A prophetic word for a new heart in hard times

hard times

Today, we’re in an economic meltdown. People are suffering in these hard times. It appears now that when people act in their own self-interest—save, pay down debt, do the kinds of things that we all should have been doing in the first place—it makes the general economic climate even worse. Unfortunately, the scope of the trouble is so large and complex that looking for someone to blame is a lot easier than deciding what to do about it. So goes the coming election cycle.

Where is God in all this? Can we cry out to him for help, or is this mess somehow his judgment?… Read the rest

Achan’s sin and the judgment and grace of God

Stoning of Achan

The stoning of Achan, Mid-fifteenth-century Flemish miniature

Achan appears in  the seventh chapter of Joshua. All the spoils of Jericho were supposed to be devoted to the Lord.

All of its gold and silver should have been taken to the treasury in the tabernacle and everything else destroyed by fire.

Achan helped himself to some gold, silver, and a beautiful robe and buried them in his tent.

God’s anger became apparent when the Israelite army suffered a humiliating defeat. He told Joshua to cast lots to find who sinned to cause it.

The lot fell to Achan. He confessed his deed.… Read the rest

Osama bin Laden and the love of God

Ground zero, Jan. 10, 2002. ©Stefan Plogmann

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

Confessed sin no longer matters!


“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

I had not intended to write two consecutive posts on the wrath of God, but since I did, I need to be a good priest (and as a Protestant, I believe in the priesthood of all believers) and pronounce an assurance of pardon. Sin offends God greatly—until someone confesses. Then he simply cleans up the mess and goes back to what he does best: loving.

In the past two posts, I explained how wrath is not incompatible with a loving God.… Read the rest

How can a loving God have wrath?

Christ Cleansing the Temple / Luca Giordano, mid 1670s

God is love. If you want to know what love is like, look at God. But the same Bible that proclaims God’s love also proclaims his wrath. We usually see Jesus as gentle, kind, and loving, but he lost his temper once and got violent in the temple. He also described hell more graphically than anyone else in all of Scripture.  What’s going on here?

First of all, just what is wrath? The original Greek word is variously translated anger, indignation, vengeance, and wrath. It comes from a word that means to stretch oneself or reach out after.… Read the rest

God’s love and the Japanese earthquake and tsunami


How can we reconcile God’s love with disasters? For a couple of weeks now, the news media have brought us new images of the disaster in Japan: the worst earthquake there on record, a tsunami that struck the coast within 15 minutes and that caused a nuclear catastrophe worse than any other except Chernobyl. We have probably all received multiple reminders to pray for Japan, and I hope this post will serve as another, but I want to consider the question of how a loving God can allow such devastation.

To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’   “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.… Read the rest

The unchanging sign: it’s not in the zodiac

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

Light, darkness, and the return of Christ

Living by faith requires living not only in the light of the resurrection, but also in the hope of the return of Christ. Jesus himself said that he, in his earthly body, did not know when he would come back.  He told his disciples that they should always be ready, because a thief cannot surprise a homeowner who is watching.

There are times in my life when a promise of God seems so vivid that I’m sure it will happen in the next fifteen minutes. Then the waiting starts. I know I’m not alone. The whole church has been waiting impatiently for the return of Christ for about two thousand years.… Read the rest

The joy of forgiveness

I found a very interesting post that lists 35 reasons not to sin. One person commented that knowing reasons is not enough to keep him from wanting to sin. That, in a nutshell, expresses the entire human condition. But sinning brings only momentary pleasure. Then it causes all the pain that the list enumerates. God hates sin, but longs to forgive the sinner. Forgiveness received brings  joy.

David described the process in Psalm 32. Where Psalm 51 describes his repentance for his sin with Uriah’s wife Bathsheba, Psalm 32 describes his process of receiving forgiveness and the joy it brought.… Read the rest

The flood: grace and judgment on display

Here’s the quickie narrative of the flood that almost everyone knows: God made people and got mad at them, so he decided to wipe them out. He liked one fellow, though, so he made him build an ark and collect pairs of animals. Everyone else drowned, but when the floodwaters subsided, the few people and animals on the ark repopulated the earth.

On the surface, that sound like overkill. I mean, surely there must have been some nice folks that died along with the bad guys, right?  To many people who understand only that much of the story, God must be some kind of angry, capricious monster–at least until gentle Jesus meek and mild came along.… Read the rest