The Comfort of God is the Strength of His People (Isaiah 40 & 41)

In  the wake of the Paris tragedy the world is looking for hope. The only hope that will last the test of time and the loss of life is the hope that comes from God Himself.

In this message, Josh takes us through the comfort of God promised to His people in Isaiah 40 and 41. Though God sees the pain and failure of His people, He longs for them to be comforted. He makes a way through the rubble of our lives for His glory to be established. The promises of God stands true through time and circumstance.

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Interview with the Author of “Supernatural,” Dr. Michael Heiser


Who is Dr. Michael Heiser anyway?

  • Scholar – taught in 7 or more collegiate and university settings
  • Writer – Many articles and several books, one of which we are talking about today.
  • Historian – most of your teaching and study has dealt with biblical history.
  • Linguist – knows the semantic languages very well, part of your Doctoral work. What is a linguist?
  • “Scholar in Residence” at Logos.

you can read his bio and more about his experience here.

We are not scholars and this is not a classroom – but Heiser believe that the Scholars should serve the public by appearing on blogs like this one. In this interview, he explains how scholars should spend 1-2 hours a week just serving the general public. It is important the rest of us listen up!

Michael has dedicated a large portion of his work to studying and addressing the supernatural – UFOs and even science fiction (or as he calls it, cinematic theology).

Why are we doing this interview?

Dr. Hesier has a new book that has recently released called “Supernatural: What the Bible Teaches about the Unseen Word – and why it matters”. In this interview, we are addressing the main premise of the book, which is the importance of understanding the hard to reach passages of the Bible and applying them to our lives well.

Frankly I think Dr. Heiser has done something amazing here that most of us could not do—he took something scholarly, theologically deep and hard to understand and made it applicable, accessible and engaging.

This book is also available on Logos.

I love this book!

  • Love the format of your book – 16 chapters, all right to the point.
  • Great biblical theology throughout.
  • It took his more scholarly work, “The Unseen Realm” but is now accessible and a riveting read.
  • He always coming back to Christ in each chapter.
  • I love (and need) the “why this matters” portion of each chapter.
  • He deals with angelology or demonology in a way that is not always easy to find.

I asked him in the interview, “Why do you think most pastors and churches avoid taking about some of the passages you address in the book?” He answers this well and gives some good calls to action for all of us – including “don’t be lazy on the hard stuff” when doing Bible study. He also believes that our theological bias sometimes keep us from seek what the Bible is really teaching, is that correct?

We talked about Gnosticism

Colossians 2:8 says, “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.”

We spoke about the balance of personal experience and biblical truth in the interview.

Dr. Heiser said in his book, “Every congregation, no matter how small or unknown, is on the front lines of spiritual warfare.”

One of the things he talked about in this book in several places, but toward the end especially, is knowing our identity in Christ. This is vital for any believer, but especially for the millennials and the age of those who listen to this podcast. Speak to us about why this important in light of understanding and thinking about the supernatural.

Heiser gives two great words to us:

  1. A word of caution: “We can turn Christ-likeness into a task we must perform lest God be angry with us, but that’s bad theology. It turns grace into duty.”
  2. The word of encouragement: “or we can be grateful that one day we will be what God is thrilled to make us– what he predestined us to be– and live in such a way that people enslaved to dark powers will want to join us in gods family. One perspective looks inward the other looks heavenward.”

In the interview Dr. Heiser gives practical application for knowing our worth in Christ and engaging in that so that we can have impact on the world around us.

From One Pastor to Another: A note to Davey Blackburn

pray for pastor Davey-2Today is my sermon prep day, but I can’t seem to get my notes done. My heart hurts for a fellow pastor.

Allow me to explain…
I was taking a casual stroll down my Facebook stream last night before going to bed. I noticed a post one of my college friends made about a close friend of hers who had died. I clicked on it to see what that was all about and I couldn’t help but be drawn to tears.

My heart is still heavy today. I didn’t sleep much last night.

Amanda Blackburn was the wife of Davey, a church planter, newlywed and mom of Weston. She was due to have a baby, just a few weeks before my wife is due, next spring.

They started Resonate Church, which was on a path of growth. I can imagine the hours of conversation, prayer, sacrifice, joy and hardship that were shared between Amanda and Davey as they started this church. They planted in 2012 and had the goal of connecting people to Jesus for life change, no matter what it took.

I am sure they had no idea that moving to Indy would call for Amanda’s physical life.

Amanda (28) is the daughter of a pastor (Phil Byars) and surely knew the call of ministry. She was ready for it and living out her faith well with her husband. No one would have ever thought that a robbery would be the cause of her death. On Tuesday morning, while Davey was at the gym, an intruder entered their home and took Amanda’s life, and in turn killed the new baby in her womb as well.

Davey said that he has not been able to speak and is forced to process what he never thought he would have to process. He articulately said in a public statement released last night, “Amanda made it her life’s calling to love and serve everyone she knew. Even more, she has made it her life’s mission to see as many people as possible come to know Jesus as their personal Savior. I know that in her death and legacy even more people will come to a saving faith in Christ. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt her desire for me would be to continue what we’ve started here in Indy. I hold firm to the belief that God is still good, that He takes our tragedy and turns it into triumph, and that the best truly is yet to come.”

One pastor’s wife and another pastor’s daughter, now gone. My heart breaks for both of these pastors left to process personally and publically.

The calling of a pastor does not go away in the face of suffering. There is already such a small percentage of privacy in a pastor’s life, grief is not something that people often let alone, even of a public pastor. While people care, and desire to express their care and sorrow, it can be very hard for a pastor to find the solitude needed to even gather his whereabouts in a situation like this tragedy.

Davey, if I could speak to you, I would say—

Here it is, bro, that part of life where everything has to bank on the words we preach. My heart aches for you. My eyes don’t stop leaking for you. Remember the grace of God given to you in the start of your relationship you just preached about. Cherish the memories of Amanda as the glimpse of God’s goodness and grace this side of heaven.

I can’t imagine a worse pain than losing my wife, co-parent, and ministry partner. But trust there is a God who knows what it means to lose the one He loves the most. Weep with a God who knows the deepest amount of weeping we could ever fathom.

Don’t try to be a hero or come back to ministry too fast. Take the time you need. Your life is preaching even if your mouth is not. Be still. Your Church is not yours anyway, you know that. Trust God to keep it strong while He makes you strong again.

You and I both know that to preach about trusting a God who is sovereign is not something the heart grasps easily. It requires the mind to win over the emotions of the heart with the knowledge of the truth (Romans 12:2). I pray that our Savior Jesus Christ becomes so sweet to you as you process grief, anger, loss, joyful memories and future uncertainty.

May Spurgeon’s quote become real to you: “I have learned to kiss the wave that slams me into the Rock of Ages.”

I am praying for you and crying with you.

God’s got this, don’t try to be the strong pastor I am sure you are; just be the man of God who rests in the heart of His master.

Love from your brother in Christ and fellow pastor, 


Can Christianity Go Extinct in Iraq?

Would you feel for your life too?-2

Photo Courtesy of

People in America are upset because Starbucks seems to have wiped Christmas away by not decorating their holiday cup with ornaments. This seems to be the talk of the town, yet no one is raising the voice to express concern over a country that is about to wipe Christianity out from within their boundaries.

Fox News had a headline this week that alluded to Christianity being gone in the middle east within the next decade. Could that be possible? Could there really be an area of the world that will lose all influencers for Christ?

It is reported that there are only 250,000 people left in Iraq who claim some sect of Christianity. A dozen Christian families are leaving Iraq every day in a simple act of preserving their life. With the influence of ISIS, the acts of genocide, and the overt persecution of Christians, it is hard to blame them for fleeing.

Even the Apostle Paul avoided going to certain places (or was advised not to) for the sake of keeping his life. There is nothing wrong with avoiding persecution; we are simply told to expect it and stand strong underneath it.

But what happens when a country that desperately needs Christ finds that Christianity is now extinct? How will they hear the hope of Jesus Christ?

This is where efforts like 21st Century Wilberforce come in. This missions organization exists “to stir citizens of all beliefs to action that works to protect and restore religious freedom around the world.” They have alliances, ambassadors, and agencies that are striving to influence world powers to allow for religious freedoms. That sounds like an insurmountable task, but hey, we do crazy things to save animals that are going extinct, shouldn’t we do something to try and save Christianity from being something only read about in history books?

The City of Mosul is a prime example of an ancient biblical city who once had the hope of God now banning the very truth that once saved it. Mosul is part of Ancient Ninevah. This was the city that turned when Jonah finally got his act together and went to preach a seven-word message of judgment from God. Because they turned, God saved them (though Jonah was not happy about it). This specific geographical location today was probably Nimrod in the Bible (Gen. 10:11). Now it hates the Bible and is once again turning against the very God that already gave them a second chance.

As reported by Fox News, this will be the first time in 2000 years that Mosul won’t hear anything Christmas bells. The Christians have had to feel for their lives.

So this week, when you hear someone talk about the Starbuck Red Cup Controversy, why not say, “We may be missing ornaments on our cup, but some countries won’t even have Christ for Christmas this year.” That is the real tragedy.

It is time the global church of Christ bans together and lock arms. If we are not praying for those who are persecuted and persevering, we are not being the church.

The dark is getting darker, so the light must get brighter.

Tips and Templates for Performing a Wedding

Untitled design-2One of the joys in my pastoral ministry has been to prepare people for marriage and then stand at the end of the isle with them as they make their vow for a life of love.

Weddings are special. Each one is full of life-long memorable moments. Every wedding I have done has been as unique as the couple that I am marrying.

For those of us who perform weddings, once or one hundred times, we must prepare well. This is part of our service to the couple and to the Lord. Here are a few things that a part of my wedding process:

1. Premarital with Prepare and Enrich. I ask every couple I marry to engage with me in premarital counseling. I will not marry a couple unless I am the one doing their premarital (the only exception is if it is one of my siblings). The reason is simple: I stand before God and the people on their wedding day to say “They are ready.” If I don’t do the premarital, how do I know they are ready?

I use a tool called, “Prepare and Enrich.” I am a firm believer in this tool and have gone on to become a trainer for other facilitators. It is insightful and allows me to customize the counseling for each couple.

2. Planning their program. As a part of my “Service,” I will plan the ceremony with each couple. This is then the tool they use to meet with their coordinator, DJ, facility coordinator and their family. I use the same template every time.

Here is a sample program I fill out with the Bride and the Groom. Free free to take it and make it your own. We usually take one of our sessions together just to plan out the wedding.

3. Helping the couple with their vows. As a part of the ceremony planning, I ask the couple if they would like to do traditional vows, contemporary vows or write their own. We also decide if:

  • They will read them
  • They will repeat after me
  • They will memorize them

I usually give them this document as a set of example vows to choose from, combine or write their own vows.

4. Writing my wedding message. For each wedding, I try to take things I have learned about the couple and put it into their wedding message. I tell them, “This is my last chance before they are married to give them some words of advice.” I try to customize my words to the couple.11666206_10206326334053755_2125824965544969444_n

Here is a wedding message I wrote. You are welcome to take it and make it your own. You can at lease see how I format this and make it as personal as possible. AS you can see, this is just an outline, not a word-for-word manuscript. Though I do include all the other elements in the program. These notes are in my Bible as I perform the wedding.

5. Mail the wedding certificate. After we sign the marriage certificate, the party and reception is usually about to get started. As a service to the couple, I usually offer to mail their certificate for them (while they are on their honeymoon). I scan a copy and email it to them and then I pop it in the mail.

6. Checking-in at milestones of marriage. I was in the habit of putting every wedding date on my calendar (or my assistant would do it for me). However, I started doing so many weddings and there were too many dates on my calendar. I now keep an Evernote of wedding anniversaries of those that I’ve performed. I do my nest to call them and check-in within their first year and on key anniversaries. I told them I would be there for them for life, I need to keep my word.

There are a few tips and templates for you. I wish you all the best in helping to join together lives, for the greater glory of God.

The Only Way to Survive Change: Perspective

“Life has a way of stepping on its own toes,” one of my professors said in college and I had no idea how right he was. “Life has a way of getting in the way of life.” This has proven true the longer I’ve lived.

Change is Inevitable, Perspective is Everything

I consider myself a change junkie. I am the kind of guy that will move around the furniture in office, the appliances in our kitchen or the loveseat in our family room just because I like change. It energizes me.

But even if you are like me and like change, we usually like it on our own terms.

Unexpected change brings challenge and the question is, what will we do with that challenge. We either (1) buckle down and enjoy the ride or (2) freak out and hide.

Change can come in the form of a baby, a car accident, a rejected proposal, a marriage, a hard conversation with our boss or a consequence of a bad decision.  No matter how it comes, the question is, who will you become on the other side of that change?

Listen to me clearly – it is not will you make it through the change? but what will you become as a result of the change?

All the little red X’s

I believe that if you could map out the events of our life on a timeline from birth to death, it would like like a line full of little red x’s. Each x represents an event—good or bad—where you were given the opportunity to learn something or be formed by God through circumstance.

Also believe that God is continually discipling us. He is using every opportunity to teach us more about Him and make us more like Him.

10.28.15 little xs

Sometimes we are in tune with the idea of learning from Him through those little red x’s on life’s timeline. Other times we just hunker down to get through, seemingly unchanged by the events or circumstances that have taken place.

In other words, all too often we just get through life’s storms (or celebrations) without the thought – what was God trying to teach me there?  And we just celebrate that we got to the other side alive.

Get through it or learn through it?

When we go through a season of change, we have two options:

  1. Survive. Make it through with the least amount of affect or change caused to my life, my kids life and Molly’s life.
  2. Seek. See this as an opportunity to learn from God and ask Him to make the most out of these circumstances to change my, my kids and my wife.

Every storm of life is an opportunity for transformation not just stagnation. If I remain unscathed by the trials of life, I will scarcely receive what it is that God could and is willing to teach me.

How Do I Resolve Conflict Biblically?

10.26.15 cover all with love

Not all passages in the Bible are easy to apply to our life, especially when we’ve been hurt. Here is one that has hit me right between the eyes many times before:

Proverbs 10:12 says, “Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers all wrongs” (NIV).

When we’ve been hurt, it can be easy to harbor bitterness or fuel hate. But this passage is saying, forget your feelings of hatred toward others and live out love no matter what. This can seem easier said than done.

We resolve conflict by covering all with love

A heart like Christ’s will love your enemies and never repay evil with evil. True love will always esteem the other person more highly than themselves.

  • If our marriage is falling flat, then most likely you’ve lost sight of what it means to be selfish, be it in the kitchen or the bedroom.
  • If our relationship with our kids are contentious, them perhaps our own hopes and goals have imposed themselves on to the relationship rather than letting love be the bond that ties us.
  • If our parents are more a duty than a delight to us, then perhaps we’re holding on to failures of the past and making too much of interruptions in the present all because we selfishly want our own life on our own terms.

Above all, Love

In the New Testament, Peter wrote in 1 Peter 4:8, “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” He wasn’t saying, love so you can get away with things. The idea is that you and I will sin, we will fail expectations of God and others. We need God’s grace to love well in light of our mistakes. If we love, we will be welcomed in love.

Listen, God’s grace to us allows us to have grace for others. The righteous heart longs to be reconciled, but the flesh of heart will harbor bitterness.

Also, When it comes to resolving family conflict, we need to remember that the way we resolve conflict sets an example for everyone in the family. 

You want to leave a legacy that is peaceful, meaningful and impactful for God’s Kingdom? Then you must deal with family conflict well. Your kids are watching. Your grandkids are watching. Your nieces, nephews and siblings are all taking note of the way you live out your faith in your family relationships.

I get it, this is not easy. You may be thinking, Yeah, Josh, but you don’t understand what they have done to me!

I may not know your exact case, but I’ve been counseling and pastoring long enough to know that some of you have been so hurt by your family because:

  • They cheated you out of your inheritance
  • You’ve been misinterpreted and misrepresented
  • You’ve been shunned for your personal decisions
  • You’ve been molested by someone in your family… and no one believed you.
  • You chose Christ against your family’s wishes
  • Your dad said terrible things to you
  • Your brother did something to your kid that you can’t fathom
  • Your sister-in-law shatters your marriage every chance she gets
  • Your mom never gave you her approval and still just takes and takes…

Here is the truth, you can’t make amends for the things that have been done to you without the help of God. When you understand that God has given you grace for the things you’ve done against Him, then you are going to be able to forgive what has been done to you. In God’s family, you’ve:

  • Blame shifted hundreds of times
  • You’ve promised to not do something again and you did
  • You loved something more than Him
  • You’ve lied to Him
  • You’ve disobeyed just to get what you thought was better than what he had for you

That is hard to hear, but true. You and I have hurt our heavenly father more than we want to admit. And all the while, He has remained a faithful and loving father. He has forgiven you. Freed you from the guilt and shame. Held nothing against you. Always welcoming you home.

You can forgive because you have been forgiven. You can resolve family conflict because the conflict of your sin has been resolved with God, through Jesus Christ! Make it your goal to keep short lists with others and resolve conflict now!

Learning to Trust God to Keep His Word

10.20.15 God's promises

There is a storm that envelops all storms 

No matter the crisis we find ourselves in, God has His eyes on us. He has wrath toward us because of our own disobedience and sin. Yet, he is also compassionate and our hope. He will uphold His grace and mercy as He upholds his justice and wrath.

I’ve been studying what it means to “Trust God” through the book of Isaiah. In Isaiah we see that God, through the power of prophecy, “prepares” His people, which is also an act of profound grace. God is not obligated to tell anyone what He is about to do, yet He does often. Though Isaiah, He gives the original audience a clear word of warning to turn from their wicked ways and return to Him. God was preparing the Israelites (ancient Judah) by exposing to them to who He was and how He would fulfill His divine plan for them.

He warned and instructed them, and He does the same for us.

Here is the Storm Warning

In some ways, God is the storm itself in Isaiah…“Woe to me for I am undone!” We are warned, stand at His perimeter and you will be destroyed but enter into the eye of the hurricane that God is and you find grace, peace, and salvation there!

You see, God prepares His people for the “storm” that is himself through prophecy. Prophecy speaks of His eminent judgment to come and the salvation that is to follow. As we enter into intimacy with God, we must face His judgment first. We endure it through repentance—on our face before God. In the same way that we get low to the ground and covering our head when huge storm passes, so we also get low and hide in His grace.

Think of it this way: When a hurricane continues to grow with power, it becomes so strong that any other storm it runs into is absorbed and essentially swallowed up. In the same way, when we see our storms of life in light of the greatness of God, all storms seem to fade.

First because your calamities, confinements or circumstances on this earth are nothing in comparison to what has happened to your relationship with God because of your sin. His wrath against you should make all things pale in their comparison to having God burn against you.

But the good news is that He did not keep His wrath against you, and Isaiah is extremely clear about this. He has made everything right through a Messiah. This hope sets us in the middle of God and gives us safety, forgiveness, protection and love. Every struggle, every heartache, every threat holds no power when found in intimacy with God.

Isaiah not only acts as a spiritual weather man telling of the storms to come, but he also speaks of our shelter in his foretelling of Jesus and His sacrifice. Through Christ we have intimacy with God. Through Christ we enter safely into the eye of the hurricane and are enveloped by His grace.

Like the song says that we sing, “Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree, Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.” (John Mark Mcmillon)

We are like ancient Judah in a few ways…

They were conquered, exiled, brought back to their land and fought with time and again. They faced trials of many kinds. So we too are people that are always in crisis of some kind. This is life. Though we may not have enemies encroaching all around us, we do have a battle with darkness and we live in a world where thing like the Oregon shootings, car accidents, sickness and sin occur.

On a positive note, I think we are like Judah in that we really do want to be faithful to God, despite our weaknesses and shortcomings. Just like my son, Chandler, wants to please me as His dad, so we too want to please our heavenly Father. Yet Chandler is young, immature and impulsive. He does disappointment me, though that is not always his intention; and guess what, I never stop loving Him. Judah was the same way with God; immature, impulsive and sinful. They, like us, wanted to please God but failed time and again. But God never stopped loving them.

God is not looking for religious people; He is looking for faithful people. Look at some of the passages in Chapter 1:

[11] “What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices?

says the LORD;

I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams

and the fat of well-fed beasts;

I do not delight in the blood of bulls,

or of lambs, or of goats.

Making the point clear, that, (verse 13):

[13] Bring no more vain offerings;

incense is an abomination to me.

We try to please God as Judah did. We come to church, we repent of our sins, we strive to live in godliness but we make many mistakes. We want so badly for this plague of sin to be away from us, but this side of heaven we are still imperfect. Yet, God is faithful to forgive and grow us into maturity, just like a faithful and loving father.

And that is the third area we are so much like, Judah – just as they needed God to send them a Savior, so do we. Whether in the late 8th century when Isaiah lived, or the 21st century when we live, we all need a Savior.

Look at the promise he gives them after rebuking them for the sin and religiosity:

[18] “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD:

though your sins are like scarlet,

they shall be as white as snow;

though they are red like crimson,

they shall become like wool.

[19] If you are willing and obedient,

you shall eat the good of the land;

[20] but if you refuse and rebel,

you shall be eaten by the sword;

for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

Look the balance here between judgment and grace. He will stand true to His promise of wrath, but if we are obedient and faithful, He will freely give grace.

Here is a principle we need to remember right up front in this series: God Always Keeps His Promises. May this be our continual comfort as we get to know a God of both wrath and mercy.

God never forgets to do what He said He will do. God never is caught saying, oh, did I say that?  Or that must have been a weak moment… I didn’t mean that when I said…” 

Every promise He has ever spoken is always remember and will always be fulfilled. Many of His promises have been fulfilled, and for those that are yet to come—based on wrath or grace—will still be fulfilled. God never forgets. He never waivers. He is always true to His word.

This reminded me story I head about D.L. Moody, a preacher in the 1800’s and the man my alma mater was started by and named after. He signed his name in His Bible next to the verse Isaiah 50:7, as if to claim it for himself, which reads:

“But the Lord GOD helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame.”

The fact that God always keeps his Word means that our faces can be fixed like stone when facing the storms of life. If God is for us, who can be against us!

4 Main Types of Life Trials

Surviving the 4 main storms of life.“Somehow this has become routine. The reporting is routine. My response here at this podium ends up being routine, the conversation in the aftermath of it … We have become numb to this.” President Obama said this statement Thursday night after the shooting in Oregon. Once again lives of innocent students were taken from us—all of which where young people professing their faith in Jesus Christ. The gunman demanded the people to stand if they were Christians, and at that point the victims had a choice: Deny Christ and live or chose Christ and die. It was that simple.

Most of us will make decisions today about where we will eat, what route we will take to get home, what chore we will accomplish…if we will take a nap or watch the game. It is rare that we ever have to make a decision on which the fate of our life rests. Yet for nine people on Thursday, this life or death decision was forced upon them. For hundreds of other people, the pull of the trigger started a storm of life filled with blasts of confusion, grief, sorrow and pain.

I’ve been there, standing on the grassy fields of a new battle ground as the world around spins into a whirlwind of chaos and a vacuum of hope is created. I was a Junior in High School when the Columbine shootings happened. I was attending Arapahoe High School, five miles away as the crow flies, and leading a student led ministry that started prayer groups and bible clubs on campuses. The Columbine Bible Club was one of the largest Bible Clubs in our network. I will never forget the day after the shooting, with yellow tape still hung and bodies not yet removed, we met in the park next to the school and cried out to God for hope, help and clarity.

Why does this keep happening? 

There have been 31 mass shootings like the one in Oregon this week since the Columbine shooting in 1999. That is 31 shootings with more than three victims. There have been 142 shootings on school campus just since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown in December of 2012. With every pull of a trigger a new storm starts in someone’s life. Sadly, Obama is right, “Somehow this has become routine.”

The Oregon shooting stands out above all the rest as a clear challenge against Christians. Mental illness or not, the shooter was all about taking out those who claimed Christ, and the power of darkness was on his side.

What is a Storm of Life? 

Storms don’t always come in the form of shooting. We face life’s storms all the time. A storm of life is a set of unexpected circumstances or a change of events that challenges our faith. For the most part, these are first world problems, things that affect our “quality of life” and send us into a whirlwind. It is in these moments where we are either pushed from God or pushed to God; our faith is strained or strengthened.

Here is The Forecast of Common Storm in our life:

First there are storms of calamity—these involve the loss of someone or something we love. This can be our dog being hit by a car or a loved one dying in a car accident. Most loss comes without notice; the furious squall comes up over our life when we least expect it and all things that were considered “normal” are now meaningless to us.

Second there are the storms of change—these storms are particularly hard for those who long for safety and security in their circumstances. The loss of a job, the change of a friendship, the ebbs and flows of the financial market, are all examples of storms that are found in the category of change.

Third are the storms of confinement—these are the storms that have us backed up against a wall with no way out. I think of the Israelites with the Red Sea in front of them and Pharaoh and his army behind them. With no way out, they find themselves in a storm of confinement; trapped by circumstances that would take a miracle to breakout of. Medical debt, a roommate gone bad, kids that stole from you – these are examples of things that confine a person and only take time and a miracle to reconcile.

Finally, there are the storms of consequence—these storms come as a result of bad or sinful decisions. God promised our eternal forgiveness, but He never promised us complete freedom from all consequences of our actions. We get this wrong as Christians; we assume that there are hall passes and pink slips that excuse us from the mistakes we’ve made. That is not true. The grace of God does forgive us eternally, but we still have to walk through the outplay of our bad decision. All the while we can trust that God will give us grace if we walk humbly and with thanksgiving.