This guy found a problem in the Bible and thinks he can now disprove God

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds…” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

I was reading comments on a friend’s Facebook page on something she had written about the Bible.

After a number of statements from one critic in particular–each comment shallow and several of them insulting–she patiently responded with kindness and reason.

But nothing worked on that guy.

When one is determined not to believe, no amount of truth or reason or logic can penetrate the protective armor of alibis, arguments, excuses, and slander in which he clothes himself.

What was the “contradiction” he had found in Scripture?

He said, “In one place the Bible says an eye for an eye and another place it says turn the other cheek.  What do you say about such a contradiction?”

I found myself wondering if this guy was serious.  My 13-year-old neighbor could answer that.

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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?

Does the Lord ever summon an angel in and say, “Look at that waterfall! And take a gander at those butterflies. Didn’t we do good?”

I wouldn’t be surprised.

He has been known to enjoy His own work.

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Church members who practice atheism

All these things they will do to you for My Name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me.  (John 15:21).

The problem with preacher-haters and trouble-makers in the church is that they do not believe in God. That statement might require a little clarification.

Those members who are determined to have their way regardless of the cost to the fellowship of the church, the unity of the congregation, the continuance of the pastor’s ministry, or the sacrifice of programs of the church are not without religious convictions.

They may have even had religious experiences. Of a sort.

Regardless of what they believe, most are atheists in the purest sense.

Whatever belief in God they possess is theoretical. God was in Christ, yes. He was in the past. And He will be in the future, they confess, when He takes them and others like them to Heaven.

As for the present, alas, they are on their own.

What, you may be wondering, would lead me to say such outrageous things about some people who are members of churches and who frequently get elected to high positions of leadership in those churches?

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Pretend you are omniscient. Here’s how that looks.

General George Patton of World War 2 fame lived in the grip of a strong sense of destiny.  At times, he felt he might be the reincarnation of some ancient Roman general.  There was a daring and innovative spirit about him, a combination, some said, of past generals such as the Confederacy’s Nathan Bedford Forrest and Jeb Stuart, and the Union’s George Custer.

Patton knew he was special and felt “the gods” had ordained him for something dramatic in life.

According to LIFE magazine for November 30, 1942, he expected his death to be spectacular.

He has a date with history, but the date, he thinks, will be brief.  He expects to be killed in battle, not bombed out of headquarters somewhere to the rear, but blown up, bit by bit, in a tank advancing at the head of a victorious attack through the enemy’s strongest lines.

This premonition that he will be killed in battle is not something new. He had it in 1917; he had it during all the years between World War I and World War II, when even the Army seemed to believe there would be no more wars. He often described his premonition to his wife, until today she too believes it.  Of course, it may not come in the present desert campaign, but Patton’s friends now take his word for it: it will come sometime and it will be glorious. (p.116)

That’s what he expected about his death.  It was not to be.

Four months after the war ended he was killed in an automobile accident.

He must have been so disappointed.

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Mankind: Made of a different sort by the Creator Himself

People are different from all other animals God made.

We sit in front of the television watching nature shows and swoon at the images of baby tigers, baby baboons, baby anythings.

We are wired that way, to love the creation around us.

I walk the path in our little neighborhood and breathe in the fresh air and delight in all the hues of the leaves in a hundred trees.  They cover the trees and carpet the ground and they are enchanting.

The two mallards in the pond seem to see nothing but each other and the water around them.  They never seem to look around at the glorious landscape and praise God, but simply go their merry way as though the world was built just for them.

We see an animal in distress and our hearts go out to it.  No one exemplifies this quality of mercy more than my wife whose heart is touched by every cute puppy, every cuddly kitten, ever shivering animal in need of warmth and food.

This is a Godlike quality.  He does this.  We do.  And no other part of His creation that we have found does it.

The gorilla is tender toward its own baby but not toward anyone else’s.  The mare is protective of her foal but not of the kid of the goat born the same morning.  The mama bear is legendary in her protection of the babies in her den, but not of anyone else’s. Only we love them all.

God made us this way.  It was this way from the beginning.

Then God said, ‘Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth’…. And God said, ‘See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food….’ (Genesis 1:26-30)

It’s the natural order of things.  God did it.

Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.  (Genesis 2:15).

The conclusion of the matter, according to the Psalmist, is this:  The heavens are the heavens of the Lord; But the earth He has given to the sons of men.  (Psalm 115:16).

Don’t hurry past that, as I fear most people do.  In His Bible commentary, John MacArthur says of this verse, “Strong implications that planet earth alone is the dwelling place of life.”

While that is an interesting observation, I suspect it misses the point.  The point is that mankind is the custodian of all that is on the earth.  Scripture teaches that God made man “a little lower than the angels” (Psalm 8:5) but superior to everything else on the earth.  We know that mankind is possessed by a wisdom and creativity that is light years above that of any other creature on this planet.

I sat on my back deck giving thanks to our wonderful Lord for the trees and for man’s ability to turn the wood from those trees into this deck.  I thanked Him for the minerals in the earth and for man’s ability to transform those fascinating elements into the car I  drive.  For the air I breathe and the way it will purify itself if not overloaded by impurities, and the same with the waters in the ocean.

The sparrows and cardinals came to my feeder while I sat there.  They have no thoughts of where the seeds in those holders originated, only that they are there and edible.  They partake and fly away.  My heart is thankful, for they have graced my morning.

I pray for the birds and the fish and turtles in my pond, asking the Father to nurture them and protect them and show me what to do to help them.

No other part of creation does this as far as can be seen.  Only humans seem to care for all of creation.

We are responsible for this earth.  That is a sobering, almost frightening, thought.  We will give account.  And when I see that our President appoints someone to monitor the climate and recommend policies and changes to benefit all humanity, I do not see this as another useless bureaucracy but something with great possibilities for good.  I pray so.

We have littered the heavens surrounding Planet Earth with untold thousands of bits and pieces of space junk, leftover from previous flights and satellites and rocketships.  And now we are considering sending people to Mars, where eventually we will leave behind trash and garbage and debris.

It is Godly to care.  It is God-like to act to work to keep the oceans pure, the air clean, the earth safe.  It is God-like to love the critters, as Ellie Mae called them.

“Father, Thy will be done on earth–all of earth, every aspect of earth–as it is in Heaven.  Amen.” 

 

 

You are loved. Everlastingly so.

“The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying, ‘Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love….’” (Jeremiah 31:3)

What part of ‘everlasting’ do we not get?

Lately, we are learning through science what unending and infinite look like. Space seems to be continuous, going on and on.  The lineup of galaxies across the heavens staggers our imaginations, considering their size, makeup, number, complexity.

The Psalmist who said, “The heavens declare the glory of the Lord” (Psalm 19:1) had no clue just how much they say about the majesty and might of our Creator. That’s not to imply we do, only that we have far more information on the complexities and delights of the universe which the Father has wrought with His own hands than biblical writers ever dreamed of.

“From everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God.” (Psalm 90:2)

From everlasting in the past to everlasting in the future, God is God.  There never was a time when God did not exist; there will never be a time when God does not reign.

Personally, I cannot get my mind around that. To my puny intellect, infinity of any kind is fearful.  To think of being snuffed out upon death, that after our last breath, we are extinguished forever, is frightening and painful beyond belief.  I think of loved ones whose passing took with them a huge hunk of my heart and soul. The thought that I would never see them again strikes me with a sadness incalculable.

But infinity of the other kind–living forever and ever, world without end–is just as mind-boggling. How could that work? How could we exist knowing that nothing would ever end?

The answer is and absolutely must be: “It’s a different realm.”  This mortal must put off its mortality, its corruption, its limitation, and be changed forever–into immortality, into glory, into power.  “We shall be changed.”  (See I Corinthians 15.) That “change” is a requirement before you and I begin to make that adjustment.

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Congregational phobia: The preacher’s occupational hazard

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

Did you see in the news where a schoolteacher is trying to get approved for medical disability because she fears the students in her class?  The anxiety is so strong that she is unable to function, she says.

If she is able to pull this off, watch as plenty of teachers as well as practitioners of other professions jump on that bandwagon.  I can see it now: doctors who fear their patients, parents who fear their children, drill sergeants with a morbid dread of recruits–all will be able to go home and start drawing their pay.

Someone told me about his pastor the other day. His first analysis was that his preacher is simply lazy. He preaches one sermon a week and often gets someone to fill in for him. He canceled the midweek service because so few people were coming, and turned over the Sunday night service to a layman. He moved his study into his home, but cannot be reached by phone because he turns his phone off and studies wearing headphones which bring in music.

As we chatted further, the man said, “This is the pastor’s first senior pastor position. Previously, he was a youth minister. I’ve noticed he has a great anxiety about facing the congregation on Sunday morning.”

Congregational phobia. There it is.

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Envy: The sneakiest sin of all

Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another. (Galatians 5:26)

I find it funny how the Old Testament’s references to envy focus on God’s people looking outward to the world (“sinners”). They were not to envy wrongdoers, those on the outside.

However, the New Testament directs its instructions inwardly, warning believers against envying each other. For those of us who know the inner workings of church life, we fully understand the change.

Now, a confession first.

I have decided this “deadly sin” is not my problem, that envy is not a problem in my part of the world. I honestly don’t know anyone sitting around stewing over the neighbors having a car and wishing it was in their own driveway. I know of no preachers fuming because another pastor received a doctorate which he should have rightfully received. So, maybe envy is no longer a problem to moderns.

But hold on.  Not so fast.

Perhaps I’ve been defining envy too narrowly.

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Humility: It looks so good on you!

“God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Submit therefore to God” (James 4:6).

“Clothe yourself with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (I Peter 5:5).  

“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time….” (5:6).

A Facebook friend said, “I’m very proud of my humility.”

I think he was teasing.

Humility is not a subject most of us would claim to know much about.  In fact, we would shy away from anyone claiming to be humble.  The very claim contradicts itself.

In fact, a truly humble person would probably be the last to know it.   So, when told that “You are a genuinely humble person,” the appropriate response might be something like “Who, me? I wish!”

Now, there are few traits more attractive in a leader than humility.  The Lord of Heaven and earth stooped to wash the feet of His disciples, in so doing forever disallowing His preachers from playing the royalty card (John 13).  “The Son of Man did not come to be ministered unto,” He said, “but to minister and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).

Biblically.  Anecdotally.  And personally. The evidences of a truly humble person are no secret.

Seven traits of a humble person….

One.  An overwhelming sense of the blessings of God.  His generosity. His grace.  “Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for HIs wonderful works to the children of men!” (That praise eruption of praise comes from Psalm 107 where it is repeated in verses 8, 15, 21, and 31.)

God is so good to me.  Far better than I deserve. “I feel like I’m God’s favorite child,” a friend says.  “My cup runneth over,” said King David (Psalm 23:5).

Words you will hear a lot from the truly humble: “Thank you!”

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What the carnal mind will never get about worship

Can we talk about worship?

I’d like to start each section with a fascinating quote.  I can’t vouch for the integrity of any of the quotes since they were lifted from the internet.  But they are good discussion starters…

1) From actor Brad Pitt: “I didn’t understand this idea of a God who says, ‘You have to acknowledge me. You have to say that I’m the best, and then I’ll give you eternal happiness. If you won’t, then you don’t get it!’ It seemed to be about ego. I can’t see God operating from ego, so it made no sense to me.”

There is a reason this makes no sense to you, Mr. Pitt.  The Apostle Paul put it this way: “A natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him.  Nor can he understand them, for they are spiritually appraised” (I Corinthians 2:14).

I don’t mean to be harsh in that assessment, but it explains why so many on the outside look at Christian worship and shake their heads. They just don’t get it.

Let me repeat that: They. Do. Not. Get. It.

2) From a blog in which this guy talks about religion. Someone asked him why God wants us to worship Him.  He answered, “Everyone likes being praised. It’s a huge ego bump, after all. But why does God need it? I mean, what kind of egomaniac needs millions of people all over the world praising his name? Isn’t that a little arrogant?”

Short answer: Yes, it is.

He then proceeded to make a case for God being egotistical.  The funny thing is he thought he was being supportive of God.

He should spare God the compliment.

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