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Recognizing God’s Care for an Unsettled World: Tim Muehlhoff

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
November 15, 2022 3:00 am

Recognizing God’s Care for an Unsettled World: Tim Muehlhoff

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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November 15, 2022 3:00 am

Could God be working in ways we don't recognize? On FamilyLife Today, Dave and Ann Wilson host author Tim Muehlhoff--who pries open our eyes to pick up on how God's present and acting powerfully around us.

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One of my favorite moments of the last, what, 18 months, maybe it was two years ago, I don't remember. Do you know what I'm going to say?

No. It was sitting in my middle son Austin and Kendall's office in their home with their four kids, two of them foster kids. And because it was during a pandemic, this meeting was over Zoom with a judge in a courtroom to adopt one of their foster children.

One of their foster children. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Ann Wilson. And I'm Dave Wilson, and you can find us at or on our Family Life app. This is Family Life Today.

Why did you like it so much? First of all, I thought this is going to be so bad because it's on Zoom. We're supposed to be in a courtroom. Why are we sitting in this little room in his house?

But, you know, holding in their other little guy right or crawling around on us, the judge and other people on the on the screen. But watching my son adopt a boy whose life would be traumatic if he didn't intervene was such a picture of God's grace in our life. That's what I thought. And his adoption of us. Right.

Yeah. Didn't you feel the same thing? Yeah, I get teary. You're teary right now thinking about it. I'm teary recalling it because that is what God does to us, but also knowing his life will be completely different being raised with Austin and Kendall. And it's just this beautiful picture because the judge asked, do you understand that he is now your son and you will never get rid of this son?

She was so funny, but she was so great. And hearing Austin and Kendall, they're crying during the whole thing. It reminded me of their marriage ceremony, of making a vow.

They're saying yes. Well, it was just one of those moments which I feel like I miss most of the time. But in that moment, God gave me eyes to see him at work. And I just quoted the title of a really good book by the author, Tim Muehlhoff, who's sitting in our studio today. Tim, welcome back. Oh, it's great to be back with you guys.

Thanks for having me. Yeah. And, you know, when I got your manuscript, Eyes to See, I was like, I think I know this title.

I didn't connect it immediately to C.S. Lewis. But, you know, God giving us eyes to see his work in the little because in some ways this was such a little simple thing. But as I was a God gave me eyes to be able to go, this is not little. You mean this adoption of Holden?

Yeah. It was just that miraculous. I was sitting in a holy place and I feel like so often I miss those moments because they are so simple and they're so everyday.

And we're taking for granted we're doing this on a computer and we're all over the country watching and being able to observe by this miraculous, it's kind of miraculous. So, Tim, talk about Eyes to See. You know, you decided, man, I've got to write and help people have that kind of lens to see life. Why?

Because I get disappointed like other people that I want to see God act in more overt ways. So in the book, I share a joke. You've all heard this joke, but I'll tell it very quickly for your listeners. A man gets worried that there's going to be a flash flood and he goes, I'm fine. God's going to save me. Well, now the floodwaters start to rise and he's looking at the second story of his house and a boat goes by and they say, hey, jump in the boat, we'll save you. He goes, no, I'm good. God's got me. Now the floodwaters he even hires on the roof and a FEMA helicopter comes by, they drop down the ladder, they say, jump on the ladder. He goes, no, I'm good.

God's got me. Well, he drowns. He stands before God and he's mad. And God goes, what do you want?

I sent you a radio message, a boat and a helicopter. Well, to me, it was perfect for the book because what did he expect? And we know, I mean, you guys are experts at this. Expectations determine happiness. I mean, expectations of a marriage, a job, a church. And so what are expectations of God? If you were to ask that man on the roof, what were your expectations? Well, that God would what? A hand would come down to lift him up or winds would blow in such a way that the floodwaters would move away from the house? So what was so fun about writing the book is, do you know the story of how a helicopter was created?

No. By a man named Sikorsky. So as a boy, 11-year-old boy, he has these dreams of a flying boat that would go straight down, pick people up and go straight up in the air. And he cannot get away from this dream. So he keeps drawing it.

He eventually becomes an engineer. Then in the 1930s, he formed Sikorsky Air Corps and the first fully functioning helicopter. And it was created to save people. To this day, if you save a person in a Sikorsky helicopter, you get a pin that is revered within the industry and over. I mean, we're talking thousands and thousands and thousands of people have been saved in Sikorsky helicopters.

Well, he believed that dream came from God. So think about it. You could have said to the man on the roof, do you not understand what it took for God to make a helicopter? Get in the helicopter. This is God reacting.

But I get that. I get how cool it would be to say I survived a flood. How did you guys survive? Well, God rescued me. How did he do that? He lifted me in the air above the flood waters and we actually had video evidence of it on a cell phone. Wouldn't you want that?

Well, what we think is, and I've been in this situation when I've had my sister with sick and I thought, God, if you heal her, you will get the glory. And we all think that because he would. And so we're so disappointed when he doesn't do it like that. When he doesn't do it. And I don't want to minimize. He can. That disappointment. Yeah.

I don't want to minimize that he can do it. Although, let me just say this. Another thing I put in the book is I'm a migraine sufferer. And I have prayed that God would take away my migraines. Actually, flying out here, I had to take two Maxalt, which is the medication I take. So I really want God to take away my migraines supernaturally.

It'd be awesome. But he hasn't done that. Well, this medication that I take works. But how cool would it be if he just healed me of migraines? Well, I can either become a little bit bitter.

And then let me add insult to injury. I have a really good friend of mine who had autoimmune problems and was miraculously healed of these autoimmune problems. And I'm like, take away the migraine.

So I either can become a little bit resentful towards God or I can step back and start to do my eyes to see list. I have a very talented neurologist. I have this medication that works. I stumble across a homeopathic website that talks about the shower routine. That when you have a migraine, you walk in the shower, you alternate hot and cold water. It is amazing. Really?

Yes. And it won't necessarily take away a full-blown migraine, but it will take away a headache. Because you can only take medication so much in a month. So I'm either going to become angry at God. Why didn't you answer my prayer in the exact way that I wanted you to answer it? Or I'm going to step back and say every good gift is from God. And my talented neurologist, my medication, certain practices I can do, I'm going to choose to praise him for those things. Now, here's the question. How do you get there?

Because it's so easy to live in the, especially when a friend or somebody you know gets the miraculous healing and you don't. And it could be exactly the same thing. It could be migraines. You don't. You can make your list.

I've made the list. And then, you know, a day later, I'm like pounding the table, like, come on. Or usually you can think I'm not as spiritual as that person. Maybe God doesn't love me as much. It sounds like you've been able to just resolve it, though.

Is that true? Well, let me just say this. I've been suffering with migraines for at least 20 years. I gave a very raw sermon at my church called James on a Migraine. I was scheduled to preach, and the previous day I had a blistering migraine. So with this medication, you can take it, but then you have to wait two hours to take the second dose.

So it didn't work. And so for two hours, I'm sitting in the dark. And again, listeners who have migraines know exactly what I'm talking about. I get them, too.

Right? Well, I'm preaching the next day on James. Consider it pure joy when you encounter various trials. So I'm sitting there working on this sermon with a migraine. And it was one of the most raw sermons I've ever given where I say there's part of me that's angry that God didn't answer my prayer that day in the dark.

Take it away. But the joy isn't happiness. See, that's the mistake we'd make with that passage. Happiness is the American way of thinking about joy. Joy is more of a maturing process. Aristotle used this kind of with his concept of eudaimonia. It's what matures you, he considered happiness.

Far different from the American version. So as I'm sitting there, I'm wrestling with the Holy Spirit in the dark and the Holy Spirit saying, but how has this matured you, the migraines? And I can think of ways that it's matured me. My view of God, my ability to empathize with other people. So, Dave, I don't want your listeners to think, what a godly man.

It took me 20 years to get to the point to write Eyes to See. It's my wrestling with God of how I can see him amidst the disappointment of not seeing the big, overt miracle. And we know, theologically, common grace is just as much as God acting as the parting of the Red Sea. Theologians absolutely agree on that. God's good gifts are all his good gifts. So the title comes from, remember the cosmonaut went up in space, said, I looked around, I didn't see God. Lewis, in a letter to his nephew, said, send a saint up in the space and he'll see God everywhere just like he sees him everywhere on earth. But that's the cultivation of the seeing eye.

You have to step back and say, what am I thankful for? And I teach self-defense. In my chapter on violence, think of it, self-defense systems popped up all across the world when there was no communication between these different systems. So jujitsu, judo, karate, Muay Thai boxing, because God knew you're going to have to defend yourself in a violent world. April is sexual assault awareness month.

Every 64 seconds in the United States, a woman is sexually assaulted. So I have a black belt in Kung Fu. It's a virtuous system. It's never to be used as the aggressor. And by the way, Wen Chun Kung Fu is, I tell the story in the book, it's named after a peasant girl who was being bothered by a chieftain, a warlord who wanted to marry her. And she had to learn at 15 how to protect herself. So a Buddhist nun taught her a skimmed down version of Kung Fu, was so impressed with this girl, she named the whole system after her.

Wen Chun Kung Fu is now practiced by millions across the world. It's a defensive system. So you see, God didn't leave us alone. So when I'm at these domestic violence centers in Orange County, I'm telling women, I get why you would ask the question, where's God in my abuse? And I don't have an answer for that.

I just don't. But you're at a center being run by a woman who was abused, and now she's helping you with the after effects. And I think that's God's common grace. But Dave, it goes back to the question. So in that moment, when I was drowning in the flood waters, you were watching me, God, right? And the answer is yes. You had the power to supernaturally lift me up.

Yes. And then here's where I think the psalmist jump in. And that day, there was no rowboat.

There was no helicopter. And I drowned. And all I can say to the listeners is the church has always wrestled with this. Jesus suffered.

His disciples, his main disciples were all martyred. And I guess the only thing I can say is Jesus never promised you you'd be exempt from this. Like maybe we put that expectation on God, but Jesus himself never said. No, he said, I'm telling you right now, this gospel is going to divide families. I'm saying you will be hated in my name.

Prepare for these difficulties. So maybe we've kind of shifted the Christian faith to fit our expectations, but we need to allow Jesus to define it as he sees fit. And he never promised we'd be exempt from pain. He promised I will always be with you in your pain. And ultimately in heaven, he's going to rectify everything.

Revelation 21, such a beautiful chapter that he will rectify everything, but we're not there yet. Yeah. And yet, you know, as I listen to you, I'm thinking this is one of the biggest issues that is causing our children to walk away. I mean, you and I grew up in a day where if there's pain and suffering in the world, we'd hear about it on the news. We'd maybe read about it in a paper. But now it's in front of us and especially our kids every second on a cell phone, on the internet. So we see more of the pain. We see bombs in Ukraine where before we heard about them in Vietnam.

Now we actually literally see them. And so we see all this evil and we like, you know, I think our kids are saying, if that's who God is and he doesn't stop this, I'm out rather than I'm going to make a list of common grace blessings that I can still believe in. And Tim, you're a professor at Biola University. You deal with these kids.

These kids are talking to you. Yep. Have you heard of the Netflix series, The Social Dilemma? Yes. Okay. Oh, The Social Dilemma. Oh, yeah. Yeah. We watched it.

It needs to be watched. And what I took away from that is I'm a technological immigrant. I can remember what it was like when we didn't have the internet.

We didn't have cell phones that can launch missiles, right? I know what that life is like, but I teach natives that this is DNA. And what The Social Dilemma really did a nice job highlighting was they are 24-7 hooked into this virtual world of social media. They're not separating themselves from it. So it constantly weighs on them. So I do think they get a skewed, we call this mean world syndrome, that they actually get a skewed view of the world because now it's all pandemic, all Ukraine, all sex trafficking, all this.

And they don't realize the beauty of the world. Like it's both for sure. So, Dave, going back to your comment, it's like I get a constant reminder every single day that God is inactive in the world.

I mean, 24-7. So we need to counteract that with the common grace stuff, that even the technology by which you're getting the news is common grace for sure. Now, we can misuse it. And I think that is being misused today.

We see depression rates through the roof. So we're going to have to counteract this. But our students, your children, feel the weight of it in a way.

You're right, Dave, our generation, we could get away from it a little bit. And we weren't aware of all of it today. They're aware of all of it in crushing ways. I mean, you can watch CNN for the entire day and you would think the world's falling apart. It's not falling apart. But we need to remind ourselves of the good thing God is doing constantly. The big miracles as well as the small things that he's doing 24-7.

You know, it's interesting when you say that. I'm thinking, I can't remember his name, the actor that plays Jim on The Office. I can't remember his name.

We should get that. But, you know, during the pandemic, remember what he did? Every Sunday night, he did that little broadcast, which was Common Grace. Here's all the good that's happening in the world right now when it seems like it's all bad. It was great. And it blew up because people were like, I need eyes to see something good going on.

So walk us back to the conversation we would have in our dinner tables with our families, you know, to help our families see Common Grace, God's good gifts, in the middle of all the evil. Yeah, so let's take a look at the issue of homelessness. It's really pronounced in California. We have Skid Row, one of the largest accumulations of the homeless population in the entire world, is right there in Skid Row. Well, so is the Dream Center, right?

It is right there in the heart of Skid Row. And it is this remarkable group of committed individuals, Christians, non-Christians. And what they do is they have a plan for helping the homeless. And you can go and volunteer. You can sign up for one evening. You can sign up for a weekend.

It's amazing work that they do. So on one hand, you have a homeless situation. And again, it's complex, very complicated why homelessness exists. So let's set that aside for a second. The Dream Center just steps in. And they just say, we're here to help you spiritually, and we're here to help you physically. Well, that to me is all Common Grace. And I love the fact that Christians and non-Christians volunteer for the Dream Center. See, the beautiful thing about Common Grace, and I quote Wayne Grudem, one of our top systematic theologians, he said, it is entirely possible that non-Christians get more Common Grace than Christians.

In other words, your non-Christian architect might be more studied, more dedicated, better skilled than a Christian architect. So Common Grace is bestowed on everybody, lavished on the entire world, because God wants to 24-7 give us all of these inventions and discoveries. So my favorite one is like penicillin. So you get a sloppy lab tech who goes off on a two-week vacation and doesn't clean his petri dishes. Comes back, he's annoyed because fungus has grown on some of the petri dishes, but not all of them. And some, it only grew on half of the petri dish.

That's really weird. Why wouldn't it grow on the entire petri dish while he does this really interesting study and then writes obscure paper about it and it gets buried. Now, go all the way to World War II, British soldiers are dying in the bloody battlefields of World War II because of disease. And this one guy, a medical researcher, is tasked with, you need to save our soldiers. He goes to the archives, he finds this obscure paper and goes, oh my goodness, this is penicillin. But God discovered penicillin and it saved to this day millions of lives. We cannot imagine life without penicillin.

We'd be in the Dark Ages. So I read a book on medical histories written by a non-Christian who says literally about penicillin, the biggest serendipitous mistake ever done. See, he's not attributing it to God, but we know the rest of the story. We know that's absolutely from God. So that's, I think, is one way God works is he gives us these clues and he partners with us and we get penicillin that we can't imagine life without.

I'm thinking of the dinner table. And like stories like that are remarkable. And then to attribute it to God. And as you've been talking about our list and what's been going through my mind is, it's almost like we create this neurological pathway, I'm assuming, if we're always going to the negative. We're seeing this is the pain in the world.

This is the negative. And there's enough going on in the world. We can all live there and be there. But I'm also thinking, can we help train our little kids in the home to see God's common grace? Like, how would we do that? So happiness has become a huge academic topic.

It's all the rage getting funded by the United States government. So there's a man named Sean Aker who wrote a book called The Happiness Advantage, where he says, if you just take five positives a day, notice five positives and write them down and do it for a week. How long do you think the after effects of that would last? If we were to take a look at the hypothalamus, which tends to register powerful emotions. By the way, I share this at domestic violence groups, because you can understand how after enduring that kind of abuse, your perspective would be like, my life rightfully is just crushingly difficult.

And we would never minimize that in a million years. But in the midst of that, can you think of five positives? And so I actually do this with the women. And sometimes you need friends to give you the five because you're just, I mean, you're sitting in such pain, I can't think of five.

So it's interesting in these groups that women will come along and say, oh, you've got three, let me give you two more. That's true about you. You do that for a week. How long do you think would be the positive effects of just doing it for a week?

Five positives a day, you write them down. I'm going to say another half week. Half week. I would say a half a day.

A half a day. Are we pessimists, Tim? We're pessimists.

I'm like, family life today needs a cup of happiness. Six months. Six months?

Come on. Six months. What do you mean six months? So he can do this. He can do an MRI and register.

And I want to butcher the science. He can register the effects that it's had particularly on your hypothalamus. Six months. So guess what? Don't do it for a week. What if you did that for six months?

Every day, sit down and say, I'm going to be thankful for five things. Remember our list? We did it in the previous one?

Yes. We did the material. For sure that's important. And then we did the big dramatic, which that's important. But then we did the spiritual. So to sit down every day and say, so let's do mine yesterday. I had to take two migraine medications on a plane. You do not want to get a migraine on a plane. But listen, I'm on a plane with my wife coming to Orlando to be on family life today.

We used to be on staff with Campus Crusade for almost 30 years. Noreen's off with one of her best friends right now. Tonight I get to go and have dinner with my in-laws who are just wonderful people.

I have a laptop computer. There was something I forgot to do that today I got a chance to do it in time not to be late via technology. So again, that's five. And you just go, you know, Lord, I'm bummed about the migraine. I will acknowledge that, but life is still, I can see still some of the positives. And again, that's the beauty of what Shrine Acre is saying is you don't deny the negative.

That'd be supremely unhealthy. But can you train your brain to see the positive first and then recognize the negative? I think today in the pandemic, we flipped it. We see the negative first and then maybe we go, but Acre believes you can actually switch that and go to the positive first. And I have a whole thing in the book about how God's constructed our brain, how he's given us an autoimmune system. So even people who don't have access to the fine medical care that we have in this country, God's given them a pretty robust immune system that are like these Marines inside your body that go to disease, pain, all those different kind of things.

It's pretty cool to see the body operate. Well, that'd be a great family table assignment, you know, practice. Like, let's do this as a family. Hey, where'd you see God work today? You know, and you train your kids. And I'm telling you what, if you've got adult kids, you could do it on the phone with adult kids. Hey, how you doing? I want to hear three great things that happened today in your life or this week and help them start thinking the positive. I think that the scientific evidence with that is amazing.

Like six months. What's going through my head is the anxiety, the depression that we're all facing and our kids are facing that could really help. And again, you don't deny the bad.

No. It's literally there's the glass half full, half empty, but you can train your brain to see it's half full. And I'm not going to deny the emptiness. And I love it.

What a great family discipline. Hey, I came up with that idea, not Ann. Oh, hey, Dave and Ann. I thought I thought of it too.

I'm just kidding. You're listening to Dave and Ann Wilson with Tim Muehlhoff on Family Life Today. We'll hear how Dave and quite frankly, all of us can struggle to see the good in every situation in just a minute. But first, Tim's book is called Eyes to See, Recognizing God's Common Grace in an Unsettled World. I was thinking about this the other day. Modern medicine is one of those things.

If I have a headache and I decide to take acetaminophen or ibuprofen, it eliminates my headache. And that is a common grace that I often overlook. I'm so thankful for Tim pointing out certain things like this that we just don't see all the time. Well, his book will highlight a number of different things, and we want to send you a copy as our thanks. When you give to help more families hear life-giving conversations just like the one you're hearing today.

You can partner financially online at or by calling 800-358-6329. That's 800, F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. OK, now back to Dave and Ann. So who's better at seeing the good in every situation? Is it Ann or is it Dave? Ann does this every week in our family. You are a positive, life-speaking, eyes to see the good common grace of God. Tomorrow on Family Life Today, Dave and Ann Wilson are back in the studio talking with Tim Muehlhoff about how to engage non-Christians with modern works of art so they can see God working in their lives too. That's tomorrow. On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a production of Family Life, a crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-17 15:29:57 / 2022-11-17 15:41:46 / 12

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