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Bulletin Blurbs

“You heard my plea: ‘Do not close your ear to my cries for relief.’” Lamentations 3:56

“Father this sin has a hold on me, please bring me relief. Give me the strength to overcome this.” “Father, please heal him. I know you have the power to provide life, please God give him life.” “Father, please lead me. Please give my life direction. I feel hopeless. Useless. God, I feel broken.”

For years I pleaded with God, and yet always He would provide me with the same answer: no. It was in this consistent state of rejection from God, that I began a crusade to try to vindicate Him. I would bargain with myself that it must not have been God’s will, or that this must have been what God wanted. But this led me to some very dark thoughts. God wanted me to sin? He wanted my loved ones to suffer? It was His will for me to wrestle with depression?

Of course not. I failed to grasp the complexity of our existence. God is not the only force at work in our life, and not the only agent that has sway over our life. It is so easy to blame God when it seems that every prayer we offer comes back empty handed. It is easy to waste our time constructing complex rationales to try to defend God from the conclusion that He simply desired the negative outcome in our life. Every other week over the next month or two, we are going to be answering the question, “why isn’t God answering my prayers?”

I hate to spoil the surprise but it is not because God enjoys to offer you rejection, wills you or others to suffer, or desires you to sin. As we will see, there is something else going on here.

~ Bishop

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Good morning!

Once again, I’m happy that all of you are here this morning! As you read this, I am likely in Henderson, Tennessee for the annual FHU Lectureship. I look forward to seeing you in person again this time next week! It’s always an encouraging thought to know that, though I’m 716 miles away, we’re both worshipping the same God on the same day. Though we’re apart, we’re all part of the same family.

It’s hard to believe we are already a month into this New Year. It seems like every February, I have that overwhelming feeling that time really goes by too quickly. I want to express what we discussed last Sunday at our youth devotional. Often in our New Year, we discuss new beginnings and how, if the last year was not our best, we can “turn over a new leaf” this New Year. Well, now we’re 1/12 into the year 2014, and my guess is we’ve all fallen to a sin or temptation at some point. We’ve all proved that we aren’t perfect. Luckily, God does not measure time in years, months, weeks, etc. like we do. We always have the opportunity to change for the better.

David, after being confronted by Nathan for his sin with Bathsheba, wrote the 51st Psalm. In verses 10-12, he prays this: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.”

We, like David, can and should pray this prayer. Unfortunately, we are imperfect. We have a Heavenly Father who understands that, and sent his perfect Son to die for us, so that we have a chance to come back to him, have our hearts made clean, and have our spirits renewed, not at the start of each new year, but whenever it is needed. Isn’t it a blessing to be a child of God?!