Today’s Blog

Friday, 5/17/19 – Tough Question

“Why do bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people?”

When a person asks this question they reveal they hold a number of prior beliefs…

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First, they believe there exists some moral standard by which good should be rewarded with good and bad should be penalized with bad. Persons who ask the above question would never think to ask “Why shouldn’t bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people?” “Why shouldn’t an innocent child be robbed of his/her parents before their very eyes at the whim of a brutal axe murderer?” “Why shouldn’t a person be rude, selfish, indifferent to others, and destructive to their possessions?” No! These injustices scream out at them as “injustices” simply because they believe in the existence of some higher standard of justice!

Now if some over-arching standard of justice exists, it follows that some moral higher force or being is responsible, or rather is the source of this morality. Or, as Ravi Zacharias states it, “The existence of a moral law requires the existence of a moral law-giver.”

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In fact, people who ask the title question are people who believe very much in God. Their very sense of “oughtness” and “ought-not-ness” demonstrates they believe there exists some moral code, some ultimate just-ness and that there exists also some moral arbiter who is ‘slipping up’ by allowing what the questioner deems ‘unfairness’ to happen.

Well the Christian knows this Entity is God… Jehovah, the Almighty tri-une Father, Word, and Spirit. The Christian knows God has such a world where the moral code runs perfectly, a world of angel beings who do his bidding always,* for they can do none other. The Christian knows that God created mankind a new sort of creation… a creation with the freedom of will to chose… to choose to obey, to love, or not.

Only with this sort of creation might the Creator have relationship… fellowship… friendship… and true worship.

close up of fruits hanging on tree

Unfortunately this creation chose poorly!

Evil entered this world and the free-thinking creatures did unspeakable things…. And they continue to do worse and worse things as wickedness increases more and more.

Yes, God could step in. He could eliminate the worst of us, but He would also need to eliminate the best of us, for no one is holy.

So God stepped in in another way. He came to us. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” (John 1:14): He took all the bad due to us. He rose, conquered it all and offers that victory and newness to us. He does not uproot us yet, but lets good and evil grow together. The day will come when it shall all be sorted out. But for now, Jesus words to us are these:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.
In this world you will have trouble.
But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).

Press on…

*The question of Lucifer’s rebellion has been discussed under other ‘Tough Questions.” Check out the list under “Other Stuff” or click here.

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Thursday, 5/16/19 – Discipleship: God’s Will

I was listening to an early morning CBC Radio feed of the BBC program “In the Studio” yesterday as I did my wake-up exercises. The broadcast takes the listener behind the scenes as artists of various disciplines develop their creative works. Yesterday’s episode featured operatic soprano Danielle de Niese as she prepared for her London musical theatre debut of Man of La Mancha.

20190515_060644She told of her vocal and physical preparations and also of her psychological preparation. Before even beginning to sing a piece she found it necessary to fully understand the thoughts and motivations of her character – why did she turn her head, walk in that direction? What emotions are running in the characters head during this part of the story? Only after resolving these matters could Danielle feel she understood how to sing the part. She knew her character’s mind and heart and taken them as her own.

In a similar fashion knowing and doing God’s Will is not so much about receiving a “to-do” list from God – as if He really needed puny human help at all. Rather, it is about entering into a deeper and deepening relationship.

combination wrench screw bolt and pointed top hammer

It is like the five-year old boy “helping” his dad in a project – perhaps building a garage or assembling a tool shed. “Here son, hold this nail in place… fetch me the ‘level’… no, not that thing, that’s a ‘square.’ Here, I’ll show you which is the level… see how it works? And the square, here’s what it does…” and on it goes. When the job is done the boy may boast, “Come see the shed (garage) me and my dad built.” And the father is delighted to play along.

Though the job may take twice as long, the real job is really what matters. The real job is not the building of the shed, but the building of the boy.

Paul agonized in prayer for the wayward believers in Galatia, telling them he would do so ”until Christ is formed in you!” (Gal. 4:19). They needed to learn to abide in the Mind of Christ if they were to know and do the Will of God. They needed to surrender their will to the Will of the Holy Spirit.

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As Paul said of himself, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20).

Note also Jesus’ own words, “If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood.” (John 7:17-18).

If you want to know the Will of God for your life, don’t seek a “to-do” list. Seek God. Know His Mind and Heart, take them as your own, then open your mouth and sing your song in His great story!

Press on…

If you are curious to hear more of the BBC broadcast with soprano Danielle de Niese, click here.

If you are interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of new life in Christ, or desire to know how to begin this journey and take the very first of the First Steps by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ, just use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

Wednesday, 5/15/19 – Pressing on…

“Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near.” (Isa. 55:6)

close up portrait of cat

“Star” was a little black and white kitty we had years ago. She got her name because of a tiny star-shaped white spot on her forehead. Star was an indoor cat. There were rumors of coyotes in our small local service district just outside Fredericton, and the community mailboxes were frequently adorned with notices describing someone’s missing cat. Most of these cats were never found.

The day Star went missing we scoured the streets, calling her name, but she did not come. We set out cat food, water, and jangled cat treats to tempt her home, but nothing. We persisted in this for several days, called the SPCA, posted pictures and spread the word, but Star never returned. Eventually we gave up the hunt. We stopped looking, and moved on to other pursuits.

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I’ve often wondered about Star’s perspective during the days of our quest. Did she hear us calling, but chose to continue exploring this alluring new world? Was she trapped somewhere in need of outside intervention but too weak to call? Had she strayed so far she no longer could hear our pleading cries? Or had the prowling coyotes found her an easy and naïve prey and devoured her?

animal canine cold coyote

Perhaps she had got herself completely lost, journeyed days away, and by the time her thoughts turned to her loving home, warm bed, kitty toys and ample dinner dish, we had given up the search. She may have sought us, but our voices no longer called, we could not be found, and the coyotes leaped.

Perhaps Star feared our displeasure and ran further? But how wrong she would have found herself to have been if she had but sought us and returned. We would have welcomed her with open arms and joy-filled hearts!

Jeremiah writes these chilling words, “The harvest is past, the summer has ended, and we are not saved.” (Jer. 8:20)

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Friend, God loves you! The harvest is not quite yet past, there are yet left a few days of summer. Do not run from Him. Do not fear His call to a higher walk with Him.

C.S. Lewis comments,

Now God, who has made us, knows what we are and that our happiness lies in Him. Yet we will not seek it in Him as long as he leaves us any other resort where it can even plausibly be looked for. While what we call ‘our own life’ remains agreeable we will not surrender it to Him. What then can God do in our interests but make ‘our own life’ less agreeable to us, and take away the plausible source of false happiness?’ – C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

Perhaps you’ve never thought of God in such a personal way.  — C.S. Lewis again,

It is always shocking to meet life where we thought we were alone. “Look out!” we cry, “it’s alive.” And therefore this is the very point at which so many draw back….. An “impersonal God”—well and good… But God Himself, alive, pulling at the other end of the cord…– that is quite another matter… There comes a moment when people who have been dabbling in religion (“Man’s search for God”!) suddenly draw back. Supposing we really found Him? We never meant it to come to that! Worse still, supposing He had found us! – C.S. Lewis, Miracles

grayscale photography of man sitting on grass field

But we need not fear Him if we answer His call NOW. Pastor Andrew and Isaiah beg us, “Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near.” (Isa. 55:6). O… let Him find you! Seek Him out… You will only be glad if you will.

“I have never known a man who received Christ and ever regretted it.” – Billy Graham

Press on…

Tuesday, 5/14/19 – Pressing on…

20190513_063431Some time ago I viewed a You-Tube video of live newscasters from various networks reporting the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001. I was intrigued by the observation that one after another as the second plane crashed into the twin towers virtually every reporter stated, “Oh God!” In that instant it was clear that the first plane had not simply been a terrible accident, but that these planes represented a deliberate attack upon America.

Oh God,” desperate mortals call out when plunged into horrors beyond their control.

When Paul reasoned with the high-browed philosophers of Athens, he spoke to the nearness and availability of God, something their instincts had smothered and their intellectual approach had missed:

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“The God who made the world and everything in it …gives everyone life and breath … he made all the nations… and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.

Paul then cited the Cretan philosopher Epimenides, giving his words new meaning, ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ Then he quotes the Cilician Stoic philosopher Aratus, who said, ‘We are his offspring.’ (Acts 17:24-28)

books stack old antique

Men… philosophers, poets… mere men, trying to resolve the mysteries of human existence. They cannot, but innately, we can come close. In another place Paul wrote,

“…what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” (Rom. 1:19-20).

But deeper understanding of God, His Love, His Holiness, Justice and plan of redemption, must come by revelation, from God Himself. And it has! As John summarizes,

Through Him [Christ] all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made…. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory… full of grace and truth… No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known. (John 1:2-3, 14, 18). (See also 1 John 1:1-4).

In his message last Sunday Pastor Andrew pled with us in the words of Isaiah, “Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near.” (Isa. 55:6)

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Christ can be found now… He is near now…. In fact He is seeking you now.

Do not presume to postpone this rendezvous.

Now He is nearby, but at any moment you may not be.

No one knows when their hour will come” wrote Solomon (Eccl. 9:12). “People are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” pens the author of Hebrews (Heb. 9:27), and Paul pleas “I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Cor. 6:2).

More tomorrow…

To hear Pastor Andrew’s full message, click here… look under ‘Media’ for the May 12 message. 

Monday, 5/13/19 – Pressing on…

A “Then & Now” item on page 28 of the current Freddy Plus newspaper reads as follows..

20190508_092342“In 1946, scientists created ENIAC, one of the first computers. It was a 30-ton machine with 17,468 vacuum tubes, 70,000 resistors, and 10,000 capacitors. It occupied a 30 x 60 foot room. It was a calculator.”

Goodness! How things change as time moves along!

20190508_164117I also recall a line from the movie Shrek. ‘Donkey’ had been complaining, but Shrek exhorts, “Change is Good, Donkey.”

For Shrek, change involved significant personal transformation. New attitudes and behaviours became necessary, but after awhile they became easier, then automatic, and finally formative. Shrek himself had changed. Where once before stood a mean ogre, now stood a hero, one who married a princess!

This Sunday past I shared with our church family how the Lord has been clearly leading our decade faithful pastor away from serving as our chief shepherd. God has been directing him into change.

man performing on stage

Now God does nothing “half-baked.” As God directs our pastor into change, so He directs us into change. Our change is not just “fallout” from our pastor’s change, but a change perfectly orchestrated by a Magnificent Conductor — like that momentary pause before the final “Hallelujah” of Handel’s Messiah. All making a balanced harmony, a more glorious impact.

Change can be scary—for our departing pastor, and for us. But God is faithful. He never leaves us… He always lovingly leads us

What we sang in worship before receiving the news of our beloved pastor’s departure remains just as true now that we have received it.

I know who goes before me
I know who stands behind
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side

Jesus gives His Church a great commandment, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matt. 22:37), a great commission, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you…” (Matt. 28:19, 20a), and a great promise, “…surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”(Matt. 28:20b)

Change is Good, and none of us wants to be a donkey!

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle… (Ps. 32:8, 9)

More tomorrow…

Enjoy Handel’s “Hallelujah chorus” here. Listen for the pause… Rejoice!

Friday, 5/10/19 – Tough Question

How do you get 3 days and 3 nights?

Here is the full question as I received it:

In Matthew 12:40 Jesus is speaking “For as Jonah was 3 days and 3 nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be 3 days and 3 nights in the heart of the earth.” But if he died on Friday and rose up on Sunday, that does not add up to 3 days and 3 nights.

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There are two important facts of Jewish culture which quickly help us to understand thus seeming enigma. First, the Jewish day began not at midnight but at sundown, roughly 6 pm. Second, it was natural in Jewish culture to count any portion of a 24-hour period as one day. We do this too actually.. just go rent a moving van or a hotel room for example. You’ll often find fees are based on “so much per day or any portion thereof.” For such a rental business any part if a day counts as a full day… a full 24 hours… having day and night.

So, following this logic, the crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection of Christ looks like this:

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Jesus is crucified, expires and is entombed before sundown on Friday (which 24 hour period began at sundown on Thursday). Thus, by Jewish calculation, He has already spent a night and a day entombed. Friday at sundown to Saturday at sundown constitutes a second night and day. Then the third night and day begins at sundown on Saturday to sundown on Sunday. Jesus rises Sunday morning completing the Jewish count of three days of both night and day.

We see this odd (to us) way of counting days elsewhere through scripture.

In Esther 4:16, for example, Esther has Mordecai tell the Jews to fast “for three days, night or day” at which time she would dare to approach the king. Yet, in Esther 5:1, we read that “on the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king’s palace.” Not after 72 hours, but on the third day, sufficient enough to count any portion of a day as the full day and night 24 hour period.

To the Jewish mindset “the third day” is the same as “after three days.” Just like the rental contract example I mentioned above, you pay the full day rate “so much per day or any portion thereof.”

Great question! Thank you!

Press on…
Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Thursday, 5/9/19 – Discipleship: Evangelism

I looked in several Bible translations, but not one if them contained the word “evangelism.” In fact, I can’t find the word “discipleship” in any of the translations also.

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I can’t find the word “trinity” in the Bible either. It isn’t there. Some folk like to argue that because the word we invented to describe the tri-une aspect of the Godhead cannot itself be found in the scriptures then therefore God is not tri-une.

grayscale photography of five people walking on road

But really now, that’s like saying because you can’t find the word “gravity” in the Bible it must not exist either. This is plain silly! Clearly we are all walking about with feet firmly planted on the planet. Jesus walked about on the earth too, so clearly the law of gravity existed then and exists now whether or not we had a name for it.

20190508_182832What’d Shakespeare say… ? “A rose by any other name…” you know the rest.

But lets say you want to make a case about “evangelism,” just to get off the hook. Let’s even add the word “discipleship.” Let’s say that because these words don’t exist in the Bible you therefore don’t need to do them.

OK fine, let’s toss ‘em!

There! “poof” they are gone. Now you are off the hook. No more “discipleship.” No more “evangelism!” Feel better?

ALL you need to do is what Jesus clearly said and what the gospel writers recorded in the Bible. Lets get started….

“…go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you…. ” (Matt. 28:19-20)

“…Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:15-16)

“…Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (1 Peter 3:15)

This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.” (John 15:8)

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

man holding bible

So don’t bother doing “discipleship” or “evangelism”. Just go and make disciples, baptize and teach believers, preach the gospel, give an answer, bear much fruit, and be a witness to what Christ had done in you and can do in others.

There now, don’t you feel better?

Press on…