Is God Sovereign?

crown

A friend of mine lost several million dollars in a bad investment. He is well into his seventies and this was his retirement money, so this is a big blow. How did he lose it? Well, here’s my theory: He took some bad financial advice from a dodgy analyst and put his money where he shouldn’t have. But my friend doesn’t see it like that. He told me, “God is in control. I guess he didn’t want me to have all that money.” In other words, God is to blame for his loss. When I heard this I was too stunned to speak, but my friend was just getting warmed up. “I guess I’m a lot like Job who suffered at … [Read more...]

“Understanding the Book of Job” by Tom Tompkins

Tom_Tompkins

“If you’re suffering, you must have done something bad. God must be punishing you.” That must be one of the oldest lies in history. Here’s another. “God is using these hard times to teach you humility.” These lies can be traced back to one of the oldest and most misunderstood stories in the Bible – the story of Job. As I'm sure you know, Job was a man who lost everything. The Book of Job is not mainly about his loss, but how he tried to process his loss with the help of three religious friends. When I wrote my Job post a year and a half ago I had no idea that so many Christians would get … [Read more...]

The Christchurch Earthquake: 4 Questions Christians Can Answer

Cathedral

An earthquake of magnitude 6.3 struck my hometown at 12:51pm this afternoon. I don’t live in Christchurch anymore, but I heard about it within 10 minutes. We were on our way to Auckland airport at the time. Christchurch had a major quake last September and about a thousand aftershocks since then, so I didn’t realize today’s one was a serious disaster until I saw a photo on an Internet terminal at the airport. It was a picture of the Christchurch Cathedral in ruins. This is the city’s most famous landmark and it had survived last year’s bigger quake. Now it looks like a bomb hit it. At the … [Read more...]

James 2:24

torah

In this study on James chapter 2, we have been comparing works done under law with works done under grace. Understanding this distinction is essential if we are to reconcile Paul, the preacher of grace, with James, who said this… “You see then that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.” (Jas 2:24) In Part 1 of this study we saw how a preacher of works could misuse this verse to drive people back under law. In Part 2 we learned that James and Paul (in Romans 4) were probably both writing in response to something that Jesus had said about the “works of Abraham.” What were … [Read more...]

Exodus 4:11

moses_and_burning_bush_by_A_Friberg

A little while ago we looked at a sincere lady in the Bible who mistakenly believed that God gives us things like death and poverty. As I explained in that post, God does not give us bad gifts. Not ever. But what about Exodus 4:11? This time it’s not a misguided person speaking, but the Lord himself: “Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD?” (Ex 4:11, NIV) This time we can’t use the excuse, “the speaker didn’t know Jesus,” or “this is what God looks like from a distance,” because it is God himself who is doing the … [Read more...]

Does God Give and Take Away?

Does_God_give_and_take_away

The entire Bible is good for you, but you won’t get much out of it unless you know Jesus Christ. To understand the written word, you need to know the Living Word. If you try to read the Bible without an appreciation of Jesus – who He is and what He has done – you may end up taking someone else’s medicine. Some verses will appear to contradict others and you will get confused. In the first part of this study on God’s gifts, we looked at a sincere lady in the Bible who mistakenly believed that God gives us bad gifts like death and poverty. Today I want to look at a man who had a slightly … [Read more...]

Building Ramps for the Mentally Ill

ramp

About 10 years ago I heard an Australian pastor say that mental illness was a big need in his city. I was young and strong back then so the picture that came into my mind was that he lived in a town of crazy people. Now I know better. Mental illness is one of the giants of our day. I’ve heard it said that one in twelve people suffers from some form of mental affliction. If you have 60 friends, chances are that five of them suffer from mental illness. Do you know who they are? For many people mental illness is taboo. It’s the sickness no one talks about until it’s too late. In … [Read more...]

A Message for Pastors from a Man in Pain

I've just watched a painful, heart-breaking message from a man with a brain tumor. He speaks to pastors about the lack of compassion in their churches.The message is not heart-breaking because the man is hurting - his hurt barely shows. Rather, the pain comes from watching the antics of pastors trying to be hip, funny, relevant, and trendy. The punchline? In trying to become entertaining we have lost the way and become useless to those in pain. Every pastor needs to watch this... The one thing that will change us pastors is first-hand experience of pain. Having had a small taste … [Read more...]