Friday, December 28, 2012

After This, the Judgement

R. C. Sproul addresses evil and human suffering in his book, "Reason to Believe." He says an interesting thing: "You can pray for whatever you want but don't ask God for justice or you might receive it."


We have seen evil committed upon a member of our family this week. A hateful, spiteful, vindictive person has pursued a good man to his grave.

I know Jesus said "there is none good but one." But you understand that I am speaking of a loving father and husband whose job called on him to stand between his community and harm.

Now apparently there are those who would pursue him, via the internet, beyond the grave. Like I said, evil.

My word to all these people: this man is in God's hands now. God is his Judge. Before you take sadistic pleasure in that thought, remember this: God is your judge too. We will all face Him (Hebrews 9:27).

So I pray. For God's mercy for my niece and her children.

For those of whom I've already spoken?

Here is my dilemma: how can I, who deserves justice but received mercy, call out for God's justice upon the evildoers amongst us? Am I not commanded instead to "pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you?"

Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


It all seems so simple, so true, so right.

For one who was taught Christianity's tenets from childhood. And then then strayed from them, rebelled against them and finally rejected them altogether.

Perhaps it was an incomplete education or maybe, being young and easily distracted, I forgot to pay attention. I don't recall hearing about God's absolute undeniable sovereign control over everything in His creation.

Life's blessings, yes, but life's bumps, bruises and heartaches? Life itself and its maddening pursuit of happiness (read self-gratification), but sickness and death?

I began to be angry at God. And since I had been taught that I could choose God (Jesus) or not, at age 23 I chose NOT.

Oh I came back eventually. The prodigal son, I viewed myself, and God so tickled that I had decided to come home.

Then one cold, stormy rage-filled evening, one of those flashes of lightning revealed to me for the first time: me. Me as God saw me, selfish, bitter, controlling and full of anger.

What could I do but cry out, "God save me?"

Grace. Unmerited favor. You can't deserve it. You can't earn it. Otherwise it would be something else besides grace.

I needed that saving grace. And I need grace every day. For I know the inclinations of my heart. I know the idols that linger there. I know what gives me the desire and strength to tear them down. Little by little and day-by-day as I pray for God's kingdom to come in my heart.

Grace. Alone. The Reformers called it Sola Gratia. Paul says my very faith (and all that flows from it) is a gift of God's grace (Ephesians 2:8-10).

To God alone be the glory.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

It's American to Make Fun of Those Less Fortunate Than Yourself

We all poke fun. Right?

Now I realize that this can degenerate into an exercise in pure-dee hatefulness. For that reason, I try to limit my fun poking to members of my family. It's tradition. You make fun and are made fun of. Suck it up.

The less fortunate part? Well they do have to put up with me, so 'nuff said, awright?

Talking with a friend the other day and it came out that he did not express himself as much as he might like around his immediate family. I don't know, I got the feeling he thought they were too delicate or something.

Anyhow, he was feeling bummed about it. And listening to him, I was feeling like.... Do you remember that scene from The Godfather (both book and movie) where singer Johnny Fontaine is complaining to Don Corleone about how his slutty movie star wife just dogs him around all the time?

No matter if you don't. We guys have all heard our friends complain about how their wives oppress them (that's right, ladies, I said it!), taking advantage of being female and being all emo and stuff.

So at some point in this whinefest, the Godfather just has had enough and he grabs Johnny by the hair of the head and gives him a good firm shake. And shouts, "BE A MAN!"

That's how I felt.

Be mean to your wife and kids? I didn't say that.

I find that it is much easier and sometimes less painful to express what you feel through humor which is the whole point (can you believe I finally got there?!?) to this diatribe.

Ask Ein and she can tell you that when she was living here and started to have a meltdown, I would make fun of her till she would become ashamed of her sissifiedness and begin to laugh.

Mean, huh? Not really. I would hug her and use my "which way did he go George" voice: "Why are you sad, George, don't cry George or your eyelashes will shrink George."

The deal is that life is tough and there are people who are going to really be mean to you. So get those feelings off your sleeve. Sounds awful, I know, but sometimes "Get over yourself" can actually be  good advice.

Not all that Christian a way to behave, you might say. Seems as though I recall Jesus being pretty rough on the Pharisees (Matthew 22:29; John 8: 42-47) and sometimes even His own disciples (Mark 8:33; Matthew 14:31).

Otis Redding said, "Try a Little Tenderness."

But isn't there a time for plain speaking as well?

After all, guys got feelings too.

No, seriously.