A benevolent God??….

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Ch. 4 Tsunami programmeI’m only now getting to watch a programme that was on TV recently on the topic of “Tsunami: Where was God?”  (You might be able to view it HERE but only if you live in the UK)   The premise of the programme centered around how the presenter (who stated he was a Catholic) found the idea that a “benevolent” God would allow such a dreadful disaster to occur.   He raised questions about how if God was good and if, as many of faith contend, such disasters are as a result of the fall, and if God knew that His creation would have to undergo such horrendous misery then why did He ever bother creating us in the first place??   While he, no doubt, speaks for a large volume of people, particularly those without a faith, I feel he shows that while he may have been raised a Catholic, he was never taught or never heard the proper teaching of scriptural Law and Gospel as they apply to mankind.

I’ve equally often asked myself why God bothered creating man, but not because he was doomed to misery and destruction, but more because we were always going to be so bent towards sin and rebellion against Him!!  He has granted us the most incredible intelligence, knowledge, wisdom, and a constant thirst for information, yet with all of that, rather than acknowledge Him as our Creator and Provider, we’d rather turn on Him, deny Him, and ultimately try to tell Him we know better than He does!   Much of this errant attitude about God is because we have long moved away from any true reverence of Him.   Our Jewish ancestors and even many of those in Israel today have a much better attitude and. while it doesn’t prevent their nation from equally sliding into a humanistic secularistic abyss of their own making, it nonetheless shows us how we should view God.

David spoke often about his views of God in the Psalms and constantly recognised his miniscule position before an awesome and magnificent God:

Psa 8:3-4 When I look at Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars which You have established; what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man, that You visit him?

We have turned things around completely – rather than the creation serving the Creator, we instead consider that the Creator should serve us and do so, whether we acknowledge Him as such or wish to seek out the true purpose for our lives.   The Westminster Catechism answers the question of why we were created very appropriately:

“Question. 1. What is the chief end of man?

Answer. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.”

When we only view God as some sort of benevolent grandfather figure in the sky – only ever seeking our “best life now” and just waiting for us to ask him for whatever our “felt needs” may be so that he can jump to attention and provide them, we are as guilty of idolatry and blasphemy as many of those in the Old Testament were and who died for their sin in being so.    God’s Love stems from his other major attributes – His Holiness and His Righteousness – sadly attributes we, as imperfect human beings, rarely seem to grasp or appreciate.   However, not being able to figure what they mean doesn’t take away from how they impact everything God is and does.   It’s precisely because He does love mankind that He has done everything to ensure we have every opportunity to overcome the damage sin does in our lives, and grants us the ability to be restored into the relationship with Him that He intended us to have.    His Holiness cannot look on sin and His Righteousness demands a price to be paid for it, so Jesus agreed to pay that price before the very foundation of the world was laid:

Eph 1:4 …. according as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love….

Truly what an Awesome God we have – yes, He is a loving God, but He knows that love alone isn’t all we require to enable us to live as we should, and thus as our Heavenly Father, he equally demonstrates that love through justice and discipline, always aiming to take our focus off ourselves and put it where it should be – on HIM!!

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Dying at the right time….

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This is a post aimed solely at Christians and, of those who call themselves such, to those who accept the bible implicitly as God’s inerrant and trusted Word and take Him at it without trying to make Him comply with our viewpoint.

I want to explore this concept of health and death from the point of view that you will often hear people stating that if you do x, y or z you will “extend your life” or conversely that if you do certain things wrong you will die young or sooner than society would deem “acceptable” which probably means any age before 90!  Now, apart from the fact that we all know many people who don’t fit either camp such as the baby who dies before they’ve even started their life, or the rampant alcoholic who manages to live well into their 70s despite doing everything to “die young” in the eyes of those around them, my contention is that we can do nothing to extend or shorten our lives in that God has determined the length of our days before He granted us life:

Psa 139:16: You saw me before I was born. The days allotted to me had all been recorded in your book, before any of them ever began.

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Are you a “New Age” Christian??

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Once again, I feel I need to revisit this topic as lately it appears that the depth of deception showering the world currently is growing rapidly. I last wrote about this last year, and since then, things seem to be just getting worse.  It would appears 2/3 of the world considers itself to be “Christian” – primarily because the real term “pagan” is so politically incorrect as to be unusable, and yet about 70% of those who hold that title (of Christian) would really fall into the latter camp of paganism, as they have no concept of what the term Christian truly means – as far as they’re concerned – it is a title given to anyone who is generally “good” or hasn’t murdered anyone. Indeed murder seems to be about the only “sin” that most would say removes that title from someone and place I spoke to recently stated that she felt it was the only title she could have because while she wasn’t a practicing Catholic, she equally wasn’t Jewish or a Muslim so there was nothing left to call herself but Christian, and therein lies the biggest problem of all.

So, my question today, is to those of you in that camp – you’ve always considered yourself to be a Christian but never given much thought to why or what it might mean.  Perhaps if I point out what it isn’t it may help you better decide.   It is NOT a title by default i.e. the one to take purely because you don’t consider yourself a Jew or a Muslim so therefore by default, you must be a Christian.    Nor is it a title you can have just because you don’t break all of the Commandments in one go (but do so regardless).   And neither is it a title you can have because your parents are Christian and/or you regularly attend a particular church (without much care to what’s said within it) or you’ve read the Bible from cover to cover. There are so many confused people out there who hold the title but deny everything the title demands.

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When you can’t have what you desperately want…..

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There’s nothing worse in life than being put into a position not of your own choosing (or so you may feel) whereby you find there is something you really, really want (or even need) and cannot have it. Think of those who are in the persecuted Church who can’t have the freedom the rest of us take for granted to worship the Lord, but they have been given the grace to cope with that incredibly. Or anyone who finds themselves in prison whether rightly or wrongly – to have your freedom removed and all your routines and usual luxuries (whatever that may mean to you!) removed – I would imagine, unless you are a very strong person, you would be sitting in solitude many times thinking of nothing else but something that is somewhere unavailable to you for many reasons.

The old maxim about the more you can’t have something the more you want it holds so true in this life, but it’s a lesson I believe that God grants us the opportunity to learn here which should provoke us to think more of possible losses the other side of the grave.

Many of my posts recently have featured death, heaven and what comes next and I believe that much of that has to do with the fact that while the world continues to live as they did in the times of Noah, Christians are acutely aware that unlike any other time in history, we are indeed now more out of time than ever to proclaim the Gospel and provoke people to reconsider their life viewpoint.

Most think that hell, if they believe it exists in any shape or form, is somehow just going to be an alternative form of living after death and won’t be anywhere near as bad as the bible or Christians make it out to be. Most only hear about the “hellfire and brimstone” aspect and while some do take note of the “eternal torture” concept, they try not to think about it too much. But to me, hell encompasses something far worse than either of those – scripture teaches that the most intolerable element of being in hell will be that aspect of not being able to have what you will then truly desire – to be in God’s presence and accepted by Him for eternity.

Jesus tells the story of one such individual in hell that is the most graphic description of the reality of it for everyone to take notice of – Luke 16: 20-28 outlines how the rich man who ended up in hell was not only aware of where he was, but also able to see those in heaven, know who they were and speak to them.

Luk 16:19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in richlaz.jpgpurple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: 20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, 21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; 23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And he cried and said, (Image copyright of Darlene Slavujac Thau) Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. 25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.
26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. 27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: 28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. 29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. 30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. 31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

Moreover he had to have been acutely aware that he could never have what he now sought most, which for him, was to protect his family from joining him, but you can get the overall sense of his utter despair that his choices have once and for all been removed.

Hell is not just torment and damnation – hell is specifically the endless loss of choice to accept God for who He is and to worship Him rather than ourselves. Hell is as eternal as heaven and that’s the crux of the matter. If you don’t make your choice for Him here, there will be no further opportunity after you die – your life here determines your life there.

If you choose to cut God out of your life or not accept His authority over your life, then you have chosen your eternal end to be the same. There are only 2 choices -(eternal) life or death! Choose wisely.

Mat 10:28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

The privilege of freedom and the price paid for it….

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Freedom – the ethos of the Western world and the privilege of many within it.   Yet how many of us truly appreciate it – especially as Christians.   Do you ever stop to thank God for it, and recognise how different your life and walk with Him might be if you lived in certain other parts of the world.   We’ve all heard stories about the persecuted Church, yet how many of us stop and think about them when we can’t be bothered to go to Church on Sunday or don’t want to read our Bible.  

I think we’ve got so blase about our freedom we never give it a second thought, and act as though it could never be removed, thus something we don’t have to contend with or think about.  Yet, in many parts of our privileged Western society moves are afoot to change this in so many different ways it’s quite scary. Apart from all the current talk about global terrorism and the loss of privacy, we see a lot more happening now in the way of removing freedoms from Christians on varying levels – in the US it’s been shown quite dramatically, from prayers being removed from schools to (Navy) Pastors being told they can’t pray in Jesus’ Name in public if in uniform (despite that being their ‘job’!!).  Children are being told they now can’t even read a bible in school in case it offends other classmates, and we can’t have that now can we!!!  Don’t know about you, but I got offended by a whole lot more than the bible, when I was at school.

Have you thought about what it might be like in the not too distant future bible-pic.jpgwhen that free choice is removed – when you can no longer go to church without a second thought, or decide whether you want to read a bible or not, or indeed whether you want to become a Christian or not. You may think – no big deal, or it wouldn’t bother you, but trust me – it will, if for no other reason than the very fact that it’s not allowed or has become illegal. Because the society that will promote such an ethos, is one where free choice in many areas will most likely have been removed.  Certainly, here in the UK, it is looking very much like Islam may indeed become the dominant force within 2 decades at most (given the current rate of capitulation to its demands), and thus Christians will be under threat of punishment if they don’t desist from practicing their faith, and perhaps a further decade may see life being like it is for Christians in other Muslim majority countries where Christians daren’t even be seen holding a Bible much less talking about it, or preaching, and where coming together to pray “in Jesus’ Name” could be a virtual death sentence or at best, imprisonment.

So the next time you can’t be bothered to read a bible, think on – some day you may live to regret that, when you no longer can find one to be had in bookstores, and accessing it online may be monitored by your jail_hand.jpgGovernment, and then even if you do have access, you have to hide it or ensure that even your family don’t know you are reading it, as they will report you to the authorities. Think I’ve exaggerating – then you obviously know nothing of the true Persecuted Church (e.g. China) or how Muslims treat converts to Christianity within their own families (UK) or indeed just Christians in their area (e.g. Gaza).   Treat your freedom with perhaps more respect and appreciate just how fortunate you are if you do live in the West, to have it to the extent you do.   Stop allowing this dire culture of political correctness to actually destroy your freedom by allowing minority faiths and those with no faith at all, to trample all over it.   And remember the biggest freedom of all comes from the Gospel (which is why so many work so hard to destroy it!) because Jesus came to set man free from the greatest enslaver of all – sin – and provide us with the inner Joy that can only come from His gift of Redemption and Salvation – all other freedom is transient outside of Him, but that doesn’t detract from its necessity for the wellbeing of mankind.  

Joh 8:32 “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”