covered it! That was pretty fun.

in His grip,


Sunday, March 6, 2011


     This is my amateur sketch of I-75 whenever I am in a hurry (or am tired of driving). It always seems like there are three options: drive the speed limit in the granny lane, drive 5-10mph over the limit in the middle lanes, or drive like its the Autobahn in the fast lane. How fast do I usually want to drive? Between 75 and 80mph. Not on the menu. And I have to admit, it gets on my nerves sometimes. I want to drive the way I want, how fast I want, uninterrupted. On the road, my patience often fails. Sure, most of the time I slow down let people merge ahead of me. I give people space when I'm passing them. I use my signals. That's considerate, right? Yeah, but honestly, it's easy to do those things when I've got plenty of time on my hands. How often do I drive considerately and patiently when I am in a hurry to get somewhere? Do I go out of my way to let people merge then? Do I use signals? Do I try to avoid cutting people off? Not always. Impatience gets the best of me.
     That's not all, though. There are plenty of situations (standing in lines, sitting in class, shopping, listening to someone who loves to talk, trying to get your internet/computer/car to start working again, waiting at the DMV) where my patience is seriously tried. How do I act? Sometimes, pretty grumpy and impatient. It's not something I'm proud of and lately, I've felt really convicted of that. Patience is something I should strive for. It's a fruit of the spirit, and an important practice of a Christ-follower.
     And, it's a constant practice of the Lord. What? Yeah. Let's look at two verses. The first is in the second letter of Peter:
"And remember, our Lord's patience gives people time to be saved." - 2 Peter 3:15 (NLT)
"Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation" - 2 Peter 3:15 (NIV)
     In this particular context, Peter is talking about the return of Christ. He addresses the impatience and doubt surrounding the second coming, stating that God's timing is perfect and is patient for the lost. Although God is unhappy and angry by how His people reject him, betray him, and sin against Him, He is patient with us all so that we may have time to repent and be saved. Isn't that crazy? What's also crazy is that we (myself included) sometimes find ourselves a little impatient and ready for His return. Or maybe that is just me. Either way, such impatience neglects and even insults the loving name of our LORD. He has every right at any minute to claim His people and destroy all those who are without faith. He has every right because everything on this earth, including earth, is His alone. And He sits in Heaven and watches every day as His creation is abused and His name is defiled and many of His people are lost and living in sin. He watches, patiently and lovingly. He prolongs His return and His righteous judgement because He wants you and I to be saved by His grace and spend eternity with Him. He says so in the 30th chapter of Isaiah, where our second verse will be:
"Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore He will rise to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for Him!" - Isaiah 30:18 (NIV)
     Here, God is speaking through Isaiah to His people who, desperate for an ally in battle, chose to trust in Egypt's help instead of His strength. They did everything to defend themselves except pray for the protection of the LORD. They rejected the name of the LORD and went to Egypt for help - the same people who enslaved them and worship idols and reject God the Father. And after showing His people of their mistake, adds that he waits to show them grace, and exalts himself to show them compassion. He uses His great patience and mercy to give His people a way to come back to Him. He could have destroyed the entire nation for what they did, yet He chose instead to be patient.
     I love the magnificent illustration these verses paint concerning God. The fact that He is patient with us even though we really don't deserve it is incredibly gracious. And even more gracious is the fact that His patience means salvation. Because the LORD chooses to be patient, people are saved. What if you knew that being more patient everyday could lead to opportunities for people to be saved by God's grace? What if instead of rushing to get from A to B, we shared and loved? Just something to think about. I know I need to work on it.

in His grip,