Category Archives: God

The Blessing Of Boxing With God

Your_Arms_Too_Short_to_Box_with_GodAre you familiar with the saying, “Your arm’s too short to box with God”? I guess I first heard that phrase sometime in the 1970s or 1980s but I wasn’t sure of its origin. When I looked into it, I was a bit surprised to learn that it came from a sermon, entitled The Prodigal Son, by civil rights activist James Weldon Johnson. It was published in 1927 in his book of sermons, entitled God’s Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse. Regardless of where it came from, its core message always seemed apparent to me … It’s ridiculous to disagree with God; you should just accept His will and get on with life. As a result of a Bible teaching I got to take in recently, from Exodus 32 and Exodus 33, I now see that my thinking this way has been off-the-mark and that it’s been very limiting to me in truly getting to know God.

GOD AND MOSES

The Bible teaching I mentioned was from Pastor Dave Rolph, of Calvary Chapel Pacific Hills. His lesson on Exodus 32-33 is from a series he is doing on Bible stories. This one is called The Heart of Moses. The story starts when Moses is up on Mt.Sinai receiving the law from God while Aaron and the people are below worshipping a golden calf they’ve made. When that happens, God switches from giving the law to Moses, to telling him he has a problem. The rest of the story covers what happened from that point forward and it focuses on the related interaction between God and Moses. Continue reading

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He’s A Real Nowhere Man

- Left Out Of The Beatles’ 50th Anniversary Celebration -

the-beatles_1964_ed-sullivan-show

Did you see “The Beatles: The Night That Changed America – A GRAMMY® Salute“? That was the February 9, 2014, TV special described as “a tribute to the Beatles, marking the 50th anniversary of the group’s first U.S. television performance on CBS’ The Ed Sullivan Show.” I saw it and I really enjoyed it. Considering all that was poured into this 2 ½ hour production, it seems reasonable to expect that anything of significance, meriting related recognition, would have been included. But, that wasn’t the case. In fact, there was a complete void where I believe there should have been the loudest praise. Before going into that, though, let me overview what was included, that I liked.

A FITTING TRIBUTE

Since I’m a Beatles fan, there was a lot for me to like about this show. My being their fan began when I watched that legendary black-and-white episode of The Ed Sullivan Show. I was in my Junior-year of high school and I clearly remember the excitement associated with the first appearance of the Fab Four on American TV. Coming on the heels of the months-long sense of depression in the U.S., following the assassination of JFK, the delight surrounding that event was most welcome. That experience, shared in similar fashion by countless millions of my contemporaries, marked the launch of the phenomenon known as Beatlemania. Unlike so many other “phenoms”, found in the worlds of sports and entertainment, the popularity of the Beatles wasn’t short-lived. The group had real talent that was rich and deep. At the heart of this was the among-the-best-in-musical-history collaboration of John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Between 1962 and 1969, they published 180 songs, with the vast majority being recorded by the Beatles. In addition to the extraordinary contribution of the Lennon-McCartney partnership, each of the group’s members offered exceptional individual talent. The effect of all this was summed up well by McCartney during the tribute show when he pointed out that, if each of the four Beatles had started their own band, every one of those groups would likely have attained greatness on their own. So, I was fully onboard with the 50th Anniversary Celebration and I know I was far from being alone in that. Although the occasion was described as “a star-studded tribute”, I must admit to being a bit surprised to see that the vast majority of the most prominent “stars” in the program were ones who weren’t even born yet when the Beatles officially broke up in 1970. But, I guess that’s just further testimony to the legitimacy of this tribute to, arguably, the greatest rock band of all time.

WHAT WAS MISSING?

So, what was missing? The performers included: Maroon 5, Stevie Wonder, Dhani Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Joe Walsh, Ed Sheeran, John Mayer, Keith Urban, Katy Perry, Imagine Dragons, Dave Grohl, The Eurythmics, John Legend, Alicia Keyes, Brad Paisley, Pharrell Williams, Gary Clark Jr., several Cirque du Soleil acrobats and the two living Beatles themselves, Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney. Presenters included: LL Cool J, Eric Idle, Anna Kendrick, Jeff Bridges, Sean Penn, Kate Beckinsale and Johnny Depp. In the audience, along with Paul’s wife, Nancy Shevell and Ringo’s wife, Barbara Bach, were: Yoko Ono, Sean Lennon, Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson and countless other “beautiful people”. Short biographies were presented on each of the Beatles and footage was shown from the original Ed Sullivan performance. There were commentaries from production staff and attendees of that historical television appearance. There were videos of David Letterman visiting the stage of what had been The Ed Sullivan Theater with Ringo and Paul and he interviewed them both. What could, possibly, have been lacking in this?! Continue reading

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The Sweet Sound Of Grace

Guest-Post From:

Steve Tessitore, American Missionary in the U.K.

Amazing-Grace-Cross

Verse 1: “Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me; I once was lost but now I’m found; Was blind but now I see”

Grace = God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense

Amazing = A wonderment; way above normal; out of the ordinary; defying the senses.

“How sweet the sound” … Since when does grace make sound?

“That saved a wretch like me” … How does grace making a sound save somebody?

“I once was lost but now I’m found was blind but now I see” … I don’t remember being lost and needing to be found and I have never been blind.

DO WE KNOW WHAT WE’RE SAYING

WHEN WE SING THIS SONG?!

“How sweet the sound” … This is not sound that resonates in the physical ear but in the soul of man. This sound that grace makes is the sweetness of being given a gift, a prize; something immeasurable in value for no reason other than God’s love for us.

“That saved a wretch like me”  The saving is for the eternal soul of a man. It needs saving because man’s end, without being given this gift, is an eternity apart from God.

“I once was blind” … Not physical blindness but the kind of blindness that doesn’t see the trouble I’m in spiritually. I don’t see God’s riches, at Christ’s expense, just waiting for me to receive by faith, believing in Christ’s loving sacrifice of Himself for me.

“But now I see” … Our spiritual eyes are opened by believing in Jesus. We get born again – John 3:3. God’s Spirit helps us to see things as He sees them. He says our sin leads to death, physical and spiritual. God is light and so, where He is, there is light. Spiritual death means separation from God and darkness.

Verse 2: “Twas grace that taught my heart to fear and grace my fears relieved; How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed.” 

“Twas grace that taught my heart to fear” … How does grace teach my heart to fear when, just before, I was being told how amazing grace was for saving me? As John Newton, the composer of Amazing Grace, was enjoying the sweetness of amazing grace, he was also made aware that this good news comes on the heels of the bad news of the condition of man’s sinful soul. Grace teaching my heart to fear … “for the wages of sin is death” – Romans 6:23(a) … fear for my soul begins here.

“… and grace my fears relieved” … “but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6:23(b) My fears relieved. In the event of learning why he needed grace, Newton’s heart feared his end if grace was not available to him.

Hebrews 2:9 says, “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the GRACE of God might taste death for everyone.” Hebrews 2:14-15 continues the principle of Christ dying in our place …”inasmuch as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same (flesh and blood), that through death he might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through FEAR OF DEATH were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”

Because we are born into the world already spiritually dead to God, Jesus came and applied the circumcision of His flesh to us. That is, He took the chastisement of His flesh, as a man, which we deserved, and forgives us of all unrighteousness, and takes the eternal spiritual arrest warrant that the devil holds over us and nails it to the cross while declaring it … PAID IN FULL! - Colossians 2:13-14 (paraphrased)

“But God who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, has made us alive together with Christ. By grace you are saved.” - Ephesians 2:4-5

“How precious did that GRACE appear the hour I first believed.”

AMAZING!

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Why God? – The Right Place To End!

Empty Tomb

WHERE TO BEGIN

In my first “Why God?!” article (Why God? – The Right Place To Start!), I noted that this question typically, comes with crying out over hearing of some horrendously evil act in the world or a natural disaster or a friend’s life-threatening illness or a family member’s untimely death or some other form of suffering. I went on to offer encouragement that looking to The Creator is the right place to start in seeking answers to such questions and that He gives us the reassurance of His loving intentions.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11

THE PATH TO TAKE

With the second article in this series (Why God? – The Right   Way To Go), I admitted that my honest answer to “Why God?!” questions about evil and suffering in the world is, “I do not know.” However, I pointed out that all the related answers we really need can be found in God’s Word. And, I indicated that in looking for these answers it’s important to start with the understanding that “… from the beginning it was not so.”

Tragically, it was the choice man made with the ability God gave us to love and specifically, the free will He gave us to decide whether to love or not to love that led to evil and suffering coming into His creation. With that understood, I drew attention to the fact that, though it was beyond us to recover from what is commonly known as “the fall of man”, even in His condemnation of that first choice of man, He revealed that He had prepared a path to redemption. Detailing that path and where it leads is what I have in mind with this, the last in my series of “Why God?!” articles. Continue reading

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Why God? – The Right Way To Go.

QUESTIONScreation

In my last article on this question, I pointed out that it seems more commonplace to be expressed as “Why God?!”, in crying out over hearing of some horrendously evil act in the world or a natural disaster or a friend’s life-threatening illness or a family member’s untimely death or some other form of suffering. Of course, this impassioned plea can take on other forms – e.g. “Why did God allow this?” or “Why me God?” or “Why now God?”.

As Atheist-turned-Christian author and apologist, Lee Strobel, said in a speech just after the theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, in 2012 : “(The) ‘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?”

ANSWERS

In initially responding to these “Why God” questions, I have to agree with the response that Strobel gave in that same speech, when he said, “… the only answer I can honestly give consists of four words – ‘I do not know.’” However, God’s Word does provide answers for many of the most common “Why God?” questions and I want to take a look at those answers here.

Though I recognize that it seems out of context for the question, “Why God?”, the first answer that consistently comes to me is the one Jesus gave when He was asked about divorce. Continue reading

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Why God? – The Right Place To Start!

Cry out to God

It seems more commonplace to hear the impassioned question “Why God?!” than to hear the more intellectual inquiry “Why God?” The former, typically, comes with crying out over hearing of some horrendously evil act in the world or a natural disaster or a friend’s life-threatening illness or a family member’s untimely death or some other form of suffering; whereas the latter, usually, comes from just wanting to gain understanding. On a personal level, I’ve been hearing quite a bit of the former lately and that’s caused me to consider the appropriateness of asking God either form of this question.

I have to admit that, when I consider asking God, The Creator of all, any question, my instincts tell me that doing so would be impertinent and my first thought is, “Who do you think you are?!” Next, I think, “Even if it is OK for me to ask God ‘Why?’, what makes me think He owes me any explanation.” But, when you rely on the natural to discern the supernatural, you’re likely to miss the mark. A devotional I came across, by Pastor Greg Laurie, also entitled “Why God?”, has helped me to recognize that my instincts have been off target with this. Pastor Greg says,

“I don’t think it is ever a bad thing to ask God why. Some people will say that we should never question God. But I question God all the time. I don’t mean that I doubt His existence. But I do say, ‘Lord, I don’t understand why you have done (thus and so). . . . Why, Lord?’

As you read the psalms, you see that many times the psalmist cried out, in essence, ‘Why, God? Why have You allowed this in my life?’

And Jesus Himself asked, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’ (Matthew 27:45–47).

So don’t think it is wrong to ask, ‘Why, God?’ It isn’t wrong. But let me add this: don’t expect an answer, necessarily. You can ask all you want. And maybe the Lord will give you an answer. But in most cases, He won’t. Quite frankly, I think that if He did, we wouldn’t understand it anyway.” Continue reading

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All Are Precious In His Sight

Barbara Boyle's 3B Class - Warren Elementary - 1955-56

LIVE IN HARMONY

This past week, I got to spend a little time with a First Grade Teacher who is also one of my very favorite people. She was teaching our class to join her class in singing and signing a song called The World Is A Rainbow. This was in preparation for an assembly that, I assumed, was related to the upcoming Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Although it would be an oversimplification (and somewhat outdated) for me to say that her purpose in this was to teach racial harmony, that was certainly a part of what she had in mind.

My first lesson in racial harmony came when I was First-Grade-aged or younger and it took place in church, not in school. Then, the song we sang was entitled Jesus Loves The Little Children. As I thought of these differences in experiences between the kids of today and the kids of my day, that led me to consider the ramifications.

ALL THE CHILDREN OF THE WORLD?! Continue reading

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