2020 Hasn’t Started Off Very Well

Several friends of mine are suffering through major trials right now.

Some focus on the circumstances, praying exclusively for relief from their hardships. Yes, they look to the Lord, and that’s definitely a good starting place. One friend hasn’t been open to spiritual conversation in years, but her current situation compels her to ask for prayer. She knows that she needs God to intervene.

Another friend is going through trials much more serious than those of the first friend I’ve mentioned. And her trials have been relentless. Yet even as she tells me through tears about all the severe affliction she’s enduring, she hastens to proclaim God’s goodness. She even praises Him for opportunities He gives her in her circumstances to tell others about her Savior.

Pain surrounds a lot of believers right now. Perhaps this new year has also been unkind to you. If so, follow the example of my second friend. Turn your eyes upon Jesus, trusting His sovereignty. He will give you a beautiful perspective.

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Have You Ever Been Angry At God?

Experience Bible“God has big shoulders. He can handle your anger.”

Several times, people have used that rationale to encourage my feelings of anger towards the Lord. I don’t know if this concept comes from so-called Christian psychology (it seems altogether likely), but I  absolutely believe we must reject it.

Of course I empathize when people experience such anger. During John’s cancer, I even confessed to friends that I had feelings of hatred towards the Lord. As I think back on the time that I lacerated my throat by yelling at Him, I have compassion for others who go through similar outrage. I know the pain of hearing about His sovereignty and therefore feeling helpless to influence His will. So as you read this article, please don’t mistake me as being callous to your frustrations.

Having said that I empathize with anger towards God, I must say as gently as I Continue reading

Throwback Thursday: It’s Not About Why A Good Man Suffers

Originally posted February 16, 2018:

God Answers

Of course I’d read the book of Job many times throughout my 47 years of being a Christian, so its story hardly surprised me as I read it this week. Yet this time I noticed Job’s attitude. During the course of his trial, it degenerates from trusting God to questioning Him to flat-out anger against Him.

Job knew that He’d initially done nothing to warrant the severe suffering that God allowed Satan to heap on him. When his three “comforters” asserted that God was punishing him for sin, he vehemently denied their analysis. Sadly, as they persisted in their accusations, Job slid into the sin of self-righteousness, eventually demanding that God answer to him!

As we know, God finally puts a halt to Job’s temper tantrum by reminding Job that He created heaven and earth. Therefore He has authority to act however He pleases, and His creatures really don’t have any right to call Him into account. Thankfully, Job then repents of his self-righteousness and receives a restoration of God’s blessings.

Let’s talk about Job’s self-righteous anger against the Lord for a bit. I’d never really noticed it until this week, but I believe it holds a key to understanding the whole message of the book.

In college, a classmate who categorized herself as an agnostic summarized the book of Job as an exploration of the question, “Why does a good man suffer?” I thought of her assessment this week as I read Job’s self-righteous protests of his innocence, and I realized the glaring fallacy of her statement.

God used Job’s suffering to reveal Job’s heart. For all his attempts at piety and obedience, deep down Job ultimately trusted in himself rather than God for his justification. God used the trial to confront Job with his arrogance. Although he’d done nothing to provoke God’s judgment when the trials began, his reaction to the unfair remarks of his “comforters” led him to express his deep-seated self-righteousness. And it was ugly.

God, in His grace, allowed Job to recognize his need for a Savior. He graciously brought Job to repentance, and then rewarded Job for that repentance. The book isn’t about a good man who suffered as much as it’s about a good God Who uses suffering to show us both our sin and His wonderful grace.

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The Followers Of Rachel Held Evans Need Compassion And Truth

Untitled-1For a short while in the late 1980s, I participated in an AIDS ministry. I remember my friend Bob Winter (who began the ministry in response to his own battle with AIDS) teaching us that it’s easy to be right and yet be very wrong. In other words, we can present truth, but in a manner that rides roughshod over the feelings of hurting people.

I’ve been thinking about Bob’s remark today as I’ve thought about the followers of Rachel Held Evans. These people have indeed been deceived by her liberal approach to Christianity — particularly her rejection of Scripture’s authority. They need Continue reading

Good Friday And The Pressure To Feel Appropriate Emotions

Horrible Beautiful CrossI remember the Good Friday marches Church of the Open Door staged during the years I belonged to that church. With men portraying Jesus (carrying a hollowed out cross) and a Roman soldier followed by six women dressed as mourners,  thirty or forty of us would parade down Fourth Street in San Rafael, CA. Ending at Courthouse Square, we’d sing a few praise songs before someone read a Gospel account of the crucifixion.

Even more fondly, I remember the Good Friday plays that our drama team presented a few hours afterwards. I helped write and direct three of those productions, enjoying the collaborative writing followed by six weeks of rehearsals. Best of all was Continue reading

Movie Night With American Gospel

Friday night I resisted the urge to put another Bette Davis movie in the DVD player. Instead, I forked over the $4.99 to rent American Gospel: Christ Alone from Amazon Prime (it can also be rented from YouTube). Although I felt somewhat uncomfortable with the appearances of Jackie Hill-Perry and Matt Chandler, overall the film presented the Gospel accurately and exposed various ways that we distort and counterfeit it.

Please watch this trailer. I pray it will encourage you to rent the movie.

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