God, who spoke the world into existence, can accomplish anything he wants by speaking it. Instead, he chooses to use flawed people as tools. And he deliberately breaks them. We will consider Jacob, but first, let’s look at tools in general, then how God uses tools in general.
Whenever I need a tool, whether it’s for the garden or the kitchen or something to do with the computer, I get the best I can afford. Then I do my best to take care of it and keep it in good condition.
If something breaks, I probably can’t use it anymore. If it can be fixed at all, it may not work as well as before it broke.… Read the rest
Fire serves as a powerful symbol in the Bible. Most people probably think first of hell. Probably everyone knows about the fire that consumed Sodom and the lake of fire in Revelation. But it means so much more besides.
Even in everyday life, fire destroys, but it’s also a useful tool. Think of a campfire. It destroys firewood. We use it for cooking, for warmth, to draw close to one another, to keep wild beasts away, and more.
Jeremiah 23:29 (NKJV) says, “Is not my word like fire,” declares the Lord, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?”… Read the rest
As I originally wrote this, most of the world had shut down on account of the coronavirus outbreak. Plenty of people are wondering about where God is in the modern plague of Covid-19.
We might as well wonder about God in modern plagues, plural. After all, Covid-19 isn’t the first plague outbreak in this century. Remember MRSA? SARS? H1N1? And maybe I’ve forgotten some. In any case, seasonal flu kills more than any of them.
Common and facile responses seem to divide into three groups:
Some Christians always come out of the woodwork to proclaim that this or that crisis is God’s judgment on whatever sin most upsets them.
Jesus ended the Beatitudes saying, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10 MEV)
That statement is so counterintuitive that he repeated it: “Blessed are you when men revile you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be very glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in this manner they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12).
We can’t earn salvation, but we can earn blessings by exhibiting certain characteristics. Each Beatitude builds on the one before.… Read the rest
Do you find the book of Job confusing? You’re not alone.
First, we get a conversation between God and Satan. It’s about the only passage in the Old Testament that doesn’t have an earthly setting. As a result of that conversation, Job suffers staggering losses, losses no sin of his can explain.
Then three friends show up to comfort him. Some comfort.
The anonymous author casts the main part of the book as a debate. The friends insist that no one suffers at God’s hands without having committed some grievous sin. Job insists on his innocence.
Lent gives us a chance to slow down and prepare for Easter by reminding us of some uncomfortable truths.
We’re all going to die. We’re all sinners. Apart from God’s grace, we all deserve hell.
But Lent also gives us a chance to consider God’s extravagant grace It’s free, but it costs us everything. In this post, I’d like to pay special attention to God’s extravagance. And what it can cost.
Extravagance can seem like wastefulness. Consider, for example, the life of William Borden, heir to the Borden dairy fortune. Instead of inheriting the family business and living a life of ease, he decided to become a missionary.… Read the rest
Record drought in California. Record flooding in Louisiana. Earthquake in Italy. Insurance companies call these and other natural disasters “acts of God.”
Is God trying to tell us something?
Someone, it seems, always comes out of the woodwork to say that a particular disaster God’s judgment on—take your pick—homosexuality, abortion, taking prayer out of schools, or whatever other issue riles them.