Wednesday, March 31

"Why do bad things happen to good people?"

This is the first of what I plan to be a regular Wednesday series on here - answering "Ask Mike" questions. Feel free to submit questions either on here or via email. I won't promise that I will get to all of them on here, but I will try to respond to each in one form or another.

One note on these blog posts - they won't be as complete an answer as some would want. It is my goal to keep the response fairly short and readable. There is much more that could be said about any of these questions. I'll just be hitting some of the "big ideas."


My first reaction to this question is why shouldn't bad things happen to good people? Why should we expect that good people should only experience good things? Our belief in this comes from several sources - poor theology that results in inaccurate preaching and teaching, our own sense of "justice"or "fairness", the concept of Karma, etc.

But the fact is that the Bible never promises that this would be the case:

Apostle Paul - "For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him." Philippians 1:29

Apostle Peter - "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you." I Peter 4:12

Jesus - "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble." John 16:33

People suffer bad things for many reasons. We suffer because of our own bad choices. Some of the consequences are fairly minor. You get a speeding ticket or slide off of a slick road because you drive too fast. You pay an overdraft fee to the bank because you spent more money than you had in your account. Others are more severe - broken marriages, financial failure, job loss, jail time. But much of what we suffer comes by our own choices.

But we also suffer because of a fact of history that many choose to ignore: We live in a fallen world. The world that God created as perfect - environmentally, relationally, and spiritually - has been marred by mankind's rebellion against God and desire to assert self. You cannot grasp what you read in the newspaper without understanding this fact. We live in a fallen world with broken people on a broken planet.

So sometimes we suffer because of the bad choices of others. Innocent people suffer because of others' greed and cruelty and hard-hearts. Sometimes we suffer because we live on a planet that has marred by the Fall and damaged by mankind's lack of stewardship to care for that which God interested to us.

And sometimes we suffer because we have an enemy whose goal is to "steal, kill, and destroy" (John 10:10).

We are not going to avoid bad things in this life. What we can do is take heart that Jesus is with us and he has overcome the evil one.

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33

We can also choose to let God use bad circumstances in our life to build maturity.

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:2-4

Friday, March 19

Grandma Armstrong

On Tuesday, I spoke at the funeral service of my grandmother - Juanita Armstrong. She was my father's mother and was 91 when she died - sixteen years to the day after my dad. She spent her life in southeast Kansas and was a farmer's wife, at least until 1969 when she and Grandpa moved into town. I have so many memories of singing with the family around the organ in their living room (with Grandpa playing along on his harmonica), of playing on their farm or in the lot north of their house in Girard, and of holidays in their home. Grandma was an avid reader and her Christmas list (even through this last one) was always full of books. I probably caught that bug from her. I remember being at her house over the summers and reading the books she had there. Over the years, she passed many of those on to me, including a set of books written by Harold Bell Wright, a Kansas writer and minister from the first part of the 1900's. Some of those books - first editions - are now over 100 years old, including one of my favorite novels: The Shepherd of the Hills. But probably the greatest trait of her life was her love for and generosity to her family. She loved her family - her sons and daughters-in-law, grand kids, great-grand kids, and great-great-granddaughter. I am so thankful that she got to see and visit with all of them during Christmas this year.

With Grandma's death, all of my grandparents are now gone and the dynamics of the family will change just as they did for the Huber side. The ones who held the aunts and uncles and cousins together are no longer there. My hope is that we will find ways to stay connected, but I know that is difficult and will take effort. Our lives and our society make those extended family connections difficult. We tend to get too scattered and too busy. But without them, we lose some of who we are and miss out on the stability and sense of belonging that we all need and for which so many are looking.

Monday, March 8

Traits of Effective Leaders

One of my goals is be more organized and active on this site. Hopefully, that will make it more useful for those who are interested in its contents and easier for me to prepare posts. My intention is have a different topic for each day of the week. I won't promise that they this will happen every week. Much of it will be based on schedule, travel, and if I have anything I feel is valuable to say. But, as of now, here is how I picture the schedule:

Monday - Leadership Thoughts
Tuesday - Misc. Thoughts
Wednesday - "Ask Mike" Thoughts
Thursday - Campus Ministry Thoughts
Friday - Spiritual Formation Thoughts
Weekend - Track and Field Thoughts

I will also add this disclaimer: I don't intend to re-invent the wheel. If others have written or posted information that I feel can express and idea better than I can, I will point you to them. Hence, today's post.

Michael Hyatt is CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing. He is an active blogger and tweeter (@MichaelHyatt) and shares a lot of valuable information on productivity and leadership. He recently posted an article on "Five Marks of Authentic Leadership" that was very good. Those marks:


Which of these marks do you feel is the most valuable? The most needed today? Where have you seen one or more of these marks demonstrated by a leader you respect?

Wednesday, March 3

Ask Mike Night, Part II

Last night was the second part of our annual "Ask Mike Night". Below are some more of the questions asked. I share them with you just to give you an idea of some of the things that students are wondering about. I am posting the questions just as they were asked. How would you answer them?

* What is your favorite food and why?

* What event/person/question has presented you with the greatest challenge to your faith and how have you overcome it or reconciled yourself with it?

* How do you make fasting beneficial to your spiritual life?

* In the process of writing the Bible, would the writers throw in their own interpretations of what God told them instead of writing exactly what God said?

* People seem to be either obsessed with Revelation and Bible prophecy or ignore it completely. What do you think? How important is it to spend time on Bible prophecy?

* How do you reconcile the well-evidenced support for evolution with the supposed "specialness" assigned to man? What makes us special enough spiritually to seek God if we are merely descendants of "lower" animals?

* How old is the earth? Does it matter?

* David Crowder wrote a song and book called "Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven, but Nobody Wants to Die." This is often how I feel. I want to be with Jesus in Heaven, but I don't want my life to end yet. Is this selfish?

* How do I know whether I get to go to heaven?

* Can you lose your salvation?

* We are taught to respect our parents, but how do you stay respectful when they are truly not being fair?

Monday, March 1

Beyond a Form of Religion

The SEC Track & Field Championships (both indoor and outdoor) always finish on a Sunday. Because of that, there has traditionally been a chapel service offered on the Sunday of the meet. Over the years, I have attended services at Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Alabama, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, and Arkansas.

The highlights of yesterday's service were the testimonies shared by a couple of athletes: Jager Livingston of Auburn and Dylan Roberts of Arkansas. Jager spoke of God's purpose in our lives even when things don't turn out the way we had them planned. Dylan shared with us about the changes in his life since he chose to start following Christ during his freshman year. Both of them demonstrated that their faith was more than just a religious habit, but something that affects how they live and what they value.

Today, my cousin sent me a link to this article from yesterday's Kansas City Star about former KU basketball star Wayne Simien. (Considering my cousin and his family are K State people, it is especially meaningful!)

The common thread? That faith in Christ is a life-changing decision that affects how you live and how you see the world. Unfortunately, there are many who profess a faith in Jesus whose lives give no evidence of it. Nothing has changed in their lifestyle or language, in their relationships or their values. Because of that, many look skeptically on them, the faith they profess, and the God they claim to follow.

This isn't a new problem. Here are words written by the Apostle Paul almost 2,000 years ago:

"But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, ... lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power." II Timothy 3:1-5

"They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him." Titus 1:16

It is always encouraging to see lives that go beyond a form of religion and are living out the faith they profess. But the question is: Do you have a faith that is influencing the way that you live and the things you value or do you just have form of godliness with no power? One is transforming and life-giving. The other is just deceiving and dangerous.