• Is God Immoral for Being Jealous?

    In the Bible God is described as a jealous God (Exodus 20:4-5). But this seems to be petty right? When we think of jealousy we think of young kids who are jealous of each other for some stupid reason. So, it goes to reason that God shouldn’t be jealous because jealousy should be beneath him right? Not quite. Here is what Paul Copan says in his great book Is God a Moral Monster?: Making Sense of the Old Testament God about God’s jealousy: 

    Jealousy can be a bad thing or a good thing. It’s bad to protect the petty; it’s good to fiercely guard the precious. If jealousy is rooted in self-centeredness, it is clearly the wrong kind of jealousy. A jealousy that springs from concern for another’s well-being, however, is appropriate. Yes, jealousy can be a vice (Gal. 5:20—“enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger”). Yet it can also be a virtue, a “godly jealousy,” as Paul put it: “For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin” (2 Cor. 11:2). Paul was concerned for the well-being of the Corinthians. His jealousy didn’t spring from hurt pride or self-concern. Throughout the Bible, we see a God who is a concerned lover. He’s full of anguish and dismay when his covenant people pursue non-gods. In the prophetic book of Hosea, God—the loving husband—gets choked up when his wife, Israel, continually cheats on him: “My heart is turned over within Me, all My compassions are kindled” (Hosea 11:8). When can jealousy be a good thing? In God’s case, it’s when we’re rummaging around in the garbage piles of life and avoiding the ultimate source of satisfaction. It reminds me of a comic strip I once saw of a dog who had been drinking out of a toilet bowl. With water dripping from his snout, Fido looks up to tell us, “It doesn’t get any better than this!” Instead of enjoying fresh spring water, we look for stagnant, crummy-tasting substitutes that inevitably fail us. God laments over Israel: “For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water”

     

    So God is jealous for us because he loves us and we are his and this is actually for our good.

    Does this help you think better of God being a jealous God?

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  • Is God Arrogant?

    Some people find the idea of God demanding we worship him uncomfortable or plain wrong.  It seems like God is arrogant. I mean If I said “I am the greatest in the world worship me!” you would find me arrogant wouldn’t you? Well the same goes for God than doesn’t it? Or does it?

    Paul Copan in his book Is God a Moral Monster?: Making Sense of the Old Testament God. Answers the question “Is God Arrogant” like this:

    Pride, we know, is an inflated view of ourselves—a false advertising campaign promoting ourselves because we suspect that others won’t accept who we really are.2 Pride is actually a lie about our own identity or achievements. To be proud is to live in a world propped up with falsehoods about ourselves, taking credit where credit isn’t due.

    What then is humility? This involves having a realistic assessment of ourselves—our weaknesses and strengths.

    Well, then, is God proud? No, he has a realistic view of himself, not a false or exaggerated one. God, by definition, is the greatest conceivable being, which makes him worthy of worship. In fact, our word worship is a kind of contraction of the Old English word weorthscipe—or “worth-ship.” So if an all-powerful but despicably evil being demanded our worship, we shouldn’t give it to him. He wouldn’t be worthy of worship.

    So God can demand our worship because he alone is worthy of our worship!

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  • What Everybody Ought to Know About God’s Judgement

    Why does God judge? Is it because he is capricious or judgmental? And how can we reconcile a loving God with a God of judgement. This quote from Miroslav Volf goes a long way to to answering these and more questions about God and judgement:

    God will judge not because God gives people what they deserve, but because some people refuse to receive what no one deserves; if evildoers experience God’s terror it will not be because they have done evil, but because they have resisted to the end the powerful lure of the open arms of the crucified Messiah.

    The violence of the Rider on the white horse (Revelation 19), I suggest, is the symbolic portrayal of the final exclusion of everything that refuses to be redeemed by God’s suffering love.

    Should not a loving God be patient and keep luring the perpetrator into goodness? This is exactly what God does: God suffers the evildoers through history as God has suffered them on the cross. But how patient should God be? The day of reckoning must come, not because God is too eager to pull the trigger, but because every day of patience in a world of violence means more violence and every postponement of vindication means letting insult accompany injury. – Miroslav Volf,  Exclusion and Embrace, 298

    God judges because he hates violence and injustice. That is why he will judge the world because he will rid the world of anything that can and will harm people.

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  • An Argument for the Existence of God from Beauty

    Our recognition of Creativity and beauty is one of the many reasons I think God exists. What advantage does recognizing creativity or beauty have in the survival of the fittest? But, if there is a creator God we should expect to be blown away by creativity and beauty because he has been creative in creating this beautiful world and therefore creativity and beauty have intrinsic value because they point us to our great creator God.

    If you are an atheist or an agnostic how would you respond?

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  • You Have Never Felt More Insignificant, You Have Never Felt More Alive

    Have you ever just looked up at the stars in the sky and just thought about how far away they are? What happens when you do is that you start to realise how small you are, and how insignificant you are. I remember when I was in Moree. Sometimes me and a few mates would go down to the local sports field at night and lie on our backs and stare up into the stars. Yeah, there wasn’t much to do in Moree. But what Moree did have is no pollution or city lights. So the sky just lit up before you. I remember one of my mates saying, “I love coming down here and staring up into the sky. It is when I feel the most insignificant and yet I feel the most alive.”

    Think about it why do you go to places like in that example? Why do people go to the Blue Mountains and look out over the vast valley? Why do people stare up in space, and feel at the same time, insignificant yet never more alive? Because written into your DNA is the truth. That you and I weren’t made to be made much of.  We were made to make much of God, your heart won’t be stilled or satisfied, you will never be truly joyful until you find total rest in him. It is only in God that you will find your true and ultimate joy. And the first step to finding that joy is to come to grips with your own insignificance. Because when you feel your own insignificance you won’t want to make much of yourself, but you will want to make much of your God.

     

  • Why I’m not surprised that God redeemed me

    “In two decades of teaching theology I have had countless students ask me why God doesn’t save everybody. Only once did a student come to me and say, “There is something I just can’t figure out. Why did God redeem me?”

    We are not really surprised that God has redeemed us. Somewhere deep inside, in the secret chambers of our hearts we harbor the notion that God owes us his mercy. Heaven would not be quite the same if we were excluded from it. We know that we are sinners, but we are surely not as bad as we could be. There are enough redeeming features to our personalities that if God is really just he will include us in salvation. What amazes us is justice, not grace.”

    RC Sproul, The Holiness of God, pg 153

    This quote cut straight to my heart. It exposed my arrogance and self-centeredness. What should amaze me is God’s grace and yet so much of the time it doesn’t.

    I should be surprised that God has redeemed me, but usually I am not and I need to repent.

    The reason I’m not surprised that God redeemed me is my own arrogance, plain and simple.

     

  • Whores, Prostitution, Sin, Idolatry and the Bible

    I have been reading a brilliant book called God’s Unfaithful Wife: A Biblical Theology of Spiritual Adultery by Raymond Ortlund. If you think the title is confronting in it’s first print it was called Whoredom! It is a book which is traces the theme of spiritual adultery through books of the bible like Hosea, Ezekiel, Micah, Jeremiah etc. . It is a very confronting and yet spiritually enriching book.

    It has caused me to think about the following things:

    Do I really realise how offensive my sin/idolatry is to God?  If God has said that sin/idolatry to him as offensive to him as a married woman who is cheating on her husband with any man she can find (Jeremiah 2:23-25) is offensive to her husband. My sin is that bad. Do I take it that seriously? Do I take my lust, my pride, etc that seriously? Or do I think it is a mere annoyance to God?

    Do I really savour the cross as much as I should? If my sin is as bad as Jeremiah for instance makes out that must mean that the cross is much more glorious than I could ever imagine because it payed for that sin. If my sin is that bad and the cross is that amazing I should treasure Jesus and the Gospel more than anything else.  It should be delight and my satisfaction.

    The preaching of the prophets was not nice. You really don’t see many passages about God’s people being whores on Christian t shirts do you? This has given me pause to assess my own preaching and proclamation of the gospel. Am I communicating not only the gravity of sin but also the gravity of the gospel? Am I scared of being offensive? Is the antidote to spiritual complacency more practical application or a deeper grasp of our sin and the glory of the gospel?

    These last few questions are questions that I don’t have an answer on as yet. They are merely food for thought. But one thing I am sure of is you need to get God’s unfaithful wife and read it!

     

  • God Has Given You This Life Therefore be Driven

    God has given you this life.

    You only have one life.

    You only have the time has given you.

    The time it takes you to read this blog you will never get back.

    So what is your attitude to your life? Are you coasting through life or are you driven?

    When I read the apostle Paul I read a man who was extremely driven:

    “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.  Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.  No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”

    1 Corinthians 9:24-27

    “I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
    Philippians 3:13-14

    Paul pressed onto his goal. He wanted to be at the end of his life and given his life to the service of the lord Jesus and the spreading of the gospel. He wanted to be faithful to the end.

    When I read the book of Acts I see this picture in narrative form. Paul was a man who was driven to glorify God. He was a man who wanted every moment of every day to be spent in the service of Jesus.

    I want that for my life.

    I have only one life to live

    I only have so many minutes in this life

    I don’t want to waste it

    I want to be driven

    Driven to be successful in what counts

     

  • Vibe part 3: What kind of vibe should we be going for?

    If you go to a number of different churches you will experience that each church has a different vibe.

    Some have the vibe of a rock concert, others have the vibe of a 16th century church service, other churches will have a mystical vibe, some churches people are seated on couches and the list could go on.

    So many things that we could list change the vibe of a service. Whether it be location, lighting, music, what people wear etc. All these things change the vibe.

    But if we focus on these things and we think if we get these right we will have a great vibe to our service we will be completely unbiblical.

    The other day I did a blog called A biblical theology if vibe. In it we saw that God is loving and holy and we want the vibe of our churches to reflect these attributes.

    With that in mind what kind of music we have in church or what I wear in church is, to a certain extent, peripheral.

    What we need to be going for is a loving vibe, one where people have the space to reflect on the holiness and love of God.

    A person going away feeling loved and knowing that God is holy and loving is far more important and impactful than if we have a great artificial vibe.

    This vibe is all about people and Gods word not about fashion.

    This vibe is about letting the gospel permeate every aspect of what we do and being intentional about that.

    This is the vibe we want

    But can we get this vibe?

    How can we encourage our churches to be a church which has this vibe?

     

  • Vibe Part 2: A Biblical Theology of Vibe

    When we think of vibe and we think of theology they rarely mix do they? People strong on theology don’t really think about vibe and people who are good on vibe don’t really think theologically. Or so the story goes…

    As Christians we need to think theologically about everything, especially the vibe of our meetings. The big question I want so ask is “Do our meetings reflect the character of God?”

    What is the character of God?

    You could write a book on it.

    When I think of God and his character I keep coming back to two words, loving and holy.

    We see God’s love in the verse we all know John 3:16

    For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

    We see in Revelation 4:8 a picture of a holy God:

    8 Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying:

    “‘Holy, holy, holy

    is the Lord God Almighty,’[a]

    who was, and is, and is to come.”

    If we are going to think about who God is and let that shape our vibe we need to think about how our vibe contributes to people going away knowing that God loves them and that he is so holy .

    I think if we are to say that God is a loving God we need to show that we love the people who come to our Churches. It would be pathetic if we say that God loves people and we didn’t show it.

    But holiness is much harder. How do you shape the vibe of your service so that you communicate that God is holy?

    Now I must be clear, God is a speaking God and the main way we communicate his attributes is by speech. That is how God has set it up and I am not saying we should go mystic or catholic But I want to have the vibe of the service match what we are saying.

    In the Bible we see that God is loving and holy. The question is how do we shape the vibe of our service so that our vibe is consistent with what we are preaching and saying?