Tag Archives: Compassion

Why does God allow tragedy?


April 19, 1995. Twenty years ago today, a senseless act of evil took the live of 168 people as a bomb ripped through the Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City. Many cried out “Why?” And even today we cry out “Why, God?” when tragedy strikes our own lives. Why does God allow tragedy in our lives?


Reflect on some of the key points that Billy Graham made in answer to this question when he spoke at a statewide prayer service twenty years ago.


I appreciate reverend Graham’s honesty is first saying, “I don’t know ‘why’. I only know there are lessons to learn.” One of those lessons is that life is a mystery. We don’t understand all things. Job didn’t understand why he lost his wife and family, his good health, and all his possessions. His wife’s advice to him was “Curse God and die!” But in the face of tragedy and intense ongoing pain, Job remained faithful. He believed that despite his circumstances that God was a loving and good God.


Another lesson of tragedy is a reminder that evil remains in the world – for a time. It is the essence of the dEVIL’s name. In the face of evil, you and I have two choices: 1) We can become bitter and angry at God or 2) We can turn to Him in trust Him, even when we don’t have the answer to all our questions. It is the essence of our faith, to believe when we cannot see clearly.


A third lesson of suffering is that it brings together the real community of God. Job missed this. Maybe you’ve missed this as your own tragic circumstances have left you isolated. But suffering produces an environment that invites community to flourish. It invites each of us to BE that community. We saw this as a nation, if if only short-lived, following the Oklahoma City bombing and 9/11. We see it today in community-wide disasters. People come together, not because they can solve a problem, but as a reminder that God cares for us. He promises that those who mourn will be comforted. His compassions never fail. His mercies are new every morning.


We should be comforted that even Jesus asked, “Why?” He cried out in agony, “Why, God have you forsaken me?” And His answer was quick in coming. The message of Easter is that hope follows tragedy. There is hope for your suffering, hope for your pain, and hope for your despair. We are minded in tragedy that life is brief and uncertain. None of us know which moment will be our last. But the hope remains for those who love God that His comfort, compassion, love, and forgiveness are available to us today even in the face of tragedy.


If you haven’t surrendered the control of your life to Jesus, what better time than today – while time remains?


Watch the 8 minute video of Billy Graham’s 1995 message here:






What one word you would choose to describe your encounter with Jesus?


One word that so often seems to jump off the pages of the New Testament is ASTONISHED! People who encountered Jesus were consistently astonished and amazed. They were astonished by:


His teaching
His authority
His integrity to speak and live the truth
His compassion
His miracles
His forgiveness
His obedience to His Heavenly Father
His wisdom
His sacrifice
His ability to know what was on the hearts of men
His grace
His power over death


Pilate was amazed by the character of Jesus when He remained silent in the face of accusations. The disciples saw Him walk on water, calm a violent storm, and feed five thousand people with a handful of small fish and loaves of bread. With their own eyes, crowds of people who encountered Jesus witnessed blind men seeing, lame men walking, mute men speaking, the deaf hearing, and those possessed by evil spirits freed from their bondage. They were so astonished they immediately praised God.


The people were also astonished by the lives of uneducated and ORDINARY men who were completely transformed by their own encounter with Jesus. By the power of the Spirit of Jesus, these men spoke with EXTRAORDINARY courage, authority, and wisdom. They too healed the sick and raised the dead. They lived lives compelled by compassion and desire to make sure everyone had opportunity to respond to the good news that changes lives for all eternity! Even Saul who actively and vehemently persecuted Christians found his life spun around in a complete 180. His new name, Paul, reflected his humble character, putting Christ and others first. But don’t confuse humility with timidity. A genuine encounter with Jesus changes things!


What words come to mind when you think about your encounter with the risen Jesus?


Jesus said some will hear His good news but will immediately forget them because the soil of their heart is like a hard worn rocky path, leaving no room for God to grow in their life.


He said some will respond eagerly to the encounter With His truth and grace but their excitement will soon fade like the seed that sprouts up but soon withers in the heat of the day.


Jesus said many will let His good news get strangled by their constant craving for things, the lust of what they see, and the endless boasting of achievements that don’t last.




Jesus promises that those who experience a genuine encounter with Him will find their lives completely transformed, from a tiny seed to a large tree that stands firm in the storms. It sends its roots deep into the soil, and is able to withstand storms and droughts, a living testimony to enduring faith in the transformational power of God.


Nearly everyone who encountered Jesus was astonished. Are you? If so, let it show in the way you face your problems and opportunities today!



One dollar – Day Eight


One dollar – Day eight:  (The last day?)
If you have made it this far, you might be thinking, “I see my one dollar – and even see people – differently, but what can I do to help? The need is so great, and I am only one person!”


There is no one answer to this question. We all have heard about food rotting on docks, supplies stolen by corrupt governments, and money squandered. If big organizations cannot end the poverty problem can one individual really change the world for one other person?


You CAN greatly impact another person’s life…for one dollar a day. What is impossible for us is more than possible for God in us.


You see, I’ve watched a $200 loan from Go Light Our World help desperate moms to generate income for their families. I’ve seen a $50 GLOW gift pay for the school tuition and supplies for a twelve-year-old girl who was otherwise destined to the streets. I’ve seen $25 buy medicine so a mom could keep working. I’ve seen $12 buy a child’s first pair of new leather shoes that fit. I’ve seen $50 buy hot nutritious meals for FORTY children.


Don’t worry, this isn’t a pitch for you to donate money to Go Light Our World. I’m not going to ask you for a dime. Maybe it is enough for now for you to keep that one dollar posted where you can think about it each day for another week, or more. I’m keeping mine in place. Talk with God about your one dollar. Likely, you will come up with more questions and ideas to discuss with Him. Write them down. Pray about them!


Maybe God will nudge you to join the GLOW team as a monthly supporter of one dollar a day. Or maybe He will move your heart to sponsor a child through Compassion International, or to buy a water filtration system through Samaritan’s Purse. Maybe He will convince you that it’s worth the effort to become a Big Brother or Big Sister. Who knows how God will move your heart when you ask Him to see other people through His eyes?!


Share your experience with others. Ask them to join you on a one dollar journey. Discuss it with your children and grandchildren. See how many ways you can discover to generate one dollar a day that could change someone’s life.


People living on one dollar a day are not just fighting for a better life. They are fighting for their life. Imagine what happens when we “live more simply so others may simply live” and how that could change the world for one other person.


You CAN impact another life with one dollar. But really, it’s not just about one dollar. It’s about your legacy. It’s about how important it is to you to actually change the world – one person at a time. Ask God for wisdom, courage, and strength of heart to see others as He sees them and to respond in His name.


Today is the last day of this adventure …

– or is it just the beginning?



Finding the grace of God…in holiness



Grace, an undeserved gift, the exercise of love, kindness, compassion, mercy, favor; the disposition to benefit or serve another. We all want grace.


Some try to secure the grace of God by doing good works. Ephesians 2:8-10 says that we are indeed created for His workmanship to do good, but it is only by grace that we are saved, the grace that comes as a free gift of God through His son Jesus.  We access this amazing grace by believing who Jesus is, the Son of God, by asking Jesus to forgive our sins, to turn away from sinful ways, and to invite Him to be Lord and Savior of our life.  If you have made this sincere commitment you know the natural response of a truly repentant and thankful heart receiving this amazing grace is to love others and extend grace to them.


Hebrews 12 offers both a warning and encouragement to us:

“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.  See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless…” (v 14-16)


In this day and age holiness may seem a bit archaic and might even bring to mind certain legalistic and ‘goody two shoes’ attitudes. It may also bring a feeling of overwhelming frustration: “How can I be holy?!”  Holiness is our utmost calling, and He who calls you to it will equip you.  You see, holiness is not just the end goal of a maturing Christian’s life; it is at the beginning of our walk with God and essential to discovering the fullness of His grace and extending it to others in our daily lives. It is much more than seeking to live by moral standards. To be holy is to discover the Living God in us. (“Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:27)


Take some time today, maybe right now… ask God to reveal to you what stands in the way of you and holiness. Be it secret behaviors or secret thoughts, selfish ambitions to control your own life or that of others, or a bitter root separating you from others, the answer is also what keeps you distant from Him. Not only that but distant from experiencing the fullness of His amazing grace in your life.   Holiness is found by disciplining yourself to maintaining the presence of God throughout your day, constantly seeking the one who loves you most. It is as much a desire as a product of our lives.  It is revealed in discovering God living in you throughout all your activities.  Holiness is not some pious behavior. It is the outpouring of a thankful and grace-filled heart.


Want to experience real grace? Be holy…because He (in you) is holy.

(1 Peter 1:16)



Moving toward maturity


Hebrews 6:1 “Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity…”


Parents delight in newborn babies in all their innocence and fresh opportunities before them.  We celebrate a young person’s graduation milestone, recognizing their transition toward adulthood. We plant gardens and trees in the expectation and hope for what they will produce. While we sometimes wish we could pause time and remain in that special beginning moment, who would really want things to remain that way forever? A child who never moves on to forge his or her own life, a garden that doesn’t grow and produce food, flowers that never mature to bloom, a tree that produces no shade or fruit?


So it is in our lives, that we should continue to mature in the ways of life, the caring for others, and our mission which reaches way beyond ourselves. Paul encourages us to ‘move beyond the elementary teachings of Christ and be taken to maturity.’ Have you ever noticed that it is often easier to learn an elementary principle than how to consistently apply that toward a worthwhile outcome? Have you observed this in your own spiritual life, that you have learned the basics about Jesus but fail to find victory over life’s struggles? So it was also in Paul’s day. His students had learned facts about the Christian life but not how to apply the gospel toward living a mature life. (Hebrews 5:12).


Isn’t that true in our lives too? Just as rain falls on the land and produces both weeds and fruit (and veggies!) so God’s truth and grace falls freely on us so that we can mature in faith, experience victory over life’s trials, and bear fruit for His kingdom. Mature believers press on toward producing beneficial fruit while those who feel trapped by life’s circumstances produce weeds that choke out life.


But wait; there is hope! Paul says (Heb. 6:9), “Beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you.” Yes, we may have lived a careless, undisciplined, unfocused life up until now. We may have let circumstances govern too many of our responses. But it is not too late! Keep the hope (v11) that by God’s daily outpouring of compassion we will not be consumed by this world, but will find our way to move on toward a mature, purposeful life that counts for all time. This hope anchors us and holds our lives firm and secure in the midst of life’s most terrifying storms (v19).


Let us press on toward maturity. It is indeed granted by God’s provident grace (v3) but it does not occur at all without our intentional efforts to draw close to Him throughout each day.



Let your light shine




Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


As a boy scout we would have skits at camp. Most all the skits were guaranteed ‘groaners.’ For example, the skit where one boy was desperately searching an area of ground in the lighted area. Another boy comes along and asks what’s going on. The first boy replies that he lost a quarter and is looking for it. The second boy asks where the quarter was lost. “Over there,’ answers the first boy, pointing to an area in the darkness. Confused, the second boy asked, “Then why are you looking over here?” The first boy responded, “The light is better over here!” (Permission to groan now.)


Jesus says, “I am the light of the world; he who follows me shall not walk in darkness but have the light of life.” (John 8:12) That light shines on because the darkness has never overpowered it. (John 1:5) Whoever asks Jesus to be Savior AND Lord of their life, always has light available to them wherever they go. If they go into the darkness of cancer or other life threatening condition, the light will shine into that darkness. If they go into perilous financial situations, the light goes with them. If they go into the dark abyss of depression, they will not remain without light. Whether we decide to live in that light is our decision to make.


Light dispels darkness. No matter how much darkness there is, “this little light” of ours cannot be quenched without our permission. As Sarah Young puts it, “His light shines on and in you, allowing you to shine your light boldly in the darkness.”  With light comes hope. And with hope comes endurance, the ability to persevere and find comfort even in the midst of the roughest season of your life.


Jesus says to those who follow Him, “YOU are the light of the world.” (Matthew 5:14) Don’t hide it, let it shine, His light in us is the mark of a believer.   Our job is to love God and love others, to let our light shine in dark places, where others are hurting and without hope.


Is this light of hope shining in your own life and in your response to disappointments and sorrows? Of course we doubt and grieve. That is part of our human existence. But we don’t have to live there. Does your light regularly shine into other’s lives through encouraging words, financial help, or an encouraging embrace to those around you facing tough times? Does your light shine across the world? For about a dollar a day you can sponsor a child through Compassion International (www.compassion.com), write to them, pray for them, encourage them, and shine hope into their lives. You can also visit our giving page here at Go Light Our World and learn how 100% of designated donations go directly to ministry, often in the poorest and darkest areas of the world.


Take your light and let it shine! Go light our world!



Profit from suffering

A friend shared a devotional thought from Charles Stanley. He talks about how most of us are quick to avoid suffering, both our own and the suffering of others. It makes us uncomfortable. It often seems so pointless. It takes us far out of our comfort zone, that cozy cocoon in which we like to shelter ourselves and isolate ourselves from pain. But pain and suffering are not without meaning. I’ve written of this in the past, but it bears repeating (at least to my ears).

Like I commented in the “jars of clay” post, suffering can bring us closer to God if we allow it. When confronted with forces we cannot control, we are reminded of how much we depend on God, sometimes for our very next breath. Stanley explains, “Your ultimate purpose should not be to achieve pleasure or happiness, but to know Christ and become like Him. Real trouble facilitates that goal, driving you closer to Him.” Drawing closer to Jesus and others is a profitable result of suffering.

A verse that has spoken to me all through this cancer/Leukemia experience is 2 Corinthians 12:9 – “My grace is sufficient for you and my strength is made perfect in your weakness.” Suffering causes us to be more able to receive God’s grace, because we so desperately need it. It’s only in our extreme weakness, when we have no strength of our own, that His strength can be fully manifest and His grace fully received. In the half-dozen or so times that my pain was so great, I selfishly told God this would be a good time to bring me home to heaven. Let’s just escape this pain. But as a friend reminded me, God is such a lover of life, it is so very precious to Him. YOU are so very precious to Him. And so He pours out what you and I need: grace and strength sufficient for the moment. Suffering helps us be more receptive to God’s immense gifts of blessing and sustenance.

Additionally, suffering enables us in a good way to be more sensitive to the needs of others. We are better able to be compassionate toward others because of the compassion we have received from God. The ability to relate with others with increased compassion is another benefit that rises from suffering and adds meaning to your life. As Stanley concludes, “Suffering is never desirable, but your sovereign loving Lord can make it profitable.”

In what ways is suffering weighing you down and killing your joy? Take your eyes off the pain whenever you can and consider in what ways you might allow God to work a blessing in your life and in others.

Are you LIVING thanks?

A friend sent a card with a note encouraging us to keep giving thanks, something we’ve often mentioned here as absolutely essential for living victoriously.

So with that in mind, and today’s news fresh in mind, I’m thankful:

  • My platelet transfusion went through successfully rafter a bad reaction Monday.
  • My amazing wife remains always faithful and devoted to me.
  • I have clean safe drinking water direct from my tap.
  • I didn’t have to choose between food and medicine.
  • Nobody I know was shot, raped, tortured, or mutilated today.
  • No one bombed my town or house.
  • I don’t have to worry about doping or other secrets coming out.
  • My financial budget is strained like so many others, but it is in better shape than the Government’s because I don’t spend seven times what I make.
  • Leukemia isn’t in charge of my life; Jesus is.
    • If you want to be free of worry, GIVE thanks. Try making a list of specific things for which you are thankful, eg not just your friends, but what it IS they do or what characteristic you appreciate.

      If you want to actually put this to action, then LIVE thanks. That is, DO something with it. Consider giving up a daily or weekly habit you don’t need and sponsor a child who needs your guidance and love. Invest in a family’s future by providing a clean drinking water filtration kit. Buy a milk goat to help a single mom support her family. The ideas are endless. Here are some companies with VERY high integrity that make such grants available as they reach out to those in deepest need to help them become more self sufficient:
      CAMA Services www.camaservices.org
      Compassion www.compassion.com
      World Vision www.worldvision.org
      Samaritan’s Purse www.samaritanspurse.org


      “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”
      Matthew 25:40

Live life!

There are some words you never tire of hearing:
“I love you. I forgive you. Be my friend.”

There are others that are less inviting to hear:
“You have Leukemia.”
And after 27 days of treatment… “You STILL have Leukemia.”

We learned yesterday that there were more “blasts,” though only 10% compared to my original 96%. And so in the last 24 hours we have been contemplating two possible scenarios: 1) all is well (blasts might be normal); go home today or 2) the Leukemia is more resistive than anticipated and we basically start over with another 7 day round of chemo and another month hospital stay. It has been a day and night of pursuing faith in the midst of honest questions and human emotions.

Today’s news: The Leukemia remains.

But before anyone responds with, “How terrible,” we were instantly reminded that another month stay here means more opportunity to grow relationships here at the hospital, and that wherever God places you is a good place to be. My devotion for today is from Colossians 1:10-13 (summarized):
Live a live worthy of the Lord.
Bear fruit. Grow. Be strengthened. Have great endurance and patience.
Joyfully give thanks.

With the opportunity to continue to grow relationships here, I was not surprised to wake up this morning with this song on my mind, Mighty To Save…Let the words speak deeply to you today as they do to me:
Everyone needs compassion, love that’s never failing, let mercy fall on me.
Everyone needs forgiveness, the kindness of a Savior, the Hope of nations.
Savior, He can move the mountains
My God is mighty to save, He is mighty to save.
Forever, author of salvation
He rose and conquered the grave, Jesus conquered the grave.
So take me as you find me, All my fears and failures,
Fill my life again.
I give my life to follow, Everything I believe in,
So I surrender.
(Repeat chorus)
Chorus 2:
SHINE YOUR LIGHT and let the whole world see,
We’re singing to the glory of the risen King!
(Repeat chorus 1)