Every once in a while, someone will make the news by declaring that some event is God’s judgment on, well, fill in the blank. The immediate reaction in the media is outrage, often well deserved. Unfortunately, such dustups obscure an important fact: God’s judgment must come upon America. Let me approach the subject with three stories that, at first, will seem wholly unrelated.
Tom, a friend of mine, once told me about the first car he ever owned. To make a long story short, he never thought to change the oil. Of course he never read the owner’s manual.… Read the rest
Every society wants justice. That’s every society throughout the world beginning in prehistory. Take away superficial differences, and it appears that every society has similar views of what justice means. We’ll look at a passage from Exodus that would probably not be controversial anywhere.
Justice is hard to get when thugs take over. See the latest headlines from Syria. But I’ll bet even Assad’s courts have dispensed justice whenever it has not been against the regime’s interests to do so.
On the other hand, it doesn’t take an evil government to pervert justice. Ordinary human nature can do quite nicely at that even with the best of governments.… Read the rest
Surely everyone knows that Judas, one of the Twelve, accepted 30 pieces of silver from the temple treasury to betray Jesus. He attended the Last Supper with the rest, left early, and led a large armed group to the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus was arrested. After Jesus was sentenced to death, Judas threw the money back at the priests and committed suicide.
For centuries, many in the church have regarded Judas simply as the most despicable traitor in history. Even today, some writers seem to assume that he was a hypocrite who intended to betray Jesus from the start,
Do people have free will, or are their choices somehow determined? Yes.
Each of us has only one basic choice: will we trust and obey God, or will we not? Trusting God is called faith. Failing to trust God is called sin. Rejection of God entirely is called unrighteousness. Everyone, consciously or not, makes that choice–not once, not even daily, but continuously. Probably no one makes the same choice every time it is presented. Probably our conscious, deliberate choices and our unconscious choices do not consistently coincide. But we all make the choice for or against God one way or another all the time.… Read the rest
The oddest thing about Jesus’ remark? No one was offended!
If you, then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, now much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!–Matthew 7:11, NKJV
Imagine! In a very offhand way, Jesus told everyone who had gathered to listen to him that they were evil! Who would dare suggest such a thing to anyone today? That would even offend inmates in a maximum security prison.
Mass media did not yet exist in Jesus’ day, but today the leading outlets in print, broadcast, and online media seem to love nothing more than to hear of someone’s gaffe and jump on it.… Read the rest
No one goes looking for hard times to go through, but no one escapes them, either. David described encountering and overcoming the valley of the shadow of death. What kind of hardship is your valley of the shadow of death? A path in a valley might wind through a dense forest. In David’s time, there might not even have been a real path. It might be impossible to see very far ahead. In this metaphorical valley, when we don’t know quite where we’re going, I can attest from personal experience how easy it is to be afraid. How can we come to David’s boldness in claiming to fear no evil?… Read the rest
Did you know that all of us are at war, and there’s nothing we can do but fight or surrender? I’m not talking about Iraq, Afghanistan, or anywhere the U.S. military is active, ever has been or ever will be. Jesus Christ, the rightful Lord of the universe, has a rebellion on his hands. The rebel, named Satan, captured the human race by deceit at the beginning of time and rules as the god of this world. He can’t win, but his final defeat hasn’t yet occurred. Whatever else it means, this spiritual warfare happens within each of our minds.
“Therefore prepare your minds for action; discipline yourselves; set all of your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed.”–1 Peter 1:13, NRSV.… Read the rest
Most everyone in America rejoiced at the death of Osama bin Laden. So did many elsewhere in the world. After all, he was a mass murderer and spent the past few years actively plotting to murder more people. What does God, who is love, have to say about him?
One thing that immediately came to mind is this: “Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? . . . The One enthroned in heaven laughs: the Lord scoffs at them” (Psalm 2:1, 4). But Scripture also reminds us, “Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles do not let your heart rejoice” (Proverbs 24:17).… Read the rest
Here in the US, anyway, society is abuzz with the news about everyone’s zodiac sign. The position of the earth has changed relative to that of the stars over the past 3,000 years. According to relationship of the sun and twelve constellations in the original astrological charts , everyone’s astrological sign is off by a month. Apparently Geminis are now Tauruses or something like that. It appears to be a matter of hot debate whether anyone’s signs have really changed.
Why does anyone care about zodiac signs? Simply because according to astrology the relationship among the earth, sun, moon, stars, and other planets at someone’s birth determines that person’s character and fate.… Read the rest
Today, fanatical Muslims blow themselves up in crowded market places in the name of their god. They didn’t invent terrorism and are not alone in dishonoring their own religion by their actions. Christians, too, have been guilty. What else can serial murders of abortionists be called?
Many historians describe the tactics of radical abolitionist John Brown an injection of terrorism into American politics, and he though he was acting for God. The religious policies of Spanish King Philip II and Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II amount to state-sponsored terrorism in the name of God.
Not all wickedness is violent. Those who devise Internet scams, those who choose profits over human lives in board rooms, and any others who steal at long distance do not sin violently.… Read the rest