Friday, May 24, 2019

Too Hot to Handle: Anonymous Asks (41)

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

Tom: It’s Crossover Friday!

A couple of weeks ago my co-contributor Immanuel Can helped me answer a question for one of my weekly Anonymous Asks columns. I had another doozy handed to me this morning, and I think I’m going to share this one with him too. Here goes:

“Many Christians seem to live more in defeat than in constant victory. Shouldn’t the word of God, being born again, or both, be more spiritually powerful in order to make it easier to battle sin? Wouldn’t a bunch of victorious believers be a better testimony?”

I’ll let you take first crack at that, IC …

Thursday, May 23, 2019

“I Love You,” She Said Determinedly

A man and a woman are going to bed. It’s been a long day — work has been vexing, the children have been demanding, calls and emails have piled up, and best efforts at getting it all done have failed. Irritations have built up; and at times, the couple has actually been a bit snappish.

The husband is middle-aged, and somewhat dumpy and slightly graying. His earlier grumpy mood has subsided only into a plodding weariness as he gets ready to turn in. He’s left his slippers askew in the corner again, and hung his trousers over the chair instead of putting them in the closet.

The wife turns to her husband and says, “I love you.”

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Exile or Egypt?

Yesterday we looked at the Assyrian invasion of Israel which took place during the ministry of the prophet Isaiah around 2,700 years ago.

With an army at their doorstep, the citizens of the city of Samaria were confronted with a choice: repent of their sins, humble themselves under the chastening hand of God and probably end up in Assyrian exile, or else seek the protection of the Pharaoh in Egypt in hope of retaining some of their wealth and a few shreds of national pride.

The message God gave Isaiah for the people was quite unambiguous: “Don’t go down to Egypt.” Not a complicated instruction, but it certainly went against Israel’s inclinations.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The Egypt Option

Roughly one hundred years before the city of Samaria fell to Assyrian invaders, King Jehu of Israel offered tribute to their king, Shalmaneser III.

We know this from an inscription on the side of a seven-foot obelisk currently making its home in the British Museum. It depicts a rather scruffy-looking Israelite monarch on his face at the feet of his Assyrian counterpart. The accompanying caption reads, “The tribute of Jehu, son of Omri: I received from him silver, gold, a golden bowl, a golden vase with pointed bottom, golden tumblers, golden buckets, tin, a staff for a king [and] spears.”

The black obelisk was carved approximately 2,800 years ago. As you may appreciate, there are not many such items around. Those that remain are highly valued by historians.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Anonymous Asks (40)

“In Genesis, Adam and Eve leave the garden and cities are already there and other people. Please explain.”

This is definitely something you have been told, not something you have observed for yourself. I can say that with confidence because it’s quite wrong, and even a quick and dirty scan-read of the first chapters of Genesis should not leave a reader with that impression.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Inbox: Blaming the Buzzsaw

Concerning the judgment of the Egyptian firstborn in Exodus 12, Qman writes:

“I would say that many people would sort of be appalled at the fact that the Egyptian firstborn (mostly politically innocent; depending on age, this could be into young adulthood) had to bear the brunt of this whole affair. What would the conversation between God and that creature be when they met? God to firstborn: ‘Sorry I just had to kill you because your king had a major attitude.’ How would that go over?”

Good question.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

How Not to Crash and Burn (59)

To call Agur an obscure Old Testament character would not be out of line.

The first twenty-nine chapters of the book of Proverbs set out the compiled wisdom of Solomon. Obviously not all of it; we’re told he wrote 3,000 proverbs and an additional 1,005 songs, so this is the tip of a large iceberg. It’s a pretty impressive resume by any standard.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Too Hot to Handle: Cult of Personality

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

Sunny Shell no longer follows John Piper or any of his ministries, and she certainly doesn’t endorse them to her friends. Why? Well, Piper invited speakers to his Desiring God National Conferences whose character and practices Sunny finds highly questionable, and Piper publicly participated in a “mystical type exercise”. Sunny concludes that Piper has been in some ways “led away from sola scriptura”, and has effectively written him off.

Tom: Now, I’m not about to critique Sunny’s choices here, Immanuel Can. I have more than a few doctrinal quibbles with Mr. Piper myself. But her post brings up a significant issue.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Who’s Minding the Store?

I’m seeing more and more of those “self-checkout” units at the local stores. They always creep me out a bit. There just seems to be something really weird about the idea of walking up to a mechanical box, shuffling around my own transaction, and then leaving, going out of a store without passing by a person.

I feel as if I owe somebody some kind of explanation, like “Here’s my purchase, and here’s my money, and they match up; so don’t call the cops.” And then this person is supposed to give me the nod, like, “Okay, you’re alright this time; but when you come back, we’ll need to see each other again.”

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Hooks and Nooses

“[I]f you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you.”

We often have more than one reason for saying the things we say. God could have said, “If you serve their gods, I will be offended.” That would certainly have been true. He could also have said, “If you serve their gods, you will find it useless.” This too is true. Inanimate carvings of wood and stone have no power to protect or deliver. He could have said, “You don’t understand that serving their gods is really serving demons.” Once again, entirely true. He could even have said, “If you serve their gods, I will punish you severely.”

This was most definitely the case.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

The Olive Tree in Romans

Significant numbers of Christians over the years have had difficulty understanding the image of the olive tree the apostle Paul uses in Romans 11. If you doubt this, consult any combination of online commentaries. You’ll quickly see interpretations differ wildly.

For those who wonder why something like this matters enough to merit an entire blog post, bear in the mind that Romans 11 speaks of the future place in God’s purposes of his earthly people, the nation of Israel. An increasing number of Christians are convinced all God’s promises to Israel are fully realized in the Church, and that the “Israel” of which the Old Testament speaks is actually … well … us.

How you understand the olive tree is all tied up in that.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Anonymous Asks (39)

“How did dinosaurs exist if they are not found in the Bible?”

It’s next-to-impossible to determine for certain what really happened fifty years ago, let alone four thousand plus. Try internet-researching a moderately popular TV series from the late 1960s or early 1970s. A few are quite well preserved. For most, you’ll find a super-grainy, speedily deteriorating video clip of the opening and closing credits of a single, sorry episode, hastily digitized and uploaded to YouTube, and maybe a transcript of a TV Guide episode summary on one of the Wikis.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

The Religious Flesh

“It is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. For this is what the promise said: ‘About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.’ ”

Fruit is often used both in the Bible and elsewhere as a metaphor for children, and with good reason. You don’t need to be a geneticist to observe that the fruit of a tree carries in it the nature of the tree on which it grows, and expresses that nature to the world in the next generation. Or at least it should. Real-world results with human beings vary, as we have all observed.

Turnabout being fair play, perhaps you will excuse me using children as a metaphor for fruit. Well, metaphorical fruit at least.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

How Not to Crash and Burn (58)

Three of these final nine Solomonic proverbs address masters and thieves.

For the thief, there is a certain excitement and freedom from the moral strictures others are required to observe, but these come with the potential hazard of arrest, prosecution and punishment. Flaunting society’s rules always brings with it the possibility of eventual payback. And while it is certainly a better lot in life overall to be master rather than servant, that role brings with it responsibilities, decisions and difficulties neither slave nor employee really has to trouble themselves about.

Though very different, neither master nor thief is always a desirable role to play.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Too Hot to Handle: Sexuality and Public Education

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

[Editor’s note: This post is almost four years old, and the Ontario government that implemented these curriculum changes is long gone, thank the Lord. But don’t think they (or others like them) won’t be back in short order. Sadly, these issues will be part of our lives until the Lord returns.]

In the news this week: the sex education curriculum for the Ontario public school system will now be implemented starting in Grade 4. That’s correct: if you live in Ontario, your eight-year-old will be discussing sex in class come September.

And not just the usual stuff we were embarrassed to listen to in high school.

Thursday, May 09, 2019

Getting to the Truth

“I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God.”
— English Common Law
Oath of Testimony

The fight outside a club was broken up by police; but a man was stabbed. Inspector Thomas has been assigned to find the assailant.

When the perp fled, the crowd scattered, but four witnesses remain: a bouncer, the girlfriend, the bar manager and a local cabbie. Inspector Thomas knows procedure; that each must be interviewed separately in order to get a complete picture.

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

When God Says Things He Doesn’t Mean

Forget pancakes. Here’s a stack of problem verses to chew on instead:

“Take your … only son Isaac, and offer him … as a burnt offering.”

“ ‘Rise, go with them’ … But God’s anger was kindled because he went.”

Let me alone, that I may destroy them and … I will make of you a nation mightier and greater than they.”

Sometimes God says things he doesn’t really mean. Think about that a bit.

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

That Wacky Old Testament (12)

“Every firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb, or if you will not redeem it you shall break its neck.”

Well, that seems a little brutal, doesn’t it? “Hello, baby donkey. Nice to see you in the world. SNAP!”

What on earth is THAT all about?

Good question. Glad you asked.

Monday, May 06, 2019

Anonymous Asks (38)

“Can ghosts and evil things get me?”

Let’s see. There are indeed “ghosts” in the Bible.

The King James Version uses the word 109 times, though not in any sense that should keep us up at night. All occur in one of two expressions: “Holy Ghost” (an antiquated way of referring to the Holy Spirit) or “give up the ghost” (which just means dying).

In modern translations the word is used whenever superstitious people saw something they couldn’t explain, and wrongly assumed they were being visited by spirits. The disciples saw Jesus walking on the water and cried, “It is a ghost!

Like most reported ghost sightings, it wasn’t.

Sunday, May 05, 2019

Persecution and Wrath

A great number of Christians believe the Church will go through the Great Tribulation.

Reasons for this vary. For some it’s all about heavenly trumpets: how many there are, and when they sound. For others, the teaching of the apostle Paul that the godly “shall suffer persecution” and the words of the Lord himself that “in the world you will have tribulation” tip the scales in favor of a Church that will suffer through the end times along with the world. Others compare the order of events in John’s Revelation visions with the future described by the Lord Jesus in the gospels, leading them to anticipate martyrdom like so many of our fellow believers throughout history. Still others believe the doctrine of the Rapture originated in the 16th century counter-reformation teaching of Papal Rome, and therefore consider it discredited.

All these are arguments from detail.

Saturday, May 04, 2019

How Not to Crash and Burn (57)

Who are you? Who am I really? Good questions.

Well, we are the sum of any numbers of things, including but not limited to what we think, what we do, and — by far the most important — who we are in God’s eyes.

What do we really feel in our hearts when we’re under intense emotional pressure, and how would we react if everyone could see that on full display? What do we allow ourselves to engage in for the sake of polity or social acceptance, and is that consistent with what we claim to believe? How does God distinguish between us? What are his metrics?

Three consecutive proverbs contribute to the discussion.

Friday, May 03, 2019

Too Hot to Handle: A Lack of Leadership

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

Is a good man always hard to find?
Immanuel Can: Tom, we need a new generation of spiritual leaders in our congregations. But they don’t seem to be appearing in most places, and not nearly fast enough for the rising need.

What can we do?

Thursday, May 02, 2019

Anonymous Asks Again

“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

You asked, “Why does school suck?”

Yep, It Does

When I was young, there was a pop song called Kodachrome that began with the words, “When I think back on all the crap I learned in high school / It’s a wonder I can think at all.” I think a lot of people feel like that: when they think about what their teachers forced them to learn, they can’t imagine what the real purpose of it all was. I was like that. In fact, I eventually dropped out, though I did go back later.

So I get your point.

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Wagging the Dog

“It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”

Trudy Smith of the Huffington Post asks, “Was Jesus racist?” Her answer, of course, is yes.

That’s hardly surprising. The HuffPost is the online poster-rag for the New American Left. In their exceedingly well-defined and ideologically-pristine PC world, even the Son of God takes the knee before the official progressive racial narrative.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

When Waiting is Worth It

“O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all.”

Here we find Moses complaining to God that the Lord is not fulfilling his promises quite fast enough for Moses’ taste. Perhaps you may have voiced something similar once or twice.

We know how this particular story ends, right? God brings his people out of Egypt with a series of mighty, miraculous works, and makes a name for himself from one end of the known world to the other. The tale is still being told today.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Anonymous Asks (37)

“Why does school suck?”

For a Christian teen, there could be all kinds of reasons.

If you’re in a public school in 2019, you are being non-stop propagandized with — in no particular order — naturalism, secularism, materialism, existentialism, neo-Marxism, multiculturalism, diversity-worship, post-modernism, neo-Darwinism, progressivism, globalism, extreme environmentalism, feminism, militant sexual deviancy and licentiousness, pro-abortionism, hatred of the so-called “patriarchy”, generalized political correctness and a poorly-concealed loathing of everything that built Western civilization or that you read in your Bible.

I may have missed a couple there. Small wonder a Christian may wish to be elsewhere.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Knocking Over the Hurdles

Lately I’ve been reading a lot about how important it is not to put barriers to Christian faith in the way of the unsaved. I certainly don’t want to do that, and I’m very sure you don’t either.

Archaic language and holy jargon can be hurdles. Arguing about the age of the earth can be off-putting, as can paternalism, denominational conflicts, smugness, and a host of other far-too-common attitudes and practices that needn’t and shouldn’t get in the way of the knowledge of Christ.

These things are unnecessary, and it’s shameful to see someone shake his head and retreat into the darkness of ignorance and eternal loss over the bad manners and misplaced priorities of the messenger, over mere tradition, or over form.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

How Not to Crash and Burn (56)

Egotists and self-interested people are the bane of civilization.

Once upon a time, a nation divided up its countryside and farmed it. Everyone did roughly the same thing and required approximately the same knowledge and physical skills.

Then came city life and with it the need for specialization. No longer self-reliant and autonomous, those who embraced urbanization came to prize men and women who could manage the affairs of thousands efficiently. When they did it well, everybody enjoyed life. When they did it poorly and selfishly, everybody suffered.

Solomon comments on aspects of this phenomenon.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Too Hot to Handle: Bypassing the Intellect

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

[Editor’s note: The following email back-and-forth reproduced here didn’t really bring us to any hard-and-fast conclusions about transcendent experiences and how the Christian ought to process them. Perhaps we talked past each other a bit too much. Certainly, we all used the words “I think” far too often for any of us to hold our respective positions too dogmatically. All the same, it seems to me the exchange serves as a good example of how brothers in Christ tend to work things out in our heads by bouncing ideas off one another, as well as a plausible explanation for why their wives flee the room at such times.]

Bernie: I remember being struck by something Ravi Zacharias said some years ago. I can’t find the original quote but my attempt at a paraphrase is this: “Music has a way of bypassing the intellect and speaking directly to the heart.”

Anonymously Asking More Easily

Hard-coding HTML tables from scratch is not my favorite pastime, but I finally got around to adding the titles to our reference pages for at least one of our ongoing features. The Anonymous Asks posts are among our most-read (there’s a new installment every Monday), and I think it was worth the time invested to give our readers a way to find older posts they want to share, and to give new readers a way to easily locate topics that may be of interest.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Living Large

“What church do you guys go to?”

The question came out of left field. She had been poking around at her desk, seemingly preoccupied with the day’s business. Normally our conversations were rare, light and usually practical.

I liked her as a person, but we hadn’t had many deep conversations. There was always a brittleness in her manner if any spiritual matter ever appeared on the horizon — not an uncommon happening if one teaches literature, as we both did. A lapsed Catholic, now essentially secular in all her habits, she usually avoided such topics completely. So to foray into spiritual issues so suddenly was very unlike her.

“An evangelical church up the road. Why?”

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

When Our Number Is Up

“Then Israel summoned his strength and sat up in bed.”

The book of Hebrews tells us that when Jacob rallied his strength to bless Joseph’s children, it was an act of faith; and not only an act of faith, but one worthy of mention alongside Abraham’s near-sacrifice of Isaac, the crossing of the Red Sea and the fall of the walls of Jericho.

I’m not quite sure how to picture this scene, but it is the last act of a very old man who has come a very long way with God. At the beginning of chapter 48, Israel summons his strength and sits up on his deathbed to give his benediction. Probably he swings his legs down to the floor, sitting on the edge of the bed. When he finishes, at the end of chapter 49, he pulls his legs back into bed and breathes his last.

Job done. Quite the way to go, when you think about it.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Blessing and Judgment

“Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you what shall happen to you in days to come.”

“Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.”

One day, fellow Christian, you and I will be gathered together to hear what will happen to us in days to come. What will your reward be for the things done in the body and your service rendered to Christ? What will be my role in the millennial kingdom of Jesus Christ and in the New Jerusalem for eternity?

These are not irrelevant questions. Eternity is not some giant golf course.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Anonymous Asks (36)

“How can we make our faith stronger?”

On its own, the word “faith” has no real content. It simply means “belief”. People believe all kinds of things, some of them very strongly indeed, but the intensity of their belief does not make those beliefs true.

Thus it is necessary to ask the question, “Faith in what exactly?”

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Somebody Else’s Lamb

A few days ago, I was talking with an atheist.

Yeah, I know …

Courting Disaster

The conversation came around to the Great Judgment. Of course, he doesn’t believe in it. But I asked him a question I’ve found useful in sorting out how people are thinking about God.

I said, “Well, whether you believe it or not, one day you’re going to face God. And if he were to ask you why he should accept you, what would you say?”

Saturday, April 20, 2019

How Not to Crash and Burn (55)

Those who rule over us pay more attention to the small nuances of our lives than we might think.

Never has this been truer than in the information age, when all kinds of micro-details — true, false and grossly misleading — may be compiled into an executive summary with the click of an icon. That said, it is good practice to assume those who have the authority to call us to account are smarter than they sometimes appear. My own boss is able to find out a surprising amount about my work habits and relationships for the purpose of annual reviews, most of it via word of mouth from other employees.

Here are several proverbs that probably originated in King Solomon’s meditations as he observed the daily habits of the subjects of the kingdom he administered, and reflected on the performance and character of its officials.

Maybe one or two of them even noticed he was doing it.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Too Hot to Handle: Ranking Evil

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

History has produced some seriously wicked people. On one level, that’s irrelevant: the comparative gravity or triviality of a man’s sins, as we assess them, makes him no more and no less subject to judgment than any human being born of Adam’s stock. Naturally speaking, we are all hell-bound and desperately in need of Christ.

Tom: That said, some of the people on this list have done incredible damage to the world and to their fellow men and women. Larry Taunton’s team ranked them 1-10. You may or may not agree.

What do you think of the list, Immanuel Can? Does it show a sense of perspective?

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Retro Christianity

“In a post-Christian society, all faithful people begin to look a little Amish.”
— Ken Myers, host of Mars Hill Audio

Nice quote, Ken. Love the way you put that.

He’s got a point, though. In the ongoing moral and cultural decline of modern society, there must surely come a point at which the difference between how Christians live and how their neighbors live becomes too great to escape notice any longer.

And then, in a sense, we will all be “Amish”. I mean those who actually care to be Christians will be.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Agents and Automatons

“Now concerning our brother Apollos, I strongly urged him to visit you with the other brothers, but it was not at all his will to come now. He will come when he has opportunity.”

Not at all his will, despite strong urging.

Apollos had precisely zero interest in doing things the way Paul, with all his godliness and experience, thought they should be done. The two took opposite stances.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Five Times as Much

“Benjamin’s portion was five times as much.”

The Spirit of God frequently uses Old Testament characters to depict aspects of the person and work of the coming Messiah. To list only a few, Adam, Abel, Melchizedek, Isaac, Moses, David, Solomon and Jonah may all be compared in one way or another to the Lord Jesus Christ. Just in case we miss them, the writers of the New Testament (and sometimes Jesus himself) draw our attention to these pictures or “types”.

Joseph is generally considered a better type in that his character and experiences are more “on-model” than, for instance, Jonah or Adam. Numerous similarities may be observed between Joseph and the Lord Jesus. This chart lists 27, but the accompanying article suggests there may be as many as 100. Not only that, but it is generally held that that there are no moral missteps in Joseph’s record which would serve to ruin the sterling comparison.

Or so I have always been taught.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Anonymous Asks (35)

“Why is it ok for the church to sell coffee and other products when Jesus was outraged when merchants were selling things in the temple?”

Ow. That there is a zinger of a question, maybe the best yet.

Let me confess that I am not personally familiar with the practice of churches selling coffee. That’s a new one on me.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Mopping Up the Mess

Kate’s husband Sam cheated on her. For just shy of three years. One night, confronted with Kate’s suspicions, he breaks down in tears, blurts out the truth and begs for Kate’s forgiveness. He abruptly terminates his illicit relationship, confesses his infidelity to the elders of their church, and resigns from his responsibilities teaching Sunday School and administering the church’s financial affairs. Several months later, Sam is living in a motel while he and Kate go through marriage counselling.

Kate knows she is responsible to God to forgive her husband, and she is working hard at that. Her question is whether forgiving Sam means she must take him back, not just as partner in life but as her spiritual head. Several of Kate’s church friends have strong opinions about this. They insist she should do it, and do it as soon as possible.

They say she has not truly forgiven Sam if she won’t take him back.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

How Not to Crash and Burn (54)

The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.

These are well-known biblical truths, and yet notwithstanding the accumulating evidence that possessions and happiness are quite unrelated, the stampede to acquire as much as possible as quickly as possible never abates.

Three of these next ten verses are about money: those who have it, those who don’t, and those who are trying to get it.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Too Hot to Handle: Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

Time has a way of dealing with issues that once seemed irresolvable. In 2018, we passed the 25th anniversary of Gail Riplinger’s New Age Bible Versions, a 1993 offering that rocked the evangelical world by purporting to expose the NASB, NIV and other modern translations of the Bible as literally satanic and their translators as practicing occultists.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Valley and Peak

On September 9, 1939, The Telegraph reported that a woman from London, England named Frances Fripps was accidentally struck by a local bus. Taken to Middlesex hospital, Miss Fripps awoke to find someone bending over her bed. To her utter astonishment, she recognized her visitor as none other than the Queen of England, there for a surprise tour of the hospital.

“They told me I had been trying to knock down a bus,” gasped Miss Fripps, “and now I find you here, your Majesty. What a day!”

What a day indeed.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Relative Righteousness

“She is more righteous than I …”

Judah’s wife had died. He wasn’t exactly a young man at this point, but as they say today, “He had needs.” The cult prostitute he encountered on the road to Timnah was an admittedly sinful but pragmatic way of managing those very normal human impulses so he could get on with the necessary business of shearing his sheep undistracted.

What Judah didn’t know was that the veiled “prostitute” was actually his daughter-in-law, the former wife of his eldest son. She provided her services to him that day in exchange for a young goat from Judah’s flock, which she never received.

Technically, then, not actually a prostitute. Perhaps not a role model exactly, but nobody in this story really is.

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Two Kinds of Anxiety

“I want you to be free from anxieties.”

Now, you may or may not remember this, but it wasn’t the apostle Paul who wrote those famous words “casting all your anxieties upon [God], because he cares for you.” That was another apostle whose name begins with ‘P’.

All the same, many — maybe most — Christians have at one time or other heard these words appropriated to remind them to let go of all their cares and concerns, and hand their worries over to God, who loves us. Some of us heard the line from our mothers, and so the idea comes with a boatload of sentiment attached to it.

What it should not become is an excuse for passivity.

Monday, April 08, 2019

Anonymous Asks (34)

“How do you know God is real besides ‘look all around you’?”

Mileage varies. For me, one of the most powerful evidences of God’s reality is my cat. She is a slightly-dinged-up work of art. The Theory of Evolution by Whichever-Mechanism-is-Currently-in-Vogue offers one possible explanation for her existence. The Bible offers me what I think is a better one: she was designed by an Artist of unparalleled skill. It also offers me an explanation for why she is slightly dinged up: she’s collateral damage from the fall of mankind.

So “look all around you” works for me, but it doesn’t work for everyone. Fair enough.

Sunday, April 07, 2019

Parts of Speech

“The Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is truth.”

“The Spirit of truth … proceeds from the Father.”

It is correct to say that the triune God reliably tells the truth [Gk: alētheuō] and that he always speaks truly [alēthōs]. He is both accurate and ingenuous.

And yet despite their aptness, these statements are not sufficient. They fall short. Scripture makes such claims repeatedly, but that is not all it says.

The doctrine of God’s veracity and reliability does not turn on verbs and adverbs.

Saturday, April 06, 2019

How Not to Crash and Burn (53)

We are coming to the final few Solomonic proverbs assembled by the men of King Hezekiah. Probably at this point the transcribers had run out of bigger themes to explore. All forty-five which remain are two-liners that appear unrelated to one another.

Their brevity is no reflection on their quality. More than a few of the most famous and familiar proverbs you will hear quoted by Christians come from this section of the book.

Friday, April 05, 2019

Too Hot to Handle: Branded

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

They started in 1988 with a 27-year old “senior pastor” named James MacDonald and a couple hundred interested Christians and seekers gathered in a Chicago high school auditorium. Today, they are known as Harvest Bible Chapel, a megachurch with campuses all over the Chicago area and over 100 affiliated fellowships in North America and internationally.

Tom: Today, the mother church is being investigated for alleged financial shenanigans.