Why do we struggle with why?

The first time I really questioned God was after the death of good friend. He was in his early twenties, an exemplary Christian. His death was one of those freak accidents that happen.

And, I asked God why.

I believe it’s human to do so, especially in times of:

  • pain
  • loss
  • children without parents
  • husband without a wife, etc.
  • cancer
  • debilitating illnesses and injuries.
  • The list goes on.

Questioning why is actually wanting to know what God knows. Eve wanted that, and so it has been through the ages.

We may not always get an answer.

In the Bible, great men and women of God asked why:

  • Rebekah
  • Moses
  • the daughters of Zelophehad
  • Gideon
  • Naomi
  • Ruth
  • David
  • Job
  • Asaph
  • Jonah,
  • and many more.

Why, God, did You permit this to happen? Why do things look so dark?

I believe it’s interesting to read in the Bible how God answers different people’s whys in different ways. As He understands hearts and motivations, He knows best whether to lecture, teach, or just show love to the person involved. Many times, after listening to God’s Word, these people came to a realization that God had a purpose in what seemed like a tragic situation.

Death, sickness, and all the other awful things in this world weren’t the original plan. God created the earth perfect. But, death came with the first sin, and the earth was cursed.

Even so, God’s desire has always been to redeem. The Bible says that, in God’s foreknowledge, the plan of salvation was in the works—before creation. What a blessing!

Even horrible things are for divine purposes.

Romans 8:28 is a verse that has been misquoted and misapplied, but it is an important verse for our understanding about why:

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

This verse is in the context of the Holy Spirit working in and through believers. It’s only for those that love God and are called according to His purpose—born again believers.

This doesn’t apply to those who have not accepted Jesus as payment for their sins. It doesn’t guarantee anything good for any global group. It’s for believers only.

Those who are born again can understand that even horrible experiences, sickness, suffering, death, and any other life experience will all work together for good in God’s perfect plan—when they are walking with God.

This doesn’t mean all life events will be pleasant.

We won’t be smiley all the time.

There is a greater good—and we can depend on it.

May we ask God why? Yes, I think so.

Will we always get a concrete answer? No, not always. (I still am not sure about my friend’s early death, for example. Why? I don’t have an answer, but I can trust God.) We can know that everything will work together for good, somehow, some way. We may not understand the details ourselves, but it’s still true.

Whatever you want to ask why about, remember that God has a way of making good come out of seemingly awful circumstances.

May the Lord bless you.

Fiction review: Secrets and Charades

Secrets and Charades by Cindy Ervin Huff caught my eye because it’s about a mail order bride. It’s a marriage of convenience for cowboy bachelor, Jake Markum—only Evangeline Olson didn’t answer the advertisement or write the letters. Her niece did. It was all a lie.

Jake, a widower, felt he needed a wife, because his brother and sister-in-law died and left him with a twelve-year-old niece to raise. He couldn’t offer his niece class and refinement, as a woman could, so he advertised for a wife.

Jake picks Evangeline up in a neighboring town so they can get married and he can get to know her before the busybodies in his own town get a chance. At the time, he has no idea Evangeline will be beautiful, talented–and a medical doctor. He is pleasantly surprised with her beauty but hesitant about her profession.

The story entertains with several characters who aren’t who they profess to be, growing friendships in many directions, ranch turf wars, and more.

There’s nothing outstanding or profound about this book, but it’s highly entertaining and fun, and there are several good character developments. The plot, though it keeps you going, is a little bit cliché. I believe any mail order bride book will be, so this isn’t a huge criticism. I personally appreciated the author’s acceptance of different ethnic groups. There are quite a few lessons about fairness in this book.

I enjoyed Secrets and Charades, and I think you will, too.

“Me first” giving

When my husband preaches on giving, he doesn’t apologize. Why should he? Jesus talked about it, and it comes up in Scripture from the Old Testament to the New.

A phenomenon I have noticed is the kind of giving evidenced in many circles today. I’ve labeled it “me first” but it could be called “Jerusalem” or something else. Let me explain. We’re going to cover two kinds of giving:

  1. Personal
  2. Church

I hope you’re curious.

1. Personal—What we personally give. When we have a “me first” giving plan, we cover our own expenses first and then give God the leftovers. Do you know what usually happens? There’s not much left over, and rarely does the giving to God amount to a tithe (tenth). Do you know why this phenomenon? It’s because the Bible outlines how people should give, and “me first” isn’t it.

What is it? Let’s see what the Bible has to say. Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it (Malachi 3:8-10). Some commentators say (and rightly so) that, in the New Testament, we are not under the Law but under grace.

Some say that the tithe isn’t a rule for the church—although Jesus said tithers do well (Luke 11:42) and in Hebrews, Abraham is praised for tithing.

1 Corinthians 16:2 says to give regularly, and Philippians 4:18-19 talks about the church people’s generous offering as being an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God. Then, Paul assures those who gave: my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

When you read all that the Bible has to say on this subject, I think you’ll come to the conclusion that God expects generous, joyful giving—and the tithe is a starting point.

2. Church—What the local church gives. “Me first” giving in the church is characterized by a “Jerusalem first” mentality. Spend all the money on the local church (our Jerusalem) and then what’s left over in larger circles around Jerusalem: Judea, Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth (from Acts 1:8).

The problem with this thinking is that this verse actually says, But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. There are several ands and a both in there—see my highlights—which means that we’re to be witnesses in all those places simultaneously. Our church’s responsibility is to our community and all the circles around it, including foreign missions.

What we find in churches with a “me first” mindset is that they spend virtually all their money on the home front and very little on evangelism elsewhere. This results in token evangelism outside of their community.

It’s easy to get into wrong giving habits.

Some have explained, “I can’t give this month because such-and-such came up, and I must pay this bill.” Sadly, these are the same people who don’t tithe and have things come up quite often.

Or they say, “The New Testament says we’re to give as God prospers us, and God hasn’t prospered me this month, therefore I can’t give.” Those same people have never given on a regular basis, and seriously, God hasn’t prospered them? The Bible says He “daily loadeth us with benefits”, including salvation (Psalm 68:19).

“I am poor. God can’t expect me to give.”

Jesus and His disciples were near the box where people placed their offerings, and a widow put in two mites. And he (Jesus) called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living. (Mark 12:43-44. The story includes verse 42.) I am sure Jesus blessed her and supplied all of her needs. Aren’t you?

Why the disconnect about giving?

The problem is that we’re going at it backwards.

A biblical giving plan obeys Scripture.

  • Give a tenth—first—from your total income. Jesus said, But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone (Luke 11:42).
  • Give on Sundays. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come (1 Corinthians 16:2).
  • Give generously—with a joyful spirit. But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:6-7).
  • Help others—especially other born-again believers, widows, and orphans. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith (Galatians 6:10). Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world (James 1:27).
  • A biblical giving plan requires faith in God’s provision. I love this testimony from David in the Old Testament: I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread (Psalm 37:25). God promises to meet our needs. If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? (Matthew 7:11). But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).

Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7).

Instead of “me first,” let’s think “God first”—and then watch how God works. I know He will bless.

Fiction review: Refuge at Pine Lake

Refuge at Pine Lake, by Rose Chandler Johnson is the first book in her Pine Haven series.

From the beginning, I was drawn in to the main characters, Robin Lancaster, and Matt McLaughlin, both of whom end up for different reasons at the same holiday house on the lake.

The house belongs to Robin’s family, and it’s where she feels peace and calm. One of her motivations for going this summer is just that. She wants to use the time to write and paint—and see her hunky boyfriend, Caleb Jackson, her high school heartthrob.

Matt is a widowed professor and veteran, who needs some time to heal and rest from his traumas. A friend books him into the house on the lake.

Thrown together, they alternately avoid each other. Dealing with their past—and Caleb—keeps this book moving along. I confess I lost sleep in order to finish it in two nights.

This is a lovely book, entertaining, well written, and sweet. Mrs. Johnson goes from strength to stronger in Refuge at Pine Lake. I loved her phrases such as: lapis blue eyes, bruised face turn a multitude of plum-purple hues, mind-controlled by electronic devices, and the color of the sky before a storm.

Mrs. Johnson’s loves for good cooking, Georgia, and people come through loud and clear. I loved the relationship between Matt and an elderly neighbor, the dogs, and many other elements in this book.

This book is clean with no bad language. There is a lot of kissing but no details and nothing further than kisses. Also, dress is casual (shorts, etc.) as one would expect in a lake house setting. No revealing clothing besides shorts and one mention of bathing suits. Refuge at Pine Lake is decidedly Christian in tone and lead characters. This book is suitable for you and your older teen daughters.

I give this five stars and my hearty recommendation.

So, you want to be married?

You are a single and would like to be married. What can a Christian girl do?

You’ve been told to wait. You’ve waited … and waited … and waited.

You’ve been told to use this time in service to the Lord. You’re doing that. You have a lovely relationship with God and are actively serving in your church. You are considering being a missionary abroad and putting out feelers.

Your Prince Charming hasn’t shown up—if he even exists. Is there anyone out there who might sweep you off your feet? You still feel you were meant to be married, but it hasn’t happened and doesn’t show any signs of happening. Are you wired wrong? Have you misunderstood God’s will?

Maybe you’re supposed to be single.

You begin to question.

Before I take on your predicament, I sincerely believe that God uses singles and that He has designed two equal in quality but different lifestyles for both men and women. For women, God, through his single servant Paul, says: There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband (1 Corinthians 7:34).

If you are single today, you should be caring for the things of the Lord and keeping yourself holy in body and spirit.

You’re doing that. You still would love to be married.

Let me give you some practical help.

Examine your life habits.

Here are four suggestions for forming friendships, the best basis for any marriage:

  1. Keep yourself smelling good and looking good. Some singles sadly forget that men have eyes and noses. Be clean, comb your hair, wear pretty clothes. And, don’t forget your best asset: a gorgeous smile. Whenever you are in public, look as good as you can.
  2. Be out in places where other people gather. By that, I mean guard yourself from being a hermit. Go out. Make friends. A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly (Proverbs 18:24a). Where do Christian people go? Of course, be active in your church. Also do things with groups of Christian friends. Go to special occasions meetings. Be where you meet others. Be friendly to all—girls and guys. Become known as a friendly person.
  3. Pray. Ask God to work. Ask Him to find your future husband. Seriously, many girls panic way too early. When I was 18, I despaired of ever finding the one for me. A wise young counselor told me, “But you only need one.” Hilarious as that sounds, it’s what I needed to hear. I decided to be single, if it was God’s will—and soon met the man I married three years later. As soon as I gave up, the Lord dropped him in my path. I knew my husband was special the day we met. I don’t guarantee your story will match mine, but I can guarantee that surrender to the Lord’s will is the beginning of His showing you the way. Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).
  4. Be joyful and sweet. Display the fruit of the Holy Spirit in your life. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-25).

I am an older woman with many younger, single friends. Some are genuinely happy and serving the Lord, though they would also be happy if Mr. Right showed up. They are not hiding away in their homes. They are attractive, glowing girls. I fully believe that God can bring the right person to them in His time—and that He will, if it’s according to His plan.

I also have many single friends who are older. Many of these women are beautiful, capable, fun women—some of them over forty. You know what? God is using them in unique ways all over the world.

What’s God’s will for you? I have no idea.

But, if you’re single, you can be sure God’s will is for you to be pure and serving Him.

For an article about catching men, you may see it here. “Did Ruth Chase Boaz?” is here.