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Death comes to us all, but that doesn’t make it any easier.

I’m numb. I don’t know what to think. I feel like I should be feeling more, but I don’t. Not yet, anyway.

At nearly 40 years old, I still don’t expect to lose people around my age. I definitely don’t expect to lose friends I’ve known my whole life. And if it does happen, I expect it to come after a long fight against cancer or some other disease process. I surely don’t expect it to happen suddenly & in a way that looks random from our point of view.

How do you process that kind of break? Especially in these days of social media when you see what’s going on in everybody’s lives so frequently? One moment a life is being lived, posts are being published about that life, & the next…you find out the account will never have another post from that person again. Time will appear to stop at that last published post.

We don’t know our days. We aren’t guaranteed even our next breath. But it’s so hard to live, to really live, in that knowledge. We expect to go to sleep & rise again the next morning. We expect to go about the mundane & not so mundane days of our lives in perpetuity. At least, that’s how I feel most of the time—not consciously, mind you, but practically anyway. Even though I know it’s not true. Even though I recognize that my next heartbeat comes only if the Lord wills.

This life is pointless & death is meaningless if the universe & life are merely random coincidences. If I state the first part of that last sentence without the qualifying clause at the end (“This life is pointless & death is meaningless”), we know on its face, in our guts, that it is a patently false statement. We can suppress that knowledge, but there is a gut reaction to a statement like that which tells us something is wrong with it. When someone we know dies, especially someone we care about, we know life & death are not meaningless. If they were, we wouldn’t ache for the loss we feel; we wouldn’t grieve over that person no longer being here. But we do. We ache because something meaningful is gone from our lives. We grieve over the loss.

There is meaning there. There is meaning in the life as a reflection of the One who created it. And there is meaning in the death because we are reminded that death is not natural, that it is not right, that there is something wrong about people dying.

When death is a drawn out process, we can see the wrongness of it; we can see how disease is unnatural. And we also, many times, get to see how God uses that time to soften hearts, to bring family & friends close, to let people serve one another out of love, to let us see people suffer well which reflects Christ.

But when death is sudden & unexpected? It may seem more unfair because we don’t get the time to say our goodbyes or to process what has happened like we do with terminal illnesses. It hurts. Maybe not more but probably more acutely much of the time.

Life goes on. Sometimes it takes awhile for those closest to the death, but it still eventually goes on. In the meantime, don’t waste the death, the ache, the grief. Use it wisely. Mourn with those who mourn. Serve them (even if it’s just being there). Take the time to think about death & life & what meaning there is in them. Ask yourself the hard questions about this life & about what happens at death. Think about the options & what explains our experience of life on this earth the best. Does it make sense that there is no real meaning to it, that we are just a cosmic accident? Does it make sense that there are a plethora of gods who compete for various aspects of this life & world? Does it make sense that there is a single god who is distant from its creation & impersonal?

Or does is make more sense that there is one God who created all & made it good, but whose creation rebelled against Him resulting in evil touching all aspects of that creation leading to death & destruction? A God who cares for what He has created & takes a personal interest in the lives of His children, who cared so much that He revealed Himself to His creation & went so far as to insert Himself into His own creation to save His chosen ones from destruction?

These are hard things to think about, but they are worthy to be considered. Especially in times like this: when death has come suddenly, unexpectedly; when it has come in a way that seems so unfair to us who are still living; when we can’t help but consider our own mortality.

Think on these things. Dwell on them even as you grieve. Even as you mourn with those who mourn. Even as you love those still living. Even as you serve them.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭1:3-4‬ ‭ESV‬‬

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A Eulogy Of Sorts

It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything, but something happened today that got my mind churning & made me want to share some thoughts. My uncle died today, and I’ve been dwelling on that as well as something my cousin posted on social media. Maybe this is my way of processing his death or maybe this is just a way for me to help organize my thoughts. Either way, I’ve been feeling the need to write this. 

A little background first: my uncle Dave was a wonderful guy to be around. He loved to kid around–poke you in that ticklish spot on your side just below the ribs, give you a cow bite on the thigh, make a good-natured joke about your height or hair or whatnot. When I picture him in my mind, I always see him with a smile on his face or asleep–he could nap just about anywhere. He was a large man, a bit rotund you might say. I can’t recall him being any other way, but it fit him if you know what I mean; he was jolly Uncle Dave. He loved to hunt & his home was filled with the trophies of his sport. But Uncle Dave had a heart condition, had had it since he was a child, a kind of congenital heart disease (CHD). He was having a heart procedure earlier today & didn’t survive it. I don’t know yet all the details, but they’re really not important right now anyway. 
CHD runs in his family, & my cousin has lost two daughters to it as well. After he passed away, my cousin posted [edited]: 

“I HATE CHD!! F— you heart defects!”

That post has been on mind since seeing it almost as much as my Uncle Dave, aunt, & cousins. Why? Because I believe the sentiment is correct. I think we can rightly hate diseases & defects of all kinds: CHD, cancer, asthma, allergies, & on & on & on ad nauseam. These are things that we know aren’t right, that we know deep down don’t belong in this world. And it can create a raw anger when a tragic event like this occurs. 
But what should be the effect of that anger? Or how should it be directed? There are likely a lot of possible responses; some of them harmful & some of them at least somewhat helpful. However, what I propose is the proper effect or what I hope it causes, especially in those closest to the tragedy, is a longing–a longing for something better, a better place, a place that doesn’t have any of this misery. 

If you feel that kind of longing, there’s a reason for it. And it’s not some ethereal floating on clouds, playing harps place the longing is for; that place isn’t real (& let’s face it, that sounds terribly boring; who would really want that?!). 

No, that longing is for something real, someplace tangible. It’s the longing for God’s good creation before sin’s effect began marring all of the created world. It’s harkening back to Eden & forward to the new Heaven & new Earth. It is a longing that can only be satisfied by following One Path. There is One Way to one day gain entrance to that real place in which all disease, all defect, all misery will be naught; all other paths lead to never-ending misery. The only Path that will satisfy your longing is reached through belief in Jesus the Christ: belief that He existed temporally (on this earth), that He exists eternally, that He fulfilled God’s law (lived a perfect life without sin), that He died & in that death took on the punishment for breaking God’s law that we deserve, & that He was resurrected from the dead (which provides the proof that He is who He says He is). 

“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” – Acts 4:12

I am thankful for that longing & even that it intensifies during grief. And I am thankful for the hope that the longing will one day be satisfied. 

Please be praying for my family & especially for my aunt & cousins. Pray for comfort in the midst of their grief. Pray that hearts would be softened & not hardened toward Christ. And pray that no matter what, Christ would be glorified. 

Uncle Dave, you will be sorely missed. You were much loved by many people, & many will grieve bitterly over your passing. Though you will not see this, I would that you know I love you & I will miss you!

I Want You

I have been thinking off and on lately about why I post the things that I do on Facebook/Twitter/this blog, and it seems to me that I ought to give a bit of an explanation. Obviously, my sports & other “entertainment” related posts are mostly just for kicks, and I don’t really have many (if any anymore) political posts (I pretty much try to avoid all these subjects for this blog). But what about what some might call my “religious” posts (which is exactly what this blog is for)?

Well, there are at least a couple of reasons. Some of what I post is directed specifically toward fellow Christians. These Bible verses, comments, & ideas are meant for the edification &/or comfort of fellow believers. They are meant to call them to action or increase their faith in Christ or comfort them in times of suffering. I hope that God uses my posts for these things.

More than that, though, many of the things that I post I do so in the hope that God will use them in some way to call sinners to Himself for their salvation & reconciliation to God through Jesus Christ. I often wonder if they have had or ever will have such an effect, but that is not up to me. I only (hopefully) plant the seed; God gives the increase.

So here are my desires for those of you who might read my posts who do not believe in Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world:
-I want you.
-I want you to know the love that God has for His children.
-I want you to be reconciled to God so that you might avoid the punishment that is due to you for your pride & rejection of Him as the sovereign ruler of all things.
-I want you to know the peace that surpasses all understanding; a peace that in the midst of otherwise unbearable trials can leave you still rejoicing with joy unspeakable.
-I want you to have the hope that I do that no matter what happens in this life, no matter how long or short my time is upon this earth, no matter what happens to this rapidly declining, degenerating body that I now inhabit, I will one day be resurrected to a new body to enjoy the presence of God on a new earth that is free from corruption & sadness & anything bad.
-I want you to be my brother or sister in Christ; in other words, I want you to be a part of my family & to be loved as family both by God and by those who would become your brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ.

One Little Phrase…

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (‭Philippians‬ ‭4‬:‭4-7‬ ESV)

Isn’t it interesting that in the middle of these verses (right at the end of verse 5) we find this little phrase: “The Lord is at hand”? Right in the middle of rejoice–don’t be anxious–pray–be thankful–you will have peace–your hearts & minds will be guarded–right in the middle of all that Paul says “The Lord is at hand”. This is why we can rejoice always. This is why we do not need to be anxious about anything. This is why we should make our requests known to God with thanksgiving. This is why the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
We see this same thing in James 5 for why we should be patient:

Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. (‭James‬ ‭5‬:‭7-9‬ ESV)

I am thankful to my pastor for pointing this out in James last week. If he had not, I may never have noticed that little, but so important, phrase in Philippians.

A Compassionless Society

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

The above quote is an excerpt from “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus which is engraved in bronze on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. I quote it because it seems to me to be representative of one of the great pillars of this country from even before its inception–compassion–harkening even back to the days when the first Pilgrims came to these shores seeking religious freedom. But this pillar is tottering & may have already fallen. We now live in a country (and maybe even a world) that has no compassion–at least not collectively (I’m sure there are still those who are compassionate on an individual or personal level).

In recent weeks/months, I’ve witnessed news accounts & Twitter/Facebook posts that demonstrate just how callous we’ve become as a nation. I’ve seen busses full of children/families trying to escape conditions most Americans cannot even imagine blocked by an angry mob more concerned about how the children entered this country than what the children are running from or how desperate their needs might be.

I’ve seen a bill likely to be introduced into my own state’s legislature that would withhold state funding from communities that are willing to take in some of these refugee children.

    Do you realize that the current “immigration crisis” primarily involves children? Do you realize these refugee children are fleeing some of the most dangerous countries in the world? Do you realize that we live in one of the richest country in the world, and that although these refugees may cause a significant financial strain to local governments, if churches and individuals would step up to care for them rather than leaving the care of orphans (& widows & the poor & the oppressed & the …) to the State, it cause nearly the strain that it currently might?

And I’ve seen people up in arms over bringing home a nurse and physician with ebola who have risked their own lives to help others. Forget that every conceivable precaution has been and is being taken (above and beyond what is needed even) to prevent that horrendous disease from spreading. Forget that those infected might want a chance to be close to family before they potentially die. Forget that death is not a certainty with Ebola or that they can receive the best possible care here in the US. Forget that the greatest threat for the spread of the disease is coming in contact with the blood or secretions of someone with ebola who has not been diagnosed. Forget that this desire to keep them out of the country may negatively impact people’s desires to serve those in need overseas.

No. Only remember that Ebola is a contagious disease that wreaks havoc (in spurts) on another continent that doesn’t have the facilities or resources that are available in this country to keep something like it from spreading.

    I saw an interview with one of the doctors at Emory yesterday morning regarding the precautions in place to prevent the spread of Ebola. Do you realize the room the patient is being cared for in was designed in conjunction with the CDC to treat SARS patients? Do you realize that SARS is much more contagious than Ebola? Do you realize Ebola is not spread through airborne particles but only through contact with contaminated blood/secretions?

I understand some concern about these things; concern is normal. But what I see, or what is implied whether intended or not, by these kinds of reactions is hate. Hate for one’s neighbor (before you try to argue that these people aren’t your neighbors, look over Luke 10:25-37). Hate toward anyone or anything that might upset our comfortable little lives.

You can deny that it’s hate all you want, but I think such an overt lack of compassion & love for others can be nothing but hate.

I think what really bothers me more than anything about what I’m seeing is that much of it seems to be coming from the “Christian” Right. If we call ourselves by the name of Christ, then we, above all others, should be at the forefront of demonstrating compassion and love and caring for others in dire need. We should willingly be sacrificing our own desires, & even lives, rather than trying to save our comfortable existence in this world. Or have you forgotten this world is not our home & we are merely sojourners here? Have you forgotten Christ’s great love for us that while we were still sinners he DIED for us? Have you forgotten that we should love others BECAUSE He first loved us?

I have a recommendation for you if you are a conservative Christian: Pay greater attention to the Word of God through which you were saved than any of the talking heads in the media; they have their own agendas (or the “news” organization’s) to promote that are not God’s agenda.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (‭James‬ ‭1‬:‭27‬ ESV)

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (‭Matthew‬ ‭9‬:‭36‬ ESV)

When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. (‭Matthew‬ ‭14‬:‭14‬ ESV)

But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ (‭Luke‬ ‭10‬:‭33-35‬ ESV)

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, (‭Colossians‬ ‭3‬:‭12‬ ESV)

Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” (‭Matthew‬ ‭19‬:‭13-14‬ ESV)

“You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. (‭Exodus‬ ‭22‬:‭21-22‬ ESV)

He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. (‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭10‬:‭18‬ ESV)

“Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.” (‭Zechariah‬ ‭7‬:‭9-10‬ ESV)

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (‭Matthew‬ ‭25‬:‭41-46‬ ESV)

We Are Sinners But God Is Compassionate

If you’re not familiar with the Old Testament nation of Israel & its history of being shown over & over again miraculous signs & wonders from God yet repeatedly rejecting Him, Psalm 78 is a good overview of that history. However, while I was reading it this evening 2 verses stuck out in the midst of the psalm:

In spite of all this, they still sinned;
despite his wonders, they did not believe.
[…]
Yet he, being compassionate,
atoned for their iniquity
and did not destroy them;
he restrained his anger often
and did not stir up all his wrath.
(Psalm 78:32, 38 ESV)

These verses are not only true in relation to the Old Testament nation of Israel; they are also true for us today in relation to Jesus the Christ. We see the wonders of God daily: the sunrises; the changing of the seasons; the growth of plants; the awesome variability of the flora & fauna; the growth of a human from the joining of sperm & egg into a little baby, small child, teenager, adult; and on and on and on. We also have the testimony of the Bible from the wonder of creation through the mighty works of God in the Old Testament to the miracles of the New Testament, & the ultimate of all wonders in God’s Word–the resurrection of Jesus from death!

In spite of all this, we still sin; despite all these wonders, we still do not believe!

And yet, God is compassionate! Even though we do not obey His Word. Even though we sin against Him. Even though we reject the Creator of all things. Even though we reject the Savior. Even though we do all these things to directly offend Him who is infinite & is perfect in all aspects of His character (which means He is infinite & perfect in both Love AND Justice among many other attributes). He desires to see His people saved!

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:9 ESV)

God’s most basic laws show us that we are sinners & should make us realize, merely by comparing our individual lives to His standard, that we are incapable of obeying His laws of our own accord:
1. We love other gods (This means we love other things above God Himself, not necessarily that we love specific gods such as those of other religions, though it definitely means that as well)
2. We serve images & idolize things above God.
3. We use God’s name flippantly.
4. We do not set aside a day for God. We do not rest from our worldly pursuits & focus purely on Him.
5. We do not honor our parents (while under their roof or once on our own)
6. We murder (if not literally, than by our anger with others–see Matthew 5:21-22)
7. We commit adultery (if not literally, than by our lust of others–see Matthew 5:27-28)
8. We steal (there is no qualification here of the worth of the object stolen)
9. We lie about others.
10. We desire things that others have.
[from Exodus 20:3-17]

And if that was not enough, look at what Jesus says in Mark 12

And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:28-31 ESV)

Do we manage to uphold even these 2 things?!

And yet, God is compassionate on us wretched sinners who deserve His Just Wrath for our transgressions against His infinite character! Jesus came to fulfill God’s law & accept the punishment we deserve in our place as only one who was fully God and fully man could possibly do. He willingly laid down His life, & if He had done only that, it would be of no eternal consequence; it would essentially be meaningless. He also rose from the dead. He defeated Death! Because of that, we have hope!

Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:12-22 ESV)

Jesus is the good news to the bad news that we have sinned against God and are deserving of eternal punishment. How does this good news, this Gospel, become your hope? Repent, turn away, from your sinful ways; believe in Jesus the Christ and what He accomplished through His life, death, and resurrection.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. (John 3:16-18 ESV)

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6 ESV)

And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12 ESV)

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 ESV)

because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. (Romans 10:9, 10 ESV)

Is God a Monster?

I posted a link on Facebook the other day to a blog post entitled “Why Does God Create People He Knows Will Go To Hell?” In the post, the writer makes the analogy that to argue that God is not merciful because He does not save everyone is the same as arguing that Schindler was a monster because he only saved hundreds of Jews rather than finding a way to save thousands.

In the discussion following my Facebook post, a friend commented,

Except Schindler wasn’t an omnipotent being. If Schindler could have easily saved more Jews without effort but chose not to because they were defying him and needed to be taught a lesson, then yes, he would be a monster.

It seems obvious my friend is saying that if an omnipotent God (such as the God of the Bible) exists, then He is a monster because He does not save all people even though He could:

  • If God is all-powerful, He can save everyone.
  • God is all-powerful.
  • He does not save everyone.
  • Therefore, He is a monster

This, however, is not the God that the Bible presents. The Bible presents God as being infinitely perfect. This means, in part, that God is not merely all-powerful or all-loving or all-knowing; it means He is the essence of power, love, knowledge, righteousness, justice, wisdom, etc. All of these things have their origin in Him.

Now, back to my friend’s comment.

Let’s consider for a moment, “Why does God allow some to go to Hell (since that is really what we are talking about when we ask, “Why doesn’t God save everybody?”)?

If I commit an offense against another person, I should be punished with a punishment that is commensurate to the offense committed & to the dignity of the one offended. [The following examples are assuming the crimes are committed in Ohio] So if I toss litter out my car window, it’s a $100 fine. If I am cruel to my animal, I could spend up to 90 days in jail & could have to pay a fine of up to $750. And if I commit aggravated assault against another person, I could be convicted of a felony, spend 18 months to 6 years in prison, & pay up to $5000 in fines.

I point all this out to show that the greater the inherent dignity of the one offended, the greater the punishment. The punishment for assault is not greater than that for animal cruelty because it is more serious but, rather, because humans have greater inherent dignity than mere animals.

This understanding helps to explain why it is just for God to condemn us to Hell. Even the apparently smallest offense is an offense against an infinite being; because God is infinite, his dignity is infinite. If we are guilty of a crime against one of infinite dignity, our punishment should also be infinite.

[Click here and here (page 21 at the top) for some things that were helpful to me in understanding this]

So, this helps explain why it is just for God to condemn sinners to Hell, but it still doesn’t answer our question of “why doesn’t God save everybody?” However, this actually approaches things from the wrong angle. What we should be asking is “Why does God save anybody?”

There are at least a few things to consider here.
1. All have sinned (Romans 3:23). This is, I believe, self-evident. One doesn’t need the Bible to tell us that we are sinners. Look in the mirror. Reflect on your life. Even if you do not believe in the authority of the Bible, you should at least recognize that at some point(s) in your life, you have wronged another person–i.e.-you have done wrong (if you say you haven’t, you’re a liar). If there is a God and you have done wrong, then you have sinned against Him & are deserving of infinite punishment (see above). What reason does He have to save you from that?

2. Your good is not good enough to make up for any bad you have done. Whatever good you might try to do to make up for your wrongs is not good enough because you are incapable of perfection or infinite good. Once you are marred, once you are imperfect, there is nothing you can do in and of yourself that can make you perfect again (assuming you were ever perfect which, of course, you weren’t). If God is perfect (which, I think, He has to be in order to be God. If He wasn’t perfect, He couldn’t truly be God; he would have to be some kind of lesser being), He cannot allow imperfection into His presence, else He would cease to be perfect.

3. But you might say, “If God is all-powerful, he could just make everyone perfect or just erase their sins at the wave of His hand.” Well, let’s think this argument through for a moment. For God to be God, He must be all-powerful (as above, if He is not, then he must be some lesser being). And if that were all there was to it, then the argument put forth at the beginning of this post would stand, & God would be a monster–no argument; hands down, he would be a vindictive, hateful, spiteful, evil God. However, this is not all there is to it. God is not merely all-powerful. He is also merciful, loving, omniscient, & just (among other attributes). But here’s the thing about God’s attributes…they are perfect. He cannot violate one attribute to serve another attribute. So, although He has the power to erase everyone’s sins, He cannot do so without violating His perfect justice. The sins of each person must be paid for, either by that person (which, as I pointed out above, can’t be done) or by someone else. There is no other human being who can pay the price for your sins against an infinite God because every other human in the entirety of history has sinned…except one.

4. That One is the answer to “Why does God save anybody?” That One fulfilled God’s righteous law (that everyone else has broken). That One paid the price that no one else could pay because only He was sinless. That One took on the punishment for each & every person over the entire course of history who looked to God in faith and repentance & believed in Jesus (either as we now know Him or in the promises made by God that the Savior would come).

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. (1 Timothy 1:15 ESV)

[…]if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” (Romans 10:9-11 ESV)

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” (John 3:16-21 ESV)

I am not good

I want to be a good father
I am not
I want to be a good husband
I am not
I want to be a good son
I am not
I want to be a good grandson
I am not
I want to be a good brother
I am not
I want to be a good cousin
I am not
I want to be a good employee
I am not
I want to be a good coworker
I am not
I want to be a good teacher
I am not
I want to be a good friend
I am not
I want to be a good leader
I am not
I want to be a good follower
I am not
I want to be a good servant
I am not

I want to be good
I am not

But…

Praise God!
Jesus was, is, & forever will be!
He is my goodness!
I am not.

Send Prayers But Don’t Just Send Prayers

A friend of mine retweeted the following on twitter: “If everyone who is “sending prayers” to OK would send some clothes or money instead, they could actually help.”

There’s some truth there even if it is a bit misplaced. As Christians, we should most definitely be praying for all those affected by the devastation caused by the tornado in Oklahoma. Pray for safety. Pray for healing. Pray for the missing to be found. Pray for comfort. Pray for peace.

But…let us also do. Let us care visibly for those in need. Let us love our neighbors as the Good Samaritan loved his (& realize that the point of that parable is that everyone is your neighbor not just those I lose proximity to you). Let us love others as God has loved us. Let us sacrifice for others as Jesus sacrificed his life for poor, undeserving sinners such as ourselves.

And continue to pray. Add to those prayer requests that God would be glorified in this tragedy and would make himself known through his people demonstrating his love toward others.

Do Not Compromise; Do Not Show Animosity

Dear Christian brothers & sisters, do not give in to culture, society, this world for the sake of avoiding conflict:

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18 ESV)

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world— the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17 ESV)

But also, do not despise those who stand against you & harbor anger & ill will towards them:

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:14-21 ESV)

Remember. You were once like them. You once were an enemy of God so have pity on them. Show them mercy. Show them love. For your Savior has done as much (& much more) for you.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:1-9 ESV)

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