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My Thoughts on the Death of Eddie Van Halen

My thoughts on the death of Eddie Van Halen 

Eddie was my all-time favorite guitarists.  Some would argue that he was the best of all time.  In my opinion, he basically inspired and defined the 80’s Hair Band phase, whether for good or bad.  When “Eruption” first hit, it caused a lot of players to look at their guitars and wonder “How on earth did he do that?”  It really changed everything for rock.  I have read and listened to a lot of interviews over the years, even though I am not a musician.  Most guitarists that you have heard of will give credit, one way or another, to Eddie.  One of the funnier ones I remember was Zakk Wylde saying that Eddie was such an influence, he had to deliberately try to not sound like him.   

Also, he was regarded as a great rhythm guitarist.  Van Halen didn’t have a second player, so he had to do both duties, and while he is obviously best known for his solos, a lot of musicians have given him props for his rhythm playing. 

And that is all well and good.  The bottom line is that I really just enjoyed his music.  I don’t think he had anything to prove on VH’s last album, but if he did, he succeed.  At 57, he was playing better than he ever had (though I can’t say the same for Dave’s singing.  But it was still a good album).   

All of Van Halen’s albums went platinum (over a million in sales) except VHIII, which we will all do good to forget about.  So not only was he good, he was successful.  He recorded albums, went on tour, and was always looking to make the best guitar, and spent a lot of his time later in life doing just that.  I don’t want to glamorize anything about his lifestyle, but he lived the proverbial Rocker life. At his death, it was estimated that he was worth $140 million. For all intents and purposes, he gained the world.   

Which brings me to this.  Normally, when a celebrity whom I liked dies, I get sad.  I get the initial gut-punch that a lot of folks get.  Even if they are really old, and it was just their time.  It doesn’t last long, because while I liked their work, I didn’t know them or have a relationship with them outside of their sharing their talent.  However, I didn’t really feel anything when I saw the news feeds announcing Eddie’s death.  I can’t exactly say why.  I was affected, but not in the normal way.  All I know is that one verse kept running through my head.  Matthew 16:26 says, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, but forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” That really is the question.  And not just for him.  For all of us. 

Obviously, I can’t say with 100% certainty that Eddie didn’t have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.  But there is a good chance that he didn’t.  And now it is too late for him. There is no RIP. Hebrews 9:27 says, “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgement…”  That is it.  Once we die, there is no longer any chance to repent of our sins.  All that is left for us is judgement. 

One of two things will happen.  If you are a believer in Christ, your judgement happened on the Cross when Jesus Christ bore the penalty for you sins. You will spend eternity in the presence of Christ.  If you are not a believer in Christ, you will be judged an enemy of God, and will suffer eternal torment.   There is no third option. 

“He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”  John 3:36 

If you have read this far, and you are not a believer in Jesus Christ, this is my invitation to you to do so today.  Today is the day of Salvation.  We are all sinners, and all deserve God’s wrath.  But in an act of mercy and grace, He sent His Son to take our punishment on the Cross for our sins.  Please don’t let the sun set on you today without at least examining the claims set forth in the bible.  If you have questions, please ask.  I will do my best to answer.  Get a copy of the bible and read the four gospel accounts.  See if they ring true.  This is definitely something that you cannot afford to be wrong about.   

And if you have made it this far, thank you. 

As always, if you found this helpful, please share. 

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The Fool Says In His Heart

Psalm 14 starts out by saying “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no god.’” Most Christians will believe (and rightly so) that the author is referring to unbelievers. Paul even quotes some of this psalm in Romans 3 when he talks about those who are apart from God (see Romans 3:10-18).  But my question is this: is this really only about unbelievers?  I do not think so. 

John MacArthur said in a sermon on Hebrews 11 (the great chapter on faith) that sin is the absence of faith.  I have thought about that for a few weeks now, and I cannot find any way to disagree with what he says.  Take some time to think about it.  As believers we know that God is omnipresent.  He is everywhere.  He is beside us right now.  And we know what He requires of us. So, we really should not sin at all.  However, we do sin, and when we do are we thinking about Him, or are we thinking about us?  If we are being honest, we are thinking about ourselves and what we want, not about our Heavenly Father and being obedient to Him.  In that moment of sin, while we may not say that there is no God, our actions suggest otherwise.   

Even going back to the Garden, Adam and Eve had three rules.  Be fruitful and multiply, subdue the earth, and do not eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.  Simple.  However, upon the first temptation, they both said in their hearts that there was no God, and they sinned.  And these were two people who God walked with every day.  They heard His voice.   

It would be easier to say that they were bigger fools than us.  That would not be true, though.  They did not have Christ.  We do have Christ.  Every time we read Scripture we hear His voice.  John 10:27 is about us, His followers.  We are His sheep, as He states, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them and they follow Me.”  We are being led by the Spirit of God. Romans 8:14-16 says “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.” Also, in First Peter we see that the Trinity is right there at work. “To those…who are chosen according the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.” Did you catch that?  The sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit is for us to be obedient to Jesus. 

We are far more blessed than Adam and Eve.  With that in mind, the question remains about what we should do with this knowledge.  

I have thought about this for some time now.  While I was praying about this blog post, it occurred to me how simple the solution is to this dilemma. We need to act as if God is with us in actuality, that He is right beside us.  As my pastor preached a few weeks ago, we are in Christ, and He is in us.  We need to constantly remind ourselves of that.  This needs to be our reality.  As I said, this is simple. I did not, however, say it was easy. 

I believe it is our very sin that keeps us from doing this.  We have Satan deceiving us, we have the world tempting us, and we have ourselves wanting to be our own god. We have distractions from the world, whether it be entertainment or events. We have our flesh that wants what it wants, and on its own it does not want God. Movies, TV, phones, apps, games, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, work, family issues, school, and on and on.  Good things and bad things.  All with the potential to distract us. 

With that said I think it is important to be in the word of God as much as possible, and to be spending time in prayer. We need to be studying His word. We need to look to the cross.  We need to know who Jesus is. We need to know what He expects from us. And we need to be reminded of that often. One of my favorite verses is in Second Peter. He says in chapter one, verse twelve “Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you.” If Peter felt it was important to remind his readers of what they already knew, then it is important for us to be reminding ourselves as well. 

Prayer isn’t my strong suit, I will admit.  But I have been striving to be more diligent. There is both blessings and grace when we pray.  Being able to approach the King of the universe about anything is a great privilege.  I know that when I pray, coupled with time in the Bible, I am more aware of knowing that God is there. It’s not some warm feeling of His presence. It is just knowing and remembering.  I am learning that when I do not remember, and I chose to do my own thing, I am that fool. 

I hope that this has blessed you.  I know that I have been blessed in spending time thinking and meditating on this subject. And I hope that God has been glorified. 

If you benefited from this at all, please share with your friends. 

God bless.  

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To My Atheist Friends…I Get It

I have the occasion from time to time to engage with atheists.  Some of the time the engagement comes basic questions about what someone thinks that Christians believe.  Some of the time it comes as a challenge to something that they may have read in the bible.  At times the questions and challenges are friendly (even when snarky).  Other times the questions and challenges are quite hostile.  Either way, I get it. 

What I believe can be considered quite strange.  It can be considered a bold-faced lie.  It can be considered fiction that some take literally.  It can be simply be considered man’s attempt to figure things out.  Regardless of how you may see it, what I believe is quite incredible, and if I am honest, quite difficult to believe.

Let’s start with creation.  The common view in life is that evolution is true.  Though there is no real consensus on how it started, there seems to be some agreement that we started from a single cell.  I won’t go into detail because I assume that you have your view and understanding.  However, I believe in a literal six-day creation.  I believe that the first two chapters of Genesis spell out how God created, and that He created out of nothing.  I believe that all of human life can be traced back to Adam and Eve. 

And not just that.  I believe in a literal worldwide flood.  So this means that I also believe in the Ark that Noah and his sons built. I believe that God saved two of every kind of land animal, and He fit them into the Ark. 

I believe that a donkey talked, that the sun stood still in the sky, that David slew Goliath with a stone.  I believe that God sent plagues to Egypt, and that the Red Sea parted.  I believe the walls of Jericho came down after Israel marched around the city for seven days.  I believe dead were raised to life. 

And I believe that in the town of Bethlehem, around two thousand years ago, a virgin girl gave birth to a baby, and that baby was fully human and fully God.  I believe He grew up as the son of a carpenter. I believe that He performed miracles.  He healed the sick.  Gave sight to the blind.  He fed 5,000 men.  He walked on water. 

And He preached a message that got him killed by the ruling religious class, He was placed in the tomb of a rich man, and three days later, He rose from the dead.

So yes, I get why you wouldn’t believe that the bible is true, and that it cannot be trusted.  It is quite the crazy story.  And I could engage on reasons why it is true. And I would love to do so, if you would like.

However, the point of this is to let you know that I understand where you are coming from.  And to let you know that I do believe all of the bible.  I believe it from cover to cover.  I believe that it tells that God created man, that man sinned, and that man will go to hell.  But I also believe that God planned a way so that man would not have to go to hell.  He sent His Son to be the sacrifice for sin, and whoever believes in Christ Jesus will not perish, but have eternal life. 

And regardless of how crazy it seems, it is the Truth.

“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.” – Jesus

What I am reading

My last blog was in September. At the end of it, I said that my next blog would be what I am reading. And then my computer died. I now have a new computer.

I had actually forgotten about writing this, and I have an idea for an new blog post. But since I said I would write this one, I will keep my word and post this one first.

Oddly enough, I have no idea what I was reading back in September. So this will be my current reading list.

First should be obvious (I hope). I am reading my bible. I use the New American Standard Version. I have tried using the Christian Standard Bible (formerly the Holman Christian Standard Bible). I liked it okay. One of its strong suits whas that it used YHWH instead of LORD in the Old Testament, and tried to use Messiah instead of Christ in the New. There were other things that made it intriguing. But I had gotten it as an Apologetics Study Bible, and there were too many apologetic notes that I disagreed with, so I stopped using it. I have also used the English Standard Version. I do not care that they do not capitalize the words He, Him, etc. A minor issue, but one nonetheless. So I am back to my old favorite. I use the Inductive Study Bible. I am not as much into doing the inductive method. However, I do like the line by line layout and the wide margins for notes.

My next book that I am reading is A Puritan Theology by Joel R. Beeke and Mark Jones. Its a biggie. It is somewhere around a thousand pages. Usually when I start a book that big, I do not finish it. This is one that I think I will complete. Basically, it is a systematic theology, but it uses the writings of the Puritans. So it is Christianity as was understood in the 16th and 17th centuries. They did write some scholarly works, but most of what they did was pastoral and for their congregations. What I am finding most interesting is that while they agreed on the most basic essentials, there were disagreements on the secondary and tertiary ideas. So you cannot just say “well, the Puritans believed xyz.” You can say, “Well, there were some Puritans that believed xyz.” The best part is that it has helped me come to a better understanding of the covenants, and had caused me to correct some flaws in my understanding of some doctrines. I highly recommend it.

The next book is Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices by Thomas Brooks. He was a Puritan who lived in the 1600s. This is actually my second reading. I think the first time I read it, I was reading for more of a doctrinal understanding of sin. You can get that from this book. However, this time it is more personal. This was written by a pastor who loved his church and wanted to help them deal with sin. For the bulk of it, he first lists what Satan does to trip us up, and then gives a list of remedies to counter those devices. It is a very practical book. I have it on Kindle, but I think that at some time I would like to get a hard copy.

I have others that I have started, and will hopefully get back to them at some point. I am trying to be more disciplined in my reading. So my intent is to finish one of these books before I begin another. I will make no promises to myself, though. I know better.

Let me know what you are reading. I would be interested.

What I Listen To

What I listen to. Not a very gripping title, I admit. However…

Here are the various programs and sermons I listen to on a regular basis.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones sermons Usually one a day. There’s an app, plus a website. https://www.mljtrust.org/sermons/

Wretched Radio It’s a daily podcast. There’s lots of humor. Todd is ADHD (it seems), which makes it even more entertaining. But still very gospel-centered. There’s a lot about looking at what’s going on today through the lens of the Cross. I especially like Too Wretched for Radio where Todd chats will Phil Johnson. I use a podcast app. But they, too, have a site. https://www.wretched.org/

White Horse Inn This is a long-time favorite. It’s a weekly radio show, and I listen to the podcasts. In general, they spend a year going over a topic. This year they are going through the book of John. https://www.whitehorseinn.org/

The website has a lot of great resources, as well.

Core Christianity This is an offshoot of the White Horse Inn. It’s a daily show where people call in or write in with questions concerning Christianity. There are answers to questions that you didn’t even know you had. https://corechristianity.com/

The Sword and the Trowel This is a weekly podcast from Founders Ministries. Their topic vary from week to week, but lately they have spent time on issues within the Southern Baptist Convention concerning compatibilism and social justice. They always talk a lot on the law/gospel distinction. A lot a great articles at their website, as well.

https://founders.org/

The Dividing Line This is the webcast/podcast of Alpha and Omega Ministries and Dr. James White. He covers a plethora of subjects from what’s going on in Christendom to Reformed Theology. He usually has two shows a week. https://www.aomin.org/aoblog/

There are others that I listen to from time to time. But these are the main ones. Check them out, and I hope you’ll be blessed by them.

Next blog will be about what I’m reading.

Our best life now. Psalm 5, part 4

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
    let them ever sing for joy,
and spread your protection over them,
    that those who love your name may exult in you.
For you bless the righteous, O Lord;
    you cover him with favor as with a shield.

I will admit that the title is a little clickbait-y.  In my last blog, I alluded to the Joel Osteen book “Your Best Life Now.” In the past I have mocked that book title.  For believers, our best life isn’t now. It is when we are with Christ in His glory.  As Paul said, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 

However, there is a way that we have our best life now.  Not better than Heaven.  And not the false health and wealth, prosperity gospel nonsense.  Jesus said in John 10 that He came so that we may have life, and have it abundantly.

I am no Greek scholar, but the definition of abundant is “more than sufficient; over and above.” That is the life I am talking about.

If we are in Christ, we should rejoice. We should be singing for joy. If we are in Christ, we are protected from the lies of the evil one. We should exult in Him. If we are in Christ, we have His righteousness as our own (2 Corinthians 5:21). Because of that, we are blessed. Ephesians 1:3 says “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” Now, I do not know what every spiritual blessing is, but we have been blessed with all of them.

Dave Ramsey always answers the “how are you doing?” question with, “Better than I deserve.”  Christians, we are doing better than we deserve. We are having out best life now.  And we will have our infinitely better life in glory.

Spiritual Warfare. Psalm 5, part 3.

Psalm 5, part 2

But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love,
will enter your house.
I will bow down toward your holy temple
in the fear of you.
Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness
because of my enemies;
make your way straight before me.

I have been studying on spiritual warfare lately.  And this really fits right in with my studies.  The biggest thing I have learned is that true spiritual warfare isn’t going toe to toe with demons.  It isn’t even rebuking Satan.  It’s a battle for the truth. 

The best way to battle the lies is to look to the One who is Truth.  Jesus.  It is because of His steadfast love that we can enter His presence.  We can worship Him in fear and reverence.  And He will lead us in righteousness against our enemies (rulers, authorities, the cosmic powers over this present darkness, the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places). These are the lies that Satan would have us to believe.  He is the Truth we should use to battle the lies. 

For there is no truth in their mouth;
their inmost self is destruction;
their throat is an open grave;
they flatter with their tongue.

Make them bear their guilt, O God;
let them fall by their own counsels;
because of the abundance of their transgressions cast them out,
for they have rebelled against you.

While this was written by David against real flesh and blood foes, we know from Ephesians 6 that this really isn’t our battle.  Out battle is against the lies, the destruction, the flattery that leads to death.  Your best life now?  No! Our best life is to come. 

Thankfully, we have One who fights for us. He will make them bear their guilt.  He will cast them out.  We just need to keep our focus on the gospel of Jesus Christ. We need to spend the time in the word.  We need to spend the time in prayer.  That’s how we fight the lies of the enemy.

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. Jude 24-25

The Sinfulness of Sin. Psalm 5, part 2.

Psalm 5, part 1

Psalm 5

4 For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; 
    evil may not dwell with You. 
5 The boastful shall not stand before Your eyes; 
    You hate all evildoers. 
6 You destroy those who speak lies; 
    the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man. 

There is a book called The Sinfulness of Sin.  It was written by a Puritan.  I have not read it.  Yet.  But I think this passage goes towards that thought.  David, a great sinner himself, recognizes this, and how awful sin is to God.  This is what he wrote immediately after writing about praying in the morning.  It is obvious that he is distressed about what is going on around him.  I am not sure how much of his life was without turmoil, but I do know that he turned to God quite often. 

Two things I take away from this.  One, when faced with difficulties, it is okay to bring it to the Father.  He already knows, and He can handle it.  David is casting his cares upon the Lord.  We should as well. 

And two, this often describes me.  How often am I boastful?  How often do I speak lies, even to myself? Have I been deceitful? Have I been bloodthirsty? Matthew tells us that even being angry at a brother is murder in our heart.  So, I would have to say “yes.”  

Thankfully, those in Christ can say, “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.” (Psalm 32:1-2) 

Starting the day off right. Psalm 5, part 1.

1 Give ear to my words, O Lord;
    consider my groaning.
2 Give attention to the sound of my cry,
    my King and my God,
    for to you do I pray.
3 O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice;
    in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch. 

A few weeks ago, I was discussing the armor of God with daughter number 1 (age, not affection). One part of the armor is the shield of faith.  The next morning I was thinking about the shield of faith, and decided to do a word search on “shield”.  This led me to Psalm 5, where the last line is  

For you bless the righteous, O LORD; you cover him with favor as with a shield. 

That led to me spending time with this Psalm.  I tell you this to show how my brain works.  A thought about God or Christ or the Spirit, or just theology in general will pop into my head and I will spend a day, a week, or month studying it.  Or I will come across a passage of scripture that hits me, and I will spend time meditating on that.  Recently, it has been the glory of God, the law/gospel distinction, the holiness of God, and spiritual warfare.  I don’t really have a set method of study.  I am going to contribute that to ADHD. Seem legit. 

Back to the psalm.  I spent some time meditating on the psalm, and finding corresponding passages and verses from the New Testament.  I made notes in the margin, and thought I might type it out for my family.  I did some more studying.  I read some commentaries.  And I read that section from Spurgeon’s Treasury of David.  I think that is about the time I considered doing a blog post on Psalm 5. However, it seemed to be a large undertaking for one post, and so I decided to break it up.  Here is part one. 

I want to preface this by saying that I do not have the most vibrant prayer life.  It is something I am working on, which is why I think I was drawn to this psalm.  I say that because I do not want someone to think I am something that I am not.  As I stated in my very first blog, I am a beggar showing other beggars where to find bread. Hopefully, I have some bread here to share.

David starts, “Give ear to my words, O LORD; consider my groaning.” I like that he does not start out presumptuous.  I firmly believe that David knew that God would hear him.  But he doesn’t make an assumption.  Also, it gives a sense of urgency.  Sometimes my wife will say to me, “we need to talk.” This is the indication that it is serious stuff she wants to discuss.  I think that is the feeling that David is expressing here.  He has something weighing on him that he wants to bring to God.  The word “groaning” here can also be translated as “meditation”.  This is something he has spent time thinking about.  Sighing is another translation.  Groaning.  Meditating.  Sighing.  I think I know the feeling.  It brings to mind Romans 8:26 “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”  It is a deep prayer. David thought deeply, and then prayed.  That is something that I know I need to work on.  Too often I just ramble on, without much thought or planning. 

“Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray.” Spurgeon says about this verse, “‘The voice of my cry.’ In another Psalm we find the expression, ‘The voice of my weeping.’ Weeping has a voice-a melting, plaintive tone, and ear-piercing shrillness, which reaches the very heart of God; and crying hath a voice – a soul-moving eloquence; coming from our heart it reaches God’s heart.” I think the picture here is of the injured child who is crying for mom or dad, and the parent rushing to give them comfort.  David seems overwhelmed, but he also knows where to turn.  “Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) David is modeling this for us.  

“O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.” The NASB says “In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch.” First off, one thing I found interesting is that in a book I am reading, the author stated that morning prayer is better that evening prayer, in that if we start to pray as we lay down our heads, then sleep with most often overtake us.  He is not saying that it is a bad idea to pray as you are falling asleep, but that you are going to be less attentive than if you pray in the morning.  Spurgeon has the same sentiment.  He says, “Prayer should be the key of the day and the lock of the night.”  But he also says that and hour in the morning is worth two in the evening.  I know from my own experience that I am more attentive in the morning, and it seems that I am not alone in this.  Also, it sets the tone for the day.  Edward Reyner said, “That is the fittest time for devotion, you being then fresh in your spirits, and freest from distractions.”  It isn’t a “have to” thing.  It is just a good thing to consider. 

The next part is my favorite.  “In the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.” The NASB renders it “In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch.”  If I understand this correctly, the picture is of preparing a sacrifice.  Genesis 29:9 says “Then they came to the place of which God had told him; and Abraham built the altar there and arranged the wood, and bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood.” The word arranged is the same word translated as sacrifice, and order.  David knew what he was going to pray for.  He laid it out.  It was deliberate.  I have a prayer journal where I can list prayer requests by person and topic.  I don’t always use it, but when I do, it seems that my prayers are less wandering, and my mind wanders less.  Oh, it still wanders.  But it wanders less.   

And then David watches.  He knows that God will answer.  He prays with faith.  I will be honest and confess that there are many times when I pray that I expect God to answer in the negative.  There are some things that He will say no to, or not yet.  But there are many more times when He says yes, and I am surprised.  I shouldn’t be.  I want to be more like David and watch, anticipating that my request, if made rightly, will be granted.  He is a good Father, and wants to give His children good things.  

There is much more I could say on this, but this post is longer than I had planned, and I am poor at editing.  If you made it this far, then thank you.  I promise to try to make my next blog posts shorter.  My next post, Lord willing, will be on the next few verses of Psalm 5.   

Chris 

Baylee is leaving

Baylee is leaving us. And it’s hard.

I’ve hesitated writing this because of a few different reasons. One, I really don’t want this to look like it’s about me (even though I am writing about me). Two, I don’t want it to look like I am trying to garner sympathy from people. And that’s what inevitably happens with these things. And three, I’m just not really good at writing these things when it comes to my own emotions.

The main reason I want to write this is because I want to show the goodness of God. Also, I suppose I just want to get this written down to help me gather my thoughts.

But first, the situation. Baylee is our foster daughter. She came to us in April of last year. She wasn’t quite two yet. And she was crying. She had just been removed from her home (and I use that term in it’s most basic of uses). The first thing you notice about Baylee is her eyes. They are huge. She has Precious Moment eyes. Beautiful eyes. And they were crying. She didn’t know us. We didn’t know her. And we had no idea what to do to help her.

At one point that first day, I held her on my lap and told her that it was my goal to find her smile. I tried a few thing. But it was ” This little piggy went to market” that did it.

Slowly, but surely, over the next few days and weeks, she came out of her shell. Because of the situation she had been in, she was behind in her talking. But more and more her vocabulary grew. It was such a blessing to see. And it was such a blessing to see her grow into a part of our family.

And that’s how it’s been for the past year. She is a part of our family. I consider her my daughter. I don’t live her any less than any of my biological children. And there were points in time where we thought we would be able to adopt her. But it appears that’s not the case.

Baylee is leaving. And it’s hard. Very hard.

Now, to the God part, which is what this is about.

In the foster system, the main goal is reunification of the child to the parent(s). But sometimes that doesn’t happen. We were told in training that sometimes, no matter how much a parent loves their child, they just cannot get it together to the point where they get their child back. This is one of those cases. So we thought that there would be a good chance we could adopt her. There were no immediate family members that would/could take her. Lisa and I have always wanted to adopt, and God was bringing us this little girl.

And then a cousin showed up. I’m not going to go into all the details. But I was mad. Actually, I was furious. I didn’t feel that they had Baylee’s best interest at heart. It seemed more out if obligation than love that they were doing this. How could they take her, once again, from what she knew as family? So I was mad at them for this.

Also, I was mad at God. How much more crap did we need to take as a family? Lisa has health issues, which in and of themselves are enough. We waited over a year for our first foster placement, Precious, who died in our care. The struggle as to whether we wanted to get back into fostering. Hadn’t we been through enough, God? Couldn’t we catch a break? It’s not like it was a bad thing we were asking, was it? We love her as our own. We were prepared for the long haul. So why was she leaving us?

I didn’t “curse God and die”. But I wasn’t happy.

And God wasn’t done with me yet.

Through my anger I still knew that God is good. I knew it in my head. But not in my heart. At least not in this situation. And to be honest, I wasn’t really looking for answers as to how God could be good and still let this happen. The thought might cross my mind briefly, but that was the end if it. And it wasn’t like I was just going around with a black cloud over my head, constantly in a funk. But the anger was always lying in wait.

Then God, through His providence, brought a book into my life. It was “Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts” by Jerry Bridges. In it he explains God’s providence, God’s wisdom, and most importantly, God’s love. It was a very personal and pastoral book from a man who had experienced and witnessed hard times, hard losses. It dug into the Scriptures and showed how God was in control, and how He always loved His people, even when it may not have made sense to them.

And most importantly, it got me to look to the Cross of Jesus Christ.

It’s at the Cross where we see the greatest injustice done to a Man. It was there that, from man’s point of view, nothing made sense. Why was the perfectly innocent Teacher being put to death in the most cruel way ever known to man? It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t right.

But it was good.

He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. (Isaiah 53:3-7, 10 ESV)

It pleased God to have His Son put to death for the sins of His people. That seems crazy. That is unfair. And yet Jesus was in agreement.

For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” (John 10:17, 18 ESV)

If I get angry at God, why am I angry? What has He allowed to happen, or caused to happen in my life that could remotely compare to the unfairness of the Cross? And it was an unfairness that benefitted ME!

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV)

Now, I wish I could say that this was an overnight transformation, and that there is no more anger. But I can’t. There’s still anger. But it is far more fleeting than before. There is far more praise for what He’s done. Yes, we still question. There’s still a “why?” I want to know how the story ends. I want to know if she’ll be safe. I want to know what type of person she’ll grow up to be. Things like that. But I may never know those answers. But I have to trust Him. He is in control. He loves us and He is infinitely wise and infinitely good.

These next few days will be tough. There will be many tears shed. I suspect as the last day with draws nearer, the questions will come again, and possibly more anger. But I have determined through this to know nothing but Christ and Him crucified. I absolutely need to come back to that to keep any kind of perspective.

And he said, “…The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21 ESV)

Baylee is leaving us. And it’s is hard. But He is good.