Posted in chris koelle, chris powers, discernment, evil, halloween, jesus, william blake

Potpourri: Halloween, Demons on a leash, evil in art, Jesus triumphant

Potpourri:
1. a mixture of dried petals and spices placed in a bowl or small sack to perfume clothing or a room.
2. a mixture of things, especially a musical or literary medley.

Remember the category “potpourri” on the long-running game show Jeopardy? I always liked that show, though I enjoyed host Art Fleming who MC’d the show from 1964 to 1975, more than Alex Trebek, who started in 1984 and is still hosting 31 years later!

Here is a mixture of items for you, potpourri-style!

Halloween is coming, a holiday that is impossible to ignore when you work in a public elementary school among the youngest of students, as I do. I have an abounding abhorrence to anything related to Halloween.

As a child with Aspergers my particular dislikes involved costumes, makeup, mascots, noise and chaos, so being among ALL of that was a trial for me. I also didn’t like approaching homes and talking to people. So, ditto. But I loved candy, running around outside with friends, and being allowed out after dark was thrilling too.

As a Christian adult, promoting a night of evil and buying into satan’s lies galls me too. Some churches forgo the evening entirely and do nothing regarding a “Fall Festival” or “Harvest Fest” while others change the name of their event from Halloween to ‘Hallelujah Fest’ and invite the community in for hot dogs and games as a Gospel outreach. I’ve wrestled with both sides of the argument: I hate satan…I love outreach. I eventually decided that I want nothing to do with the holiday, not even if it has been re-constituted into a more innocent guise like a ‘Trunk-Or-Treat’. However since it is a question of Christian liberty, I tried to do all as unto the Lord and not cause anyone to stumble, so I remained silent about my decisions and simply helped where I could and then bowed out where my conscience came in. Make your decisions thoughtfully and prayerfully, and remember not to become prideful about whatever you decide.

Here are a few balanced essays discussing the question of Christians celebrating Halloween.

Should Christians Celebrate Halloween?

Where Did Halloween Come From? Can a Christian celebrate it?

Christians and Halloween

Speaking of evil spirits, here is a terrific essay on demonology from Answers in Genesis. In American culture we are so sanitized, so scientific, such a high-falutin’ advanced First World country that even Christians find mention of demons or evil spirits distasteful. The subtle or not-so-subtle undercurrent to such discussions even in church is “haven’t we gone beyond that?” Well, no. And certainly satan has not, either.

The opposite problem holds true as well. Churches, especially ones that are starting to absorb Charismatic doctrines, tend to attribute every negative thing to satan, as if he was hiding behind every tree and was the evil force behind everything from spilling your coffee to the paper cut on your finger. Here is a biblical view of satan in an excellent article by noted scholar C. Fred Dickason. Professor Dickason is known as a biblical expert on angelology and demonology. He presents the truth of satan’s influence, extent, and limits, while focusing on the grace of God and the hope we have in Jesus. I recommend the article.

Demons on a leash
Demons are alive and active today, but we can rest in the reality of our Father’s gracious and powerful control.

He examines the following topics in the article:

Biblical Perspective on Satan’s Role
Demons Through the Ages
Demonic Activity in the World
Demonic Opposition to Believers
The Time of Satan’s Fall (and refuting the popular ‘Gap Theory’)
God’s Provision in Our Battle
God’s Sovereign Control
Our Authority in the Battle

Some artists have done an interesting job depicting biblical evil. As a blogger, I am aware that the world is not just words, but desires or needs visual images to accompany and enhance the written works. Yet whenever I write about anything from the dark side of biblical concepts, it’s always a struggle to find appropriate, biblical, measured, and interesting art to go along with the writing.

William Blake was not only a poet but a master artist. He was proficient in engraving, where he served an apprenticeship, and also watercolor and oils. Blake sought to emulate the example of artists such as Raphael, Michelangelo, and Dürer in producing timeless, “Gothic” art, infused with Christian spirituality and created with poetic genius. I do not believe William Blake adhered to orthodox Christianity, but his interest and focus over time allowed him to produce some interesting works.
Blake’s patron Thomas Butts commissioned from Blake a series of illustrations to the Bible that included about fifty tempera paintings and more than eighty watercolors. These focus on Old Testament prefigurations of Christ, the life of Christ, and apocalyptic subjects from the Book of Revelation. (Source, Metropolitan Museum of Art). Blake also is famous for 21 copperplate etchings illustrating the Book of Job in the Old Testament. Here are but two examples from the prolific works of William Blake. His art is in many major museums from around the world, including this at the British Museum

Satan inflicting Job with boils

and this from the Tate Museum, Agony in the Garden (of Gethsemane)

It is a dicey proposition, for an artist to biblically depict evil without idealizing, sanitizing, or glamorizing it. As for a more modern artist, I refer you to Chris Koelle. Mr Koelle illustrated the Book of Revelation a few years ago and his depictions are compelling. The book blurb says,

192-page graphic novel (paperback) Featuring almost 600 illustrations Including all 404 verses of the final book of the Bible Translation by Mark Arey & Philemon Sevastiades Adaptation by Matt Dorff Illustrations by Chris Koelle

Here is his page where you can buy the book and see thumbnails

Of course you know if you read my blog often enough that I enjoy artist Chris Powers. His visual theology is biblically accurate and aesthetically beautiful. Where Blake or Koelle’s depictions of evil both stir and frighten, Powers’ work has a lighter feel. However he still does a magnificent job visually depicting sin, wrath, and death in a way that is thought provoking. Since Mr Powers’ creates his works specifically to be shared, he includes explanations of the verses the powerful images depict and includes his thought process of what he wanted to convey. Like this from Isaiah 42:13-

Source

The LORD goes out like a mighty man, like a man of war he stirs up his zeal; he cries out, he shouts aloud, he shows himself mighty against his foes.” – Isaiah 42:13

In this passage, the YHWH is talking about His zeal-fueled, end-time action against the enemies of His people and that will bring lasting joy and life to those who trust in Him, and as you read the whole of this chapter there will be many allusions that point us to the person and work of Jesus Christ.

As we read this verse in light of the cross, we know that YHWH did in fact “go out as a mighty man” when He came as a man and dwelt among us journeying unstoppably to the cross…It was there at the cross that He cried out and shouted aloud and showed Himself infinitely mighty against all His foes in a way they could never have anticipated. What glory and beauty that our God so zealously pours Himself out for the sake of His glory and the sake of our joy.

So, in this image, I wanted to represent the Cross-Event in light of YHWH’s infinite, warrior-like zeal that we read about here in Isaiah

If you write for an online journal or run a blog, I recommend Chris Powers’ work as the visual enhancement to your writing, especially because of the artist’s explanations of the verses that accompany the visual pieces and his willingness to share for the good of the Body and the glory of Christ.

http://www.fullofeyes.com

So there is your potpourri for the day. As Halloween approaches evil is increasingly on the mind of the pagans and even the Christians. Our eyes are assaulted by movie posters lauding the latest graphic depiction of the underworld. Our eyes avert from the neighbor’s brutal yard art depicting scenes of evil, all in “celebration” of Halloween.

Our sensibilities will be assaulted by seeing yet another child absorbed into accepting the occult as normal, or another adult who succumbs to performing an evil crime on that most dastardly of days. Or simply enduring the abounding sin that Halloween seems to loose. Yet we take heart. Jesus has overcome the world.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33).

The reality is,evil exists in the actual person of satan and his fallen demon-angels. However, we trust in Christ who has overcome and in whom we rest assured of ultimate victory.

But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. (2 Corinthians 2:14)

He made a spectacle of them in His triumph of the cross!

He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. (Colossians 2:15)

Posted in beth moore, evil, Joyce Meyer, mark driscoll, mother teresa, pope francis

What is evil? You would be surprised.

Here are a few links for you. There is a theme.

This was a great analysis of Mark Driscoll’s “Update Apology”. The author parsed Driscoll’s words and translated into plain-speak. And it isn’t good.

An analysis of Mark Driscoll’s update to Mars Hill Church

Because we can do that, you know. We can analyze the words of Driscoll personally, and we can analyze the words as an articulation of Mars Hill Church’s attitudes and intentions. So we can dissect these words to discern what they are really saying to us, the abused. We can listen to what Driscoll is saying and what the church is saying. What is in their heart? Here’s what I’m hearing:

The spiritual abuse Driscoll has heaped on the sheep, and the reproach he has brought to Jesus’ name, is heinous in the extreme. It’s evil.

Once I wrote on Twitter and this blog that if Hitler had repented, he’d be in heaven, and that “Mother Teresa” was in hell. I got a lot of flak. But I wanted to point out two things: Jesus’ work on the cross and His resulting grace covers ALL sins- except the sin of rejecting Him. Secondly, most people don’t know what an evil pagan Mother Teresa was. When they think ‘evil’ the go-to poster boy is always Hitler and when they think ‘nice’ they always think Mother Teresa. But theological rejection of Christ and a lifetime of working against Him is evil. Let’s call it what it is. Here is one author who does.

Here’s What We Learned From Mother Teresa and Why We Should Reject It

Speaking of calling evil, evil, here is Denny Burk on that very topic. Let’s not get so inoculated with the times that we forget what evil is- opposing Christ in any form. Here, Burk uses ISIS terrorists as the example. In his essay at the top is a photo of a black hooded ISIS terrorist holding a knife.My point is that the ones who terrotize in Allahs’ name are not the only evil ones. The smiling pseudo Christians are actually worse.

Refusing to call evil “evil”

This next essay is about apathetic Christians who have emerged from a generation of decisional acceptance of Christ and the prevalent lazy attitude toward obeying Him. We are reaping the ‘rewards’ of a generation as this author says, of “Millions upon millions of content and confident, flesh-obsessed walking dead who think like the world, act like the world, love what the world loves and hate what the world hates…all in Jesus’ name.”

The (church built) Zombie Apocalypse is upon us…

If you haven’t caught on to the theme of this essay with links, it is evil, but not Hitler evil. Not ISIS evil. It’s pseudo-Christian evil, in my opinion, the worst kind. I expect terrorists like ISIS to be ferocious, bloody knife wielding lawbreakers. But the true Christian world forgets that a Beth Moore, a Mother Teresa, a Mark Driscoll, a sin-avoiding preaching pastor, a lazy pseudo-Christian, are also terrorists. They’re terrorists, lawbreakers, spies, and destroyers.

Do you think one of these images is worse than another? You’re right, it’s Beth Moore who is the more evil.

An ISIS terrorist’s gun kills the body. Moore’s weapon, the bible, (the way she uses it), kills the soul. (Matthew 10:28)

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.  (Matthew 23:15)

For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (Jude 1:4)

James Robison and wife Betty.
Their program on Wednesdays features Beth Moore

This matter arose because some false believers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. (Galatians 2:4)

Just because we can see that ISIS terrorists are maniacal, foaming at the mouth unthinking dogs doesn’t make them more evil than a Beth Moore or a James Robison. It actually makes them less evil, because they are easy to spot. The true terrorists of earth are the ones who creep in to church in order to destroy the name of Christ and hinder the witness of the sheep.

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them–bringing swift destruction on themselves. (2 Peter 2:1)

One of the faces of today’s evil

Jesus knows we find it hard to bear the evil done in His name. He understands the teeth-grinding righteous grief we feel when we see what is done in His name by those calling themselves His children-

‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. (Revelation 2:2)

A preacher like Mark Driscoll is actually more dangerous than an ISIS terrorist. Same with Beth Moore, Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen, Kenneth Copeland, James Robison, Mother Teresa, Pope Francis…They have one thing in common, they are all part of satan’s system and are his trophies of evil.

Let’s call it what it is.

Posted in days of Noah, evil, hope, jesus, prophecy

Days of Noah = Which headlines are real and which were April Fool prank?

Matthew 24:37 says,

For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.”

The days of Noah were when men were continually wicked and the thoughts of their hearts were only evil continually. (Genesis 6:5). It was an almost 100% saturated depraved era. Worse, though the people had a century of direct warnings of coming judgment from Noah, they were preoccupied only with the mundane things of life, such as marrying and given in marriage, eating and drinking. Jesus is saying in the days of His second global judgment, it will be of the same conditions as when Noah, a man of righteousness, preached. (2 Peter 2:5).

With that in mind, let’s look at the following headlines and sub-heds. Which is the true headline and which was the April’s Fool prank?

#1. Teenager Will Lose His Virginity in a Live Performance at Art Gallery. Clayton David Pettet, a 19-year-old from Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design, has announced he will lose his virginity in a live performance at an art gallery on April 2, 2014 at The Orange Dot in London. Pettet reportedly plans to have sex with an anonymous male partner.

#2. Hulu’s new original series, “In the Kitchen with Hannibal” Feast your eyes on dishes that are to die for in this new cooking show from Dr. Hannibal Lecter.

#3. “The View’ hosts go nude. Jenny McCarthy and Sherri Shepherd shed their tops on The View to a live audience . Concluding the innocent frolic, McCarthy thanked everyone and said, “Have a great day everyone and take a little time to enjoy ‘our View,’” pointing to her breasts. Then she seemingly reached over and grabbed Shepherd’s breast.

#4. ‘Pastor G,’ Indicted on Child Sex Charges, to Speak at Richmond Church on Good Friday. Geronimo “Pastor G” Aguilar, the former head pastor of the Richmond Outreach Center who has been indicted on multiple counts, including aggravated sexual assault of a child under 14, is one of seven religious leaders scheduled to speak at Cedar Street Baptist Church of God on Good Friday.

Answer below

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It’s kind of hard to tell, isn’t it? The days are so evil, that any of them could be true, or all. Only #2 is false. The rest are true! Hulu’s prank of a new original series featuring cooking by a well-known albeit fictional cannibal. But it sounds like it could be true, doesn’t it? And Number 1, 3 and 4 are true. These things happened.

I didn’t have to search far nor wide to find these headlines either. In my opinion, they represent a culture’s remaining worst of sins that are actually called sins. These represent the last taboos a culture holds on to before caving in entirely to ‘anything goes’. Homosexuality, cannibalism, child molestation, sexual depravity and immodesty/whoredom in women.

“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

Paul knew what tribulation was, and as he advised the Romans, let us also take heed of his advice–

“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” (Romans 12:12)

And what is our Hope? JESUS. He overcame the world. He nailed every sin to the cross, including homosexuality, voyeurism, child molestation, perversion, cannibalism, whoredom. As long as it is the Age of Grace, each one of the people performing the sins and watching the sins and applauding heartily (Romans 1:18-32) can be saved through faith in Jesus and repentance! He exhibits that much grace and has that much patience. As for us, we wait to be released from the presence of sin

As AW Pink wrote in “A Fourfold Salvation

Now is our salvation nearer than when we believed” (Rom. 13:11)—not our salvation from the pleasure, the penalty, or the power of sin, but from its very presence. “For our citizenship is in heaven: from whence we also look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20). Yes, it is the “Saviour” we await, for it is at His return that the whole election of grace shall enter into their full salvation; as it is written, “Unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation” (Heb. 9:28).”

So… we wait. “And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.” (Psalm 39:7)

Posted in charles manson, evil, father of lies, pope, salvation, timothy mcveigh

What do Joel Osteen and the Timothy McVeigh have in common? Mother Teresa and Hitler?

Pastor Don Green of Truth Community Fellowship preached an excellent sermon on February 2, 2014 titled Who is Satan?

He posed a question at the beginning of the sermon, asking, “Have we underestimated satan?” It is a question that I believe has a resounding ‘yes’ for an answer. I recommend the sermon, which is unvarnished truth about satan, satanic schemes, and the demonic horde, combined with a look at the grace of Jesus. Meanwhile, here are some transcribed excerpts,

Paul wrote, “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,” (1 Timothy 4:1)

These doctrines of demons, Pastor Green said, are “not necessarily going to be fiery displays of evil, it will be things cloaked in things that sound palatable to the human ear, things that sound plausible. Things that give you the sense that you can work your way into heaven, or that ultimately God is going forgive everyone and no one will go to hell. Or perhaps that God isn’t as holy, or that you’re not as bad as the scripture says you to be. The vast diversity of evil that the devil propagates through so many different systems shouldn’t confuse us to the ultimate fact that there is a common root.

Pastor Green made the point that there are only two sides. There is the Spirit of truth, and the father of lies. There is no in between. He said, “Satan is the father of every lie that opposes the Gospel. He is a liar and the father of lies.

You know that if someone is not from God, they are of the devil. Truth is not relative. Biblical truth is either/or. (Mark 9:40).

Pastor Green explained,

When we see false doctrine being taught, we need to understand there is more going on than a man who is mistaken. There is a spiritual force at work whether the man is aware of it or not. Men become the mouthpiece of the deceiver of souls. What should frighten us is that satan has the supernatural capacity to make himself look like, to present himself as one who is bringing light, not darkness.

In my never-ending quest to starkly illustrate the truth of the bible’s words, and that it is the same evil behind all that opposes God, no matter how ‘gentle’ it first appears, here are a series of paired photographs.

The same evil that spurred Charles Manson to become a cult leader and a murderer is behind the Pope, too, who is also a cult leader and a murderer of truth and souls, creating sons of hell. (Matthew 23:15)

The same evil that whispered to Hitler to roast Jews in ovens

is behind the Catholic Mother Teresa, whose refusal to share the Gospel sent many to roasting in hell forever, and who said, “There are so many religions and each one has its different ways of following God. I follow Christ”.

The same evil that is behind Timothy McVeigh and his bombing of the Murrah building in Oklahoma City, killing children in the daycare there along with many others,

is behind Joel Osteen, whose doctrines of demons delude millions every week. Many wither on his vine and die weekly

Too awful to contemplate? Yes, it is. The murderous, unsaved men such as Manson, Hitler and McVeigh are children of the father of lies and it is the same spirit that popes, preachers, and religious workers in false religions serve, too. When they die, unless they repent, they all will go to the place where the father of lies is prepared for, hell. Popes, “Mother” Teresa, and Joel Osteen all present themselves as workers of light, but they are in fact all darkness and their evil deeds are the same as the aforementioned men in the murderous category. They all have a common root. Satan.

Here is another either/or:
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” (Galatians 6:7-8)

The good news is that satan has been vanquished by our holy and wonderful Jesus. Jesus came to live as a man for 33 years, teaching and preaching for the last three. He was unjustly killed, shedding His blood for sinners, and exhausted God’s wrath for us. Pleased with His Son’s sacrifice, Jesus was raised from the dead by the power of God on the third day, and has ascended to the Father. Jesus will return in glory to judge the living and the dead.

I’ll paraphrase what Pastor Green said about the urgency of the message. I don’t know if you will be here tomorrow to read these things on this blog or any other blog. I don’t know if I’ll be here tomorrow to repeat them. Your eternal soul is at stake. Please take this seriously. Satan is real, he is a devourer of souls, and if you’re not in Christ at this moment, you’re blinded to the fact that you’re standing on a gossamer web hanging over hell. Your foot shall slide in due time, and your fate will be sealed. Come to Christ now,

And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain– for He says, “AT THE ACCEPTABLE TIME I LISTENED TO YOU, AND ON THE DAY OF SALVATION I HELPED YOU.” Behold, now is “THE ACCEPTABLE TIME,” behold, now is “THE DAY OF SALVATION.” (2 Corinthians 6:1-2)

Posted in evil, prophecy

What does a seared conscience look like?

Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared,
(1 Timothy 4:1-2)

What does a seared conscience look like? Like this:

Now as the king of Israel was passing by on the wall, a woman cried out to him, saying, “Help, my lord, O king!” And he said, “If the Lord will not help you, how shall I help you? From the threshing floor, or from the winepress?” And the king asked her, “What is your trouble?” She answered, “This woman said to me, ‘Give your son, that we may eat him today, and we will eat my son tomorrow.’ So we boiled my son and ate him. And on the next day I said to her, ‘Give your son, that we may eat him.’ But she has hidden her son.” (2 Kings 6:26-29)

You see the issue. The woman was appealing to the King for justice. For a breach of contract. But what a breach of contract! She was SO SEARED in mind that she never stopped to think of what she was saying. “I want justice because the other woman broke our deal to cannibalize our children?!” The horror is that she related this so matter of factly. The worse horror is that she was so unconscious about her sin that she simply and unemotionally stated the facts of the case without stopping to think of what she was actually saying.

That is a seared conscience.

That is also a judgment. Judgment for their apostasy was prophesied by Moses in Deuteronomy 28:56-57:

The most tender and refined woman among you, who would not venture to set the sole of her foot on the ground because she is so delicate and tender, will begrudge to the husband she embraces,to her son and to her daughter, her afterbirth that comes out from between her feet and her children whom she bears, because lacking everything she will eat them secretly, in the siege and in the distress with which your enemy shall distress you in your towns.

Cling fast to the faith. In my opinion, this is why Paul said to take very thought captive, every thought. (2 Corinthians 10:5). Do not listen to liars with seared consciences, who have already been pre-judged for their lies by having the seared conscience to begin with. The road which they travel and lure followers only gets darker and more evil with every step. As with everything biblical, there exists a progression. Ascent into holiness and then glorification is a process and descent into evil and the final apostasy is also a process. It all begins with one step.

This is where sin brings the unwary to: cannibalism…and worse. How can it get worse you ask? Apostasy is a terrible thing. It brings people so deep into sin they can’t even feel their sin anymore. People who have seared consciences are not only sinners, but are “inventors of evil”! (Romans 1:30) Worse, they not only sin deeply, don’t care, and invent ways to perform more evil, but they give hearty approval to those who practice the evil. (Romans 1:31).

Times of great apostasy are always dangerous for the vulnerable- the physically vulnerable and the spiritually vulnerable. In the Tribulation, the vulnerable will be at most risk once again. (Matthew 24:21-22; Luke 12:51-53). It will be a free-for-all of sins like we saw in the 2 Kings passage. A seared conscience is a terrible thing.

If you still feel conviction over your sin, great! Keep that feeling alive by remaining in a humble and penitent relationship with your Holy God. If you do not feel the same about sin as you used to, you must check yourself to see if you are in the faith. (2 Corinthians 13:5). If you don’t, you know the outcome. You will get eaten up- either by your neighbor because love has gone cold (Matthew 24:12) …or by satan, for the wages of sin is death.

Posted in depravity, evil, jesus, sadism

Person of the year, Marquis de Sade

Haaretz posted an interesting opinion editorial the other night. In the spirit of the Jewish New Year and the traditional practice of taking stock, their piece is about how the global national sport seems to be enjoying the misfortunes of others to the point of sadism.

My person of the year: The Marquis de Sade

Portrait of the Marquis of Sade
by Charles-Amédée-Philippe van Loo
(c. 1761)

A happy new year, one of joy at the misfortunes of others
If we were to measure sadism right now around the world, we would discover that deriving satisfaction from brutal acts is one of the most popular hobbies of all. And not just in Syria.

Ironically, this coming year ‏(that is, 2014‏) will mark the 200th anniversary of the death of the Marquis de Sade, the man who gave his name to one of the most common sexual perversions, which is so common today that we no longer treat it as one. When Syrian President Bashar Assad recently attacked his countrymen with chemical weapons, all the journalistic wizards were hastily brought in to explain why. Ask the marquis. What is there to explain here, he would say; there’s nothing more enjoyable than feeling that you are soaring above the clouds of morality and conscience and no longer feel there is anything connecting you to the human race. Other people become objects, pawns in your hand. You’re like God.

At the start of the international year of Sade, I would be pleased if some psychologist or psychiatrist were to invent a sadism-meter to examine the extent of this perversion in all kinds of patients − not necessarily those who clearly are sadists. And also in large collectives and countries, too. The results would be worrisome. We would discover that deriving satisfaction from brutal acts is one of the most popular hobbies of all. And that along with Assad, who is now the target of the whole world’s anger, there is a gallery of other high-ranking people who are just as power-hungry as he, but are sophisticated enough to conceal their perversion.

A Sadism-O-Meter. Interesting, It would be nearing fullness, by now, I should think. It reminds me of Bonnie Tyler’s song, Total Eclipse of the Heart.

Once upon a time I was falling in love
Now I’m only falling apart
There’s nothing I can do
A total eclipse of the heart
Once upon a time there was light in my life
But now there’s only love in the dark
Nothing I can say
A total eclipse of the heart

Scripturally, the Haaretz editorial author’s plaintive cry and desperate search for meaning as to why there is such evil in men reminds me of the scene in the bible in Genesis 6, right before the LORD determined to personally wipe everyone out. It is like He is peeling the layers off of the world’s heart and showing us the evil within. It is simple. People are realizing how naturally evil we are. Hitler was no anomaly. In fact, we are all Hitler.

“Hitler was not an anomaly. Hitler was not a phenomenon. Hitler was what everyone in this room has the potential of being. Not only that, you need to understand that even in all the wickedness of Hitler, he was still restrained by the common grace of God. And you need to know this, that if it were not for the common grace of God, restraining you in your unconverted state, you would make Hitler look like a choirboy.” Paul Washer

“The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” (Genesis 6:5-7)

Unfortunately, the author of the opinion piece, and indeed the world, has yet to learn how deeply the depravity of man will go, if left unchecked. That period will be called the Time of Jacob’s Trouble, or The Tribulation as it is known to us in the church.

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I started this blog in January 2009. It grew from a private newsletter I’d been sending to friends the two prior years before the blog, of thoughts and urgencies regarding the unfulfilled prophecies of the bible. In 2007, hardly anyone wanted to know about prophecy. All seemed well and prophecy was a low blip in a landscape of trends that had previously peaked in the late 1970s. Then the economy collapsed in September-October 2008, Obama got elected. Something about his demeanor caused many to get a knot in their stomach and wonder if the end of all things was in fact really at hand. The economy’s collapse also contributed to the feeling of imminent doom.

Since the inauguration in 2009, we have seen many interesting events occurring which bespeak a soon-prophetic fulfillment of historic proportions. After 100 years, Armenia reconciled with Turkey. Turkey left the West and became overtly Muslim. Egypt collapsed, abandoned its peace treaty with Israel, and became her enemy. The US fell from its position of world leader and sole superpower. China ascended. Russia revived. Mid-east Dictators in the prophetic lands fell, one after another. Syria imploded. One of earth’s largest earthquakes occurred and one of its most devastating tsunamis decimated a nation. Incredible oil and natural gas was discovered by Israel, making her extremely wealthy. She went from an economic importer to an exporter. Volcanoes, long thought extinct, awoke with power. Birds fell from the sky. The weather went haywire, first record heat then record cold then record heat again. Global warming, global cooling, their heads are spinning. Strange sky sounds spooked the world. Exorcisms are way up and demon sightings are common. A pope resigned for the first time in 600 years.

I could go on, but you get the idea. That’s just the last four years. It feels like the world is tilting chaotically. But imagine how much the world tilted when the Gospel went out (HT to Dan Phillips). Acts 17:6 says that the men who preached the Gospel turned the world upside down. Satan in all his efforts to upset the world is like a child batting the bath water. It is the power of the Gospel which upsets, divided, and unsettles!

photo credit: las – initially via photopin cc

For example, last week someone on a secular mommy forum asked if there was a meaning to the sideways cross necklace. They posted a link to my essay discussing the meaning of the sideways cross necklace. I noticed a high amount of traffic from that site so I went to check it out. Some had gone to my blog essay and come back to the forum raving at how”intolerant”, how “judgmental” and how sanctimonious” I am.  I entered the discussion on the forum and shared the Gospel and used bible verses during discussions. They went ballistic! If you poured hot water on a hornet’s nest you could not get any more stinging or buzzing!

This is because in today’s Marquis De Sade world, of flesh and indulgence, make any sort of declarative, unequivocal statement referring to moral standards, holiness, and God’s hatred of sin, and you get a stirred-up mess in return. I was amazed all over again at the power of the Word to upset and convict.

I imagined the men like Jason at Thessalonica who came to preach and how upset the Pharisees and Jews were, as Acts shows. My brief little foray was so small compared to the world-tilting Gospel power of Acts, but it serves to remind me that when you shine the Light in the dark places, the power is there to convict. Some retreat into entrenched sin and are forever literally convicted by the Judge, while others move forward into the light seeking Him to forgive it, but the Light is the key. Keep shining His light of forgiveness from sin and suspension from coming wrath!

In a world where reality tv shows more and more the sick voyeuristic sadism of others, in a world where the news is simply sick with the maniacal gleefulness of people inflicting pain unto others, our gentleness will stand out like a floodlight on a stormy night. Here are some good words from Titus 3:1-2,

“Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.”

As the world continues overtly and shockingly toward total indulgence of the depraved flesh, the one who is submissive, gentle and courteous will be the exception, and people will wonder what force, or what ability, we have to maintain it. It is the forgiveness of Jesus and His Holy Spirit in us! The verses in Titus continue,

“For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:3-7).

God is still sovereign and His ways are unknowable to us. He is in control, despite these unsettlingly rapid evil changes in hearts of men. However “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4).

And never forget, He is still saving souls. Though the world is dark, The Light has come into the world!

photo credit: thisisbossi via photopin cc

Posted in evil, God, holy, minnesota, nazi

The Stranger: Nazi officer discovered in Minnesota

A few days ago, I read an interesting article about a man who had been living in Minnesota for decades was really a WWII SS Nazi Commander. For him to have been a commander in WWII, he’d have to be really old by now, and the story says he is 94 years of age.

I thought that was an interesting coincidence because I’d just watched a movie called “The Stranger”. This is a fictional 1946 movie about a Nazi who had masterminded the genocide of the Jews and when the war was over managed to flee Germany to the United States. He settled in a small village in New Hampshire, obtained a teaching position at an academy, and married the town scion’s daughter. It starred Orson Welles as the Nazi, Edward G. Robinson as the FBI man chasing him, and Loretta Young as the wife who married the Nazi.

The movie built its suspense, making the conclusion a sneak attack of horror. Its chosen location was a burb so guileless that patrons of the General Store helped themselves to pouring the ever-percolating pot of coffee behind the counter while the genial proprietor sat playing checkers near the woodstove with anyone who’d take him on for a quarter. There were happy teens running track, a well-attended church, and a luminous bride chirping about her white wedding.

Harper, NH is a kind of town every person could admire, life there is what we hope for, and wants life to be like. A town that’s safe, pretty, innocent, and upright.

Its stomach-turning, gasping horror was due to the juxtaposition of the clean-cut innocence of the town being gradually overcome with the stain of the evil heart of the Nazi. It was like watching a baby just out of the bath being approached by a rabid, drooling, mangy dog ready to devour it.

The movie gradually descended you into the mind of the Nazi, but the resistance of our mind to recognizing such horror is strong, especially by the young wife who had just married the evil man masked as a thoughtful teacher. In response to her father’s question about walking home after dark, she had said, “In Harper, there’s nothing to be afraid of.”

The fictional town of Harper, NH where the Nazi had come to live

The wife resisted the clear implications of her husband being a murderous Nazi, even after he confessed to two killings. He had (made up) a good reason, after all. She resisted facing the truth to the point where Robinson had to show her film of a recently liberated Concentration Camp, complete with wasted skeletons of people weakly and pitifully thanking their liberators, right down to close-ups of the skeletons in the ovens. The Stranger is said to be be the first to show actual footage of the German camps.

Loretta Young’s character had a problem facing such evil, because one would surely be able to spot it? Something about the person would set him apart from all the other people who are not so evil, surely? We as rational, innocent, good people, would be able to distinguish ourselves from the Nazis who harbored such hellish minds and dark hearts? Surely we would not … marry a person like this?

Loretta Young’s character finally broke down and faced the truth. The movie is called The Stranger and the title is apt. The stranger is not the man who came to town with all his WWII evil hidden away, the stranger is the evil that is in all of us, a potential that waits coiled up like a snake at the base of our hearts, waiting to be fed.

So having just seen the movie the night prior and then reading the article about the Minnesota man, was interesting to say the least.

Report: Former Nazi SS Officer Living In Minnesota
A 94-year-old man who allegedly was a top commander of a Nazi SS unit responsible for the massacre of civilians during World War II is reportedly living quietly in Minnesota, according to an exclusive report by The Associated Press. The news agency says it obtained records through the Freedom of Information Act that show Michael Karkoc

“A June 3, 1944, photo provided by the
U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
shows SS chief Heinrich Himmler (center) as he reviews troops
of the Galician SS-Volunteer Infantry Division.” Source

lied to officials in 1949 about his past in order to immigrate to the United States. According to the AP, Karkoc concealed his military service during World War II as an officer and founding member of the SS-led Ukraine Self Defense Legion and later as an officer of the SS Galician Division. “The Galician Division and a Ukrainian nationalist organization he served in were both on a secret American government blacklist of organizations whose members were forbidden from entering the United States at the time,” the AP reports.”

Michael Karkoc Revelations: Nazi Unit Leader’s Minneapolis Life Prompts Shock
“The revelation Friday that a former commander of a Nazi SS-led military unit has lived quietly in Minneapolis for the past six decades came as a shock to people who knew him, prompted harsh condemnations from World War II survivors in the U.S. and Europe, and led prosecutors in Poland to say they would investigate. … “I know him personally. We talk, laugh. He takes care of his yard and walks with his wife,” his next-door neighbor, Gordon Gnasdoskey, said Friday. Gnasdoskey, the grandson of a Ukrainian immigrant himself, said he was disturbed by the revelations about his longtime neighbor.”

St. Michael’s and St. George’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church

Karkoc is a member of the St. Michael’s and St. George’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church, seen at right, and is a member in good standing, said his pastor. The implication being, how could such a quiet man, who the day before had been seen doing normal suburban things such as cleaning his gutters, have participated in brutal and evil crimes against humanity?

Paul Washer has the answer.

“Hitler was not an anomaly. Hitler was not a phenomenon. Hitler was what everyone in this room has the potential of being. Not only that, you need to understand that even in all the wickedness of Hitler, he was still restrained by the common grace of God. And you need to know this, that if it were not for the common grace of God, restraining you in your unconverted state, you would make Hitler look like a choirboy.” Paul Washer.

The “shock” is not that there is a Nazi living among us. The shock is, that any one of us could be a Nazi.

When we come to grips with our own terrible evil, evil we use and wield against God every day, we come to better grips with His love for us. His holiness is so pure, so strong and majestic, so piercing, that even a glimpse of it terrifies the common man.

“When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. Aaron and all the people of Israel saw Moses, and behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him.” (Exodus 34:29-30).

His perfection and holiness puts fear into us. That is because we recognize how depraved and evil we are.

Isaiah saw immediately how depraved he was, when confronted by the holiness of God. “And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” (Isaiah 6:5).

The delusion satan brings is that we are good, we are innocent, we are pure. Or, at least to the slightly more honest among us, we’re not so bad.  “We’re not like HIM” our minds cry out when we discover that our neighbor is a Nazi. We use each other as a benchmark of progress in the goodness department, when the true standard is God. Our minds want to shrink from using Him as a benchmark because deep down we know what we are:

“The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5).

Do you see how complete that statement is, “so great”, “every intention”, “continually”? We are saturated with sin, permeated down to the last molecule. Washer is right, “All men are born evil.”

Washer is right to say that Hitler was restrained from worse. The restrainer is holding back the full potential of sin in the human heart, and so we enjoy His common grace. But once the restrainer is out of the way,

“Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, … The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders…” (2 Thessalonians 2:7b, 8a, 9).

In other words, watch out! ‘Satan with all power’. Everyone on earth except those who believe in Jesus after the rapture will make Hitler look like a choirboy. God’s common grace will have been removed- which will reveal the undeniable fact that everyone is not just a Hitler, but is an antichrist.

Once we understand this, the shock shifts. We are no longer shocked by the Nazi man puttering in his garden, because we see ourselves as having the same potential. The shock is, GOD LOVES US ANYWAY.

We can have a higher and deeper awe and love for Holy God because he loved each and every little Hitler on earth. Our precious Jesus died and shed His blood to save us!

“but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8).

If the Nazi in the camp had turned from the ovens and bent down and asked the Lord to forgive his sins, Jesus would have, and the Nazi would go to heaven and the Jewish man on the slab about to be put into the oven would go to hell. His infinite love forgives any sin- except the sin of rejecting Him. His love is eternal, infinite, unstoppable, and would blanket you in glory in an instant,

“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.” (Romans 10:9).

The Lord will unhesitatingly save you, and change your evil heart to a holy heart.

Posted in bad things, disaster, evil, tornado

If God is good, why didn’t He stop the tornado?

It is admittedly hard to read of news where children are killed or harmed. The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newton CT this past December 2012 was surely horrific. Reading about the 20 children who died in the Plaza Tower Elementary school yesterday in Moore OK via a EF-5 tornado is also heart-rending.

At times like these, people often ask, “Where is God?” “How could He allow this to happen?” “Is God good?”

I can put it this way. When a serial killer is placed on death row and eventually executed, we say that justice was done. If a person breaking and entering a home is shot by the homeowner, we often say ‘good! He got what he deserved.’

When Korah rebelled against Moses and Aaron, he was rebelling against God. (Numbers 16:3). The LORD told Moses to tell the congregation to separate from Korah, and Korah, Dathan and Abiram and their household and the goods in the household were swallowed up as the earth opened up and took them alive to Sheol. When this happened, we say “God is just and right to do this thing. Korah was performing a moral evil in rebelling against God trough Moses and Aaron.”

When the tornado came and the earth swallowed the children in the bottom of the Plaza Towers Elementary School,” do we say, “God is unjust and bad to do this thing?” No! God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8).

What we cannot fathom, we must trust that the Lord is good and His purposes are good. On the one hand, He directly put down a rebellion by performing a supernatural disaster as He did in the Old Testament.

On the other hand, what of the children in the elementary schools which were razed by the tornado? If they are declared innocent by a righteous God, as Deuteronomy 1:39 and Isaiah 7:16 and also explained here, then why did they have to die? Why did God allow a natural disaster to take them?

And that is where I stopped my essay, many hours ago. I was stuck on the answer myself because I was unsatisfied with saying that sin is a blanket cause for all evil, including natural disasters. Though the sin done n the Garden of Eden was indirectly the cause of the weather patterns turning deadly, how and what are we to think of a deadly tornado such as the one yesterday, more specifically? My theology brought me to an understanding of sin as a reason for the general evil in the world, including disasters such as the Oklahoma tornado. But it wasn’t a deep enough answer.

But later today, Dr. Al Mohler wrote today of this exact subject. He said, “But Jesus rejected this as a blanket explanation for suffering, instructing His disciples in John 9 and Luke 13 that they could not always trace suffering back to sin.”

What are we to think, then? As I read the rest of Dr. Mohler’s essay, that more thorough explanation became clear through his precise and mature understanding of theology. He wrote,

However as Dr. Mohler explains that passages in Luke 13 and John 9 show us that “the problem of evil and suffering, the theological issue of theodicy, is customarily divided into evil of two kinds, moral and natural.” [emphasis mine]

The moral problem of evil was exemplified in Korah. Korah’s pride and ambition was his undoing. He committed a moral sin and ended up rebelling against God. Suffering ensued for him and his family.

He says that a discussion of both kinds of evil are included in the Luke 13 passage.

“In Luke 13, the murder of the Galileans is clearly moral evil, a premeditated crime–just like the terrorist acts in New York and Washington. In John 9, a man is blind from birth, and Jesus tells the Twelve that this blindness cannot be traced back to this man’s sin, or that of his parents. Natural evil comes without a moral agent. A tower falls, an earthquake shakes, a tornado destroys, a hurricane ravages, a spider bites, a disease debilitates and kills. The world is filled with wonders mixed with dangers. Gravity can save you or gravity can kill you. When a tower falls, it kills.”

Further, Mohler wrote,

A venerable confession of faith states it rightly: “God from eternity, decrees or permits all things that come to pass, and perpetually upholds, directs, and governs all creatures and all events; yet so as not in any way to be the author or approver of sin nor to destroy the free will and responsibility of intelligent creatures.”

But if God is sovereign, doesn’t He allow the tornado to occur? How do we reconcile God’s sovereignty and our responsibility? We can’t really. Not with our finite minds. Mohler answers,

God is God, and God is good. As Paul affirms for the church, God’s sovereignty is the ground of our hope, the assurance of God’s justice as the last word, and God’s loving rule in the very events of our lives: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, who are the called according to His purpose.” [Romans 8:28]

We dare not speak on God’s behalf to explain why He allowed these particular acts of evil to happen at this time to these persons and in this manner. Yet, at the same time, we dare not be silent when we should testify to the God of righteousness and love and justice who rules over all in omnipotence. Humility requires that we affirm all that the Bible teaches, and go no further. There is much we do not understand. As Charles Spurgeon explained, when we cannot trace God’s hand, we must simply trust His heart.

What we do understand is that God is good in having sent His son to die for us. Jesus took upon Himself all sin and exhausted God’s wrath for it, and then died, to be accepted by God as the eternal sacrifice for that sin and raised on the third day. He now imputes His righteousness to His saints who believe this Gospel by faith, and it is by that vehicle we declare His righteousness to those who are afflicted and suffering.

He allows us to be His witnesses, the indwelling Holy Spirit glowing and bringing God glory. If we were to see a visible manifestation of His Goodness, would it be in Christians’ Spirit lovingly racing TO the place of terror, danger, and devastation, to help their neighbor? Like this photo from the Baltimore Sun, with the lens flares I inserted?

As my friend Pastor Phil wrote yesterday, “May our suffering Oklahoma neighbors and friends see the manifest presence of God in the midst of their suffering, especially through the ministries of Christians.”

This is where God is good, and all that Goodness stems back to the only One who is Good, God, who sent His Son. (Mark 10:18).

If we could part the curtain and see His goodness visibly, would it be that we’d see the myriads of ministering angels? Especially at the flattened school? As I try to show with this photo from the Chicago Tribune containing lens flares I put in? (Those aren’t floodlights)

Dr. Mohler said,

“The second great error is to ascribe evil to God. But the Bible does not allow this argument. God is absolute righteousness, love, goodness, and justice. Most errors related to this issue occur because of our human tendency to impose an external standard–a human construction of goodness–upon God. But good does not so much define God as God defines good.”

Yes, we mourn and we cry when we see the terrible calamity of children killed, neighbors dead, homes lost, and businesses smashed. The heart of the matter is not whether God is good or God is bad, the heart of the matter is repentance. A calamity could happen any day. Like in Luke 13, the tower of Siloam fell on 18 workers constructing it and they died. Jesus said, “Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”” (Luke 13:4-5). Your eternal destiny awaits, are you ready? A tornado could take your life, it is a natural evil that is blind and thoughtless, taking with it into its deadly vortex a child or a sinner or a repented one. Any day, any time. If you do not repent, you shall likewise perish, not just body, but soul

God’s goodness is that He made a way for you to escape eternal destruction, no matter the manner of death. That way is Jesus. (John 14:6). Talk about good! It doesn’t get any better than the Savior.

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Further reading or listening

God’s Sovereignty and Personal Compassion in Public Tragedy, John Piper
Supernatural Lessons from a Natural Disaster, John MacArthur
Does God control everything? free ebook or free kindle, RC Sproul
Why does God allow bad things to happen? SJ Tuohy
Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? GotQuestions
Why does God allow good things to happen to bad people? GotQuestions

Posted in evil, jesus, love

The rapidity with which the world is descending into chaos is amazing

I’m dizzy. Literally dizzy- physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Just in the last 24 hours there has been a terrible terrorist bombing in Boston, a meteor that swooped across Spain and was seen from the north to the south, a series of quakes at Oklahoma and a major quake at the Iran-Pakistan border.

I wrote about the meteor, and a few minutes after that I saw the quakes at OK, so I wrote about them too. Then I went to dress for work and when I checked the news again just 10 minutes later, the quake at Iran had occurred.

Is there any doubt by now that the signs are not coming year upon year, or month upon month, but minute upon minute?

When people say, ‘it isn’t the end because there have always been earthquakes and meteors and signs as described’ they are right AND they are wrong. There always have been these things, to be sure.

The only question that Christians who understand prophecy have, is how long these will be signs and not

Credit: Courtesy Dan Lampariello

judgments. Because the rapture is a sign-less event, not presaged by anything in particular. The birth pangs of Matthew 24 relate to the Tribulation. However, if we can see the solidity of the groundwork being laid for those signs, how much closer is the rapture?

The Christians are not under judgment, we are not appointed to wrath. (1 Thessalonians 5:9). The wrath upon unbelievers will begin in Revelation 6 as stated by those who are left on the earth after the rapture, in Rev 6:16-17. The seal judgments will have been opened, thus signaling the beginning of the wrath. The earth’s population cries out and mourns because of it. (Revelation 6:15-17). The Church will be gone by then.

At some point the Church Age will end, the rapture will occur and the wrath will begin.

Bystanders in Karachi Pakistan after today’s 7.8 mag quake

Until then, remember what Jesus said–

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).

And this–

“and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:3-4).

Notice the tense, not that you will overcome the spirits of antichrist who hate. But that you ALREADY HAVE.

Posted in boston marathon explosion, evil, suffering

God is not our therapist, and why is there suffering and evil?

T.M. Luhrmann wrote an Op-Ed piece in the NY Times Sunday. It is called, “When God Is Your Therapist.” It is a devastating indictment on our faith from someone who is actually not trying to be devastating.

Apparently Ms Luhrmann spends time in a couple of Protestant churches, trying to make sense of it all. She has attended long enough as a curious outsider to have formed some opinions about what Christians are all about, who God is to us, and why. None of her opinions are correct if looking at the bible. All of her opinions are correct based on who the emergent, therapeutic, touchy-feely, ‘God is your boyfriend’  crowd presents to the world. It is so, so, so, so sad.

All Ms Luhrmann wants to know are the same things that have haunted people for eons: why is there evil? Why does God allow it? Why do bad things happen to good people? She wrote,

“I saw the same thing at another church, where a young couple lost a child in a late miscarriage. Some months later I spent several hours with them. Clearly numbed, they told me they did not understand why God had allowed the child to die. But they never gave a theological explanation for what happened.”

Those questions can be answered theologically, and that is what she wanted. She did not want an emotional answer. She is perplexed by the constant references to emotion when talking about God. Hence the name of the piece, God as therapist.

Relying on God as therapist does NOT equip us to answer the question as to why these things happen. Relying on God as therapist does NOT equip us enough to be sanctified by the Holy Spirit to grow in truth. We see the deficiencies of such a limited relationship when things like the bombings at the Boston Marathon happen.

Her editorial comes at a precise time when we ask those series of questions again. The US has seen horrifying violence such as the Aurora CO movie shootings and the Sandy Hook CT kindergarten shootings. Today, there were bombings in Boston and many are injured and several have been killed. After Aurora, Pastor Lee Strobel delivered a sermon titled–

Why Does God Allow Tragedy and Suffering?

There IS a theological answer. Christians whose go-to position is ‘feel God’ instead of ‘know God’ do an eternal disservice to people like Luhrmann and others who want solid answers to these questions. That is why we need to be able to give an answer to all who ask for the reason that we have this hope inside us. (1 Peter 3:15).

Strobel said in his sermon, which is once again sadly applicable to today given the bombings in Boston,

“That “why” question goes back thousands of years. It was asked in the Old Testament by Job and the writers of the Psalms, and it was especially relevant during the 20th century, where we witnessed two World Wars, the Holocaust, genocides in the Soviet Union and China, devastating famines in Africa, the killing fields of Cambodia, the emergence of AIDS, the genocide in Rwanda and the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo. And the 21st Century didn’t start any better. There was 9/11 and now the Syrian slaughters, and on and on. Why all of this if there’s a loving and powerful God? Why do bad things happen to good people?”

Strobel continues with five ‘points of light’ in explaining why there is suffering in general. I encourage you to read his sermon after today’s events, especially.

We do our unsaved neighbors such a disservice by changing Yahweh into a therapist. He is not there to talk to when we feel low and need a pick me up, or to ‘hang out with’ as one of Luhrmann’s pastors said. He revealed Himself in the bible and it is important for us to read it so we know of Whom we speak when giving an answer to those who ask.

Yes, I do feel better when I pray or I read the word but that is not because God is a therapy I go to in order to sort out my feelings. It is because I know of Him enough to know He is sovereign and in control and works all to the good for those who love Him. I know His attributes by having read of Him in His revelation. I want to know God as God and not as a tool in my ever-enlarging toolbox of pick-me-ups. God is not the same as a comedy show or chocolate.

Please read your bible. Get into a good church. Plan to study with someone more mature than yourself. In any way, engage with God as God, not as therapy. The more you study Him the more you will know him. The more you know Him the more you will want to share Him with others. I hope Ms Luhrmann gets the answers she is looking for and I hope the people in her church do too, even though they are not looking. Stay away from the God as your therapist, and learn about the the real Jesus, the Jesus you can’t ignore.