Category: APOLOGETICS


What would you think if you saw seven skinny cows eat seven fat cows? You might wonder if you’re next on the menu. Or perhaps you’d think you were dreaming…

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Most people who were raised in a church or who are believers know the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis. Jo was the young lad who started off as the black sheep of the family (cows…sheep…make up your mind eh?). One of the things Joseph is famous for is the interpretation of Pharaoh’s bad dream. Pharaoh saw in his dream seven fat healthy cows, then seven ugly looking thin cows. The seven lean cows devoured the fat ones. Jo’s correct interpretation was that the seven fat cows foretold seven years of plenty and prosperity, while the seven lean represented the seven harsh, terrible years which followed. I know the word “fat” has all but been banished from our vocabulary, but I always was a bit of a rebel.

It may seem like quite a stretch for me to associate Pharaoh’s dream with today’s political and social scene, but I’m going to do it anyway. Weren’t Pharaoh and Joseph politicians, of a sort?
Depending on which side of the political divide you see yourself on today, and from where you get your “news”, you may associate Mr Trump more with the tyrannical slave-driving Pharaoh, or instead with Joseph the deliverer. I confess shamelessly to being in the latter camp, being very mindful that Trump is only human, and that he’s provided the world a very temporary and limited respite.

It’s God who “removes kings and sets up kings” (Daniel 2:21) The leaders we have are there either because we get what we deserve or ask for foolishly, or because our Creator is attempting to show us mercy and sense. Unfortunately the respite is so temporary it can be no more than another seven years long. And now some of you know where I’m going with this post…
Respite, some of you ask? Respite from what? I’ll spell it out.
The US, and with it the entire Western world, has been running headlong down a road of globalism and open borders, and particularly open to people of a certain religion whose stated goal is to subject the world to its prophet. It’s also been moving us all towards a system in which personal freedom is to be diminished for the “common good”; the tiny nation of Israel is to be exposed to its enemies; anti-Christian bias and harassment in the nations founded by Christians is to be institutionalized, and a brand of morality and political correctness which wishes to turn the world upside down is to be imposed on us by re-education and modern-day thought police. Evil is called good and good evil. Truth with a capital “T” is being thrown to the ground.

In this Satanic, insane attack on the fundamentals of our Creator’s standards, we would, or will have to stop calling boys “boys” and girls “girls”, because the social engineers of our time wish to deny the blatantly obvious of human physique, DNA, emotional and hormonal make-up; to emasculate and denigrate men and masculinity, and to impose belligerent, angry women as kings (ahem…queens) of the castle. All of which doesn’t make sense, because if we’re born gender-less as some now want us to believe, how can women be even identified, let alone discriminated against or promoted? Surely the term “woman” is now redundant? Cannot a man now call himself a woman and so receive politically motivated promotion, or does hypocrisy reign in this situation also? Where is the logic in all of this?

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All of the above conditions are warnings and hallmarks of a culture ripe for judgment. In fact, they are Biblical signs of the end-times.
The world has been getting rapidly sicker under a runaway subduction and subversion of our culture and our sanity. And I’m not naive enough to think that Trump alone can hold back the tide. But at least the flow has been slowed, to the absolutely manic anger of Trump’s opponents, who, having worked to force “tolerance” upon us for decades, now pour out hatred and intolerance for him and his supporters without measure.

Why do the nations rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us (Psalm 2:1 KJV 2000).

And so to the seven “lean” years.
While I’m certain that watching  for the signs of judgment is Biblical (Luke 21:35-36) I’m aware of the many mistakes made by some “experts” in the subject, and I’m not one to set dates. I’m not making a prophecy, and I’m not about to say that the “seven-year Tribulation” (even given that all of the seven years really do remain to be enacted) will begin the moment Mr Trump leaves office. But given the depth of determination on the other side of the political and moral spectrum, and the success with which they’ve already removed constraints and the will to reason from the minds of many people, I can’t help thinking that after Trump the Western world will immediately resume its headlong gallop towards that mythical utopia, which dangles in front of the eyes of the hopeful like some juicy carrot on a stick in front of a donkey.

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I just had an uncanny experience, relating to a book my son sent me. A few days ago I wrote down a little revelation I had: something of an epiphany…

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I recalled a book ( a very good book) written by Robert McGee, called “Search for Significance”. McGee’s thesis was that we all crave significance and search for it in different ways-money, power, sex, promotion, popularity, etc. We need, he said, to rather find our significance in Jesus Christ and his total acceptance of us. I agree with that.
However, my little revelation took McGee’s argument in a slightly different direction. I summarized my epiphany thus:
“It’s not significance I’m looking for, it’s LIFE. I want LIFE, vibrancy, exuberance, excitement. Perhaps people searching for significance are really seeking life”.
Daily I see many people with stern faces, living in small worlds, and seemingly having no hope in their lives. I’m sure you see them too.
The uncanny experience came this evening while reading a book called “Psycho Cybernetics”, by Maxwell Maltz. His following statement confirmed, as though sent from above, my own observation:
“Today, I am more convinced than ever that what each of us really wants, deep down, is more LIFE. Happiness, success, peace of mind, or whatever your own conception of supreme good may be, is experienced in its essence as-more life”. 
I don’t think it’s wrong to seek a meaningful, significant life in human, physical terms, so long as we have things in the right perspective, with God on top and our desires below. But I cannot fail to share the following, a quote from Jesus Christ. The words of Jesus refer not merely to excitement and such things as we can brighten up our daily mortal existence with: these things are temporary and limited. Instead he referred to the ultimate meaning and expression of life, which is Jesus Christ in us:
I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly (John 10:10 KJV).

God doesn’t see things our way, and there’s nothing we can do about it. In fact, it seems sometimes to us that God has a huge, mean, dark side to his nature…

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Yet we read in the Book of books, the Bible, that “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all”. So how do we reconcile the hard realities of life with what we read?

What we’ve discussed in this little series can be boiled down to the fact that God-and reality-is something other than what we are and what we expect him or even want him to be. God is in no way controllable, tamable, measurable or understandable.

We cannot get a grip on God. And if you think about it, that’s how a God should be. Why should we expect the creator of the universe to be understood or controlled by limited, finite, mortal man? Since this is the case, how do we deal with a God who is apparently unapproachable, who has standards far above what we are able to live out, and who transcends all of time and space? There’s only one answer: God has to provide the way himself, and that’s exactly what he’s done.

God is infinite and perfectly holy, and yet perfectly merciful. The perfect God didn’t create the world and mankind in order to provide himself people to pick on. In fact, when he created the world in its original perfect condition along with mankind, as only a perfect God can do, we’re told that:

“…God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good” (Genesis 2:31).

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What could a perfect God do when his created beings began to be imperfect and to rebel against him and to betray each other? He didn’t want to wipe out his own creation, so he provided for himself ways of  reaching out to weak, fallible mankind, and forgiving that imperfection and rebellion. Such provision is seen repeatedly throughout the Bible in many characters.

An early and clear example found in the Old Testament is Moses. Moses was chosen by God to deliver his people from slavery. But it wasn’t just physical deliverance from Egypt that God had in mind for Moses, it was deliverance for the people from his own perfect standards and from his wrath against those who would break them. God’s desire and in fact his natural, perfect compulsion was to punish and destroy those who were rebellious. But there were times when Moses stepped in:

I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people. Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you

But Moses implored the Lord his God and said, “O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people…?  Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people… And the Lord relented from the disaster… (Exodus 32:9-14).

God provided Moses to protect the Israelites from himself.

Many examples of people who stood between God’s wrath and man can be found in the Bible, but the greatest, and the most important one, is Jesus Christ. The gospel, or the “good news” about Jesus Christ is that he, being the only son of God, was sent by the Father to pay the price of our sin, rebellion and imperfection, which is God’s wrath:

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed…and the Lord has laid upon him the iniquity of us all…(Isaiah 53:4-6).

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Remember the prayer of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, when he knew what was about to happen to him but surrendered to the will of the Father:

My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless , not as I will, but as you will… (Matthew 26:39).

Jesus Christ suffered God’s wrath in our place when he was crucified and left to die. This was the Father’s, and the Son’s, ultimate expression of love and mercy to his creation:

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only son into the world, so that we might live through him…he loved us and sent his son to be the propitiation for our sins… (1 John 4:9-10).

Jesus Christ is our answer to God’s perfection and justice. Our escape from what we may perceive as “the dark side” of God is his own son Jesus Christ. But we have to accept that way of escape. There is no escape from the perfection of God without Jesus Christ:

Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him (John 5:23);

Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die… (John 11: 26).

 

 

 

 

What do you do when you’re down and troubled? Do you cuddle the dog? Do you put the TV on? Do you pop a pill or light a joint?

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We’ve probably all had someone tell us when we’re down that there are people worse off than us. That’s supposed to cheer us up. But as a 20th century British comedian, Peter Cook, observed, that just makes us feel bad about the other people as well.

One thing that’s helped me in recent times of feeling down is facing up to the fact that I’m feeling down. And with it I’ve also found comfort in the fact, after all, that others are suffering. I’m not saying that it’s a good thing to suffer, and I’m not saying that we should wallow in our trouble, or that we should not cuddle the dog or do something to “shake out of it”. But there’s a very real sense in which knowing that humanity is born into trouble and suffering, and that just being alive exposes us all to the consequences of being in a fallen world of nature and people…is half of the cure. It’s normal. It’s not an aberration to be down and troubled: it’s natural. It’s part of who we are. It’s life. It’s reality. It’s what humans do.

The other half of the cure (the subject of the third part of my “dark side” series, still to come) is stated clearly in this New Testament quote from Jesus Christ:

I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world (John 16:33 NIV).

By facing up to the reality of our human plight, we can also find the answer to it, in Jesus Christ.

We suffer as does all life on earth. Neo-Darwinists put this down to evolution, and if that’s true then suffering, trouble and problems are natural and normal and we have nothing to complain about-we can just attempt to minimize them.

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Under evolution the strong and the beautiful should survive and procreate and the rest of us should bow out. However, if there’s a person we call God who created us, he either allows suffering, or he is unable to stop it, or he causes at least some of it himself…or there’s another explanation we don’t consider.

If we just ignore God by saying that he’s unknowable, as many people do, we will never come to an understanding of suffering. In complete contrast, the God of the Bible claims to have inspired a Book explaining much of what we suffer and why: you can take it or leave it. From my experience the Bible is trustworthy and stands up to reason and testing. More than that, if God is God, we are not. He is far above us in intellect, power and standards. We can’t ignore God indefinitely. We can’t go off and form our own universe: we’re totally at his mercy, and so we need to somehow understand our plight and come to terms with it.

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Does God have a dark side? Does the Creator who made this beautiful, amazing world, along with our incredible bodies, brains and minds, hate his creation and wish us all harm? I’m here to argue that the opposite is true.

Biblically speaking, the events and conditions which may appear to us to be the result of a pernicious, unreliable, inattentive and unpredictable God can be for the most part explained. Unfortunately most of us fail to look, or fail to accept what our God has told us. Consequently we have, for example, some people-Christians-believing that everything that goes wrong in life is the action of the devil who has free reign, while God goes around attempting to fix things, but only for those who can work up enough faith. This is wrong and un-Biblical.

Our creator has standards which we as humans have consistently broken from the very start. If we were perfect, there would be no problems whatsoever. So what can we do? Its impossible to be perfect, and those who think they are are just fooling themselves. It’s important here to consider that God gave man free will. This explains the choice of whether or not to eat the forbidden fruit in the garden of Eden. God gave us the dignity of making our own choices, and he wanted us to love him by choice, rather than by creating a world of robots which are programmed to act a certain way.

You may ask, as we all do from time to time, why God doesn’t at least step in and patch up the problems. I think that sometimes he does, and that’s where prayer comes in. However, God has apparently decided to let nature-which he created after all-to run its course. The ultimate cure to suffering; the resolution; the fix, will come, but it’s still future.  Many of my brothers and sisters in the faith will complain to me that Jesus has already implemented the fix. With respect, look around you, look at the news, look in the hospitals.

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Here then is a partial list of the Bible’s explanations for suffering and trouble in the world.

  • The CURSE.  A perfect God would not allow imperfect man to live life his own way in disobedience. The choices and actions of man have brought a curse on a world which was once perfect. The curse affects our bodies, our minds, and all of nature. Nature is running down. It’s the reason we get sick and die, because God will not allow rebellious mankind to steal his world and live forever in it. Try to imagine some of the worst characters you’ve heard of living forever.
  • GOD’S JUDGMENT. God is patient with us, but eventually sends judgment and trouble upon a rebellious nation, city or individual.
  • TESTING. We’re all tested throughout life to assess and reveal the condition of our hearts.
  • THE CONSEQUENCES OF OUR ACTIONS. We hurt others and they hurt us. Admit it-we’ve all done it, and we all know people who have hurt us. The prisons are full of the evidence of this (as is Washington!).
  • THE CONSEQUENCES OF REJECTING GOD. By consistently rejecting him and his pattern for a happy healthy life, we’re not always protected by his providence or mercy. This applies to nations, cities and individuals. By going our own way persistently, we’re inviting trouble. It’s like driving a Ferrari over ploughed fields and rocks-eventually something is going to go wrong.
  • SATAN, a created angel, and the spirit beings who have sided with him are against us because they hate God and his creation.
  • DISCIPLINE. God disciplines those he loves in order to make us more like Him.
  • HUMBLING. Sometimes only suffering breaks our pride.
  • A WAKE UP CALL. Sometimes only suffering gets our attention. Our cleansing and refinement is more important than our comfort and ease.
  • MURPHY’S LAW/ Sod’s Law/ Fate/ Determinism/ Bad luck. (See my post on Murphy’s Law).

Here I’ve explained some of the reasons why we suffer and why God allows it, but I haven’t yet discussed the antidote. That will come next time. Thanks for reading.

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