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Commentary: Why are natural disasters called an act of God?

I find it fascinating that we call natural disasters, such as earthquakes or tsunamis, "acts of God." This week we witnessed the horrific scenes from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where 17 people died after a gunman opened fire. I consider that an "act of satan."

Just so you know, I will never capitalize satan. I believe he is a propagator of deception, a perverter of life, a proponent of death, the king of darkness, the cause of separation, and an enemy of every human soul. While I am not so naïve to overlook him or diminish his attacks on my life and those I love, I will never show him enough respect to capitalize his name, even though my word processor tries to correct what is perceived as a spelling mistake.

Today I would love to counteract darkness by sharing with you some acts of God: Holding my son for the very first time when he was 24 hours old, knowing he was not born in my wife's body but born in our hearts. Adoption is the most beautiful act of God I have ever experienced.

Watching my wife battle through difficult days with bold faith and determined practical love in action. Watching the courage and indomitable spirit my mom showed as a single mom raising two preschool children. Receiving early Sunday morning phone calls from my uncle Mel in Florida, who would wake up at 5 a.m. and start praying for me and our Sunday services at Prairie Heights. Watching my Aunt Marion cry as she talked about family members not walking with the Lord. She showed me a small picture of the passion and sorrow God has if we are living apart from him. Watching my Aunt Lil cry after we visited the cemetery and she opened up about the pain and difficulties some of our family members endured. She showed me God's heart of love and empathy. Watching parents love and care for special needs children of all ages. Seeing my Aunt Janie's determination as she has battled health issues throughout her life. Watching the strength and authenticity of my mother-in-law with her recent journey through grief, losing her husband and then one of her sons within nine months. These are all inspirational acts of God that I celebrate today!

Five years ago our family was in Bismarck-Mandan on vacation. We were at Sertoma Park when I felt an unusual sorrow and burden for the people of Bismarck-Mandan who are living apart from Christ and a church family. I realized, "I have to do something to help." I knew I wasn't supposed to move there and start a new church, but I needed to help make that happen. Well, two years ago Bismarck Prairie Heights started and today I am so blessed to speak there for the first time. The emotions and gratitude for this miraculous "act of God" will be palpable. What "acts of God" do you recognize and celebrate today? What "acts of God" have you previously overlooked? Our focus determines our faith.

God bless you!

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