Groaning with Hope

I recently preached a message on Sunday morning from Romans 8:18-25 about how all creation groans  under the curse (including Christians).  The message was entitled Groaning with Hope.  I often feel that I have only skimmed the surface of deep truths as I leave the pulpit.  This is certainly the case any time preaching in Romans.  

Here are a few summary thoughts as well as a book recommendation for your continued meditation: Continue reading

How Do You Please God?

How do you please God? It is often times easy to see the difference between irreligion and the Gospel, but what is most dangerous (for me, at least) is the difference between religion and the Gospel.

HT: Matthew Hoskinson

A God Who Delights to Make Wrong Things Right

“We serve a God who delights to make wrong things right.”  The words from Dr. Dan Davey’s message have been ringing in my ears this week.  They rang in my ears as I stood with the Emr family and prayed that God would heal little infant, Vera.  I heard them again as I prayed for the Stolvoort family as they hope in God while battling the daily effects of cancer.  This truth rang out again as I received an email in which one Christian brother, in an open letter, was slandering another.  The words echoed again when I watched my children struggle to obey even the slightest directive outside the realm of their personal desires.  I said the words to myself this morning after I awoke to my first selfish thought.  “We serve a God who delights to make wrong things right.”

Before the beginning there was God.

No man had ever sinned against him.  No man had ever doubted whether he was worthy of worship, honor and glory.  No man had ever rebelled against him.  No man had ever destroyed anything he made or possessed.  No man had ever hurt anyone that he loved. 

And yet, the possibility existed that he could make mankind who would do all of those things and far worse.  For if he created them he knew they would spit in his face, mock his lordship, torture him beyond recognition, and even murder him if given the chance. 

After man there was sin and suffering.

If he created a being with a freewill he could foresee they would reject the perfection created for them bringing sin death and suffering into their perfect world. 

He could foresee that they would eventually need to be made right, and it would cost him greatly.  If he created them and loved them, (in order to remain God), he would have to send Jesus to become like them, and fix all their disobedience with obedience.  An obedience that would lead Him even to pay the eternal penalty of their sins on the cross. 

Why did he create man?

Why did he do it?  Why did he create man knowing that they would hate him?  Why make those who would need to be made right again?  That is part of the mystery of the glorious gospel.  But we do have at least a glimpse into the answer in the very message of the Bible.  One core truth that is abundantly evident in Scripture from cover to cover is:  God delights to make wrong things right. 

God delights in making wrong things right.

The gospel assures us that God will make every effect of sin right.  There will be a day when he will wipe away all tears.  Those who hope in him will stand before him in a glorified perfect body (Job 19).  There will be perfect unity among mankind  as all nations stand united in him.  The earth and heaven will be restored and made right.    There will no longer be a struggle with sin.  There will be no more suffering, for in his suffering he ended suffering.  This is at the core of the message of the Bible.  We serve a God who delights to make wrong things right!

Par is Not Perfection: Born to LIVE as well as Die

At the Christmas season we often hear the phrase “Born to Die.”  While this is certainly an accurate statement there are other glorious gospel truths that complete the story.  Christ was also born to live for us. Let’s consider three gospel thoughts  (original by Dave Harvey):  par is not perfection, perfection for us, and the divine swap. Continue reading

God’s Love and Justice: A Point of Tension or Perfect Unity?

Millard J. Erickson gives some great insight into the misunderstanding that God’s love and God’s justice are in some way at odds with one another.  Here are a few of his ideas distilled:

The idea that this tension exists results from defining these two separately.  It is derived from outside sources, and is not a biblical teaching.  

God is a unified being whose personality is a harmonious whole.  His attributes should therefore be defined in the light of one another.  Thus, justice is loving justice and love is just love.  Therefore, love is not fully understood unless it is seen as including justice.   If love does not include justice, it is mere sentimentality. 

 The idea that love is simply granting what one desires is not biblical.  Giving someone what would make him or her comfortable for the moment isn’t always the loving thing to do.  This would be an emotional reaction to a situation.  Love is much wider in scope. 

 “Justice is simply love distributed” – Joseph Fletcher.  Justice means that love must always be shown.  It is love for all one’s neighbors presently and in the future.  It is a loving concern for the welfare of all humanity, a passion for doing what is right by your neighbor. 

 ATONEMENT = God’s love and justice in perfect unity.  At the cross justice and love are not woven they are one.   Jesus through righteousness provides for both the demands of God’s justice and the desire of God’s love (that man be restored to fellowship with Him). 

God is both just and loving and has Himself given what He demands.

Opposing Views of God

I heard part of an interview on NPR last Friday with Rabbi Harold Kushner, in which he challenges the Biblical view of God that has been preached from our pulpit through the life of Joseph and the life of Moses.  Kushner rejects the idea of an omnipotent God, because it seems to conflict with His kindness and love.  Kushner’s experience with losing a son prompted him to write Why Bad Things Happen to Good People, in which he rejects an understanding of God that holds Him to be both omnipotent and good. Continue reading

Using Stories to Teach Our Children

King Without a ShadowHave you read any good stories lately?  Good stories make wholesome impressions on the mind.  They help shape our thinking.  The best of books even impress and satisfy the soul.  I don’t think I’ll ever forget reading Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens.  The final words of the book made a lasting impression on my mind; the character of Sydney Carton says this:  “It is a far, far better thing I do than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.”

But the reason for this post is to recommend another excellent book for parents to read to their children. Continue reading