Archives for : July2012

Peninnah: Who was she?

Peninnah is an obscure character in the Bible. She was married to the same man to which Hannah, the mother of Samuel was married. All we know about Peninnah was that she was Hannah’s rival (1 Samuel 1:6). She tormented Hannah because she had children and Hannah had none. In short, she was a “bully,” not with her fists, but with her words. She exploiting Hannah’s weakness, and tried to make her miserable…and did.

Question: Do you have a Peninnah in your life? A rival? Someone who tries to exploit your weaknesses? Someone who searches out ways to hurt you, and devalue you? Maybe it’s a co-worker or even a spouse. I have met many people who have absolutely no self-esteem because they have been so “bullied” by another person that they feel worthless.

Friends, before you begin to believe what your Peninnah has to say about you, and cave to her pressure, you need to remember what the Psalmist said about you.

“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, The moon and the stars, which you have ordained, Who is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you visit him? For you have made him a little lower than the angels, and you have crowned him with glory and honor.” (Psalm 8:3-5).

Next time you’re tempted to believe what your rival has said about you, please remember that your worth is not measured by the people or the events around you. You are of incomprehensible worth to the God who made you! Revel in that truth rather than wallow in Peninnah’s lie.

Steve Higginbotham

Suing God

Did you hear in the news about the prisoner in a Romanian jail who is
suing God?

“God received different material valuables from me, as well as prayers
in exchange for promises of a better life. In reality, this did not
happen – I found myself in the devil’s hands,” the plaintiff said.

The convict is serving 20 years in the west Romanian city of Timisoara.
He apparently blames God for the troubles in his life and wants God brought
to account for failing to fulfill the commitments He undertook and for
taking bribes.

The plaintiff said that when he had been baptized in childhood, he
concluded a contract with God that had legal effect – God was supposed to
protect him from evil.

The plaintiff said the Romanian Orthodox Church, which, according to
him, directly represents God, should compensate him for the alleged
God-inflicted damage.

I promise – I’m not making this up! Does it surprise you? It
shouldn’t. The truth, there are a lot of people who feel the same way.
And while they may not take the absurd step of filing a lawsuit against God,
they do feel that God has let them down and hasn’t fulfilled his part of the
“bargain.”

Often, when people become Christians, they expect that God will take
away all their problems and life will be easy (and many of them expect that
because that’s what a preacher told them). I suspect that we’ve all had the
thought at some point in our lives, “How could God let that happen to me
after all that I’ve done to serve Him?”

But, living the Christian life does involve difficulties. In fact, it
may even be more difficult than life before Christ! Financial problems
don’t magically disappear, there are still health concerns, people still let
you down, and on top of everything else, there are people in this world who
don’t like Christ who will make your life miserable at times.

But there’s no way to accuse God of breach of contract. Jesus was very
clear about things up front – “In the world you will have tribulation.”
(John 16:33). The problems don’t disappear, but we are promised God’s
presence and His strength. And what God gives us far more than outweighs
what we have given Him. Let’s just hope that God doesn’t sue us for our
breach of contract!

Alan Smith

I’m outraged by a man who would enter a theater and murder 12 innocent people

On Friday, July 20 a man walked into the Century 16 Movie Theater armed with body armor, four guns, and smoke bombs and began randomly shooting people. By the time he was finished, he had killed 12 people and wounded 58 more. Several of the wounded remain in critical care in a local hospitals. Since the evening of this tragedy, this news event has been the lead story on every news show. Discussions range from outrage, shock, and horror, trying to figure out why a man would act out in such a violent way. Now that the victims are being buried, the media is giving a great deal of attention to who these innocent victims were, and what they were planning to do with their lives. It is indeed, a tragic situation.

However, consider the following. If one would leave the Century 16 Movie Theater where the shooting took place, turn North on South Sable Blvd, and drive 2.2 miles (according to Google maps) they would arrive at the Mayfair Women’s Center. Here at this center, they perform 12-25 abortions a day.** But now, here’s my question: Where’s the national outrage about this daily slaughter? Where’s the news coverage? Where are the stories about the senseless murder of innocent lives? Where are the stories discussing the potential these individuals could have contributed to our society? What efforts are being taken to stop the perpetrators of such senseless violence? In both cases, innocent lives have been taken, but one is condoned while the other is condemned. In both cases, the victims were unwilling participants, but one is acceptable while the other is unacceptable. In both cases, the murder is perpetuated by a man, but one is called a “Doctor” while the other is called an evil lunatic.

I’m outraged by a man who would enter a theater and murder 12 innocent people. But I am every bit as outraged that one can leave that theater, drive 2.2 miles due north, and come to a building where 12 to 25 innocent babies are killed every day and such carnage is met with silence!

Will you be the voice for the innocent? “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow” (Isaiah 1:17).

**(My wife called the Mayfair Women’s Clinic to ask them how many abortions they averaged each day. They would not answer her question without certain credentials. However, Brad Harrub, who gave me the idea for this article, did call and these were the figures given to him).

Steve Higginbotham

I have fought the good fight, I have FINISHED the race

Starting a job is usually easier than finishing it.

It’s easier to sign to sign up for a ball team, than it is to get in shape, practice every day, play the games, and complete the season. It’s easier to sign the purchase agreement for a new car than it is to maintain it, wash it, and then make payments on it for 60 months.

Likewise, it’s easier to decide to follow Christ, confess His name, and be immersed for the remission of sins than it is to face real hardship, overcome discouragement, and do what is right on a daily basis.

But if we hope to enjoy eternity with God in heaven, we must learn to finish. Paul once wrote, “I have fought the good fight, I have FINISHED the race…” ( 2 Timothy 4:7; emphasis mine–mb; cf. Acts 20:24).

Christian friend, it’s not enough that we get started, we must also finish. Are you trying to finish your job for the Lord?

Give it some thought.

–Mike Benson

Wonder working power

JESUS HAD POWER (Colossians 1:16, 17)…

“Wonder-working” power (Luke 5:17). He could walk on water, raise the dead, and instantly heal those afflicted with horrible, life-long disease. He could cast out demons, feed thousands with but a few loaves and fish, and transform water into wine. He could rebuke the storm and calm the sea. He had power (Acts 10:38).

And yet–perhaps his most surprising manifestation of power was the intentional failure to employ it (1 Peter 2:21-23; cf. Isaiah 53:7; Mark 14:61). Despite the unlimited miraculous resources at His disposal–when faced with Calvary and all that entailed–Jesus restrained His own mighty hand.

THOUGHT: Has it ever occurred to you that one of the Lord’s most significant displays of power was expressed in a non-miraculous way? (Mike Benson)

“And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He answered nothing” (Matthew 27:12).

Design means there is a designer

IMAGINE YOU’RE SITTING in your living room, enjoying a peaceful afternoon while reading the paper…

Suddenly, a baseball flies into the room, shattering your window. Obviously, your first question wouldn’t be, “How did it get here?” It would be, in a highly bothered tone, “Who did this?!” The baseball didn’t just smash through your window for no reason. Some agent acted upon it, causing a “disturbance in the force” that ruined your perfectly good afternoon.

THOUGHT: The universe couldn’t have just “arrived” without a force behind it. And unlike the remote possibility that a pitching machine spat a baseball into your living room instead of an actual person, it’s impossible that a universe was just spat out by an inanimate force. It took a Person, a Someone. Holding the Bible at its word, we Christians believe that Someone to be God, the Great Cause. (Alex McFarland)

“This is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens” (Genesis 2:4).

–Mike Benson

FIREFIGHTERS WHO WON’T PUT OUT FIRES

I was absolutely speechless when I read a story about some firefighters in Obion County, Tennessee. Apparently in this particular area, homeowners must pay a $75 annual fee for fire protection services. If they do not pay the fee, they are out of luck if their home catches on fire, even if firefighters are at the scene. A man by the name of Gene Cranick had to find this out the hard way. His house caught on fire and he could not contain it, so he called 911. Even though he offered to pay all of the expenses to the fire department, the firefighters refused to do anything about his blazing house. They would not even show up.

Surprisingly, the firefighters did show up, but not for Cranick. They showed up only when a next-door neighbor, who paid his $75 fee, called because he was worried the fire might spread to his property. So, the firefighters arrived, watched Cranick’s house burn down, and leaped into action only when the fire reached the neighbor’s property.

Cranick said that he had paid this fee the previous year, the year before that, and other times, but that this time he had just forgot about it. Now, should Gene Cranick have paid his $75 fire protection fee? Absolutely. Did he learn a very valuable lesson for next time? I would hope so. But something has to be said about these firefighters. One writer by the name of Daniel Foster said this, “What moral theory allows these firefighters (admittedly acting under orders) to watch this house burn to the ground when 1) they have already responded to the scene, 2) they have the means to stop it ready at hand, 3) and they have a reasonable expectation to be compensated for their trouble?”

The points Foster just made seem to apply beyond that situation. As we begin to think about our spiritual lives, many times we can end up being like those firefighters. Think about it this way…

(1) We are at the scene. We are here on earth. We are in a position to help so many people who are in danger of losing their souls. There are people everywhere who need the Gospel, and we are always in a position to help.

(2) We have the means on hand to stop it. We have been given the Bible. This is the best tool anyone could have given us to put out the deadly flames of sin. We have the means to stop so many from going into eternal punishment.

(3) We have no reason not to help. Many times we come up with reasons not to be evangelistic, but very few are actually legitimate. I have found myself on several occasions inventing excuses why I should not start up a spiritual conversation with someone. But really, we do not have a good excuse not to at least try to bring someone to the Lord.

Whether we think the firefighters in Tennessee were right or wrong, the bottom line was, we saw some firefighters who would not put out the fires. In our lives, let’s never be Christians who would not tell others about Christ.

Brett Petrillo

Only seven people stopped to listen

It was the middle of the morning rush hour on Friday, January 12, 2007, when a young man in jeans, a T-shirt, and a Washington Nationals baseball cap stepped off the Metro at the L’Enfant Plaza Station in Washington, D.C. Standing near a wall in the Plaza, he opened the case that he was carrying and removed a violin. He placed the violin case on the floor and threw in a few dollars as change hoping to encourage passersby to contribute more. Then he began to play the violin…

The young man played feverishly for 43 minutes. In that time, 1,097 people passed by. Of those passing through L’Enfant Plaza that morning, only seven people stopped to listen. Twenty-seven tossed some money into the violin case. His total earnings totaled $32.17.

What made this incident so unique? How was this street musician different from others that would occasionally “set up shop” in similar locations?

“No one knew it,” reports Gene Weingarten of The Washington Post, “but the fiddler standing against a bare wall outside the Metro in an indoor arcade at the top of the escalators was one of the finest classical musicians in the world, playing some of the most elegant music ever written, on one of the most valuable violins ever made.”

The violinist was the internationally acclaimed virtuoso, Joshua Bell. His performance in the L’Enfant Plaza Station was arranged by The Washington Post. It was an experiment: In an unimpressive setting at an inconvenient time, would people stop to appreciate beauty? Most did not!

But Joshua Bell is not the only “master” that has gone unnoticed and unappreciated…

John wrote concerning Jesus Christ: “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him” (John 1:10-11).

God “put on” flesh and lived among men in the person of Jesus Christ (Jn 1:14) He was the Son of God, yet many did not recognize Him. Many others rejected Him.

Will YOU?

Jesus Christ is the Son of God (John 20:30-31) and the Savior of the World (Luke 2:11). He will save those who believe in Him (Acts 16:30-31), turn from their sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Him before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).

Study His life and teachings, recognize His greatness, trust His promises, and obey His commands. Follow in His steps and He will lead you to glory.

Won’t YOU?

— David A. Sargent, Minister

My parachute plane adventure

I was once invited to ride in a powered parachute (a parachute with a motor and wheels).

There were several problems getting the engine of this powered parachute started and keeping it running. What was really disconcerting were the problems with the drag chute. As the owner of this contraption worked on the engine and chute, I silently asked myself how much faith I had in him. If both the engine and chute failed, we would drop from the sky like a rock.

My silent questions about this man’s skill, judgment, and concern for my safety led me to think about faith in God. How much faith do we really have in deity? Do we have enough faith to truly trust in God? Will we trust Him when it comes to health problems? Do we have enough faith in Him to see us through difficult economic times? Is our faith sufficient to give us confidence when we face death? Do we have enough faith to both truly live and die for Him?

The engine finally started and continued to run, we got off the ground, the chute worked as it should have, and I had an amazing ride. Fall colors were beautiful from the air. We were able to buzz a house, a corn field, and even did a “touch and go” landing.

Remember, we “walk by faith” and “not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7). Faith may sometimes be weak (Mk. 9:24), but never let it fail.

Brad Price
www.abiblecommentary.com

The influence of one

For several days the truth went unheeded. Near the close of the meeting I saw a young man push his way to the isle and courageously walk down to obey the gospel. Of those present, he was considered least likely to take that action. The impact of that young man’s decision was felt over the entire assembly. Thirty-two other friends followed him down the aisle. It would be interesting to know how many hundreds of people those 32, in turn, have helped down some aisle somewhere in the intervening 30 years. The influence of that one boy who led the way will live after him.

“For we have great joy and consolation in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you, brother.” Philemon 7

–Mike Benson

How to heal a broken heart

A friend sent me a note about her daughter. It seems that her boyfriend had abruptly broken off their relationship and she is broken hearted. She wrote asking for words of encouragement on how to help comfort her daughter.

My first thought was that I as a man probably had less insight into dealing with that problem than she. Men seem to deal with problems, even problems of the heart by taking some kind of action. We want to “do something” to fix things, but sometimes things just can not be done by fathers, husbands, brothers or sons to make things better.

Today my father would have been 82 years old, but he went to be with the Lord several years ago. We remember him with hearts that ache to be with him again and think of my mother and the sense of loss she feels on special days like this.

At times each of us has to deal with a broken heart, a hurting heart, one that deals with losses and sometimes abuses and long for a way to make it better, to stop the hurting, to understand how this could happen. It is difficult for us, but sometimes we have to come to the conclusion that we may never understand why something happens. At times we struggle and continue to hurt emotionally for a long time and come to understand the truth that “time may heal all wounds”, but it still hurts while they are healing.

As in all things, our faith is of great importance as we struggle with things like this. God’s word helps us, encourages us and strengthens out faith to endure our hurts. The write of Psalm 34:18 says, “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” When we are hurting we at tempted to say, that “no one understands”, however God does even if we can’t see or understand that idea when we are in the midst of the pain.

The writer of Psalm 147:3-5 encourages us by reminding us, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.”

God does understand even if we don’t really grasp that concept at the time we are going through the difficulty. Pain, sorrow or hurt is never easy to go through, but there is a benefit for us. The writer of Ecclesiastes 7:3 tells us: “Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us.”

I especially like this last passage, because as hard as it is, it tells us that in the end, our sadness now, will help us be a more caring, more understanding person in the future. The real truth to share is that most of the time there is no ways to make it better right now, no immediate fix that makes everything all right. But with faith and trust, God will some how, some day, work things to the good for those who love him. (Romans 8:28) He has something better, (maybe someone better) in store for us. When we understand that, our broken heart will begin to heal.

Russ Lawson

We are proficient at talking, but deficient at listening

Most of us are pretty good at the first half of talking, but not so good at the second half. We are proficient at talking, but deficient at listening. As you recall, this was especially true of Job’s friends. When they heard of the evil that was come upon their friend Job, they made an appointment together “to come to mourn with him and to comfort him” (Job 2:11). It seems that their intentions were good. They wanted to comfort him. However, they proved to be “miserable comforters” (Job 16:2). In large part, they were “miserable comforters” because they failed to listen to their friend. They were so busy telling him what a great sinner he was that they failed to hear his declarations of innocence.

THOUGHT: Let’s make sure that we do better than they did. (Wade Webster)

1 John Hagee, Life’s Challenges, Your Opportunities

“So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (James 1:19).

Mike Benson

A 7 point summary of the gospel

Remember these seven things:

1) One Lord.

2) Two thieves.

3) Three crosses.

4) Four parts to His garments.

5) Five types of wounds.

6) Six hours of suffering.

7) Seven sayings.

–Source unknown

Overcoming Sexual Abuse

Betty had tried to tell him no, but he had kept touching her. She had been so excited to have been asked out by an older guy that she tried to act more sophisticated and more mature than she felt. Now she kept having thoughts about what had happened and didn’t know what she should do.

The FBI estimates that well over 100,000 children and young women are trafficked in America today. The average age is 11 but they range in age from 9 to 19. 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused before they reach the age of 16. In one study, 27% of women and 16% of men reported they were victims of sexual abuse. 42% of women and 33% of men said they had never reported it to anyone. National College Women Sexual Victimization Study found that between 1 in 4 and 1 in 5 women experienced a rape – either completely or attempted.

There are a couple examples of sexual abuse in the Scriptures. I want us to look at a second example, this one is in 2 Samuel 13. One of David’s sons rapes a half-sister.

THE ABUSE OCCURS – 13:1-14
Verse 1 – Absalom was, with Tamar, David’s children through Maacah, daughter of King of Geshur; Amnon was David’s first born through Ahinoam.
Verses 3-6 – Amnon, through a scheme with his cousin Jonadab, gets Tamar alone in the room with Amnon
Verse 14 – Amnon rapes his half-sister Tamar

These are some of the physical consequences of sexual abuse: pelvic pain, stomach problems, headaches, back pain, facial pain
The psychological consequences can be long-term: shock, disbelief, denial, fear, confusion, anxiety, withdrawal, sleep disturbances, emotional detachment. Often, to handle the flood of emotions, they turn to substance abuse – drugs and alcohol. They may try to commit suicide. They often distrust others and have a hard time having a fulfilling, healthy sexual relationship with someone in the future. They often blame themselves for the tragedy – “if I had not done such-and-such, this would not have happened.”

HOW TO OVERCOME – 13:15-19
Verse 19 – Tamar goes into mourning for her virginity was violated.
Verse 21 – David was angry; but he doesn’t do anything about it.
Verse 22 – Absalom hated Amnon
Verse 23 – Absalom waits two full years. Sheep shearing occurred in the early summer. It required many workers, so it was associated with a holiday.
One person said that a physical abuse is not just physical – “they invade your soul.”

I do not know if Amnon’s death gave any sense of closure to what Tamar had experienced. I do understand that it will take time to overcome sexual abuse but that healing can occur. God, of course, is the most important part of the healing process. A victim of sexual abuse shares these 9 steps in the healing process (from Think):
Recognize that you – alone – are powerless to heal the damage done. You need God’s help. Trust Him.
Acknowledge that God is love and wants you to be victorious over the horrible experience. You will heal.
The abuser is the one responsible for this act. Work through your feelings of guilt and recognize that he/she is the one ultimately responsible.
Return to the Bible and its teaching that you are worthwhile and God loves you.
Share your feelings with God in prayer – the negative feelings and the positive feelings. Share also with someone whom you trust. To heal, you must accept the validity of your feelings, express them to those you can, and deal with those feelings.
You are responsible for how you react to it and how you respond.
Accept God’s help in the process of forgiving those who have offended you.
Work at maturing in your relationship with God and with others. Accept the pure love of others. Learn to trust again. Reestablish boundaries:
Speak the truth to the abuser.
Accept support of your family, your church.
Withdraw from the abuser and let him/her know what is happening.
Allow God to use you to help and serve others.

Resources: Think magazine April, 2012. Drs. Tim Clinton and Ron Hawkins, The Quick-Reference Guide to Biblical Counseling. 2009. World magazine, “Help for the Hurting”, June 30, 2012, pages 59-60.

–Paul Holland

Pietro Aretino, Italian author, playwright

“I love you, and because I love you, I would sooner have you hate me for telling you the truth than adore me for telling you lies.”

Pietro Aretino, Italian author, playwright, and poet (1492-1556)

Happy Birthday

WHEN BRITAIN’S OLDEST man turned 111, vintage aircraft did a flyover, and the Band of the Royal Marines played “Happy Birthday…”

According to the Daily Mirror, Henry Allingham was amazed by all of the attention. Until 6 years earlier, he had for 86 years kept secret the horrific memories of what happened in the trenches of World War I. Only when tracked down by the World War I Veteran’s Association did this old man, who had been shelled, bombed, and shot, receive honor for what he had endured in behalf of his country.

The story of the Bible gives us parallels to Henry’s story. The Scriptures show that those who fight the battles of God often end up wounded, imprisoned, and even killed as a result of their service.

The cynic might observe such lives and conclude with a sigh that no good deed goes unpunished. But the author of Hebrews sees a bigger picture. He reminds us that everything and anything we have done in faith and love will one day be honored by God (6:10).

Are you discouraged today? Do you feel insignificant? Do you feel forgotten after trying to serve God? Be assured that God will not forget anything you have done in your service to Him or others. (Mart De Haan)

“Women received their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented—of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us” (Hebrews 11:35-40).

Mike Benson

The Prodigal Son, in the Key of ‘F’

Feeling footloose and frisky, a feather-brained fellow forced his fond father to fork over the family finances. He flew far to foreign fields and frittered his fortune feasting fabulously with faithless friends.

Finally, facing famine and fleeced by he fellows in folly, he found himself a feed-flinger in a filthy farmyard. Fairly famished he fain would have filled his frame with the foraged foods of the fodder fragments left by the filthy farmyard creatures.

“Fooey”, he said, My father’s flunkies fare far fancier.” The fugitive found feverishly, frankly facing facts. Frustrated by failure and filled with foreboding he forthwith fled to his family.

Falling at father’s feet, he floundered forlornly. “Father, I have flunked and fruitlessly forfeited family favor,” But the faithful father, forestalling further flinching frantically flagged the flunkies. “Fetch forth the finest fatling and fix a feast.”

But the fugitive’s fault-finding frater frowned on the fickle forgiveness of the former folderol. His fury flashed. But fussing was futile, for the far-sighted father figured such filial fidelity is fine, but forbids fervent festivity?

The fugitive found. “Unfurl the flags, with fanfares flaring Let fun and frolic freely flow ” Former failure is forgiven, folly is forsaken And forgiveness forms the foundation for futile fortitude.” (Author Unknown)

“And he arose and came to his father. But hen he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.” Luke 15:20

Mike Benson

We were robbed

A few years ago the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Portland Trail Blazers in a conference final where the Blazers missed fifteen shots in a row during the final, desperate quarter.

The next day the Los Angeles Times said that the Blazers “choked,” and that the referees “let the players decide the game’s outcome by refusing to interrupt the game constantly with whistles and play stoppages.”

The Portland papers saw it a little differently. “We were robbed,” they cried. “The referees refused to call any fouls in the final quarter!”

Well, I guess there were two ways to see that story! There are always two sides to a story. Often when a high profile court case is taking place, we hear the defense, and wonder if the accused should be nominated for sainthood. Then we hear the prosecution speak, and wonder if hell’s not too good for him!

“The first to present a case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him” (Proverbs 18:17).

When you hear some juicy gossip about someone you know, be analytical. Don’t swallow their tale of crime and evil hook, line and sinker.

Remember, there’s probably more to the tale. Wait till you hear the other side of the story.

–by Stan Mitchell @ www.forthright.net

What is the largest dam in the world?

Someone who works for Denver Water told me about Three Gorges Dam in China, far and away the largest in the world. It is five times larger than the Hoover Dam and capable of generating twenty times more power. It is designed to hold back 5 trillion gallons of water! Three Gorges Dam has been built along the Yangtze River, visible with the naked eye from space, and the world’s largest hydroelectric power generator ( facts taken from Greenbelt, MD, 6/13/07, article by staff writers of SPX). There are fears about the potential for disaster, environmental and climate changes, and pollution due to a lack of national regulation to ensure safety measures are employed.

Though this may be seen as a dramatic alteration of nature, it is also a testimony to man’s ability and wisdom. The engineering feat is a marvel to consider. The impact is also incredible. The reservoir’s presence and the change in flow of the river has dropped the temperature a whole degree over a 62 mile area. The entire project also may increase earthquake activity, which might jeopardize the integrity of the dam. The consequences of that would be devastating.

Even though man is made in God’s image (Gen. 1:26-27) and endowed with such creativity and ingenuity (think airplanes, space shuttles, light bulbs, pasteurization, antibiotics, vaccines, etc.), he still falls a far distant second to the Master Designer! Man’s attempts are subject to failure, lack of foresight and anticipation, wear and tear, and maintenance. It makes so much of what God has made and sustained that much more incredible, from the placement of earth in our solar system and universe to the many intricacies of our body and our environment. God even created the best dam builders-beavers! So much of what we have learned about it has come by observing their precision and ingenuity. What a Mighty Maker we serve!

–Neal Pollard

How to be comforted

People vainly seek to find their comfort through alcohol, tobacco, drugs, food, sexual immorality, and the like. People may find some legitimate comfort through sleep, a physical or mental escape, through friendships and relationships, and through precious memories. In 2 Corinthians one, Paul makes some remarkable statements about the Heavenly Father’s ability to provide comfort to the hurting.

HE IS THE GOD OF “ALL” COMFORT (1:3). There are the severest trials of life in which we would be thrilled to receive just a fraction of His comfort, a little comfort, some comfort, or much comfort. But, Paul’s statement is unqualified and unmitigated. Ephesians 1:3 says “all spiritual blessings” are “in Christ.” That means no spiritual blessings are “out of Christ.” Likewise, God gives “all” comfort, meaning that no legitimate comfort is found outside of God and His providential care.

HE IS THE GOD WHO COMFORTS US IN “ALL OUR AFFLICTIONS” (1:4). What burdens your heart? The guilt of past, forgiven sin? The loss of a loved one? Persecution for your faith? A physical malady that will not go away? A broken marital or family relationship with no seeming ray of hope? Can you say, “God will comfort me through ____________” (fill that blank in with your most severe, current trial)? Whatever “it” is, God is able to comfort.

HE IS THE GOD WHO GIVES “ABUNDANT” COMFORT “THROUGH CHRIST” (1:5). Jesus is the hero of the Bible. His life, death, burial, and resurrection spell the difference between comfort and being comfortless. The Christ of the cross is the Christ of the crisis. He has endured affliction in a human body and is an everlasting personality of the Godhead, thus He can relate to our humanity and He can supply all our needs in His divinity.

As a Sovereign God, He would not have to provide mercy, comfort, and grace. But, in line with His nature, God wants to comfort us in any affliction in which we may find ourselves. He knows, He understands, and He cares. There is no substitute for God’s comfort!

Neal Pollard