Questions…

Got Questions?

The hardest questions in life cannot be answered by science or philosophy. To discover what makes life worth living, we need to go to the Bible. To discover where we come from, and why, we need to go to the Bible. To discover who God is, what heaven is, what good is, or what evil is, we need to go to the Bible.

Do you wonder, like Job did, why life isn’t fair? And why good people need to suffer? The Bible has the answers. You may read CS Lewis’s book, The Problem of Pain, and it will help you because—and only because—it takes you to God and to the Bible for answers.

Don’t look to the theologians and the philosophers. They are helpful only as they take you to God and His Word. Human reason, philosophy, and logic don’t have answers, only questions. If you want to study apologetics, focus on the ones that show that the Bible’s message is authentic, genuine, and inspired. Once you have established that, you can go to the Bible for the other answers.

The big question you need to settle first is God. Once you experience God, you have a foundation that you can trust. Once you realize that God is real and that the Bible is the expression of God’s Truth, then you have an invincible fortress to protect you from sin and Satan and Agnosticism.

“I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (Jesus Christ)

Time Tracker

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.

Give it a try. The free version works fine.

Right here for Windows

Or right here for Android.

WorkingHours

Suffering, Evil, and Pain:

Symptoms of BROKENNESS

Many people stumble

… over the question of suffering and evil. They ask, “Why would a good God allow such bad things?” 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!

God’s Grammar…

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.

Light 

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)

Good

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)

Love

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)

Peace

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)

Counterfeit Voices

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. 

Don’t be satisfied with counterfeits!

You can have the real thing.

Jesus is Coming!


“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)


Are you ready? 

My Father’s Bible

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

Background

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.

What did God REALLY Promise You?

Introduction

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?

Context

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…

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  • health
  • our job
  • having a spouse and family
  • wealth and possessions
  • friends
  • etc.

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.

Read the book Hinds Feet in High Places for a wonderful illustration of this.