book review – when will my life not suck?

When a review copy of Ramon Presson’s new book, “When will my life not suck?” appears in the mail, I have mixed feelings. I deeply appreciate New Growth Press, and I read nearly everything they publish. Ramon Presson intrigues me as a new author, but his book’s title really bothers me. It seems over the top—even rude—and the words “NOT SUCK” stick annoyingly in my mind. This tension between my admiration for New Growth and my aggravation over the title motivate me to read.

Ramon quickly demonstrates skill as a writer and an insightful observer. He draws from his years of experience as a Christian marriage and family therapist, and he reveals his own struggles with depression, anxiety, and despair. The book is accessible to a wide audience from young adults to seniors and believer or non believer. It is also brief (150 pages) and non technical so someone in the grip of suffering can summon the strength to read it.

This is not a self-help book, offering secret steps from depression to a happier life. Instead, Ramon writes out of his own weakness and models an increasing dependence on the gospel. Tracing Paul’s themes from his letter to the Philippians, Ramon addresses real life problems, asks perceptive questions, and shows readers a large God—the source of hope. For anyone in the midst of depression, anxiety, despair, or loneliness, “When will my life not suck?” is a companion through the journey. It wisely guides the depressed to hope, and it prepares the encouraged for depression.

“When will my life not suck?” is a blunt question. It makes us wince in discomfort because, if we are honest, it strikes too close to home. That’s why I am grateful Ramon Presson tackles the issue with serious reflection and Biblical hope. I recommend this book to anyone caught in depression, a friend of someone who is struggling, and church leaders who counsel the weary. It could easily be used for one-on-one discipleship or small group discussions. And the title is more than provocative—it is a perceptive lifeline to miserable sinners who need God.

Ramon Presson, When Will My Life Not Suck: Authentic Hope for the Disillusioned (Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press, 2011)

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extraordinary family reunion

Toward the end of a recent family vacation my grandmother and I went to an unexpected family reunion. People from all over central and eastern Kentucky had gathered for the occasion. My grandfather, great grandparents, great uncles and aunts, many cousins, and my great great grandparents were all present. It was an extraordinary occasion, and I was unquestionably the youngest person in attendance. Of course this wasn’t a typical family reunion like a picnic in the park or a party at a relative’s home. Instead, my family had assembled years earlier at the Winchester Cemetery in Winchester, Kentucky.

Cemeteries are like forgotten perennials appearing faithfully year after year while receiving only slight attention. They are too often neglected acres surrounded by burgeoning development and busy roads, or they are isolated to distant churchyards in the countryside. Small grave plots, marked by grand monuments, simple etched stones, or gentle earthen depressions, are usually neglected by all but the closest relatives and the dutiful groundskeepers. In a cemetery time moves unhurriedly, providing space to reflect on life’s brevity and significance. It’s while walking among the dead that you remember that your days, months, and years on this earth are finite.

When grandma and I turned our car into the Winchester Cemetery, we merely aimed to visit grandpa’s grave and see a few other relatives. Yet, what struck me as we slowly drove down the winding roads and carefully walked the neatly mown lawns is how often I neglect the past. The cemetery is far removed from my daily routine, and my deceased relatives rarely invade a day’s thoughts. In the swiftness of every day living, I often fail to remember how imminent and unavoidable death is. All of us, no matter our heritage, hubris, or humility have a pending appointment with a grave, marked by a stone, and soon forgotten by the living.

The Winchester Cemetery, which opened in 1854, memorializes several thousand lives. Beneath the wavy green grass, the brightly colored flowers, and the weathered burial markers lay people with unique lives. Some enjoyed wealth, notoriety and power. Others suffered in poverty, obscurity, and drudgery. Some lived for decades, and others lived a few days. Most of the deceased had married, raised children, welcomed grandchildren, and buried their loved ones. All of them went through life’s joys and sorrows. Now, in spite of all their personal experiences and accomplishments, they each lay lifeless—made equal in death, covered by the earth, and surrounded by relatives—unknown and unnoticed by their descendants.

Yet, for all of the solemnity that a cemetery summons, it can also be a place of renewed faith and hope in the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Son of God took on human form, lived a sinless life, died a sacrificial death, and rose from the grave, making resurrection and life possible for repentant sinners. One gravestone inscribed this Bible hope, inviting me, grandma, and others to believe Jesus. “He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live” (John 11:25). For Christians, then, death is not the end of life. It simply gives way to living eternally. So grandma and I, along with all Christians (buried, living and future), will one day gather—not in a cemetery—but at a banquet table in heaven for an extraordinary family reunion.

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the gospel unites

By far one of the ugliest cars in my lifetime has been the AMC Pacer. Not only was it unsightly, but it also suffered design flaws and quirks that crippled its sales and sealed its automotive doom. Production lasted from 1975 until 1980 and nearly 300,000 plucky people chose to own one. Today only small numbers survive. The Pacer has become a bit of an oddity, a collector’s item for people in love with ugly cars from the 1970s. Not surprisingly the Pacer consistently ranks among the top ten ugliest cars ever made. Seriously.

Once the car went out of production Pacer owners became fewer and farther between. It certainly wasn’t a mainstream collector’s vehicle. People in their communities considered Pacer owners automotive odd balls. Why would anyone choose to drive an unreliable, rusty glass egg that had horrible gas mileage and no power when there were so many better options? Was it the quirky design that captured their imaginations, or an act of rebellion that made a social statement, or their only gift from the family inheritance? Only a few non-conformists dared drive a Pacer beyond the mid 1980s.

Then, along came the great equalizer—a sort of revenge for Pacer enthusiasts—the internet and social media. In 1995 Jeni created The Pacer Page to showcase her high school transportation. She quickly connected with other Pacer fans from around the world. Finally, they were no longer isolated Pacer owners. They shared a common interest that united them against all previous probabilities. And today multiple Facebook pages honor the AMC automotive legend with no fewer than 1,000 fans. The excitement is palpable. But that’s not all, you or I could search Craigslist and other websites where if we wanted our very own Pacer, we could find one and buy it!

While I have nothing against Pacer admirers, they illustrate a powerful principle at work between people. Interpersonal relationships tend to quickly move from broad associations to narrow interests. Social media, a powerful mechanism for human interconnectivity, is not exempt from this phenomenon. In fact, it appears to move this way even faster than previous communication methods. At first we cast our net wide among all sorts of people: casual acquaintances, childhood friends, high school buddies, college dorm mates, former coworkers, distant family, dearest friends, immediate family, and 500 million others. Through the excitement of so many possibilities and the thrill of finding long lost contacts, we all eventually find a small group of people who share our interests, passions or concerns. We follow them, and they follow us. We ignore everyone else, and they ignore us.

So while social media makes more friends available to us, ironically it also limits friendship to increasingly smaller bands of cronies such as Pacer lovers or Christian special interest groups. The danger for Christians is to uncritically follow this pattern and to transfer it to the local church. A melting pot of sorts, the church, gathers and unites disparate people under the banner of Jesus’ gospel. Jews and Gentiles, rich and poor, educated and uneducated, allies and adversaries, and many other contrasts comprise the church and local churches. Sadly, in our era people are increasingly looking for a church that suits their preferences, meets their perceived needs, validates their perspectives, and mostly attracts people like them.

Yet rather than criticize someone else’s church, or an imagined congregation somewhere else, let’s honestly consider our hearts and churches. Do we promote cultural uniformity or Biblical unity? There is a significant difference. Uniformity requires conformity, but unity connects differences. Do we attract one demographic or multiple groups? Obviously, this depends on one’s community, but the US is an increasingly multi-cultural environment. Have we reduced the church to a single issue such as a preference for our children’s education or a commitment to a particular worship style? Someone once quipped, “God created people in his own image, and we returned the favor.” Our churches reflect this reality. Do non-believers consider the church a place where they can ask questions and explore Christianity or do they receive long lectures and unreasonable expectations? Too many churches either never welcome non-believers or they expect them to act like Christians. How are you doing so far?

Many more questions could be asked; however, the bottom line is this: the Gospel reverses our sinful tendency to divide. Where we naturally shift our interpersonal relationships from broad associations to narrow interests, the Gospel takes a narrow interest in Jesus’ life, death and resurrection; and it broadens our interpersonal relationships. People from divergent ethnicities, social backgrounds, economic statuses, educational levels, and many more gather in the name of Jesus, trusting in his atonement. The gospel unites diverse people of every kind for the singular praise of God. That is amazing. And, yes, all AMC Pacer enthusiasts are welcome!

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divine appointments

I spend a lot of time with people. They are an important part of life, but they are also an intentional aspect of Christian ministry. Jesus, for example, ministered to multitudes of people, he discipled twelve men, and he focused most on three followers: Peter, James and John. In a similar way, God has entrusted me with the responsibility to serve multiple churches, to disciple several men, and to mentor a few men. All of these people require time, and I often meet them over meals.

Two weeks ago I had a day with no face-to-face meetings scheduled. After a morning of grinding away on my computer, I desperately wanted to get outside and enjoy the warm, sunny weather. Not having a lunch appointment with anyone I took a book along for company. Past experience has taught me that when I bring a book, I don’t get the chance to read it; and when I forget one, the time for reading magically multiplies. So on a whim I left my home office, packed a book, and headed to a nearby Wendy’s.

Once I arrived at the restaurant, I scanned the dining room before I ordered my lunch. There were plenty of empty tables, and I did not see anyone that I recognized. So I ordered my meal and began to anticipate some reading time in the sun-filled dining room. With my meal paid for, I stepped back from the counter and looked at the next person in line. That’s when God presented a divine appointment. Quite unexpectedly I spotted a church friend that I hadn’t seen in at least a year or so. We attend different churches. Immediately we began to chat, and soon we sat down together for lunch.

For the next forty-five minutes we caught up and reflected on God’s manifold grace in our lives. Even though his company has suffered economic setbacks in the recession that have affected his income, he rejoiced in his employment and in new opportunities to serve people. He also told about the ways he uses social media to share Christ with friends around the world. All in all he encouraged me from his faith and life. Then, I shared about our family’s progress on raising financial support to church plant in Scotland, and I expressed gratitude for God’s provision so far. To a lesser extent I encouraged him from my faith and life.

Near the end of our time together, before he had to return to the office, he asked if he could pray. “Of course, that’s a great idea,” I thought so I immediately said, “Yes.” His prayer, even more than our conversation, pointed me Godward. He drew attention to the fact that God had given us a “divine appointment” that day allowing us to meet for lunch. God had graciously orchestrated our plans—mine to read, and his to relax—to remind us both of his loving providence. What had been a dreary day of office work turned into a timely reminder that God places people in our lives for a purpose, pointing us and others to himself.

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love God entirely (part 2)

The greatest commandment challenged the Scribe and it confronts us today. Do we really love God entirely or do we love God partially? Has anything else—even good things—eclipsed our love for God? While the Scribe may have wryly smiled and silently quoted the Shema in response to his question, “Which is the greatest command?” I believe we approach this text with the same familiarity. All of us claim to love God, but we struggle to love him wholeheartedly in our daily lives. So allow me to ask you some loaded questions that strive to apply this passage to our lives. These are good things—important issues—that can become more important than loving God.

Theological rightism – Christians who revel in doctrine and church history are similar to the Scribes who preserved the Torah. We are tempted to love what we know about God more than we love him. Do we love our knowledge and its pursuit or do we love his kingship and kingdom? We are tempted to find our identity in our theological correctness instead of the person and work of Christ. Do we love our theological tradition and heritage more than we love redemption accomplished and applied? We are tempted to disrespect people that we disagree with, withholding grace and humility. Do we love honoring ourselves among ourselves or do we humble ourselves before others? We are tempted to make secondary issues of primary importance. Do we love separation more than we love Biblical unity? May we cultivate a love for God that manifests itself in loving kindness—even when we agree to disagree. We must love God with our hearts and minds!

Moral perfectionism – Christians who emphasize personal holiness and standards resemble the Scribes who distanced themselves from other people. We are tempted to reduce holiness to self-righteousness. Do we love comparing ourselves to other people or the absolute holiness of God? We are tempted to make perfect holiness an attainable goal that we can achieve. God instructs us to be holy based upon Jesus’ righteousness alone. We cannot earn it. Do we love our determination and discipline or do we find our hope in God’s mercy and grace? We are tempted to control God and people through our moral performance, insisting that they owe us something. Instead, we owe God everything! Do we love perceived rights and demand rewards or do we humble ourselves under God’s righteousness? Jesus fulfilled the righteous requirement of the law, and he freely gives us his blessings. We deserve curses. May we become deeply aware of our sinfulness so that we can become totally dependent on God’s grace alone. We must love God with our whole lives!

Educated elitism – Christians who cherish knowledge, learning and teachers are like the Scribes who interpreted the Torah. We are tempted to make Christianity a classroom and focus on acquiring the right information. Do we love being know-it-alls or do we teach others what we know about God? We are tempted to consider ourselves meaty Christians and others milky Christians. Do we love what we have become or do we patiently develop more disciples? We are tempted to criticize other people as ignorant or uninformed. Do we love being self-appointed gurus or do we strive to learn from differing viewpoints? We are tempted to tell others that they are wrong and quickly dismiss them. Do we love the destination of discipleship or do we graciously shepherd people in the process? We are tempted to choose favorite teachers and discount teachers that do not suit our preferences. Do we love our teachers more than the content of their teaching? May we accept our Christian heritage and use it as a gift to bless other people—including every level of Christian growth and maturity. We must love God with all our abilities and resources!

Calvin, reflecting on Jesus response to the Scribe, remarks, “God does not rest satisfied with the outward appearance of works, but chiefly demands the inward feelings, that from a good root good fruits may grow.” The root (our hearts) and not the branches (our works) determine the health and vitality of the tree (our lives). The branches only reveal the root’s condition. Sadly, it is easy to sculpt perfect branches and paint dead leaves, when our roots need nourishment from Jesus. Loving God exclusively involves laying aside all else for the ultimate pursuit of God. And that changes everything!

love God entirely (part 1)

In the late 1960s an angry college student confronted California’s Governor, Ronald Reagan. The student opposed Reagan’s strong response to the protest movements, which were sweeping college campuses at the time. He told the Governor, “Today we have television, jet planes, space travel, nuclear energy, and computers.” Then he asked Reagan a loaded question. “How can you possibly understand the younger generation?” Obviously, the student expected the Governor to admit that he couldn’t identify with them. Yet, Reagan outwitted the student and replied, “It’s true that we didn’t have those things when we were young. We invented them.” The student’s attempt to make a statement or to embarrass the Governor failed. Reagan wisely unloaded the question and made a greater point: college students consume what other generations create.

During the public phase of his ministry, Jesus’ opponents confronted him with loaded questions. They desperately wanted to trap Jesus into accepting their authority, asserting their politics, affirming their theology, or approving their ideals. The powerful Sanhedrin challenged Jesus, “By what authority are you doing these things” (Mark 10:28)? They had not authorized him. The Pharisees and the Herodians tried to corner him, “Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not” (Mark 10:14)? Pharisees opposed Caesar, and Herodians supported him. The Sadducees contemptuously asked him, “At the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven [dead brothers] were married to her” (Mark 10:23)? The Sadducees considered the resurrection ridiculous. And a Scribe wondered, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important” (Mark 10:28)? Scribes, after all, revered the Jewish Shema.

Jesus responded to the question regarding the greatest commandment by quoting the right source. “Hear, O Israel the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 10:29-30; cf. Deut 6:4-5). The Scribe must have wryly smiled. Jesus’ other challengers had failed, but he had succeeded. Jesus quoted the Shema, but then he went further. He disarmed the Scribe’s question by connecting two commands: Love the Lord your God, and love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 10:31; cf. Lev 19:18). The Scribe probably did not expect a two-part answer. Not to be undermined like the others, he thought quickly, and formulated a response. He affirmed Jesus’ answer, and he included an addendum about love’s superiority to offerings and sacrifices. Sadly, however, the Scribe rejected Jesus’ point: Loving God entirely cannot be separated from loving people inclusively. The Scribes used their commitment to the Shema as an excuse to exclude themselves from other classes of people. They had reduced the Shema to heartless formalism.

It’s tempting to criticize the Scribe and to question his response. How can he listen to Jesus and remain outside the kingdom (Mark 10:34)? Why doesn’t he admit that Jesus called his bluff? Why can’t he accept Jesus as his Lord (Mark 10:35-37)?  Doesn’t he realize that he failed to love God entirely? Isn’t he aware that he doesn’t love his neighbor? All of these questions, as natural as they are, reveal something at work in our hearts. Specifically, we sinners hastily identify sin in other people and reluctantly admit our own sins. Love for God and other people are easily eclipsed by our relentless self-love.

Jesus’ love for the Scribe compels him to speak truth. That same love exposes our hearts so that we can receive God’s grace, making us gracious people. What then are some areas where modern Christians like you and me struggle with pride akin to the Scribe’s? In part 2 I will offer some specific applications that confront our self-love. Are you ready for some loaded questions?

extraordinary moments in ministry

Mesmerized under the cadence of the pastor’s voice, the congregation silently absorbs a once-in-a-life-time experience. It feels like time has paused in this extraordinary moment. All the elements have converged: an excellent atmosphere, an expectant crowd, an engaging speaker, an enlivening message and an expressive response. Under these remarkable circumstances, the speaker and the audience are emboldened to act according to their beliefs and people are added to the church.

In many ways this describes a pastor’s dream for every Sunday. He longs for the weekend when everything goes right, his message connects, church members respond, and sinners repent. He does all that is within his capacity to make the ideal church service a weekly reality. Yet, he regularly experiences brokenness and failures that remind him of sin, that disrupt his efforts, and that tempt him to resign. And that is precisely the point: no one can manufacture God’s work in people.

All too easily pastors and churches shift their focus from “the power of God that brings salvation” to manageable methods that yield measurable results. Our information age provides a large space for “how to” blogs, books and conferences to share the latest church growth techniques. Yet, with all of our technological advantages, entrepreneurial achievements and breath-taking accomplishments, many times we minimize the simple power of the gospel. The Apostle Paul tells the Roman church that “…I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.” He doesn’t reference the power of any method or any minister. It is God’s power alone.

So what power or whose example are you depending on for your ministry success? Do you long to create the perfect Sunday or do you patiently proclaim Christ each week? Do you look for an immediate emotional response or do you faithfully trust the Spirit over time? Do you wish for larger crowds and more sinners or do you humbly serve the congregation that God has given you? Even though I know the right answer to all of these questions, I continually struggle to find my hope in God rather than “results.” What about you?

Recently a friend gently reminded me that God chooses whomever he wishes to accomplish whatever he pleases. In other words, pastors with the same theological education, similar ministerial experience and identical work ethics, in nearly identical communities, may have completely different “results.” If we are honest, that bothers us. It doesn’t seem fair. It cannot be that simple. Surely there is a better explanation for why one pastor “succeeds” while another pastor “struggles.” One must be a darling and the other one must be a dud.

However, Peter makes it plain that “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms… so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet 4:10-11). So it turns out that the extraordinary moments in ministry are actually when ordinary sinners magnify the immeasurable grace of God. Are you content to faithfully serve God’s grace for the benefit of others so that he alone may be praised? The Sundays that we serve God in this way are the days when all the elements converge for the ideal church service.

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leadership embraces the future (part 2)

Many dynamics influence the church and affect it’s leadership. Those dynamics, as diverse as they may be, become a crucible during times of transition. Sooner or later lead pastors and staff change, and churches eventually select new officers. These leadership transitions affect the church’s future and ultimately its ability to endure.

In the first essay, I posed two leadership challenges that churches face: the influential pastor or the closed board. On the surface they seem like opposite leadership styles that pose different problems. However, they are amazingly similar. The influential pastor and the closed board both fail to identify and equip new leaders.

So how can churches embrace the future through leadership? Human nature tends to put too much hope on gifted leaders. Great leaders, however, understand that their leadership is finite. They can extend their leadership beyond themselves and their tenure by embracing new leaders, equipping them for service, and entrusting them with ministry responsibilities. Training new leaders is a process guided by current leaders.

How can they minimize anxiety during leadership transitions? The best leaders realize that their leadership ultimately prepares their church for the next phase of leadership. They see the end from the beginning, and they anticipate leadership change. This prompts them to develop a leadership culture that embraces the future and welcomes new leaders. By anticipating the next lead pastor and new church officers, existing leaders reduce unease during transitions.

What is an effective strategy for empowering new leaders? Empowering new leaders is the key to embracing the future. Some lead pastors and church officers recognize emerging leaders as a threat and try to minimize their influence. This is unwise, and it usually fails. Others however recognize leadership potential and develop it through life-on-life mentoring. New leaders need experience and experienced leaders are ideal tutors through their initial ministry endeavors.

How can churches persevere from one generation to the next? Humanly, the future of every local church depends on godly leadership that passes the baton from one generation to the next. Churches that decline and ultimately die fail in this vital area. If you are a current church leader, you must cultivate new leaders in your congregation. If you are an aspiring leader, submit to good leaders and serve your church.

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leadership embraces the future (part 1)

Earlier this week Steve Jobs, co-founder and CEO of Apple, announced a second medical leave in two years. He offered no details regarding his health condition, and he asked employees to respect his privacy. During Steve’s absence, Tim Cook, Apple’s COO, has been selected to lead the company.

While Job’s condition and prognosis are a secret, it is no mystery that his visionary leadership is the heart and soul of Apple. He is the personification of Apple culture; and a cult icon for computer enthusiasts. It is also undeniable that Apple floundered and nearly failed during his absence from 1985 to 1997.

Since his dramatic return to Apple, the company has become highly successful, launching innovative products such as iMac (1997), iPod (2001), iPhone (2007) and most recently iPad (2010). Steve’s present medical leave has made industry observers, Apple shareholders and corporate competitors anxious. So much of their future depends on Steve’s health.

Steve Job’s leadership at Apple offers valuable insights for churches too. It is imperative that churches identify emerging leaders and equip them for leadership. The challenge for most churches, like companies, is dependence on one leader and overall complacency about leadership. The next few months will test Apple and reveal the full impact of Steve’s leadership.

In the church context, there are multiple threats surrounding leadership. Some congregations rely too heavily on a single pastor. A church may see incredible numeric growth or decline depending on its lead pastor. Reasons for this may be numerous and nuanced, but it is seldom healthy to depend on a single person long term. The pressure is too great for one man and the stakes are too high for the church. Even the most gifted, influential lead pastor must be forward looking and empower future leaders.

Though less obvious and equally prevalent, other churches settle on a closed group of church officers. Possibly an extended family or close friends find themselves leading a church. This is common in churches where pastors do not stay long, and it may be one of the causes for their departure. When a church settles the leadership question and neglects their responsibility to identify new leaders, it ultimately dies—usually a slow, painful death.

So what is the alternative? How can churches embrace the future through leadership? How can they minimize anxiety during leadership transitions? What is an effective strategy for empowering new leaders? How can churches persevere from one generation to the next? Good questions. In part 2, we will consider some constructive answers.

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snowlanta and sovereignty

Atlanta, better known for hot summers and mild winters, became Snowlanta this week. Sunday night and Monday morning snow powdered the Southeast and left a thick, white blanket over metro Atlanta. Near our home we received a little over five inches before the precipitation turned into sleet and freezing rain. The combination of ice-covered snow and low temperatures kept us safely at home and off the roads.

The extra time home has afforded several benefits. First and foremost I have appreciated the extra time with my wife and children. They are the most important people in my life and we had fun together, which is how we avoided cabin fever. Watching my son (2 yrs) and my daughter (7 mos) play with each other and laugh is pure joy.

The unusual weather also served as a powerful reminder of God’s loving sovereignty. In spite of our best efforts and our most ingenious inventions, humans have God-ordained limits. The icy snow brought our region to a stand still. Weather, like all of nature, bears witness to the Creator’s power, the creation’s design and the creature’s dependence. Too often God goes unnoticed in “good weather.”

It is also interesting to observe various human responses to the snow. Some people, like me, absolutely love the white stuff. Others are either amused or indifferent. And a few loath it, preferring the scorching heat. Personal preferences aside, how we respond to the weather can help us evaluate our over arching response to God.

Are we grateful for God’s gracious work in our lives? Is his involvement something that we take lightly or do not consider at all? Or, is God using the snow as punishment? Sadly, too often I find myself being either glib or unaffected. However, by God’s grace, this week I have taken advantage of Snowlanta in order to pause and ponder God’s grace at work in every detail of life.

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