hope

Could God ____?

Could God ____?

“I don’t even know why we’re here. Nothing is going to change.” I’ve heard those words many times in counseling sessions. And I’ve felt those words from the posture, from the hollow eyes, and from the sighs of those I have counseled.

Who is it that you don’t believe can change? Your boss? Your employee? Your friend? Your son or daughter? Your spouse? Yourself?

Who have you given up on?

Be honest. You’ve probably given up on someone somewhere. You know what the theological term is for not having hope for someone? For giving up on them? Damning. That’s right. When you lose hope in someone or something, you’re damning it.

The latter half of Romans 1 speaks of the hopeless situation of those who have turned against God. In chilling language, Paul explains that “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men…”[i] He explains that those in rebellion “are without excuse,”[ii] and then he goes on three times in the next five verses to explain how God damns them: “Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts…”[iii] and that “For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions,”[iv] and finally “God gave them up to a debased mind…”[v]

On those four words—“God gave them up”–hang the icy chill of damnation.

The Power of Hope and the Rising Suns

The Power of Hope and the Rising Suns

The Suns currently sit at dead last in the Western conference at 17-55. They are a full 12 games behind the next worst teams, the Memphis Grizzlies and Dallas Mavericks, and 24.5 games (count ‘em!) out of playoff contention. They are in a fierce competition with the Knicks and Cavaliers to finish in last place. If they finished in last place in the entire league that would be their third year in a row finishing in last (four years ago, they finished second to last! Woo!). It’s not been a fun run as a Suns fan.

Between 2006-2010, the Suns appeared in the Western Conference finals three times, tantalizingly close to an elusive NBA championship. For the past nine seasons the team has slid further and further into the abyss with only one season where we won more games than we lost in that span. Our best players over that nine year stretch were such NBA legends as Marcin Gortat, Goran Dragic, and Eric Bledsoe (my tongue is firmly in cheek). We weren’t just bad; we were bad and our future was bleak.

But this year is different.

We’re every bit as bad as we’ve been the past three years, maybe worse, but this year we have hope. We have one of the best young players in the NBA: 22 year old Devin Booker[i], and the first pick of last year’s draft: 20 year old DeAndre Ayton, who has impressed in his first year.  We’ve actually gotten better as the year has gone on and we’ve even won 6 of our last 10 games (meaning a third of our victories have come in the last three weeks). And hey! We’re going to get yet another high draft pick!

You see, it’s not so bad to be awful if there is hope. You can endure a lot as a fan if you think that things are going to get better.

That’s a lot like life, isn’t it?

The Unexpected Gift (part 2) by Anne Madhu Gammon

The Unexpected Gift (part 2) by Anne Madhu Gammon

A note from John:

It’s my pleasure to share with you the story of my friend, Madhu Gammon. Madhu and her husband Keith attend Stone Hill Church in Princeton, NJ, where I served as a pastor for eight years. Madhu and Keith’s story centers around how God stretched their faith and joy in the midst of the difficulties of their son Ajit’s medical issues.

In God’s providence, Angel and I are, right now, in the home state of Madhu and Keith: Tamil Nadu, India.

I pray that you are as blessed by Madhu’s humble faith and irrepressible joy as I have been.

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Unexpected turn of Events

We had come on holiday to the USA in 2001 to see Priya. With less than a month left to return to India, a consultation for Ajit gave him a new anti-seizure medication in addition to his regular medication. This juncture is where everything turned topsy-turvy with a severe drug reaction. He was too weak to get out of bed, grew weaker, unable to tolerate food, and subsequently compelling us to change our return date to India. The scene had changed. It was staggering! And at this time, Keith’s mother had just breathed her last in Chennai and he had to return immediately.

When we come to the crossroads, we can often miss seeing the Cross. The words drawing us to “see, from his head, his hands, his feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down, did ‘er such love or sorrow meet or thorns compose so rich a crown.” Oh were it not for the Cross, we would not know that God understands the pain of suffering. Yet to now try and understand the Sovereignty of God and see Him articulate His Grace to us was to expect a miracle, a gesture of forgiveness and freedom.