Shrinking God: Why that’s not a good idea

“O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgements and unfathomable His ways!” (Romans 11:33).

“These things you have done, and I kept silence; You thought that I was just like you” (Psalm 50:21).

For some reason, at the very time we need God’s great love and power, we keep trying to make Him less than He is.

Which is laughable, when you stop to think about it.

This is the God who created the far reaches of this universe with its distances and complexities and components.  And we’re going to reduce Him and make Him like one of us?  Truly laughable.

Continue reading

What a pastor should tell his people about this election

Many say there has never been such an election as this.

Whether that’s the case or not depends on when you lived.  John Adams felt that if the country elected Thomas Jefferson as president, it was all over.  Much of the country felt in 1860 that if Abraham Lincoln was elected, the nation could not survive.  It almost didn’t.  And throughout FDR’s four terms, people spoke of him in the bitterest of ways, calling him a dictator, saying whoever assassinated him was doing the nation a favor.

We’ve always had tough elections and flawed candidates.

And now–in 2016–we have the latest incarnation of flawed candidates: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

An evangelist friend said this week that he finds both candidates repulsive.  He plans, however, “to hold my nose and cast my vote” on November 8.

Continue reading

God or a hole in the ground: Our choices

Some years ago, the well-known astronomer Hugh Ross and I were taking part in a radio talk show at Ohio State University.  We were discussing some theme related to the origin of the universe when an irate woman called in and began to attack us with a volley of words.  Her charge was that our conversation was really nothing more than a smoke screen for reversing Roe versus Wade and taking away a woman’s right to an abortion.  Remember, we were talking about the origin of the universe. 

Throughout her tirade, she repeatedly insisted, “it’s my moral right to do what I choose to do with my body!”  Finally, when she paused for a breath, I said, ‘All right, ma’am, since you brought it up, I’d like to ask you a question.  Can you explain something to me?  When a plane crashes and some die while others live, a skeptic calls into question God’s moral character, saying that he has chosen some to live and others to die on a whim; yet you say it is your moral right to choose whether the child within you should live or die.  Does that not sound odd to you?  When God decides who should live or die, he is immoral. When you decide who should live or die, it’s your moral right.

There was a pin-drop silence.  (–Ravi Zacharias in The End of Reason: A Response to the New Atheists)

To me, the amazing thing is that the abortionists will frequently claim to be Christians.  In fact, they will claim the exclusive right to the message of Jesus and accuse Bible-believers of usurping His message for their narrow, joy-killing purposes.

When a person sets his mind to deny reality, after that, anything goes.  Nothing is a stretch for them thereafter.

Continue reading

Leave us with our illusions

“For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust” (Psalm 103:14).

God is under no illusion about us. He knows we are made of humble stuff.  He knew He was getting no bargain when He saved us. When we sin, the only one surprised is us.

Whether we are under false conceptions, i.e., illusions, about God is another question.

One thing is sure. We sure do love our illusions, our pipe dreams, our false ideas and wrong impressions.

“No one should see how sausage or their laws are made,” goes the saying.  The internet traces the quote to Otto von Bismarck, German chancellor of the late 1800s, who is supposed to have said it more like “Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.”

Leave us with our illusions.

Continue reading

What causes God to laugh

“But Thou, O Lord, dost laugh at them; Thou dost scoff at all the nations” (Psalm 59:8).

Was it Erma Bombeck who once said, “Know how to make God laugh? Tell Him your plans.”

Or was that Joan Rivers?

Anyway.  It’s right on the mark.

The writer for Our Daily Bread tells this:  I was washing my car one evening as the sun was preparing to kiss the earth goodnight.  Glancing up, I impulsively pointed the hose at it as if to extinguish its flames.  The absurdity of my action hit me, and I laughed.

I get a kick out of seeing how prophecy experts bend over backward trying to locate the United States–as well as whatever country happens to be giving us headaches at the moment–in Scripture.  As though our moment in history is so huge and our place in God’s plan so essential, how dare anyone suggest He could have planned the grand sweep of history without our being given a starring role.

As if.

Isaiah 40 has a good word on this.

Continue reading

Things God enjoys most

“Well, I know there’s a lot of big preachers that know a lot more than I do, but it could be that the good Lord likes a little pickin’ too.”  –Tom T. Hall, “The Year That Clayton Delaney Died”

Yogi Berra watched as the batter approached the plate.  The Yankee catcher had seen it all, and this guy was like so many: eager to get a hit, but needing all the help he could find.  The batter stood at the plate and made the sign of the cross, then pointed toward the skies, both symbols of prayer as he summoned the Almighty to his aid.

“Hey buddy,” said Yogi from behind his mask, “Why don’t we just let the Lord enjoy the game?”

I’m with Yogi.

That begs the question of course.  We wonder if the Lord enjoys a baseball game occasionally.

Does God smile at the antics of a small child?  Revel at the cuteness of puppies?  Does He ever sit back and enjoy the music of an orchestra or choir?  Did God like that rainbow I saw yesterday?

Continue reading

What lazy theologians do

“Benjamin Franklin invented the lightning rod in 1749.  Yet because of opposition from local clergymen–man should not dare ‘avert the stroke of heaven’–the lighthouse did not receive protection from God’s thunderbolts for more than two decades.”  –The New York Review, May 26, 2016

Imagine the thinking of some people: We shouldn’t protect ourselves from lightning, lest we interfere with God’s judgment.

Abandoning their responsibility, criticizing those trying to help, and blaming their warped thinking on God.

“This is how God set things up.”

Interesting theology, I think we can agree.

If we carried that reasoning to its natural lengths, no one should wear seat belts or repair the brakes on cars just in case the Father in Heaven had planned to kill us that morning.

God should always be given a free hand in these things.

According to the authorities, the San Andreas Fault, that break in the earth’s crust running up and down California, is overdue for delivering the mother of all earthquakes.  One expert said, “The San Andreas is 10 months pregnant.”

When that happens, as we are assured it will, two things will follow:  devastation on a massive scale and lazy theologians blaming it all on God.

“Why did God allow this to happen?”

Continue reading