Truly God's Hand

Poetry by Nancy Weckler

Truly, truly, I have seen God’s hand.

It is holding mine.

Truly, truly his hand has been leading me down the path he has prepared for me.

Truly he has gone before me, and

Truly he is with me step-by-step.

His hand led me here to this church through my friend Beth

His hand led me here to this Wednesday morning Bible study.

In his perfect timing his hand guided the woman I was to meet.

Her name is Julie

Truly, truly his love guided us to this day.

“My granddaughter has been told she has Mast Cell Disease.” I say.

“I have that too,” Julie utters with a tear in her eye.

My heart leaps and I gasp.

She grabs my hand.

I squeeze hers. 

The tissue in my hand is wet with my tears.

“I will write you everything I know about this disease” Julie says.

Give me your email address.

Truly, truly God has led me to this group of prayer warriors.

Truly, he has heard, acknowledged and responded to my cries for help.

Truly, his love has engulfed me with his promises and his grace.

I have seen God’s hand.

It is holding mine.

It is holding Julie’s; it is holding yours too.

Truly, he is holding each of our hands,

As he gently leads us down the path He has prepared for us.

Onward and Out of the Graveyard

In his review of Dr. Russell Moore's book, Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel, Pastor Josh Stringer poses some strategic questions for those of us who follow Jesus.

Here's Josh's review  that first appeared in Connections, and a disclaimer that Russell Moore is one of Josh's former professors.

Do you feel out of place in our culture? Are you prone to panic over the headlines? Are you bothered that you’re perceived as odd or strange for what you believe? Do you ever wonder why you feel that way? If you’re a Christian, have you ever thought about the strangeness of the gospel you say you believe?

Think about it. As a Christian, you believe that a baby was born to a virgin, and he later walked on water, told the weather what to do and eventually walked out of a tomb after being dead for three days? That. Is. Strange.

And we haven’t even begun to talk about the counter-cultural moral standards that accompany belief in a holy God who would send his Son to die for your sins and then call you to follow him. Let’s face it. The gospel of Jesus Christ is strange, particularly in the face of a growing culture of “the religious nones.”

This is exactly what Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, reminds us in his book Onward: Engaging the Culture without Losing the Gospel. Says Moore, “The shaking of American culture is no sign that God has given up on American Christianity. In fact, it might be a sign that God is rescuing American Christianity from itself.” Moore clearly reminds us of what the gospel is and why it matters that we get it right. He is also crystal clear about what the gospel isn’t and, sometimes uncomfortably, points out how we’ve subtly gotten it wrong in the past and why that matters, too.

It might be tempting to mine this book for pithy sayings in order to win a Facebook argument or to accumulate verbal hand grenades to lob at a liberal co-worker. First, if that’s you, repent. Second, you’ll need to look somewhere else to find your ammo.

Other readers might want to find an honest how-to list for cultural engagement. Moore gets there, but not until his later chapters which include, “Human Dignity,” “Religious Liberty” and “Family Stability.” Before you get to helpful how-to’s, Moore leads his readers through a biblical journey of the whys in chapters such as “A Bible Belt No More” and “From Moral Majority to Prophetic Minority.”

Moore will engage your thinking in a lively manner with theological integrity, cultural relevance and Christlike compassion. He also brings a kingdom-centered veracity that is missing from many of our conversations that are often filled with hopeless laments over cultural change. And that’s why you should read this book.

With great hope in Christ, Dr. Moore calls us to flee cultural panic and press forward with the life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ. He boldly reminds us, “The kingdom’s advance is set in motion by the Galilean march out of the graveyard. We should then be the last people on earth to skulk back in fear or apathy. . . . We need leaders and allies, but we do not need a Messiah. That job is filled, and he’s feeling fine. . . . We live now in this demon-haunted earth, but we wait for the demon-conqueror from heaven.”

Strange, indeed. Let’s keep it that way.

Why? (Why!)


Poetry by Alyssa Carlburg

Grief is spoken in words,

Heard through the eyes,

And felt in the absence of the one

Who was lost.

When grief is, they are not.

“Why?” The question whispered from lips,

Spoken to others, and shouted into the darkness.

It drowns despair in anger.

It erects a barrier between man and God.

It demands an answer, but accepts none.

“Why?” is an iron cage around our hearts.

“Why!” is Your answer, prayed in the garden,

Your tears of blood mixing with our tears of grief.

It lifts our pain on to Your shoulders.

It is the bridge between us.

It is answer for which we dared not ask.

“Why!” is the promise of eternity with You.

Grief is not understood here, and will not be felt after.

It is temporary; it has been defeated.

It is real, but more so are You.

“Why” is our question, and also Your answer.

You are every answer.

I have no more questions.

If You Had to Ask . . .

If this were your first visit to this church, or any church for that matter, what questions would you ask? Beth Kucera, College Church regular attender, had a lot of questions about her first visit to College Church. Any sound familiar to you?

Which Sunday would be the first? Decision made.
What to wear? Sport coat and pants had been selected and sweater and skirt were laid out on the chair.
What time to leave the house?
How long would the drive take?
Do they have a parking lot or street parking?
Should they hang up their coats or take them to the pew?
Will there be a bulletin or will the order of service be on a screen?
Will they be able to see the screen?
Should they sit closer to the front or in the back in case of the need for an easy get-away?Would they know any of the hymns?
Would anyone notice them and shake their hands?
Would they have to sign a visitor registry or wear a stickie “Hi I am New” tag??
What would the sermon be like?  One of those “Ten Minutes Barely Settled in and It’s Over” types or 20 minutes of “Followed It A Few Minutes But Then It Lost Me” ones?
Do sermons every really teach anything about the Gospel anymore anyway? Will the sermon pat them on the head “There, There, You Are Doing Just Fine”?
Has the Gospel really become like swiss cheese?

Below the surface of the questions, came the quiet promises from the Word:
Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:34, NIV)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5, NIV)
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Philippians 4:6, NIV)

A few minutes passed. They sat still and it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. Praising and singing and praying. Forty minutes of sermon passed like five minutes. Truth heard. No Swiss cheese gospel here—but a service that was full on aged Cheddar and rich double Gloucester.

After the benediction and postlude, they sat stock still.  If they did not get up and walk out now, the next service would start. Would that be such a bad thing?

They wordlessly made their way to the visitor’s table where cheery folks asked, “Can we answer any questions for you?”

No more questions came to mind.

From the Famous to the Thoughtful: Questions the Bible Asks

By Wil Triggs

The Bible is filled with questions. As we begin 2016 at College Church, Pastor Moody is preaching a new series, “Biblical Answers to Life’s Big Questions.” So our word for January is “Questions” because of that series.

Whereas the sermons in this series provide answers, OneWord Journal wants to take a look at questions, and open up this space for us to ponder and consider questions.

So God’s Word gives us answers. But we can also learn a lot from the questions that are in the Bible. Here are some of the questions we find in the Bible, some of them coming from the very mouth of God, others by Satan, still others voiced by mortals like us, talking to one another or to our Maker and Savior.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?
Genesis 3:1B

But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” …Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?
Genesis 3:9 and 13a

Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother's keeper?”
Genesis 4:9

But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?
Exodus 3:11

Then the LORD said to him, “Who has made man's mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD?"
Exodus 4:11

But Pharaoh said, “Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, and moreover, I will not let Israel go.”
Exodus 5:2

They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt?"
Exodus 14:11

When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?
Exodus 16:15a

Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods?
Who is like you, majestic in holiness,
awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?
Exodus 15:11

And the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?
Exodus 15:24

And he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the Lord by saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”  Exodus 17:7

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?
Psalm 22:1

Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has the health of my poor people not been restored?
Jeremiah 8:22

Where can I go from your Spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence?
Psalm 139:7

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?
Psalm 8:3-4

To whom then will you compare me, or who is my equal? says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high and see: Who created these?
Isaiah 40:25-26

With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? … He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
Micah 6:6, 8

Jesus … asked his disciples, "Who do people say that I am?" … He asked them, "But who do you say that I am?"
Mark 8:27, 29

Then someone came to him and said, "Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?"
Matthew 19:16

For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life?
Mark 8:36-37

He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
John 21:17

. . .and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?
John 11:26

And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
Matthew 6:27

What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? … How can we who died to sin go on living in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
Romans 6:1-3

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
Romans 8:35

And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “WHY DO YOU SEEK THE LIVING AMONG THE DEAD?”
Luke 24:5