I’ve tried different ways of tracking my time. But I finally found a good app for it. It’s available for Windows and Android, and maybe more. It shares from device to device using either Google Drive or One Drive clouds. I just installed it on my phone and “bingo” — my data was there.
… over the question of suffering and evil. They ask, “Why would a goodGod allow such badthings?” They assume that this question forces us to accept that either God isn’t good, or He isn’t God.
But it isn’t good for finite people to make rash assumptions about an infinite God. We end up either making fools of ourselves or turning God into an enemy. So, let’s consider this question for a bit.
We live in a broken world. But it is a world that looks forward to better things. Pain, evil and suffering are merely the birth pangs leading to a better world. (See Romans 8:16 – 22)
Romans 8:16 – 23
… uses the concept of suffering to explain what it is like to be a Christian. It also gives us some reasons why suffering is important. Notice the two pictures that Paul gives us here. On the one hand we have suffering Christians. On the other hand we have nature, also suffering.
For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. (Rom 8:16-23 NLT)
Here are some concepts
… from this passage.
If we expect to share in the glory of Christ, we need to accept his suffering. Why should we expect the one without the other?
Any suffering we might face is nothing in comparison with the glory we look forward to. So why should we balk at paying the price?
God had created man and woman perfect. He had also created nature perfect. In this perfection there was no evil, no pain, and no suffering.
Sin changed it all. It broke us, and we died spiritually. God also cursed nature, because broken humans needed a broken home to live in. Now nature is broken too. Broken beings and broken things suffer.
God told Eve that she would be saved by child birth. I’m sure that every time that she conceived a child she looked forward eagerly to her labor pains. Maybe this child would be the savior! Nature too is suffering labor pains. Suffering reminds us of better things coming. It is a very foolish mother who thinks that she can have the joys of child-birth without suffering labor pains.
It is through suffering that we give birth to the glory in store for us. Nature will also be reborn someday and will be part of a new heaven and a new earth—perfect once more. It will the perfect home for a perfect people who have been reborn with perfect bodies and perfect, sin free spirits.
No mother enjoys the pain of delivering a child. But through that pain she receives a “new” son or daughter. It makes her a mother!
My grand daughter was delivered by C-section. She didn’t go through the pains of being born. But the painful experience of birth is necessary for the health of a child. She suffered later because she didn’t suffer those pains. Even so, we wouldn’t become perfect people living in glory without the labor pains we suffer here on earth.
Join the society of the broken
… living in a broken society on a broken earth. But birth pains never last forever. The time is coming, and coming soon, when the pain will burst into GLORY!
Every writer knows that active voice is better than passive voice. The same is true in our spiritual life. Here is a short list of spiritual active voice elements and their passive voice opponents. Let God work in your heart to eliminate your passive defaults.
Darkness is not the opposite of light. Rather, it is the absence of light. God is the source of all light, and He wants to share His light with you. In turn, you should share light with those around you, so that darkness can be driven out of their lives.
"You are the light of the world.... Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. (Mat 5:14-16)
Evil is not the opposite of good. Rather, it is the absence of good. Just like light will always overpower darkness, so good will overpower evil. So if you struggle with evil, allow good to fill your life. If you feel as if darkness is taking over your life, flood your life with light!
Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. (Rom 12:9)
Hate is not the opposite of love. Rather, it is the absence of love. Like light overpowers darkness and good overpowers evil, so love will always outdo hatred. Allow God to fill your heart with his love and hatred will need to flee.
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. (1Co 13:4-8)
Turmoil is not the opposite of peace. Rather, it is the absence of peace. Like light, good, and love, peace is active and will always overpower turmoil. Let the peace of God fill your heart, and turmoil will go.
Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (Joh 14:27)
Where God offers good things to us, the devil usually comes up with a counterfeit to sidetrack us. He gives us positive thinking instead of good, and transcendental meditation instead of peace. He promotes toleration to replace love, and social reform to replace goodness.
“However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.
“When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. In those days before the flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat. People didn’t realize what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them all away. That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes.
“Two men will be working together in the field; one will be taken, the other left. Two women will be grinding flour at the mill; one will be taken, the other left.
“So you, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your Lord is coming.” (Mat 24:36-42 NLT)
I was going through some of father’s belongings recently and came across this Bible. My father carried this Bible for years, especially to the prison Bible studies he was part of.
This was a special Bible for my father. He was one of world’s experts in using a Thomson Chain Reference, I think. He told me various times how useful it was to him. An inmate would spring a question on him, and he would head for his topical index. Moments later, he had a list of Bible verses pertaining to the question.
He had a lot of references memorized as well, but this was a tool he highly appreciated.
In his later years, I introduced my father to a computer Bible, the Online Bible. He used that extensively as well, but it was never as nostalgic as his Thompson Chain Reference Bible. When I turned 19, he bought me one as well. I still have it, and it will probably become a family heirloom. But the wear and tear on my father’s Bible tells a story that my computer Bible somehow will never match.
Do you want to leave a legacy for your children?
There's nothing like a Bible.
Especially if your children know that you used it, and lived by its teaching.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.” – Proverbs 3:5-6
Sometimes you cannot have order without division...
In the beginning God made the heavens and the earth. Everything was covered with darkness and chaos reigned, since all of creation was empty and without form. But God moved in and started dividing things, creating order out of the chaos.
First, God created light, which immediately caused a division between light and darkness. Then he divided the waters from the waters. Finally, he created dry land which forced the waters to recede and separated the water from the dry land.
Having made order from the chaos, God said for the first time that what He had done was good.
You can read the rest of the story in the first chapters of Genesis. My point is that sometimes division is the only thing that will bring order to chaos. We have had too much division within Christianity. And division should never be our first choice when we face problems. But when chaos takes over the church then sometimes division needs to happen.
These books are an attempt to show from history how the church lost its moorings. The time finally came that Christians needed to separate themselves from the apostate church. Revelations 18 describes this process:
And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities." (Rev 18:4, 5)
The Waldensian church stated during the dark ages that they could trace their lineage all the way back to the time of Sylvester. Since Sylvester was the Pope in Rome during most of the reign of Constantine, it seems likely that the beginnings of this division took place during that time. I’ve chosen to push this out a little and have the Christians of book three join this group later, after they were well established.
There is little history available about this group before Peter Waldo, and the Waldensian claims were probably for the purpose of being able to support apostolic succession for their leaders. But it does seem likely that there was truth in this. God has promised us that the enemy will not prevail against the church, and it seems plausible that there was an underground movement that lived in parallel with the corrupt Catholic system.
The following passage from Psalms 37:4 has troubled a lot of people. They feel that it makes a promise to them that God has ignored. For instance, they might feel that this verse promises them that God will give them a marriage partner and a family. This is their desire and they feel that they are meeting the caveat.
Delight yourself also in the Lord,And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
But is this what God is really saying in this verse? Is this a blank check that you can cash anytime you feel like it? Can you actually force God to give you whatever you want?
It is important to consider the context of a verse before we base a strong conclusion on it. When we isolate a verse from its context, it is easy to make it say anything we want it to say. So note the following statements also found in this Psalm.
Trust in the Lord, and do good
Commit your way to the Lord
Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him
Do not fret
Cease from anger
In fact the first eight verses of Psalms 37 list behavior patterns God expects of us. The rest of the Psalm then goes on to clarify the promises in the first part. When you read the verses carefully, you will notice that the promises are actually future ones. While God is free to give us these things anytime that He wants, He might wait until we get to heaven to do this.
Compare Other Verses…
I’m troubled by the number of people who try to coerce God into doing what they want. Some feel that He promises us wealth and power. Others try to claim marriage partners under this promise. Some go so far as to blame God for being unfaithful to His promises if he doesn’t do this.
In the New Testament, Paul faced a similar situation in his life. He had a thorn in the flesh and he felt that it was hindering God’s work. But God viewed it from a different perspective.
7 And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. 8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor 12:7-10)
What is Your Desire?
In the passage above, we have a clear example of a time when God’s will conflicted with a Christian’s desire. So does this mean that this contradicts the verse in Psalms 37?
I don’t think so. It just clarifies it. Since God doesn’t contradict himself we need to understand that in a situation like this we need to understand the two passages in a way that they complement each other. There are several ways we can do this.
In the first place, God understood Paul’s desire better than Paul did. Paul felt that he could serve God better if God would heal him. So his real desire was to be able to serve God better. God knew him better than he knew himself, and told him that he would be a stronger witness with the thorn in his life than he would without. In fact, if God removed Paul’s thorn, it would lead to people glorifying Paul rather than God.
Paul did want to glorify God, from the bottom of his heart. So he was willing to praise God for his weakness and accept God’s verdict. So did God fulfill His promise? I think Paul would have said that He did.
God’s Will, Not Mine
Jesus faced this same situation in the garden before His crucifixion.
He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” (Matt 26:39)
Sometimes we simply need to lay down our desires at the feet of God and say, “You know best, Lord.” If Jesus needed to do that, how can we expect anything else?
This means that we might need to give up…
having a spouse and family
wealth and possessions
God told Paul that, “My strength is made perfect in weakness.” If we want to serve Christ from the bottom of our heart, then isn’t it our deepest desire to have His strength made perfect within us? This means that we must be willing to lay our personal desires on the altar at His feet. God doesn’t refuse to honor His promise. He just changes our desires so that He can honor them.
To get the biggest benefit from all this, you need to turn on your Navigation pane in Word. Click on the view tab and make sure it is turned on, as in the screen shot.
When you have done this, the navigation pane will show up on the left part of the document window. Click on headings to show your outline. I find this a very handy way to navigate through a longer document. You can also right click on a heading and promote or demote it, or drag and drop it somewhere else.
If you click on the Home tab in your Word ribbon, you will see the styles, somewhat like above. You can then type in a number of headings and points using the normal style, then sort them by highlighting and applying heading styles. If this entirely new to you, find some YouTube videos that show you how to use styles. In my opinion styles are one of the most powerful features in Word, and you need to know how to use them. You will save a lot of time in formatting when doing longer documents.
This is what my outline looked like when I finished it. You can download this document by clicking HERE
You can download this file and play around with it. Or you can download this template and use it to build your own outlines.
This is a very cursory treatment of an important subject. I know that this doesn’t fit at all into some people’s way of working. But with some time it can become second nature to you.
Years ago, before the days of Windows, I picked up a freeware or shareware outliner. During those days I was teaching at a Bible school in Ohio every winter and I needed good outlines. I discovered that an outliner forced me to think more logically.
Now I’m not necessarily promoting that you need to get outlining software. In fact I built a little template in MS Word that does the same thing, even adding numbers and letters and all those good things. It allows me to drag points around, demote them or promote them, etc.
But my real point here is that outlining gives a different perspective of your book, essay, sermon, or Sunday school class. It forces you to pick out your main idea, the one big thing that your presentation is about. It also forces you to go through your thoughts and see which ones can be used as legs on which your presentation can stand. Everything else needs to fit into one of those “legs”. If it doesn’t, you need to throw it out.
That’s right. I said (or wrote, for all you purists out there) THROW IT OUT. It might be a really good illustration, definition, or theological term. But if you have to “bend” it to make if fit, get rid of it.
So how do we go about it?
Building an Outline
I found the paper pictured in the featured image floating around here recently, and it spurred my interest. Someone (I won’t say who) was writing an essay. That person had an assigned subject, I think, which always makes it a little easier. I liked how they (okay, it was one of my daughters, so she) illustrated this. She put the title, the big idea, what this was all about, in the middle and drew a circle around it.
Okay, that’s easy enough. Next you need to find some legs for the main idea to stand on. Centipedes don’t work well, no matter what your project is all about. Anything short, like a sermon, an essay, or a Sunday school class can’t handle more than about four or five legs. A book might have more, but even a book can be too broad in its approach.
In this case, the writer picked three legs: bad effects of computers, good effects in the workplace, and personal benefits. If she had known that a thousand people were going to see this posted online, she would have improved it a bit more. This was more or less off the cuff with a time limit on the finished product.
Notice how she then started to flesh out the various legs with more ideas.
Notice that we haven’t used all of the points yet. So we continue adding to the legs, like you can see below.
Note that B.3.b could have been turned into A.3 since it is actually a bad effect.In that case, B.3.a would become part of B.3 since you shouldn’t have a single point under another point.
The last part of the process, in this case, was transfering this into a full blown essay. You also might want to transfer it into PowerPoint, or print it. But this kind of a process is almost guaranteed to improve your writing or speaking. It will force you to discipline yourself in presenting your ideas from a logical perspective.
It will also be a big aid to those who need to read what you wrote, or listen to what you say. It will take some self-discipline if you aren’t a logical thinker, but do it anyway. It’s like switching from hunt and peck typing to touch typing. It will slow you down at first but eventually the benefits will be HUGE.
Note: I'm going to try to follow up and post my MS Word template so that you can download it and use it, if you want. I'll include instructions with it, but its easy to use.