Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Is God Loving?

I was considering some of the questions that many of us have heard:

“If God is loving, how could He send anyone to hell?”
“If God is good, how can He let children suffer from abuse, disease and starvation?”
“If God is righteous, how can He allow so many bad things to happen?”

On the surface, all of these questions sound reasonable to us. We may struggle to answer them, as believers. They may even be our questions.

Well, here is a mind-bender for us all. We are asking the wrong questions.

The Bible says in 1 John 4:8: “God is love.”

And in the 100th Psalm, David says:

For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

In Psalm 119:75, the writer has an interesting frame of reference for his afflictions:

I know, O LORD, that your laws are righteous, and in faithfulness you have afflicted me.

Here it is, then: The Bible says God is love, God is good and God is righteous, therefore He is. This means that instead of comparing God to our ideas of what is good and righteous and loving, we should study the actions of God to learn what is truly good and righteous and loving.

Let me illustrate it this way:

If you say that something is “gaudy”, because you think “gaudy” means “big and attractive,” then you may not understand why someone else becomes offended by you calling their wedding ring, “gaudy”. They think “gaudy” means “unnecessarily big and overdone – too showy.” You have two different ideas of what a word means, so where do you go to solve the issue? How do you come to an agreement as to what is “gaudy”?

You would go to the dictionary and find out how the word “gaudy” is defined.

We think we know what “love” means, but God defines “love” for us. If He does it or says it, that is the definition of “love”.

So we can’t say, “If God is loving, how can He do this or that?” We have to say, “Since God has done this, it was the loving thing to do, because God is love.”

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Miss California is...

Something has to be said about Carrie Prejean, the runner up to Miss America in this year's amazingly brutal competition.

Perez Hilton in an interview with Matt Lauer on MSNBC made some of the most illogical statements I have ever heard...see the interview here:

Perez specifically said that he wished she would have kept her political and religious views out of the competition. WHAT?! Who asked the political question? Who set the agenda here? Hilton asked the question! Carrie did not walk out on the stage with a sandwich board on that said, "I hate gay marriage!" She did not actively oppose or organize any kind of protest against gay marriage.

Hilton also said he wouldn't want her taking about Jesus in the pageant as an example of why he thought her answer was poor. But what if she was asked, "What is you relationship with Jesus like?" How does she then not talk about Jesus?

She was Miss California, by the way, Perez. She speaks for California, who just voted for the ban on gay marriage. She spoke for the people of her state as much as she did her own "religious" or "political" views. She agrees with the majority of Californians - she represented California exactly as they voted.

Even if you support gay marriage, the tolerance mantra of the day should say that Carrie won this competition in every category. The political input came from judges with an agenda, not from Carrie Prejean! She lost because Perez Hilton came face to face with a person of integrity and he didn't like an opposing view to his own.

Jesus said to his own brothers in John 7:7:

"The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil."

and in John 15:18, Jesus tells us:

"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first."

What we see in Perez Hilton is this hatred the world has for Jesus on display in a major way in the most unexpected place - A Miss America competition. Carrie, you have become the whipping girl for the gay rights movement - A movement that just showed its absolute hatred of Christians in the public arena; a movement that is blogging its hatred for Christians and Christianity all over the internet, led by Perez Hilton; a movement that calls Christians hypocrites and haters.

Miley Cyrus proposed to speak for Jesus in her blog, speaking of His love for everyone and His desire that everyone be happy. I know she means well, but read the whole Bible. God didn't write a bumper sticker, He wrote a thick, revealing book to show Himself and His holiness to the world. He gave us His Holy Spirit to defeat sin in our lives. Yes, He loves the whole world, so much that He died for us all, but He rose from the dead, defeating the power of sin and death that the devil held over us all.

Perez - and all who think like Perez - let me say that Jesus loves you, too. So much that He would die to set you free from sin. But He says that what you are doing is evil. He is God, the Creator of everything, and He has the right to make that call.

Watch the interview again. Never once does Carrie call Perez any bad names. She doesn't attack his character. She stands up for her right to say what she believes, she admits that she knew it probably cost her the pageant to say these things, but she is finding God's hand at work in it all, and moving forward to impact the world with the love of Jesus that has set her free. She is completely classy, and is not responding in anger.

Perez is spewing hatred for her and all Christians. He is calling her stupid, and a b***ch. He is blasting her for being unprepared and trying to portray her as completely incompetent and inept.

Tell me...which one has the "phobia"?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Four-Wheeling Theology

Have you ever been off-road in a Four-wheel-drive? "Mudding" in a Jeep can make a mess of your vehicle. The spray of mud thrown up from your tires, splashing through holes filled with filthy water - and all through this you run your windshield wipers non-stop, trying to at least get a glimpse every once in a while of where you are going and what you might run into along the way.

Life is like this in some ways. You are trying to do what is right, perhaps trying to follow the Lord as He leads you, but the world around you is filthy, and the junk in life is splashing all over you, making it hard to see what is right. Much like your windshield, you need something to wash the mud away so you can see where you are going and be aware of any obstacles in your way.

The Bible is the tool we were given by God to clear the windshield of our lives. As the philosophies and lies of the world muddy up your views of God and of life, you need to go back to His word often and allow Him to wash the mud away from your view so that you can see things the way God does. God's vision is always clear, because sin cannot blind Him. We, on the other hand, can be, and often are, blinded by the sin around us, until we don't know what is right or wrong, anymore. Our windshield is covered with the dirt thrown at us by the world, and sometimes by our own choices splashing the mud up and getting it all over us.

How long has it been since you ran the windshield wipers to clear your windshield? You wouldn't go "mudding" without cleaning your windshield consistently, or you would crash. How long until you do this in life? Read the Bible at least once every day! You'll be amazed how much easier it is to see.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Worthy of the Gospel?

"Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved--and that by God. For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have." - Philippians 1:27-30

Standing firm in one spirit
Contending for the faith
Unafraid of opposition

These things are given as the result of conducting ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. As we look at our church(es), we can use these as a method of self-evaluation. Are we existing, keeping the "company" afloat, or are we worthy of the gospel of Christ - Unified, Contending, Unafraid?

Too often, we let the opposition get the upper hand by bowing to their philosophies. "Science has shown...", "New historical evidence indicates...", "Most scholars agree..."; these are the opening lines of sentences that we are less and less willing to go against in contending for the faith. We are afraid of looking irrational or unintelligent.

In science, often all evidence is viewed through a scope of atheistic presuppositions. Is this any less a "faith-based theory" than our faith in God? When these scientists are starting from the premise that there is no God, aren't they starting with a "faith statement"? So, when they think they have "proved scripture wrong", their proof is faulty because they are starting from a faulty foundation. Much of what is actually proven true in science points to the truth that there is a God who created all things rather than proving there is no God, but many "scientists" choose not to see it.

What do you read that helps you "contend for the faith" alongside your brothers and sisters in Christ? Let me take this moment to recommend that you visit the "Answers in Genesis" website and give them some thought. These, too, are scientists, but they start from the premise that scripture is true, and show how science can be used to prove it. They have some thought-provoking and even faith-strengthening materials available. I am not in any way sponsored by them or even connected to them. I just appreciate them. You may want to visit their "Creation Museum" in the Cincinnati, OH, area.

Let's not give in to fear of confidently preaching the word; standing up for God in the power of His Spirit without apology. Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world.