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Three lessons from the Oklahoma quakes

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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An eathquake late Saturday night caused extensive damage to the towers (turrets) atop Benedictine Hall, the most prominent structure on the campus of St. Gregory's University in Shawnee (Credit: The Oklahoman/Jim Beckel)

“We have not a clue.”  That’s how Austin Holland, a research seismologist with the Oklahoma Geological Survey, explained the earthquakes that shook his state over the weekend.  At least 23 quakes struck Oklahoma, beginning early Saturday morning and continuing intermittently through Sunday.  Since 2009, the state has experienced 10 times more earthquakes than normal.  Seismologists don’t know if this is part of a natural cycle or something more ominous.

It’s a helpless feeling to face a threat you can’t prevent.  Sometimes the enemy is the weather, such as the floods that have claimed more than 500 lives in Thailand.  Advancing pools of water are now threatening Bangkok’s subway system.  Ironically, they are also surrounding the emergency headquarters set up to deal with the crisis.

Sometimes it’s politics, such as the ongoing turmoil residents of Greece are experiencing.  This morning’s Wall Street Journal reports that Prime Minister George Papandreou will step down to make way for a new prime minister under a national unity government.  Whether this will change anything in Europe’s ongoing debt negotiations remains to be seen.

Sometimes it’s disease, such as the bladder cancer Andy Williams is battling.  The 83-year-old singer announced his illness yesterday, along with plans to return to performing in 2012.

What about tomorrow most worries you today?  How can we think biblically about our fears for the future?

First, know that God knows your burden and wants to help: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

Second, choose not to worry about the future: “Do not worry about your life” (Luke 12:22).  Instead, name your fears and give them specifically and intentionally to God.  Pray about them until you experience his peace: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

Third, claim his help and hope: “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.  What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6).  As you give your fears to your Father, you will be able to say with King David, “I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4).

Your Father wants you to “put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore” (Psalm 131:3).  Where will you begin this morning?